Chronic City, By Jonathan Lethem

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The Independent Culture

Chase Insteadman, the narrator of Jonathan Lethem's new novel, is a former child actor who lives on residuals from a long ago sitcom. His life as an Upper East side dilettante, however, is set to change when he meets Perkus Tooth, a paranoid counter-cultural critic who takes to lecturing him on Marlon Brando, Chet Baker and unseen forces from a booth at a coffee shop.

Lethem's best-known books are set in Brooklyn, but here the borough of New York is Queens – albeit a fantastical version that's home to an escaped tiger and a perpetually fog-bound financial district. A clever novel that jangles with ideas about the perils of narcissism, both in art and life. Lethem simultaneously conspires to entertain and confuse.