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Extended Audio Sample Fortress of Solitude Audiobook, by Jonathan Lethem Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.32 out of 53.32 out of 53.32 out of 53.32 out of 53.32 out of 5 3.32 (31 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jonathan Lethem Narrator: David Aaron Baker Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2003 ISBN: 9780739306475
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This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They are friends and neighbors, but because Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of their Brooklyn neighborhood, which is almost exclusively black despite the first whispers of something that will become known as “gentrification.”

This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the most simple human decisions—what music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch money—are laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is the story of 1990s America, when no one cared anymore.

This is the story of punk, that easy white rebellion, and crack, that monstrous plague. This is the story of the loneliness of the avant-garde artist and the exuberance of the graffiti artist.

This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: They would screw up their lives.

This is the story of joyous afternoons of stickball and dreaded years of schoolyard extortion. This is the story of belonging to a society that doesn’t accept you. This is the story of prison and of college, of Brooklyn and Berkeley, of soul and rap, of murder and redemption.

This is the story Jonathan Lethem was born to tell. This The is Fortress of Solitude.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A 2003 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 mr. chad | 2/1/2014

    " a solid read. i picked this book up from a market in sydney (aus.) for $8; hoping it would be a good little escape. it ended up being a bit more. like reading "a heart breaking work..." for the first time, a book that allows one to walk a mile or two in someone else's converse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erik Nygren | 1/23/2014

    " Lethem is a word magician. Beautifully written, with a strange and always changing pace. Must read for brooklynites. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Don | 1/19/2014

    " Catcher in the Rye moved on 50 years. Growing up as a Jewish kid in the black neighbourhoods of Brooklyn. Full of obsessions with soul music and comic books and a sad, doomed friendship. Super book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben Leavitt | 1/18/2014

    " I was a bit disappointed by this book. I thought the superpower theme was a little overused and distracting (and I even come from superhero comic reading background). I think he tried to incorporate too many aspects to the story. I really like the basic premise of the narrative of a white kid growing up in a gentrifying black neighborhood though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 1/18/2014

    " I had high hopes for this, widely considered Lethem's "masterpiece." The first chapters were lushly written, full of poignant descriptions of a 1970s Brooklyn viewed through the lens of a child--a Brooklyn tough and in the midst of the confusion of gentrification, full of racial tensions and intricate childhood alliances. The first part of the book is narrated in the third-person, but as the protagonist ages, he takes over the narration, and I found that I didn't like his voice very much--too self-indulgent, too whiney, too pretentious. The central theme of the book is his struggle to understand his identity, as his life follows along the tricky trajectory of his neighborhood's shift--but I found I didn't really care if he found himself among all the drugs and lofty mentions of obscure music and geek-centric descriptions of comics and superheroes. He's looking in all the wrong places, and unfortunately, we have to follow him there. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Charlie Geoghegan-Clements | 1/10/2014

    " I finished this nearly a year after I began only because I dislike loose ends slightly more than I dislike this book. Dull, sentimental and contrived novel with boring sentences and a recourse to the supernatural only because the narrative was so grindingly dull. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Oscarb. | 1/8/2014

    " I was left wondering what was real and what was metaphor. If Dylan and Mingus really found super powers, why isn't this a big game changer? The ability too fly is not as thrilling as the satisfaction of spray painting a lamp post. What we really have here is a story of growing up in Brooklyn, where, apparently strength of character matters little; things eventually work out for the white people and end up in disaster for the black people. Invisible rings belong in Middle Earth where they know you cannot have one and ignore it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Buffy | 1/3/2014

    " good but slow at parts... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kent | 1/3/2014

    " I admire this book greatly but can't say I that loved it--the superhero elements didn't hold together for me, I found my identification with the protagonist slipping away towards the end. Still, much of it was deeply engrossing... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stacy | 12/15/2013

    " I absolutely loved the first part of this book, but then as a lot of people have mentioned, the last part just wasn't as good. So that was disappointing, but I still enjoyed it very much overall. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charlie | 10/2/2013

    " Sadly, this is probably the last book I actually read from start to finish. If you like reading about super hero powers, childhood friendships, and gentrification in Brooklyn, this is the book for you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kurt | 8/15/2013

    " I couldn't help but shake the fact that Lethem plays into (even reinforces?) the racial stereotypes that his protagonist supposedly grapples with. It didn't upset me enough not to enjoy the book, but really what I want to know is: Lethem, what were you thinking? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephen | 8/7/2013

    " Another reasonably good narrative spoilt by po-mo hijinks. Everyone needs to stop trying to be so "clever." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn Rose | 8/3/2013

    " Wonderful five-star descriptions in the first part - made me feel I was on that street with Dylan and Mingus. And then it lost me. I just couldn't buy the magical ring in a world that seemed so of this earth and that time. I stopped caring. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tina | 7/6/2013

    " I actually had to put this book aside, I was having a hard time getting thru it. Maybe I will have better luck next time I pick it up. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Missy | 8/3/2012

    " Why wasn't this edited down more? Too long and song plot angles were not well mixed. The mixture of fantasy and reality did not work well for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tony | 4/16/2012

    " Didnt like this as much as motherless brooklyn or chronic city "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yana | 2/16/2012

    " Sad to say, but this is the first book I've read in a while that's even worth writing about. Dense and at times difficult to get through, but ultimately a really satisfying read. Let's me know my brain is ready again for some serious lit. Bring on the recs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 1/12/2012

    " An interesting commentary on race and urban life, that avoids any of the easy cliches. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shannon | 11/8/2011

    " poo-pee. couldn't even get 100 pages in. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 10/28/2011

    " This novel is pretty ok "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brady | 8/16/2011

    " I liked the first part of the book, but a lot of that might be because I live in the neighborhood. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rich | 7/1/2011

    " A great book that is just so very depressing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica Cook | 6/20/2011

    " This is one of those books that I became too absorbed in and had a panic attack for the last forty pages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Myrren | 5/5/2011

    " It took a while before this book reached a pace that allowed me to read more than ten pages at a stretch, but when it did I finished it in one afternoon. All I can say about it right now is that it is very, very good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kris | 4/29/2011

    " There's some really good stuff here, but unfortunately it just didnt sit quite right with me. Solid 3.5 stars, maybe a 4 but I wasn't feeling generous this morning. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeremy | 4/14/2011

    " I think this is my favorite Lethem book - combines great characters with typical Lethem plot wierdness and magic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joey | 3/18/2011

    " Liked it a lot, including the 'infamous' last half, which jars so much because it points to the dangerous romanticism of the first half. A book that argues with its own self. A writer who warns you against his own seductive skills. I can get behind both of those things. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katherine | 3/15/2011

    " I didn't have the same disgust at the second half that some reviewers had. A solid novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 BonB | 3/14/2011

    " Absorbing, elegantly written, evokes time and place beautifully. The characters are interesting, strongly developed, and Lethem has a gift for making us care about them and their lives. This was a thoroughly satisfying read and I will look for more of his work in the future. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Charlie | 3/11/2011

    " I finished this nearly a year after I began only because I dislike loose ends slightly more than I dislike this book. Dull, sentimental and contrived novel with boring sentences and a recourse to the supernatural only because the narrative was so grindingly dull. "

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About the Author
Author Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem is the author of a number of critically acclaimed novels, including National Book Critics Circle Award–winning Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude. Lethem’s stories and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and the New York Times, among others. He lives in New York City.

About the Narrator

David Aaron Baker is a voice and film actor. He is an award-winning narrator of dozens of audiobooks, including the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz, Paradise Dogs by Man Martin, and The Bartender’s Tale by Ivan Doig. He has earned six AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a three-time finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration.