A review of You Don’t Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem

Reviewed by Bob Williams

You Don’t Love Me Yet
by Jonathan Lethem
2007, ISBN 978-0-385-51218-3, $24.95, 224 pages

You Don’t Love Me Yet is the story of a group of rock musicians as they oscillate between success and failure and collide or collude with Falmouth, a gallery owner and pseudo-artist, and Dr Marian, the vocalist’s employer and director of the local zoo. Looming massively is the complainer Carl Vogelsong, a formidable eccentric.

Lucinda is the bass player and Lethem tells his story mostly in terms of her experiences. At the opening of the book she has parted from her lover Matthew, the singer of the unnamed band. Bedwin, the lead guitarist, is a reclusive genius who is the powerhouse of the band. The other band member is the drummer Denise. The group has been together for some time, take themselves very seriously, and have never had a gig.

Lucinda works for Falmouth, a performance artist. He runs a complaint department from his gallery as a happening and Lucinda is one of the employees who listen to complainers. She becomes infatuated with Carl, one of the callers. They meet and begin a torrid sexual encounter that Lethem describes meticulously.

This is the beginning of the problem with the novel. Meticulously described sex adds nothing for anyone over thirteen. Sex is depersonalizing and to make it as Lethem does the significant hub of his book is a fatal error. Under the fury and passion individual characters disappear. Motivations become subterranean and capricious. The book becomes plastic elastic where anything can happen. It is unforgivably extravagant to base so much of the book on the encounters of two sweaty bodies.

I reviewed Girl in Landscape and with reservations recommended it highly. I came to this novel with high expectations. The best I can say for it is that it’s easy to read but I can think of no reason why anyone should.

About the Reviewer: Bob Williams is retired and lives in a small town with his wife, dogs and a cat. He has been collecting books all his life, and has done freelance writing, mostly on classical music. His principal interests are James Joyce, Jane Austen and Homer. His writings, two books and a number of short articles on Joyce, can be accessed at: http://www.grand-teton.com/service/Persons_Places