Top positive review
Engrossing, yet flawed.
Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 1997
Jonathan Lethem is one of the best authors in the science fiction genre at making things bizarre and psychedelic seem utterly convincing and plausible.
The Wall of the Sky, The Wall of the Eye continues in that vein. Each story is set in a carefully crafted world that stretches the mind and defies the imagination. When reading a Lethem story one is almost forced into the position of simply absorbing the language for later digestion as his prose is at the same time lush and full of ideas as well as it is sparse as far as plot devices go.
This is the downfall of the stories in this volume. Of them, only Vanilla Dunk, and the Happy Man have truly conclusive endings, and the latter's ending is obvious right from the start. The rest of the stories simply trail off ambiguously or end rather abrubtly. In either case the stories fail to reach a satisfying conclusion. It feels as if Lethem has these wonderful stories, full of likeable characters and fascinating ideas, but that he doesn't know what to do with the worlds he creates, with his ideas and his characters. They seem to be incomplete.
Overall, however, it is impossible to deny the joy to be had in these stories. In spite of their shortcomings they remain highly well written...tidbits. To call them stories is perhaps stretching the definition of the word a bit since stories generally are brought to reasonable conclusion. But, as tidbits, or story fragments perhaps they serve well to show of Lethem's prowess at characterization and world building.