Here's my favorite Jonathan Lethem story. Long before he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, or the MacArthur genius grant for being ..well...amazing,
Jonathan Lethem was an author on book tour.
I met him out in the hinterlands when he was touring for AS SHE CLIMBED ACROSS THE TABLE. I'd read about 30 pages of it. I loved it. It was full of physics and science and it was hilarious.
I nattered on about physics and various physicist's books I'd loved but Jonathan Lethem didn't have much to say. Well, maybe he's just bored with people talking science to him, or he's tired I thought. No matter.
He signed the book and off I went.
Only as I continued reading did I realize the book is a satire. All the science is made up stuff. Jonathan Lethem didn't know a quark from a quack. When I figured that out I laughed so hard at myself I had to go out and buy the rest of his books.
And when I ended up reading MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN about two blocks from the epicenter of the novel, well, that became one of my all time favorite Why I love Living in NYC moments.
Here's a great interview with a wonderful author about how he works. There's a series of these at the Daily Beast that are worth your reading time as well.