NABOKV-L post 0011254, Mon, 21 Mar 2005 08:26:40 -0800

Humbert sighting
From NYRB of April 7, 2005 (52 #6). John Leonard review:

In Amnesia Moon (1995), where Jack Kerouac and Philip K. Dick will meet Mel Gibson's Road Warrior and Vladimir Nabokov's Humbert Humbert after the bombs have fallen on America, the sky is purple with radiation poisoning, the mountains are full of biochemical amnesiac fog, and mutants from the "rupture" think they can talk to dolphins, almost everybody is bereft. Chaos, for instance, is a character personified here as if Lethem were Milton or Hobbes; he lives in the projection booth of a multiplex in Hatfork, Wyoming, and is forever dreaming someone else's dreams. And then there is Melinda, the fur-covered adolescent girlchild, some kind of selkie out of Celtic folklore, hitching a ride with Chaos to Emerald City and the Wizard of Oz. And Edie, who seeks to improve her Finite Subjective Reality but always flunks her bad-luck test. Not to mention Case Hotchkiss, Everett Moon, Vance Escrow, and Dawn Crash in the Submission District of San Francisco, where, after the fragmentation caused by bombs, they long for "a sort of viral coherence"; they wait for Godot and gestalt.

If Amnesia Moon is Pynchon Lite, like Pynchon's Vineland, it is also the Philip K. Dickiest of Lethem's novels. Except that Dick was a paranoid pillhead—genuinely convinced, according to his most recent biographer, that telepathic Soviet scientists tried to jam his neural frequencies by bombarding him with abstract splatters of Kandinsky and Picasso from the Hermitage— whereas Lethem is known to hang out at McSweeney's, where the writers want to make a community; and the coherence he longs for throughout his books, the gestalt, is family.