‘Lucky Alan’ Thumbs Its Nose At Convention

A handful of purist holdouts aside, most readers these days realize that “genre fiction” and “literary fiction” aren’t mutually exclusive. That’s not to say that every paperback on the supermarket shelf is high art, but the list of respected literary genre writers — Poe, Verne, Chandler, Le Guin, to name just a few — is a long one, and it’s growing every year.

Jonathan Lethem is, obviously, not the first author to prove that great literature isn’t just confined to stoic realism. But his novels, especially the early ones, won over skeptics who never thought they’d find themselves entranced by works of science fiction and mystery. His novels Gun, with Occasional Music and Amnesia Moon were critically acclaimed, and his later books have gleefully ignored genre restraints and resisted easy classification.

He continues that tradition with Lucky Alan and Other Stories, a slim collection of short stories, more than half

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