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Jonathan Lethem resigns as ‘Bard of Boerum Hill’

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Take a good look at Jonathan Lethem — this will be the last time you see one of Brooklyn’s most important authors as a resident of the borough.

Yes, earlier this summer, Lethem quietly took a teaching job in California.

So Friday night’s reading by the once and former “Bard of Boerum Hill” at the powerHouse Arena in DUMBO was a bit of a funeral.

Fans at the reading were appalled, offended, betrayed.

“Guess this means there won’t be any more books about New York,” said Amanda Rider, who said she’s read every one of the ink slinger’s doorstoppers, including the current novel, “Chronic City.”

“I can’t believe he’ll actually be gone,” she added.

Much of Lethem’s greatest fiction, especially “Fortress of Solitude,” was inspired by his own life and times in the heart of the borough. But the scribe defended taking the job as head of a prestigious creative writing department at Pomona College because his heart is still where it needs to be.

“You’d be surprised how many of my books — like ‘Fortress of Solitude’ — are written in exile, in Toronto or hotel lobbies in Germany,” Lethem told us. “But you’d have to give me a restraining order to keep me out of Brooklyn.”

He said that his favorite Kings-sized memories are “too many to list,” but he’s created a few on his own. Who could forget his marathon reading of “Chronic City” at BookCourt last year, when he partied and read until 4 am with 13 devoted fans?

That said, Lethem seemed earnest in his promise to come back at some point. He even touted the borough in an entrance interview at the Bay Area college, and hinted at new novels that document his life in the city.

“I keep running away and coming back again,” Lethem said. “I think this time away will help, but you can never keep me fully away.”

Updated 5:20 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to fix misspelling in headline
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Reasonable discourse

Matthew from Brooklyn Heights says:
Motherless Brooklyn was a great book but the rest are all very overrated. Fortress of Solitude was nothing less than a mess.

Anyway it's time for the next generation of Brooklyn writers to take the lead. Farewell to the noir/comic book obsessed bro's and their legions of earnest bearded macbook boyfriends.
Sept. 27, 2010, 12:31 pm
Daniel from globe says:
addendum: Pomona is not a Bay area college. It is ~45 minutes east of Los Angeles.

I am sympathetic to this mistake; I grew up in New York, was admitted to Pomona twenty years ago, and most here were not very familiar with it then in the pre-internet days.

At any rate, it is indeed perturbing for NYC to to lose another artist.
Sept. 27, 2010, 3:34 pm
Annie from west village says:
Yes, at the Bay Area college, wrote the Queens newspaper...
Sept. 27, 2010, 6:41 pm
Richard Grayson from Williamsburg says:
Mr. Lethem already had a second home in another state -- Maine, I think -- and he spent considerable time in California before; a decent chunk of "Fortress of Solitude" is set in the Bay Area.

The one thing Brooklyn has is plenty of writers. It's a great place -- and I've written my share of Brooklyn books and taught classes in Brooklyn literature -- but far from being the only place.

Mr. Lethem is taking over the position of the late great David Foster Wallace, and Pomona College is lucky to have him. It's also a very nice place to live, with winters a lot more pleasant than Brooklyn's.
Sept. 28, 2010, 4:40 am

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