Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Best-Loved Books of 2008, #16: Favorite non-annoying novel about annoying hipsters

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You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem (Random House)
(bonus: perfect for winter doldrums!)

I pitched this book when it came out in paperback this summer as "the perfect intellectual summer read", but it's also great for a dose of L.A. sunshine in the midst of winter. Sexy, topical, thought-provoking, plot-driven, and light enough to read in a weekend, Lethem's story of aspiring musicians in Los Angeles grapples with the ownership of ideas and the fine line between artistic and pretentious -- but you'll gobble it up for the great party scenes, sexual shenanigans, and sun-soaked hipness.

I wrote about the awesome event we did with Lethem and DJ Spooky (and my fan-girl geekout) here -- I bought the book at the event (which is rare), and had the even rarer experience of having the entire book live up to the brief passage the author read. It does engage with some serious issues of creative copyright and authorship, but through the vehicle of some truly self-absorbed and pretentious characters. It helps that Lethem has admitted that the book was based on his own "posturing" phase as a musician in the early '90s -- the characters have that loved but laughable intensity that can only be applied to oneself and one's friends when you were all young and stupid.

But I'm not gonna lie: it also has some pretty hot bedroom (and car and warehouse) scenes. And you can almost taste the tacos of a very late California city brunch. It's good for thinking a bit about creative commons and all that implies, and also good for little bit of sunshine you've been needing. I'll be listening to my Monster Eyes CD while you're reading...