New Fiction by Jonathan Lethem in the Paris Review

Best­selling writer Jonathan Lethem — author of one of my favorite con­tem­po­rary nov­els Moth­er­less Brook­lyn — has a new short sto­ry fea­tured in the sum­mer edi­tion of the Paris Review. The sto­ry is called “The Emp­ty Room,” and, once again, the back­ground, child­hood, moves to the fore­ground. It begins:

Ear­li­est mem­o­ry: father trip­ping on strewn toys, hop­ping with toe out­raged, mother’s rolling eyes. For my father had toys him­self. He once brought a traf­fic light home to our apart­ment on the thir­ty-some­thingth floor of the tow­er on Colum­bus Avenue. The light, its taxi yel­low gone mat­te from pen­du­lum-years above some pol­lut­ed inter­sec­tion and crack­led like a Ming vase’s glaze where bolts had been over­tight­ened and then eased, sat to one side of the cof­fee table it was meant to replace as soon as my father found an appro­pri­ate top. In fact, the traf­fic light would fol­low us up the Hud­son, to Dar­by, to the house with the emp­ty room. There it nev­er escaped the garage.

Anoth­er mem­o­ry: my play­mate Max’s par­ents had bor­rowed, from mine, a spare set of chi­na plates. I spent a lot of time vis­it­ing with Max and, when he let us inside his room, Max’s old­er broth­er. So I was present the after­noon my father destroyed the chi­na set. Max’s fam­i­ly lived in a duplex, the base­ment and par­lor floor of a brown­stone, a palace of abun­dance . . . Max and his broth­er had sep­a­rate rooms, and a back­yard. All this would pale beside the spa­cious­ness of our Dar­by farm­house. That was the point.

You can read the full text here. And please note: the Paris Review has just launched its first dig­i­tal edi­tion, let­ting you read the famous lit­er­ary jour­nal on your com­put­er, iPad or mobile device. More on that here. H/T Bib­liok­lept

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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