Reading guide for Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Chronic City

by Jonathan Lethem

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem X
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2009, 480 pages
    Aug 2010, 480 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. When do you think the action of the novel occurs? Is there a reason the time was left vague? Is this the "real" New York City?

  2. At what point did you begin to suspect that Chase Insteadman was living a fiction? At what point in their story do you think Perkus Tooth understood that Chase had been deceived about his role?

  3. Can you accept that Oona Laszlo is responsible for the letters attributed to Janice Trumbull? Is it possible, as a writer, to create another human being more generous, large-hearted, and responsive than yourself?

  4. What is the meaning of the wild animals that intrude on the lives of these Manhattanites -- the eagles, the tiger? Do they have anything to do with the weather?

  5. Have you ever felt that the place where you lived or grew up was being turned into a 'simulacrum' of itself?

  6. Have you ever tried to care for someone impossible? Are you now? Does Perkus Tooth remind you of anyone in your own life, or did you find Chase's decision to befriend him misguided?

  7. At different points in Chronic City Perkus Tooth seems to attempt to sustain himself completely on culture and language, then, alternately, to try to leave culture and language entirely behind and live a "pure" life. Do you think either approach is possible?

  8. The author's working title for Chronic City was "Manhattan". The Woody Allen film by that name was often criticized for depicting a Manhattan consisting only of the white upper middle class. Is Chronic City self-aware about the limitations of its characters? Does Chase Insteadman's response to the black kids he meets near the Urban Fjord, or to the black man in the jail cell imply another version of Manhattan creeping into view?

  9. What does the gray fog hide?

  10. Was Chase unfair to Oona? Should he give her another chance?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Vintage. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Women & Power
    Women & Power
    by Mary Beard
    The treatise Women & Power: A Manifesto discusses a scene in Homer's Odyssey in which Odysseus&...
  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.