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Lenny Bruce Is Dead [Paperback]

Jonathan Goldstein
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2010 1552452409 978-1552452400 revised edition

This is the story of Joshua, a young man who's uncertain about, well, his whole life. He is having a hard time finding his way in the world; deciding on a career and keeping a girlfriend are too much to handle, not to mention the fact that after the death of his mother he has moved back into his childhood suburban home to be with his father, Chick. Oh, and then there's the arrival of the Moschiach (inventor of the infamous Love Lotion) to further complicate things.

Lenny Bruce Is Dead walks a tightrope between being searingly funny and poignant – you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll long for Love Lotion (and a Moschiach of your own). And you won't forget Josh – ineptitude, scatological neuroses, urban angst, self-deprecating humour and all.

The new edition of this classic Canadian novel features a new cover and a foreword by This American Life host Ira Glass.

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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.


'Jonathan Goldstein is one of the funniest and most original writers I can think of. Anything by him is better than anything by just about anyone else.' – David Sedaris

'An incredibly strange but redeemingly funny novel.' – Esquire

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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
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Nov. 23 2002
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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5.0 out of 5 stars try a clean slate when reading this book Feb. 13 2006
i came accross this book by accident without knowledge of goldstein's prior work. i can understand how some wouldn't appreciate the book, it is definitely an ubercontemporary work, not everyone's cup of tea.
i personally felt that the techniques read well and that goldstein did a brilliant job of placing you in someone's tossing and turning through waking life.
but then, i like structuref*!k.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Painful, thoroughly inadequate style Oct. 18 2002
By A Customer
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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2.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Disappointment April 18 2002
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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5.0 out of 5 stars There's something in it 4 everyone... March 7 2002
I almost didn't read this book when I first picked it up. I was like, "'Lenny Bruce is Dead' well yeah, and the sky is blue, so what!" But despite it's unimaginative title, I went ahead and took a chance on it. And by about page 30 I was hooked. Suprisingly this book isn't even about Lenny Bruce, instead its about sex and death. Oh, and it takes place in Canada, if you are into that sort of thing.
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