When I started reading this book, I felt that the writing was a bit commercial and unrefined. I felt there were too many superlative adjectives and unnecessary “forceful” verbs for my taste, like “He jammed the disc into the boom box”. Then I read the parts involving Chase buying the book “Obstinate Dust” from Perkus’s acquaintance, which is a clear allusion to David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest”. What was said in this part of the novel about “Obstinate Dust” was not all that favorable, and I was ready to rip Chronic City apart, and had witty alternate titles ready to refer to it as, such as “Subsonic Pity”, or just “Chronic Pity”. But then I did some Google searching, and read an interview with Lethem where he says that anything that gets into his book is something that has “tremendous meaning to me, value, and interest”. So even though he could be playing it safe by saying this, I found myself easing up on my critique of Lethem, but then I think, whoa, this should have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether I enjoy and find value in a novel or not. Have I lost all objectivity?
I read (or at least I believe I tried to read) the rest of the book with an open mind, and I ended up really liking it. At its heart , I felt the book was about the search for truth in a world where much can be fabricated, both by the people around you and also by yourself. It was well done, and the writing style really picked up after what I felt was a rough start.
Also, “Obstinate Dust” made a reappearance towards the end of the novel, and in a slightly better light, so all is forgiven I guess.