Lionel’s Got Bars

Jonathan Lethem can be a funny guy and he sort of reveals that through Lionel Essrog’s character in his novel “Motherless Brooklyn.” I feel like without incorporating his humor, this novel wouldn’t be a success. Here’s why I think this.

When Lionel is stressed, he just suddenly becomes a rapper. We see this at the beginning of the book when Coney and himself were trying to chase the car where their boss, Minna, is in with some villain, and his brain goes, “Follow that car! Hollywood star! When you wish upon a cigar!” (13). This citation implies that Lethem is trying to use Wordplay as a medium for comedy. Reading this, I thought “Damn, this kid’s got bars!”

There are also times when our rapper slows down and somehow sounds like a mellow singer. When he goes to Kimmery for information in his pursuit of Minna’s killer, his Tourettic self sings, “Killing me! […] Kissing me! […] Eating me!” (138-139). The repetition of the word “Me” in each imperative sentence makes it funny. We can also say then that Lionel is pretty flexible, his genre changes depending on the situation.

Overall, I’m convinced that it is Lionel and his Tourette’s that carry this novel. They are what makes the book funny and keep the readers reading.

Mikaela Cuaycong (Read until page 151)



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