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Rock & Roll Books

By Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., June 1, 2007

Rock & Roll Books

You Don't Love Me Yet: a novel

by Jonathan Lethem

Doubleday, 224 pp., $24.95

Perhaps it's no coincidence that Jonathan Lethem's new novel shares its title with a Roky Erikson song. After all, You Don't Love Me Yet is the humorous tale of a young indie rock band and its members' search for art and love. Lethem returns to familiar West Coast stomping grounds, site of his earliest novels, as we follow the travails of a likable quartet of twentysomething bohos nominally plugged into the L.A. arts scene with no band name and no gigs. Protagonist/bassist Lucinda answers telephones at the Complaint Line, a performance-art project where people call in anonymous grievances. Intrigued by the captivating verbiage of a regular caller, she jots down portions of his ramblings and gives them to Bedwin, the band's writer, who turns them into pop songs. One becomes an instant "hit" with the L.A. underground, but who's the real author of the song? This light-hearted examination of "fair use" and intellectual property resonates directly with our current high tech, sampled, globalized music world. Lethem certainly has fun with the language, but those expecting the narrative depth of his two highly acclaimed, urban jungle novels, Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude, probably won't find this an otherwise appealing tale.

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