<b>It's only rock Ã”n' roll</b>Jonathan Lethem's latest book rocks literally. <b>You Don't Love Me Yet</b>, his first novel since the sprawling, coming-of-age saga <i>Fortress of Solitude</i>, is the story of a group of hipster musicians who live in Los Angeles. Complex yet lighthearted, featuring beautifully styled sentences and Lethem's usual mix of moods, the narrative captures the scruffy spirit of the alternative music scene while laying bare the difficulties of rock band dynamics.
The band's name is Monster Eyes, and its members are quintessential garage rockers. Matthew, a vegetarian zoo attendant, serves as lead singer. Drummer Denise is employed in a porn store. Bedwin, an introverted guitar geek, lives in solitude and writes all of the band's songs. And then there's Lucinda, the bass player, Matthew's on-again, off-again girlfriend. Lucinda works at the gallery of a conceptual artist named Falmouth Strand. As a participant in one of Strand's installations, she answers a telephone line for complainers, listening to the ills that plague each caller and occasionally jotting down their words. When Monster Eyes uses some of her notes as song lyrics, one of the complainers a mysterious older man named Carl finds out and tries to join the band. Lucinda falls for Carl, and a brief but intense romance ensues, one with unexpected repercussions for Monster Eyes. The band gets its 15 minutes of fame, while Lucinda learns the hard way, of course a thing or two about the nature of love.
Lethem writes beautifully about music, and his affection for these characters even the self-centered Lucinda, who switches lovers as though she were changing shoes shines through the narrative. <b>You Don't Love Me Yet</b> reads like a contemporary romantic comedy, but Lethem injects this love story with enough irony, intelligence and black humor to make it more than that. From the opening notes to the final chords, <b>You Don't Love Me Yet</b> is first-rate entertainment, a book that will resonate among music lovers as well as Lethem's many fans. <i>Julie Hale writes from Waynesville, North Carolina.</i>