Tag Archives: Brooklyn

The Adventures of Vaclav the Magnificent & His Lovely Assistant Lena by Haley Tanner

DATE FINISHED: May 12th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Both children of Russian immigrants to Brooklyn, Vaclav and Lena have been inseparable since the first day they met and saw the magic act at a Coney Island sideshow. Vaclav becomes magician-in-training (with his lovely assistant Lena), and nobody questions why Lena barely eats and spends all of her time at Vaclav’s house or why he should do her homework. One night, Lena disappears from 10 year old Vaclav’s life with no explanation, leaving a gaping wound where VacLena has been separated. It is only when Lena re-finds Vaclav on her 17th birthday that the missing pieces are slotted back together…

THOUGHTS:  The third person, present tense narrative reflects Vaclav and Lena’s growing grasp of the English language, which did initially grate on me, but became less grating as they grew older. Read more of this post

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Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

DATE FINISHED: September 25th, 2011             

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Four teenagers from St. Vincent’s Home for Boys are singled out by small-time crook Frank Minna, and together perform whatever dubious tasks are set them with a sense of pride: they are the Minna Men.  When Minna is murdered, Lionel Essrog (Tourette’s sufferer, social outcast and general figure of fun), is determined to find out who is responsible, and why.  Figuring out who he can trust is another matter altogether…

THOUGHTS:  Told from Lionel’s point of view, this story is as much about the workings of a tourettic mind as it is a murder mystery; not to mention a great excuse for Lethem to play with the sounds and structures of language through Lionel’s tics.   Read more of this post