Motherless Brooklyn Quotes

Motherless Brooklyn is a novel by Jonathan Lethem that was first published in 1999. The story is set in Brooklyn, and follows Lionel Essrog, a detective who has Tourette’s, a disorder marked by involuntary tics. Essrog works for Frank Minna, a small-time neighborhood owner of a “seedy and makeshift” detective agency.

The novel won the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and the 2000  award for crime fiction

 “Someday I’d change my name to Shut Up and save everybody a lot of time.”

 

“Consensual reality is both fragile and elastic, and it heals like the skin of a bubble.”

 

“I’m tightly wound. I’m a loose cannon. Both – I’m a tightly wound loose cannon, a tight loose.”

 

“Enough of this. Does every conversation with you have to be the director’s cut? Get out of the car.”

 

“We were all four of us an arrangement around a missing centrepiece, as incoherent as a verb-less sentence.”

 

“She craned up on her toes and kissed my cheek…”Don’t do that”, I said. “You just met me. This is New York.”

 “Tourette’s is just one big lifetime of tag, really. The world (or my brain—same thing) appoints me it, again and again. So I tag back. Can it do otherwise? If you’ve ever been it you know the answer.”

 

“The wind was picking up off the ocean now and the whole coastal scene had a bleak, abandoned look, as though Maine in November really belonged to the ragged gulls who wheeled over the sun-worn pier, and the humans had just gotten the news and taken a powder.”

 

“A shadow strolled past the car, indifferent to our curbside melodrama. This was my second time imperiled in a a parked vehicle in the space of three hours. I wondered what goonish spectacles I’d overlooked in my own career as a pavement walker.”

“Have you ever felt, in the course of reading a detective novel, a guilty thrill of relief at having a character murdered before he can step onto the page and burden you with his actual existence? Detective stories always have too many characters anyway. And characters mentioned early on but never sighted, just lingering offstage, take on an awful portentous quality. Better to have them gone.”

 

“Insomnia is a variant of Tourette’s–the waking brain races, sampling the world after the world has turned away, touching it everywhere, refusing to settle, to join the collective nod. The insomniac brain is a sort of conspiracy theorist as well, believing too much in its own paranoiac importance–as though if it were to blink, then doze, the world might be overrun by some encroaching calamity, which its obsessive musings are somehow fending off.”

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