Jonathan Lethem is the author of nine novels, the most recent of which is Dissident Gardens, and a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Every room I've lived in since I was given my own room at eleven was lined with, and usually overfull of, books. My employment in bookstores was always continuous with my private hours: shelving and alphabetizing, building shelves, and browsing — in my collection and others — in order to understand a small amount about the widest possible number of books. Such numbers of books are constantly acquired that constant culling is necessary; if I slouch in this discipline, the books erupt. I've also bricked myself in with music — vinyl records, then compact discs. My homes have been improbably information-dense, like capsules for survival of a nuclear war, or models of the interior of my own skull. That comparison — room as brain — is one I've often reached for in describing the rooms of others, but it began with the suspicion that I'd externalized my own brain, for anyone who cared to look.