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Extended Audio Sample Men and Cartoons, by Jonathan Lethem Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,918 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jonathan Lethem Narrator: Jonathan Lethem Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A boozy ex-military captain trapped in a mysterious vessel searches for his runaway son, an aging superhero settles into academia, and a professional “dystopianist” receives a visit from a suicidal sheep. Men and Cartoons contains eleven fantastical, amusing, and moving stories written in a dizzying array of styles that shows the remarkable range and power of Lethem’s vision. Sometimes firmly grounded in reality, and other times spinning off into utterly original imaginary worlds, this book brings together marvelous characters with incisive social commentary and thought provoking allegories.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Lethem is the man to beat in fiction these days…Every tale of ennui, cosmic regret, and petty yearning is perfectly realized. The brevity of the book and perfection of the stories puts every other member of his generation to shame.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • “Terrific…Lethem captures the world we know and the one hovering just beyond our periphery.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “Compelling…Effective…Intelligent and poignant…Strange, amusing, haunting…Lethem has what musicians call ‘chops,’ or technical mastery. He can mix and match prose styles and literary genres to create glittering fictional artifacts…Each of these nine tales rewards the reader in some way—through an insight, a scene, or simply the force of the author’s imagination.”

    St. Petersburg Times

  • “An already dazzling writer shows us a new card…Men and Cartoons ends on a note that portends Lethem’s most experimental turn yet: toward human love as [a transporting] alternate universe…Lethem in a new, more nakedly personal key.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A strikingly original collection…Imaginative, insightful, witty, and sad.”

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • “Ineffably poignant.”


  • “Bristling with familiarity…Theme[s] that resonate…[Lethem is] adept at letting palpable human experiences emerge from absurd, fantastical situations.”

    San Diego Union-Tribune

  • “Nuanced…Resonates with intense force.”


  • “Smart…Original…Memorable…Lethem is…[like] the Coen Brothers of fiction.”

    Seattle Times

  • Men and Cartoons will open up a vast new world to readers unfamiliar with Lethem’s oeuvre…The entries are uniformly fine—each in its own way representative of Lethem’s mastery of whatever style he attempts.”

    Rocky Mountain News

  • “His sheer inventiveness is a treat…Affecting and clever, these tales are standouts.”


  • “A pleasure…These stories offer potent little distillations of Lethem’s considerable imagination.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Laugh-out-loud funny tales of love, flamboyance, and childhood memories.”


  • “Engaging…A Lethem primer…The characters of Men and Cartoons need their stories to be told.”

    Village Voice

  • “Jonathan Lethem spits out genres like curse words—from sci-fi to pseudo-erotica to the epistolary. His narrative psychosis is our disturbed enjoyment.”

    Genre Magazine

  • “Wonderful…A collection of tales based in Brooklyn but permeated with fantasy [from] the very talented Mr. Lethem.”

    Hartford Courant

  • “Lethem at his best…[An] appealing array of stories [that] exemplify Lethem’s talents as a profoundly imaginative writer.”

    Chattanooga Times Free Press

  • One of the 2004 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Thenicole | 2/17/2014

    " Lethem as both product and producer of popular culture is in fine form for alternately successful and moderately entertaining short stories. He's at his best when making us slightly uncomfortable, which means parsing these stories with their underlying comics and sci-fi bent will take some time. He can be read fast, but I think that undoes the quality that he's cultivated--that life is slow and terrible at times, and we are forced to live mundanely despite our occasional moements of super-heroism. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sea Stachura | 2/7/2014

    " this was good storytelling, but it was way too guy for me. The comic book theme went too far for me. The book breathed hip disaffection. I get sick of that in the New Yorker and I got tired of it here. (now watch me apply for MFA programs and have Lethem on my admission's committee) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Nick | 1/24/2014

    " Two or three of these stories haunt me, all are memorable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Ben | 1/21/2014

    " I had heard lots of praise for Lethem, but was sorely disappointed with these short stories. Some of them showed promise early on, or at points throughout, but most were mildly intriguing at best, plodding at worst. Maybe it is simply because I don't 'get' what he was going for in most of them, but on the whole I felt like there wasn't a point, or that the point was too obscure, or that if there were a point it would be silly and annoying. I will say that I enjoyed "Access Fantasy" and "The National Anthem," the former for its intriguing dystopia and amusing plot twist at the end, and the latter for its clear soul-searching and scathing introspection (though whether or not either of those were of the author himself, I don't know). Maybe his full-length novels are better--more fully realized and fleshed out--since those are generally what I've heard people speaking highly of, but I wouldn't really recommend this collection of short stories. "

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