Lemon fresh LEMON, by Lawrence Krauser (McSweeney's), 246 pages, $22 cloth. Rating: NNNNlawrence krauser is a new york-based editor, musician and playwright. Lemon, his first novel, is published by the book arm of Dave Eggers' periodical and Web site, McSweeney's.All these elements come into play in this unusual and captivating novel. Krauser hand-drew the covers of all 10,000 copies of Lemon -- mine has a profile of a woman drawn in black and green magic marker on November 18, 2000 -- which would sound absolutely insane were the book not a McSweeney's title.
The story behind the cover is no less bizarre. It concerns a man named Wendel who writes inter-office memos for a living and sits beside a woman who communicates with him almost exclusively in limericks.
As the tale begins, Wendel is dumped by his girlfriend. He then suffers a stress-related stroke-like injury that paralyzes half his face, forcing him to wear an eye patch. Soon after, Wendel becomes infatuated with a lemon.
He carries it around to work with him, speaks to it and takes it to meet his parents. Things get even stranger.
Lemon sounds like a short story, but works like a novel. Krauser shifts between straight prose, poetry, music, vague asides and informed ramblings on the role of the lemon in history. The fractured narrative sometimes gets too clever for its own good, but Krauser is funny and talented enough to hold things together.
Lawrence Krauser reads at the NOW Lounge Tuesday (February 13).