SRQ Book Club: The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem

Arts & Culture

BY ROXANNE BAKER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY SEP 18, 2020

I have a special relationship with Jonathan Lethem. Taken singularly and you have a hot rumor, but the truth is the affinity started in 2003, reading Lethem’s semi-autobiographical novel to my son. While my nightly dinner oration ritual amounted to copious book consumption, when asked about the most influential book of this time period, without skipping a beat, Liam embraces Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude.

Since then, I’ve remained loyal reading Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn and his last book The Feral Detective. While satisfying, Lethem seemed stuck in a film noir detective motif. But his upcoming novel The Arrest, is a re-fresh, using a post-apocalyptic world milieu. And since the 2016 Presidential election, dystopian and apocalyptic classics have certainly been hot sellers for those with an appetite for both anxiety confirmation and distraction.

Lethem’s The Arrest will feed the masses. His new world ending meal is set in idyllic Maine, containing the protagonist Alex carrying backstory baggage as a flailing Hollywood screenwriter of coincidentally apocalyptic flubs. Cinephiles will appreciate Lethem’s cheesy real-life B movies references which Alex, and his pompous college fraternity chum Pete, use to concoct their plots.

But while the societal changing event dubbed ‘The Arrest’ is thankfully not pandemic related, readers will relate to Alex’s experience stranded while visiting his sister, Maddie. Mix in a mysterious hatred Maddie has for Pete, a nuclear-powered Humvee equivalent, pop up gangs formed post shut down, an exiled sex abuser and you have yourself one interesting novel.

Roxanne Baker is a Bookseller at BookStore1 Sarasota. Bookstore1Sarasota was opened in 2011 with one mission: to bring a high-quality independent bookstore to the Sarasota area. Their passion for the joy of books inspired them in the beginning and continues to drive them today. They offer a shopping experience curated with their customers in mind, and are gratified by the long-term relationships they have built with those who have come through their door: patrons and authors alike. 

Bookstore1, 12 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, 941-365-7900, georgia@sarasotabooks.com

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