Author Jonathan Lethem, New York Fixture, Bids Farewell to the City

New York author-in-residence Jonathan Lethem is soon leaving the city that inspired his novels for new opportunities out West, but the scribe told Niteside at the New York Public Library last night he will dearly miss the images of his hometown in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

“I have been living, for the last three years, on the street I grew up on. It’s almost embarrassingly fetishistic,” Lethem said. “But I always liked looking out the window and seeing the pavement I played stickball … the shape of the buildings and the physical feeling of the tree-lined streets and the crooked pavement. It means a lot to me in ways that are inexpressible.”

In a conversation at the NYPL Wednesday night, the author of award-winning “Motherless Brooklyn” and best-selling “Fortress of Solitude” joined director Paul Holdengräber for a “bittersweet farewell” in his last event before he moves to California.

With two very young sons and a position as Roy Edward Disney Professor in Creative Writing at Pomona College, the 50-year-old novelist is moving across country to live his life with “middle-aged family values," which includes a more consistent schedule so he can focus on being a dad.

Lethem said he wasn’t sure if he will live here again but he does want to bring back his sons when they are older to show them the Brooklyn he knows and loves.

 “[I want to give] them a sense of what Brooklyn street life is like, taking them into the neighborhood. Which, you know, Boerum Hill is kind of posh these days. To get the texture part of me craves, and that I want them to experience, it might be better advised to Astoria or some remoter part of Brooklyn where there's attention and excitement and the juxtaposition of fresh immigrants, fresh gentrification, and all that confusion and tumult that was the signature of my own coming of age.”

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