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From an Interview With Jonathan Lethem

2 min read

JONATHAN LETHEM

 

My parents were Vietnam War protesters; I grew up in the era of Watergate; the first president I remember is Nixon. I remember being instructed as a child that I shouldn’t go to school and blurt that Nixon was evil. Not that we didn’t know he was evil at home, it just might not be such a good idea for me to say it. I felt he was evil like Dracula. It was like being taught not to curse when you go to your grandmother’s. So when I found that Rod Serling and Philip K. Dick and Thomas Pynchon also agreed with me that the president was probably an evil robot programmed by a computer, it was merely a matter of pleasurable recognition that someone was naming the world.

 

In that sense, I’m a native. When you say I don’t appear paranoiac to you, I figure you mean I don’t traffic in the thin membrane of social paranoia. Why bother? We live in a fallen universe. We can at least be kind to one another and not jump on one another’s slightest errors or moods. In a desperate situation, pick your battles.

 

From: The Paris Review