The Fortress of Solitude : A Novel, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (5 ratings)


From the funked-up, messed-up Brookyn of the 1970s to the present day, this stunning novel spans thirty years in the life of two best friends, Dylan and Mingus, their families and an entire neighbourhood.

From their stories comes the history of soul music, of graffiti art, of comic books, of experimental film and 'rock writing'.

With a cast of more than a hundred characters and more than fifty speaking parts, this is a touching and intimate novel on an epic scale.




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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

Overall fairly enjoyable but excessively loquacious and would have been half the length if the author hadn't padded with incidental descriptions at every opportunity. In a more succinct version, perhaps the story and the characters would have held more weight.Confusingly, the protagonist and occasional narrator, Dylan Ebdus, is by far the weakest character in the book. Lethem's flat, matter-of-fact and, at times, downright cold prose, leaves it easier for the reader to empathise with Dylan's somewhat more interesting friends, such that the passages where they are absent tend to drag for what feels like an eternity.When this book is good, it shines. The chapters about the super powers, for example, are inspired. Sadly the highlights are few and far between, and the ending is hugely disappointing.

Review by

Lethem is a really great writer. His prose is observant and nuanced. He creates characters and settings so realized, I felt I could touch them and see them while I was reading. The book is mostly heartbreaking and I was left just wanting to take everyone in this story under my wing in an attempt to keep them all safe. In fact, I sort of want to give Lethem a hug.

Review by

Two boys, one black, one white, growing up together in Brooklyn in the 1970s, just before the beginning of its gentrification, a time when a white face was in a minority.The two boys, the white Dylan Edbus, and black Mingus Rude, have much in common, their fathers are creative (one in music, the other art), they are both (eventually) in effect motherless, and they share a love of comics and comic book heroes. But their friendship is not simple, it cannot be where a young white boy is prey to regular muggings, otherwise called yolking, but it is a friendship bound by among other things shared intimacies, and a ring with special powers akin to their comic book heroes.The story, part told in the third person, later narrated by Dylan in the 1990s, reflects a change in attitudes over a period some twenty years. It is about the music of the period, black and white relations, about friendship and loyalties, about lost opportunities. But above all it is a book that is beautifully written, a book to be savoured purely for the pleasure of reading.

Review by

Now this is a novel - I'm very impressed with my first Lethem, and I look forward to the rest of his stuff.<br/><br/>Rich writing, fully immersion into the atmosphere of 1970s Brooklyn - every single aspect of it. Comics, music, school life, everything. I often hear of a disparity between the two parts of the novel, but I didn't particularly notice any decline.<br/><br/>A fine book. I look forward to more.

Review by

Loses a tiny bit of momentum 2/3 of the way through with an abrupt shift in time and person, but gets it back in time for the end. Terrific book.

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