"Alexander Bruno is an international high-roller out of a James Bond story, but when we meet him he is on a terrible losing streak with his normally flawless backgammon game. His innate ESP is failing him, a blot on his vision has recently appeared, and he has been getting badly intoxicated or distracted during games, finally ending up in an emergency room in Germany. The diagnosis is dire—he has a growth that's deemed inoperable—but he returns to his hometown of Berkeley, CA, for experimental surgery paid for by a long-lost wealthy friend, Keith Stolarsky. A lengthy section details the actual operation, and then begins Bruno's recovery, physical, mental, and psychological. He ends up hanging around in Berkeley with a bunch of wackos, recalling his misspent youth there, and getting hopelessly entangled in Stolarsky's nefarious business dealings and also with his benefactor's stunning girlfriend. VERDICT: A humorously surreal and articulate story of Bruno's search for himself after having his face and brain rearranged, both by surgery and by modern life in general, this is, among other things, a great Berkeley novel like Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue."
And Kirkus compares Lethem to Thomas Pynchon, saying that, in A Gambler's Anatomy, "Lethem takes real pleasure in the language and writes with a sense of the absurd that illuminates his situations and his characters. In this tragicomic novel, nothing is ever exactly as it seems." Read the full review here.
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