Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn

Book - 1999
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Tell your story walking." St. Vincent's Home for Boys, Brooklyn, early 1970s. For Lionel Essrog, a.k.a. The Human Freakshow, a victim of Tourette's syndrome (an uncontrollable urge to shout out nonsense, touch every surface in reach, rearrange objects), Frank Minna is a savior. A local tough guy and fixer, Minna shows up to take Lionel and three of his fellow orphans on mysterious errands: they empty a store of stereos as the owner watches; destroy a small amusement park; visit old Italian men. The four grow up to be the Minna Men, a fly-by-night detective agency-cum-limo service, and their days and nights revolve around Frank, the prince of Brooklyn, who glides through life on street smarts, attitude, and secret knowledge. Then one dreadful night, Frank is knifed and thrown into a Dumpster, and Lionel must become a real detective. As Lionel struggles to find Frank's killer--without letting his Tourette's get in the way--he's forced to delve into the complex, shadowy web of relationships, threats, and favors that make up the Brooklyn world he thought he knew so well. No one--not Frank, not Frank's bitter wife, Julia, not the other Minna Men--is who they seem. Not even The Human Freakshow. All of the Lethem touches that have thrilled critics are here--crackling dialogue, sly humor, dizzying plot twists--but they're secondary to wonderfully full, tragic, funny characterizations, and a dazzling evocation of place. Indeed, Brooklyn--with its charming folkways and language, its unique style of bad-guy swagger and sentimentality--becomes itself a major character. Motherless Brooklynis a bravura performance: funny, tense, touching, extravagant. This novel signals the coming of age of a major American writer.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 1999
ISBN: 9780385491839
Branch Call Number: FICTION Lethem
Characteristics: 311 p. ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

PickyReader May 08, 2014

Wonderful narration, very off-beat version of noir for folks who don't usually like that genre: flawed detective/hero, mysterious woman, innocent woman, dark criminal masters, semi-criminal/semi-innocent associates of hero, 'realistic' ending. All with a plot and voice that twist it around so you don't realize it's there, beneath the wonderfully jumpy surface of this fabulous tale. A read and a half.

Apr 19, 2014

This book is simply fabulous. It chronicles the lives of some good ol' boy gumshoes exploring the world in all it's post-coming-of-age dreariness. Lethem is always a fantastic wordsmith, but his writing is at its best here.

Aug 14, 2012

This is one of my favorite Lethem books. Very interesting characters and storyline. Well worth the time investment!

lilylibrarian Mar 28, 2012

Four teenaged orphans are recruited by mafioso-wannabe Frank Minna and molded into devoted "Minna Men." When Frank is killed during one of the Men's assignments, the piper must be paid. Did I mention the narrator has Tourette's Syndrome?

jplynch25 Apr 19, 2011

Surprising, interesting peculiarly arresting.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number



Find it at OPL

To Top