Dear Edward Norton,
I hear that you are trying to turn Motherless Brooklyn into a movie? Well in my opinion, Jim Carrey as the actor to play Lionel Essrog is the best choice, he is funny and can act serious when it comes to it. Jim can get the job done and win you oscar’s but mainly can act out Lionel’s conflicts.
People in general all have many different conflicts with one’s self just like in Lionel’s case it’s accepting his tic or his Tourette syndrome which makes the person unique. Lionel generally feels bad about his Tourette syndrome in a way that he can’t accept the random tics he has: “It’s an itch at first….That itch is my whole life” (Lethem 2). When Lionel describes his Tourette syndrome and his tics, it seems as if they are a not wanting syndrome, in the way that it can make his life complex. His tics are just something that is born with him. He tics quite often making his tics like a best friend, always there and that he will have to live with: “Tourette’s is just one big lifetime of tag, really” (Lethem 5). Also, Lionel throughout the novel, whenever Lionel talks about his Tourette syndrome, it is always in a negative way: “This was an uncomfortable feature of Tourette’s—my brain would throw up ugly fantasies, glimpses of pain, disasters narrowly averted” (Lethem 100). Lionel would have moments of doubts in his head that was caused by Tourette’s which made him doubt himself or think negatively about himself. Also when Lionel stated: “A Touretter can also be The Invisible Man” (Lethem 44), this shows another negative phrase that he claims about Tourette’s. The invisible man in this case is Lionel because at times people won’t take him seriously and therefore ignore what he says. Lionel gets weird symptoms that don’t cause him to tic but cause him to do other things such as: “…I don’t even recognize my own toothbrush. I mean the object looks strange, oddly particular in its design, strange tapered handle and slotted… I don’t know whether this is a symptom of Tourettes or not” (Lethem 131). Such like this symptom Lionel suffer from, he suffers from his tics as well which cause him to not accept his Tourette and feel bad about them. There isn’t all negative features to Lionel’s tics, other people aren’t so bothered by them: “My tics and obsessions kept the other Minna Men amused…” (Lethem 5). For the Minna Men, Lionels tics were amusing and kept them entertaining which was a good thing so then Lionel could feel free to tic and be himself and also Kimmery accepted Lionel’s tics and liked it when he ticked, she wanted him to speak: “It’s ok to talk… I like, um, I like it when you talk. When you make sounds” (Lethem 222). Lionel felt like people actually accepted him for who he is and accepted his tics but he still felt bad about them.
When Frank Minna passed away, Lionel has a huge guilt trip on him and therefore leading Lionel to imitate Frank Minna and his actions to not feel as bad about his death. Frank Minna’s death was a huge loss for Lionel considering that Frank was a father figure to him. Frank Minna adopted Lionel when he was young and helped him grow up with the other Minna men. Lionel imitated Frank Minna by carrying around his beeper pretending he was Frank. Lionel mainly did what Frank did when it came to detective work such when he answered the phone: “Tony, it’s me, I said. Essrog” (Lethem 176). Lionel did these things to not feel all the guilt about Franks death, imitating would help him sooth the pain but also help Lionel grow as a detective. Lionel grew as a detective following Frank’s footsteps which made him start to become like him but would then get others annoyed: “Why are you pretending your man Minna’s still with us, Alibi?” (Lethem 114). Lionel felt as if he could talk about Frank and maybe start to be like him so then he can grow. He used Frank as wall to support him since that’s what Frank did when he was alive. Lionel has trouble trying to move one and to be his own person from Frank’s death and reminisces about him: “I put the song on repeat and sat in the light of my candle and waited for the tears” (Lethem 128). While imitating Frank Minna for comfort and then becoming like him, he grows and learns that he does not need Frank to solve this case.
Frank and Lionel’s relationship was and still is a key role in this novel even after Franks passing. When Lionel was rescued by Frank he had no life, he would be alone: “Until rescued by Frank Minna, as I said, in the library” (Lethem 37). Lionel’s tics are one part of his jokester style of life. Their relationship together was more of a father son bond more than anything. Frank was like a dad to Lionel and just like father and son, Lionel and Frank loved to joke but Lionel especially loved it. His jokes make him who is and even though not everyone understood them. “You know what I want out of you, freak show? Tell me a joke” (Lethem 25). They have a joke contest since Lionel was thirteen years old, just because Frank loved to see Lionel not tic when he tells one (Lethem 25). These jokes show that even though Frank is dead, he still held onto the jokes and didn’t give it up and proves jokes are part of him just like when he told the cop “you’re like good cop and bad cop rolled into one” (Lethem 114). Lionel makes the joke about the cop that he’s acting like two different cops in one body and then end the joke saying “yeah, used to be they could afford two different guys. Now with all the budget cuts and shit they’ve got us doing double shifts” (Lethem 14). Lionel and Frank relationship was unique and had a strong bond.
At the end of the book Lionel feels that he can move on. Lionel finally solves the case of Frank’s murderer but loses another member, Tony. Everyone knew there had to be a new boss of the L&L Company now that the case is solved and Frank is dead: “want to be the new Frank Minna?” (Lethem 306). Lionel was anxious for this part and had some vibes he would get because he’s the one that was the closest to Frank and is the one that solved the case but he didn’t end up getting it. Now that L&L is “clean” in other words and has a new boss Lionel feels that he can really move on especially now that he found out that Kimmery is moving back with her ex-boyfriend which really bothered Lionel: “Before I left for the date I took the thoroughest shower I knew how to take, then dressed and re-dressed a dozen times…” (Lethem 308). Lionel had a dream about Frank Minna which really made him ready to move on: “I had a dream about Frank Minna…He smiled at me…” (Lethem 302). That smile that was in Lionel’s dream that was from Frank meant so many things for Lionel and one major one was that he will move on to become his own person and finally grow from Frank’s death.
Lethem, Jonathan. Motherless Brooklyn. New York: Vintage Contemporaries – Vintage, a Division of Random House, 2006. Print.