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Lenny Bruce is Dead Paperback – Apr 16 2001

3.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Coach House Books; 1 edition (April 16 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552450694
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552450697
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,681,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Goldstein's woeful, funny debut novel is a series of aphorism-capped vignettes, paced at the rate of approximately one scene per paragraph. As these snapshots flash past, protagonist Josh ages rapidly from child to onanistic teen to depressive adult, mourning the death of his mother and the loss of a series of vividly described girlfriends along the way. Throughout, descriptions of Josh's suburban-anytown Jewish upbringing and job at local fast-food franchise Burger Zoo, while peppered with scatological and Portnoy's Complaint-esque sordidly sexual details, often achieve a level of nuance that's poetic and almost profound. In the latter third of the book, Josh's preoccupation with a Hasidic neighbor and the "Rebbe's Kosher-style Love Lotion" that he begins to experiment with grow repetitive and confusing. But "This American Life" contributing editor Goldstein has a knack for imagery ("He was crying on the floor, pulling toilet paper off the spool with both hands like he was climbing a rope") and ear for hyper-realistic dialogue, making him a writer to watch. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


A neurotic antihero as funny and compelling as the ones Mordecai Richler and Phlip Roth used to dream up... -- Paul Tough, Open Letters

Lenny Bruce is Dead, by Jonathan Goldstein, is an experimental novel. We know that because there is almost as much white space as there is type. If it were condensed to normal space it would take up about 70 pages. Josh's mother died when he was a young man. He spends his time in disjointed reminiscences about his childhood and adolescence, his family, and his sexual experiences. It is a boring and frustrating reading experience. The scattered snippets of story are like notes for something more substantial. It reminds me of material I encountered in first year creative writing classes, written mainly by non-readers who lacked the ability to imagine a genuine story, so self-absorbed they were incapable of writing about anything but their own pathetic lives. They would then defend their self-indulgent twaddle as experimental though they had no idea of what a real novel of story was about. Pass this one by. --W.P. Kinsella (Books in Canada) -- Books in Canada

One wishes Lenny Bruce is Dead a long life. -- Kevin Chong, The National Post, April 21, 2001

This is an assured, completely original debut from a writer to be reckoned with... -- Kevin Connolly, eye, April 1, 2001

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First Sentence
AT MCDONALD'S, when I'm throwing out the stuff on my tray, there's a point where I get scared that my wallet could have been on there, too. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Anybody who's ever heard this author on This American Life would have high hopes for any novel he writes, but unfortunately Lenny Bruce is Dead just doesn't live up to his potential.
However, I recently read his second book, "Schmelvis", and it's extraordinary. It's not a novel but rather a sort of road trip memoir. It's about a documentary Goldstein worked on about Elvis Presley's Jewish roots (yes, believe it or not, the King was a Hebe) and it is brilliant. He and a film crew, a chassidic jewish Elvis impersonator named Schmelvis and a wacky Rabbi went to Memphis and Israel looking for evidence. Hilarious, touching, fascinating, all at the same time. I'd recommend that Jonathan's fans run, don't walk, and pick up "Schmelvis". Much more in the spirit of This American life than Lenny Bruce is dead, although his novel does have its moments so you might want to read that as well.
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Format: Paperback
Interesting, experimental novel by one of my favorite "This American Life" essayists. Folks familiar with that show will recognize the storytelling style: three- or four-sentence paragraph/chapters, each presenting a new idea, are bounced off each other in very rapid succession. The effect is sometimes ironic, sometimes not. Unfortunately, this device may be better suited to radio than it is to the page, and while there are some powerful moments the book comes off as more of a gimmicky exercise than anything else. The relentless cleverness (although the writing isn't terribly funny) make the book seem pretty far removed from actual human experience. It's also bogged down by an undergraduate sensibility about sex, and by a lot of odd metaphors that don't go anywhere. I can imagine this style being successfully applied to the novel form, but I don't think Goldstein's done it here.
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Format: Paperback
Many times I wanted to put this book down but kept telling myself it would get better. It never did. This book was one of the most confusing and perplexing peices I have ever read.
It tells the story of a young man's life and experiences with his parents, religion and girlfriends by throwing disjointed paragraphs together. In one paragraph Goldstein may be describing a moment with a girlfriend while in the next paragraph he jumps to some totally unrelated topic. These unconnected snipets of memory go on for 200 pages and causes much frustration for the reader. It is a book that has nothing to offer as the ending is unconclusive. A waste of time.
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Format: Paperback
I picked it up this book because my friends were raving about it and I had heard Goldstein's hilarious radio pieces on This American Life. The narrative voice makes this novel so original and distinct. Goldstein's imagery made me stop reading at times and just think about the power of language. He is a very talented man. He notices everything so tenderly, from a dirty napkin on a table to a girl's funny face. This is an introspective novel about the reflections a man has when his mother dies. It is fragmented, but it almost has to be. It's so beautiful, I could only take it one paragraph at a time. For those who love literature only!
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Format: Paperback
This author is well known for his radio writing and I was curious what the novel would be like. It is simply so light weight and smirking as to be hard to endure. I realize one shouldn't expect much from a book like this, but it seems to me novel writing must take more effort than was expended here. I also can't help but note that the Open Letters review excerpted here seems to me a bit incestuous. Nothing wrong with having friends give you rave reviews, mind. What are friends for, no?
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