Books

You Dont Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem

Chris Barsanti

Lethem doesn't push the novel toward much of a plot with any sense of urgency, as though he'd left the manuscript baking in the Los Angeles sun.


You Don't Love Me Yet

Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 038551218X
Author: Jonathan Lethem
Price: $24.95
Length: 240
Formats: Hardcover
US publication date: 2007-03
UK publication date: 2007-03
Author website
Amazon

Having apparently decided that he needed a vacation, Jonathan Lethem has torn himself away from essays, moody and semi-autobiographical Brooklyn novels, and knotty sci-fi surreality, delivering You Don't Love Me Yet, an easygoing romantic comedy that's set in California. That's right, Romantic Comedy. California, and Southern California, to boot, about as far as one can get from Brooklyn without leaving the country. But it's a good thing for some authors to stretch themselves or just take a break from the old themes and settings, and Lethem is definitely in that camp. It's a quickly devoured and quickly forgotten fiction with little resonance, which may be exactly what Lethem needed to deliver.

The focal point of You Don't Love Me Yet is Lucinda, bass player in a band of friends who have been knocking around and rehearsing for a while, but haven't quite gotten around to really getting a set list together, or having a name. She supplements her non-earning rock career by answering phones at the Complaint Line. It's a sort of performance art piece set up by her pretentious scenester friend Falmouth, who envisioned a generic storefront office where girls like Lucinda listened to callers and their everything-under-the-sun complaints. Meanwhile, Lucinda's trying to extricate herself from a frustratingly occasional relationship with the band's drop-dead gorgeous singer Matthew. Making things easier on that front is the odd liaison she starts with one of the Complaint Line's constant callers, Carl, an earthy, heavyset man of mysterious origin, surprising likes and multitudinous desires.

Lethem doesn't push the novel toward much of a plot with any sense of urgency, as though he'd left the manuscript baking in the Los Angeles sun, soaking up the basin's lackadaisical airs and general attitude of lucky happenstance. Lucinda's life is a ramshackle mess, which is troubling to her but hardly the reason for any sort of existential crisis. The band is a similarly hapless collection of misfits, especially their writer and muse Bedwin, who barely seems able to feed himself for all his wordsmithing brilliance. When the band seems likely to get a big break, it happens almost entirely by accident, and the buzz itself is a wispy thing easily dissipated but no less enjoyable for those under its spell.

The novel bumps along from day to day, finding a peaceful and strangely lovely rhythm in its accidents and nonplussed conversations. For all its nonchalance towards plot, You Don't Love Me Yet pays close attention to the sounds, feels, and tastes of its day-to-day happenings, Lethem's sensory radar as well-attuned as ever. Even a simple day Lucinda spends by the beach is described with luscious detail, how she was "happily polluted with beer and lemon-butter drenched crabs and just one margarita, fingernails still grainy with pepper and salt". Lethem uses Lucinda's random-seeming and often contradictory desires and discontents as the primary motivator of the book's farcical construct but never lets it all devolve into the standard romantic comedy formula. He's enjoying himself too much here in the California sun, creating a swoony and haphazard love story that's as unexpectedly enjoyable as the thing itself.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.