The Fortress of Solitude

Jonathan Lethem’s ‘The Fortress of Solitude’ is about two kids in Brooklyn who are given a magic ring by a wino. I know in this day and age you can’t go two steps without some drunk on the street throwing a magic ring at you, but back then it was very rare.

Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude are best friends who spray paint a hobo’s filthy cape while he’s lying in the gutter, then discover he’s the flying kind of hobo after he bequeaths his fantastical ring to Dylan in a hospital room. (As opposed to the regular kind of hobo, who never bequeath anyone anything you’d want to put on your hand.)

Dylan uses the ring to try and get to third base with a hot girl he meets on Summer vacation, Mingus fights a little crime then shelves the ring in favor of getting high. The last time a magic ring got used this little for heroics Bilbo Baggins was using one to skip out on a party.

If I had a magic ring that granted me the ability of flight, I’d wear it on my toe like a hippie lady- or in a thick pair of work gloves. Anything to hide this amazing miracle ring so nobody could steal it. Then again, if I ever take to the skies in carpenter’s gloves or a lovely flowing dress i sewed myself, I guess you’ll know my secret.

Break-dancing Muggings Funk Music Brownstones Punk Rock Cocaine Turntables Gangs!

Dylan’s father is a reclusive artist who gets famous with nerds for painting pulp science fiction book covers, but he doesn’t go in for that hogwash- he’s fixated on his life’s work: painting individual cells in a full length movie. Mingus’ father is a reclusive soul singer who hangs out all day in a bathrobe doing coke with the occasional visit from Bootsy Collins.

‘The Fortress of Solitude’ is kind of like the story of Superboy if Superboy grew up as the only white boy in a not quite gentrified borough of Brooklyn in the 70’s, and he had a cool black best friend that he traded his powers with. I bet if that had been the case Superboy would have had brown and orange tights and a yellow cape. Maybe a disco ball or a turntable instead of the big ‘S’.

More like Superfly! What UP!

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