You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem

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You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: A struggling band meets the manipulations of "the art crowd", whilst mismatched friends and lovers aimlessly try to figure out what they really want.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: November 2007
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571235636

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Matthew and Lucinda meet at the museum to end their affair... the fact that they almost immediately end up having sex inside one of the exhibits suggests that as endings go, this isn't likely to be permanent.

But they have to split. And they have to remain friends. Anything else would not be good for 'the band'.

If you've any friends involved in the local music scene you'll recognise this scenario. OK maybe not the sex in the gallery bit... but definitely the convoluted relationships that go on between people in 'the band'. Music is a passionate business, passions run high... but then the passion for the music and for the musicians gets confused and love affairs... well, from what I've seen from the outside, they also get confused.

This is the premise for Jonathan Lethem's romantic farce You Don't Love Me Yet.

Set in LA, obviously an on-off love affair and a band struggling to make it isn't really going to be enough to hang a story on... so...

Lucinda - in trying to make the split permanent this time quits her job at the coffee shop and goes to work for conceptual artist Falmouth as a "Complaint Line" operator - through which artistic endeavour she meets the new knight-on-charger ("the Complainer") who with the help of Falmouth and a local "Society" party-thrower is about to turn all their lives upside down.

Matthew - bereft without his woman turns to the one other female who really needs him: Shelf - a slightly dysfunctional kangaroo, who may or not fare better for having been kidnapped by Matt and taking up residence in his bathtub.

The pair make the painfully shy and lonely Bedwin - dissecting half-visible signs on the walls of ancient movie sets, while trying to write lyrics - and Denise the drummer - totally sane, practical and normal even if she does work in a porn shop - appear to be boringly average.

What follows is an averagely amusing rendition of the Tales From the City/ Desperate Housewives/ Sex & the City variety. Relationships develop and fall apart. Unlikely partnerships emerge. Friendships soldier on. The band gets its big break... and then a bigger one... (or does it?). Life goes on.

It helps if you like your sexual encounters to be regular and unerotic. Otherwise they get in the way of a reasonably witty tale of pretension and betrayal. The struggling band reaching for authenticity (but failing to even come up with a name) vying against the manipulators of "style" and "the business". I'm not sure the kangaroo adds a great deal to the plot - but will at least furnish the potential for some seriously funny scripting if the mini-series adaptation materialises.

Two-twenty pages of wide-spaced type makes this a light, easy read. Perfect for a longish train journey, where you can read it at a sitting, smile now & again... and not feel the need to actually take it away with you afterwards. It's quirky and entertaining but any claims the blurb-writers have to compare it with the delights of Austen's Emma are stretching credibility just a tad.

On the other hand I'm sad enough to appreciate some of the itchy phrases...

All Thinking is Wishful

Pour love on the broken places

You can't be deep without a surface

... and you cannot argue with names like 'Carlton Vogelsong', 'Rhodes Bramlett' and the fabulous 'Fancher Autumnbreast'.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.

If this is your kind of thing you'll love the maestro of the genre: check out Amistead Maupin's revival Michael Tolliver Lives.

Buy You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem at Amazon.com.


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