Jonathan Lethem on His Father, Richard Lethem


Granta’s “Fathers” issue now appears to be mostly online, including a lovely couple of paragraphs from Jonathan Lethem on his father, the painter Richard Lethem:

    The picture floats. Someone took it in the Seventies, but the white backdrop gives no clue. My dad owned that wide-lapel trench coat for fifteen or twenty years, typical thrifty child of the Depression. (He probably tried to give it to me at some point.) The beard’s trim narrows the time frame slightly, that rakish full-goatee. So often in later years he wouldn’t have bothered to shave his jaw to shape it. Put this in the early Seventies. Somehow it floated into my collection of paper trinkets, ferried off to college, then to California for a decade. The only copy. By the time I showed it to my father, last week, he hadn’t seen the photograph for thirty-odd years.

Lethem and Joseph O’Neill are at Housing Works tonight, reading from the issue. Dunno how they’re going to fill up more than 10 minutes reading their respective, very short pieces, but I guess uncertainty is kind of a selling point when it comes to guys like these…

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 27, 2009

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