I'm novelist Jonathan Lethem. I wrote Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and a bunch of other novels. AMA

Waddup, Mr. Lethem! I know you are prolly done answering questions but I'm based on the West Coast so I hope you forgive my lack of punctuality.

First off, thanks for holding this AMA. It's good to know there are urbanites as well read as you, I'd like to believe people other than tenured college professors are literary geniuses.

Second, having grown up with so many Jewish homies during my upbringing in L.A., I thought it was dope on your part to claim Marvin Gaye and Barrett Rude Jr. as weird black Jews. Very uncommon for niggas in the past or present to make songs about the environment (Mercy Mercy Me, in case you're wondering)! And I quote a joke from a former friend:

The Greenhouse Effect? Is that a club? I heard it gets poppin' in there on Saturday nights but they don't have enough chairs.

Now, here come the questions:

  • Was Barrett Rude Jr. based off of Marvin Gaye? I saw similarities in their life stories, especially their demises.

  • I've never been to New York but has Brooklyn really become a hipster's paradise? I used to live in Kansas City, Mo. and a girl working at the American Apparel location there told me from her time in BK with the company she found out there are close to 20 AA spots in the borough by itself (less than half of that in L.A. altogether).

  • Has NYC become a haven for cops who love being cops? Not taking into consideration recent events and I have nothing against the NYPD, but I've read the police presence in the city can be intimidating.

  • From reading The Fortress of Solitude, I gathered that there was the Brooklyn Dylan knew growing up versus the borough he sees as an adult. Have the changes in the borough (diversity, economy, culture) been that drastic? I can imagine if the Beastie Boys were active today they wouldn't be synonymous with the same location as TV's most popular teenage soap opera, Girls. If you have seen the show you'll know where I'm coming from. Do you miss the old BK?

  • I'll finish with a question about books. Are you familiar with Yale English professor Harold Bloom? He's been receiving criticism from the academic community and has been labelled as racist and sexist because he supports the notion of "dead white men" being essential to having a strong literary backbone. Understanding where he comes from, I believe it's important to balance between well-written authors who both reinforce your background (gender, ethnicity, class, geography) and those who don't share your experiences. You wouldn't be surprised at how many thugs I know who dig Machiavelli's The Prince!

/r/IAmA Thread