Throwback Thursday: Jonathan Lethem

Issue 40, The Retrospective: 1977 – 2004
(Originally in Issue 9)

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Excerpt from “Children with Hangovers” by Jonathan Lethem

The children with hangovers are taking out the garbage. I watch from above as they lurch out of the basement apartment. Their garbage is in brown paper sacks, the kind you have to request to be given anymore at the grocery checkout, and the paper sacks are rotten and soggy, splitting like tomatoes. The children with hangovers stagger out cradling the sacks, hoping to keep them from bursting before reaching the curb. They slump them in a heap in the street, coming away with fingers stained with salad dressing and coffee grounds. Then they turn back to the apartment, squinting groggily in the morning sun. It is early for the children with hangovers.

The man next door stands out on the curb, beside his neatly-knotted green plastic garbage bags, scowling at the children with hangovers. I am sure he can hear the bass thrum of their music through his walls, as I can hear it up here on the top floor of the house, pulsing clear through the apartment between. I am sure that, like me, the man next door does not understand how the children with hangovers can keep it up…


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