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Free eBook Gun, with Occasional Music By Jonathan Lethem – Blockdiagramwiring.co

Gumshoe Conrad Metcalf Has Problems There S A Rabbit In His Waiting Room And A Trigger Happy Kangaroo On His Tail Near Future Oakland Is A Brave New World Where Evolved Animals Are Members Of Society, The Police Monitor Citizens By Their Karma Levels, And Mind Numbing Drugs Such As Forgettol And Acceptol Are All The Rage Metcalf Has Been Shadowing Celeste, The Wife Of An Affluent Doctor Perhaps He S Falling A Little In Love With Her At The Same Time When The Doctor Turns Up Dead, Our Amiable Investigator Finds Himself Caught In A Crossfire Between The Boys From The Inquisitor S Office And Gangsters Who Operate Out Of The Back Room Of A Bar Called The Fickle Muse Mixing Elements Of Sci Fi, Noir, And Mystery, This Clever First Novel From The Author Of Motherless Brooklyn Is A Wry, Funny, And Satiric Look At All That The Future May Hold


10 thoughts on “Gun, with Occasional Music

  1. says:

    When down and out private inquisitor Conrad Metcalf s last client turns up dead, Metcalf takes up the case to find out who killed him Can he find the killer before he runs out of karma and winds up in the deep freeze If Raymond Chandler and Philip K Dick spent an evening together doing hard drugs, this would be the book that would result Lethem weaves together the sci fi and noir elements together so tightly that an evolved kangaroo doesn t seem out of place after his first appearance.The world of Gun, with Occasional Music, is a bleak totalitarian version of a future California A future where everyone carries cards noting how much karma they have When you run out of karma, you wind up in deep freeze for a period of years A scientist named Twostrand invented a process to create evolved bipedal animals out of ordinary ones like kittens, kangaroos and sheep Eventually the process was tried on babies, creating the grotestque babyheads Almost everyone is addicted to a free drug called make that s used to keep the populace under control Interested yet Metcalf s case is a pretty standard one but Lethem injects it with freshness Metcalf is the prototypical noir private eye with a self deprecating sense of humor More than once, he congratulates himself on his use of metaphor Gun, with Occasional Music, reminds me of the movie Hot Fuzz in that it s both a satire of noir and also one of the better 30 s style noir novels I ve read in recent memory, much like Hot Fuzz was for action movies You wouldn t think that a book featuring a gun toting kangaroo would be a good example of noir but the proof is in the pudding.I d recommend Gun, with Occasional to fans of noir, bizarro, Philip K Dick, and other strangeness.


  2. says:

    Zooming, fast paced, hardboiled futuristic thriller with an edge that won t say quits Gun, with Occasional Music a mix of Raymond Chandler Big Sleep and Philip K Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep , the first novel by Brooklyn born Jonathan Lethem published in 1994 when the author was age thirty Oh, what some writers would give to have this man s talent The first person narrator is a private eye by the name of Conrad Metcalf, a tough, handsome chap what else who throw out wisecracks, pithy quips, sharp gibes and one liners faster than a gangster kangaroo can dress him down as the low karma holding flathead he is Say what gangster kangaroo Karma holding Oh, yes, it all makes sense within the context of this highly provocative and engaging tale set in the San Francisco Bay Area.What a wild, wild ride As soon as we begin reading, we are immediately pulled into the story since not only is this a murder mystery a la Chandler or Hammett but also science fiction a la PKD or Gibson, all set in a bizarre futuristic 21st century world revealed to readers piece by piece as we turn the pages Too many shocking revelations for me to go on about plot, thus I ll turn directly to several of the juicy bits Conrad Metcalf He s what we nowadays call a Private Investigator but what this future society calls a Private Inquisitor Conrad is a freewheeling, independently minded future Philip Marlow Much of the fun comes on every page when Conrad thinks a somewhat cynical, usually humorous thought or voices his retort, gaff, query or take on the case A few for instances Where did you study up on how to play the fall guy You re the punch line to everybody s worst jokes I m a comedian Either of you guys want to play straight man, the part is still open I don t possess an eidetic memory, but I had a picture of her knees and the creamy inches of skin above them burned into my consciousness from the brief flash as I walked in Colorful Characters Remember Sydney Greenstreet playing Kasper Gutman in The Maltese Falcon There s a bad guy in this novel modeled on Hammett s famous fat man There s also a dangerous dame modeled on Carmen Sternwood from The Big Sleep, not to mention a couple of hunks a good guy and a bad guy modeled on Moose Malloy from Farewell, My Lovely Shameless stereotyping, you say Sure, but for Jonathan Lethem s overall literary aesthetic, such stereotyping works like a charm no apologies for the clich Make Powerful cocaine like drug made available free of charge by the government Nearly the entire population snorts lines of their favorite blend depending on the mindset desired Several choice ingredients Acceptal, Avoidall, Believeall, Regrettol, Forgettol Sound eerie It is unnerving, creepy and, depending on your values, even sinister But according to the state, it is just the thing to keep society humming along to their tune Conrad continually hankers after his own special blend but admits all the various fixings are icing on the cake since underneath it all is Addicttol.Inquisitors The police Conrad must deal with an entire batch of Inquisitors, usually two at a time Among the force is knockout Catherine Teleprompter who can be tough as nails or as saucy and sassy as any femme fatale.Karma Cards Karma Points Citizens are required to carry cards noting their karma points many karma points for people who follow society s rules few karma points for those who break the rules Being a seeker of truth rather than a guy worried about social conventions or very questionable laws, it should come as no surprise Conrad is continually having his karma points reduced by the Inquisitors.Human Like Animals Most of the service jobs are performed by genetically engineered animals such as kittens or sheep a doctor has a ewe as a housekeeper One such animal playing a key role is Joey the Kangaroo Here s Conrad observing the kangaroo He was wearing a canvas jacket and plastic pants with a tight elastic waistband, and his paws were tucked into his pockets The inclusion of these talking evolved ones adds than a little weirdness and creepiness to the tale but I must say, there s something unique and fascinating about other animals sharing our human condition.Babyheads Evolution engineering has toddlers speaking as adults Many of these small ones it appears they remain bald toddlers no matter what their age , run away from home and drink booze continually at baby bars such as the one on Telegraph Avenue Oh, you babyhead you re ghastly and fascinating at the same time.Deep Freeze and Slave Boxes Don t go against society or you could be put in deep freeze for years or have a slave box inserted in the back of your head to turn you into an obedient worker Ouch Dystopian in the extreme Literature and the Arts It appears television, drugs and the powers that be all but eliminated great literature and the high arts having any influence whatsoever in this future culture I came away with a sad, sinking feeling thinking about the numbed out, dullard driven world Jonathan Lethem creates here But Gun, With Occasional Music is a splendid novel And with the inclusion of Conrad Metcalf and his philosophical reflections and wisecracks, both deeply thought provoking and a fun read Get yourself a copy and zoom off with Conrad Thanks, Jonathan One of the leading lights of American literature, Jonathan Lethem, born 1964 Photo taken when the author was hovering around 30, the age when he wrote Gun, With Occasional Music Some people have things written all over their faces the big guy had a couple of words misspelled in crayon on his Jonathan Lethem, Gun, With Occasional Music


  3. says:

    My name is Conrad Metcalf, and I m a private inquisitor You knew that You read it somewhere and it gave you hope Let me tell you now that it ll cost you seven hundred dollars a day to keep that hope alive What you ll get for that money won t be a new best friend I m as much of a pain in the ass to the people who pay me as I am to the guys I go up against Most people walk out of my office knowing things about themselves they didn t want to know unless they leave after my first little speech See the door Take away the dystopian, science fiction elements and I could swear I m reading a Lew Archer mystery from the classic period This is strong evidence, in my book, that the noir style, with all its mannerisms and over used typical cast of characters and plots, remains relevant and fresh today As long as there are still mean streets of corruption, organized crime and violence in our cities, there remains the need for the iconoclast, lonely gumshoe who would not rest until his personal idea of justice is fulfilled.I learned a long time ago that my job consists of uncovering the secrets people keep from themselves as much or than the ones they keep from each other Jonatham Lethem managed to a a lot than simply paying homage to the genre He has written a powerful, stylish, darkly humorous existentialist novel that happens to take the form of a murder investigation in a futuristic Oakland where everybody is a drug addict, animals with woken intelligence live side by side with humans, babyheads toddlers have their intellects artificially accelerated, and the government has total control through musical news, wordless newspapers and karma police The printed word had been dwindling in the news media, but it hadn t disappeared completely until a year ago, when it was outlawed The first person narrative, through the voice of private inquisitor Metcalf, is sharp and engaging, with a very good balance between wisecracks, social commentary and the occasional metafictional foray Art mirrors culture muses Metcalf at one point of his investigation, and it strikes me as a valid argument both for the classic noir that served as inspiration for the novel and for an easier understanding of millennial forms of entertainment It is not so difficult after all to extrapolate current trends and arrive at newspapers filled entirely with images without text, or at a government monopoly on drug distribution that is used to control a restive population and transform it into zombies You consider yourself an outsider, a seeker of truth amidst lies, yet you ve bought into the biggest lie that can be told You snort the lie through your nose and let it run in your bloodstream Metcalf himself is an addict, who cannot function without his special mix of nose dust How is he any better than the underworld kingpin he is stalking or that dubious doctor who keeps an awoken sheep in the basement My skeptical faculties overcompensate and, in effect, the ingredient backfires I become paranoid and suspicious More than usual, I mean I like this concept, that the first step in being a gumshoe, a crusader for truth and justice, is to be skeptical Like Dr House used to say Everybody Lies For Metcalf, the paranoia seems well justified, since everybody and their uncle are out to get him I considered the possibility of a physical confrontation with a roomful of babyheads all clinging to my legs and climbing on my back, and I decided I wanted to avoid it The image of piranhas kept coming up I have danced around the actual plot details in my review One reason is that I am sure in a few months these events will get mashed out with the hundreds of other crime novels I have read in the past and I will continue to read The other reason is that it is a pretty typical, Ross MacDonald type of plot, where you start with an ordinary murder in a motel room and you slowly uncover conspiracies that go up to the highest levels of society You have the dame in distress, the hot babe the detective will fall for, the cops who rough you up, the fat crime boss, the doctor with a secret agenda and so on OK, maybe you don t usually have a kangaroo henchman or a sheep as a clandestine mistress, or a detective whose nervous system has been switched with that of a former girlfriend But in the end, the piquant details are another reason to keep searching for new books in the genre It was a dame, a dish, a bird I never know what to call them when I want to be other than rude Because I m always rude But she made me want to be other, made be want to be someone I wasn t This was Mr Lethem debut novel I am quite willing to continue exploring his fictional worlds.


  4. says:

    The style and voice and plot are pure Raymond Chandler, set in a weird future of talking kangaroos and mind altering drugs It s a wild ride that s largely successful, though not as ambitious as other futuristic genre mash ups for example, China Mieville s The City and The City , in part because it hews pretty closely to a standard Chandler esque plot and in part because the futuristic elements aren t quite as developed Still, there are moments of sheer brilliance here.


  5. says:

    Book, with constant boredom Answers, with no questions Questions, with no answers on the tips of tongues or inside cheeks maybe ass cheeks Music, with no tone Gun, with no bullets Who signed off on the license D j vu that reminds of nothing Is that the appeal of genres to remind of nothing and feel the welcoming coma with dreams that someone else plants there and you wake up before you can see anyone s faces The eye from that book, the nose from this Make me look beautiful But I liked you before I like some of Lethem s books a whole lot Some are on my favorites shelf That doesn t mean I liked this at all or make allowances for first time authors Boredom is boredom Side parenthetical over Paul Auster called He wants his book back from the discount pile Chandler, Dick and all the other genre y hard boiled The statuesque blonde had to pick my doorway to stand in and suck out all of my secondhand smoke before I could get hard stuff I hate called and reminded me that I try to never read this kind of thing If they are using the formula it has to be because they don t want to be different The answers are built in Or is that the questions Naivete called and it wanted its easyness back Sense and cynicism called They wanted their basis of reality back My life called and said that it wanted itself back from me.A tragic waste of time yes I said it TRAGIC It s a detective novel that asks no questions It doesn t answer questions so much as pretend to answer them with hard boiled dialogue that breaks before it can be snappy Truth and justice, I said I wonder if you really know what the hell it is you re talking about, or whether words just keep pouring out because of the thing they did to your brain Truth and justice Nice, easy words Babies and animals have been genetically modified They are called evolved Evolved from what, and for what purpose Metcalf is a private investigator or inquisitor there s not enough distinction A dying breed without going into what it used to be like People don t ask questions except for the inquisitors vaguely sci fi gestapo like cops You ll end up frozen Han Solo style if they don t like your answers Prison, if you re lucky enough to know people with enough money It meant waking up with a monkey on my back, but hell, it was my monkey No, this does not pass for reasoning But WHY Just because it sounds like it sucks Do you mean that people numb themselves to make it through their tedious day to day live That there are people who have no idea that bad things happen and there are people who do know and they both get drunk the same Really Now what do you want to say about that If you want to get drunk then say that Metcalf had surgery with his girlfriend to switch their gender sensors She ran off and stuck him with the senses of a woman He can still get it up, if he chose to He doesn t except to sorta fall in love like that in the woman in my doorway kind of way every time a ballsy woman wears lipstick So why the sex sensors thing Why was this even in the book It was mentioned several times and nothing else happened with it Was that to sound sci fi enough for someone who wanted to read sci fi There was nothing about him that said I think differently from before woman senses Nothing said woman Nothing said anything but I wanted to write a cool drug sniffing hard boiled detective stand in standing for nothing type So why There is a kangroo, Joey Kangaroo Jack called It wants his sucker punching Joey back , working for some big bad guy because there has to be a bad guy There has to be another guy in Metcalf s place so says this book Okay, why Lethem wanted to throw in shit like talking kangaroos and people on drugs like Acceptol and Forgettol Why do people want to take drugs to forget what they are currently living so as to not live at all C mon ask questions if you want to be a private investigator so bad and mourn the day people didn t roll over The book rolled over Ugh Just admit it then Where did their karma cards come from Who decided what depleted your karma and what was a good deed Why is the hero as feckless as the world he doesn t really try not to sink in He takes their drugs too, for example Elevator music, answering machine music, dentist lobby music, on the way to collect an award music, commercial jingle music Time to stop and think drown out the mind music The music says wah wah we are all so numb and the album art is of a cool disaffected person The video bimbo is a statuesque blonde with bright red lipstick The kangaroo can borrow his outfit from Rick Springfield s dog.Also, the mystery sucked I already know who killed the sheep It was these guys I could have my mind erasedAnd still not know exactly what I don t already know Modest MouseP.s It doesn t make sense that a kangaroo would work for a p.i They are hardly inconspicuous The bigotry towards evolved animals was thrown in there Metcalf hates them without ever wondering why It is hinted they have marginally rights Why were they made Why are they working for anyone Why throw them in there for muscle Anything Do you even care, Lethem Why did the guy on drugs to make him not care care about his fading place in life a job no one cared about WHY P.s.s The book called It said P.s., I forgot to care.


  6. says:

    Video reviewManages to offer some of the most unforgettable world building I ve ever read without pausing the action for than a few words at a time Offers an absurd dystopian future that s just absurd enough to be convincing Fuses hardboiled with scifi as seamlessly as to be unfair Rocks.


  7. says:

    In Gun, With Occasional Music, Jonathan Lethem gives us science fiction s worthy successor to Raymond Chandler Though this is the easy take home message from nearly every quoted newspaper columnist, book jacket blurb, and miscellaneous reviewer they also all happen to be right Even a cursory familiarity with Chandler s pulp noir will ring through with startling clarity to readers of this novel The cadence of the narrative, the hard boiled dialogue, the archetypal characters Lethem s Conrad Metcalf is a well executed Philip Marlowe cover song with just a little bit of record scratching thrown into the background for texture.On the other hand, those same columnist quotes, blurbs, and reviewers all seem to liken Lethem to Philip K Dick Personally not seeing it It s a bit of a stretch, some optimistic name dropping to match up Lethem s mystery noir heritage with some similarly classic science fiction antecedent The ubiquitous drug use Sure, okay that s a bit Dickian A M bius fold of reality unraveling around the narrator in some palpable and thoroughly eldritch fashion Not so much More than PKD, the scenes in this novel played out in my imagination as fearfully symmetrical to Cronenberg s take on Burroughs Naked Lunch substitute Jim Henson esque evolved animals for Mugwumps but otherwise that s it, right down to Peter Weller as Conrad Metcalf.Or maybe Punk s review has got it down It s Blade Runner meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit Where was I Oh rightA part of me desires to do a chapter by chapter deconstruction of the text, to get all scholarly about it and run the blockade of Chandler s lineage here I want to look for the hidden significance of the doctors as urologists, to get semiotic on names like Catherine Teleprompter and Danny Phoneblum But instead I ll just give a positive nod It s a fun, noirish scifi romp with all the right moves and delivers slightly better than expectations UPDATE Upon second reading holy crap I didn t realize just how bleak that ending was, the first time around Just the way that Metcalf s whole world collapses around despite his success and how he takes his exit See also


  8. says:

    Excellent His style is as cold as Hammett s, and the moral core as strong as Chandler s And any book that says both In Los Angeles it s illegal to know what you do for a living and Tell him next time he wants to talk to me, don t send a marsupial should be in everyone s library.This character develops, is one thing somewhat new he loses his early self consciousness about his metaphors, and eventually solidifies enough to end a chapter with the brilliant line It was time to stop fucking around The love scene says The thing I wanted wasn t lost in the past at all, and it never had been It was lost in the future A self I should have been, but wasn t A thread I d let go of in myself, thinking I could live without it, not seeing what it meant In a mean, pulpy sort of way, it s wrenching It seems important that Metcalf s eventual solution is to surrender to the future, to allow himself to skip ahead to whatever future is next part of him is still lost in the future that could have been, but he embraces the actual future without sacrificing that sense of loss So that s the key, here, and that s a good thought you feel the loss of your possible selves keenly, but you throw yourself blindly, with relief, into the future that is Your pain goes with you So does what you ve done, because you refuse to forget It s okay that it s sort of trite originality and subtlety are not the detective s virtues.


  9. says:

    Sometimes it s better not to think in questions, but I can t seem to get out of the habit Jonathan Lethem, Gun, With Occasional Music Science fiction slams into a hard boiled, noir pulp imagine Who Framed Roger Rabbit written by Chandler and directed by David Lynch Fun, quick and in parts even close to brilliant Lethem is one of those writers I d stamp with Most Likely To Disappoint Me He has a ton of potential, but far too often I see that potential sizzle away Most of that energy, however, was captured in this book.


  10. says:

    Sci fi noir detective story It s Blade Runner meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit and exactly as goofy and dark as that sounds.Conrad Metcalf is our narrator, a Private Inquisitor in a world where direct questions are considered rude and question marks are flashy punctuation The story s filled with products of evolution therapy talking kittens and mobster kangaroos, plus the mysterious babyheads toddlers with advanced intelligence that hang out in babyhead bars and babble their babyhead talk I can come up with my own reasons for most of these things, just take gene therapy, bioengineering, and cloning and project it forward twenty years, but it would have been nice if the story could have given me a hint to their origins in this fictional universe.Above all, the novel is a mystery, though a failed one It suffers from the ultimate drawing room You may be wondering why I ve gathered you all here today infodump, where we all sit down and hear what really happened It s a mark of how poorly the mystery is constructed that these answers don t appear in the natural course of the narrative and instead require an infodump for resolution The mystery plot is weak, but the universe Lethem created makes up for the lackluster detective story.The book is funny but disturbing, playful but violent The fly leaf actually got it right for once It says, It s funny It s not so funny Exactly.