The Disappointment Artist
It's hard for me to feel that I've said enough good stuff about Jonathan Lethem. If you haven't read any of his novels, you should get on that. No, go, it's okay, I'll wait. Perhaps you prefer non-fiction, in which case, do yourself a favour and pick up The Disappointment Artist. It's Lethem's first collection of non-fiction and it's a corker. He is as deft at essay-writing as he is at novel-writing. The essays are, on the surface, about popular culture. Deeper than that, though, they're about grief and dealing with it, and how an artist becomes an artist. That sounds hopelessly earnest, and these essays aren't. They're funny and sweet and challenging and awesome.
category: best of 2005