Click here to read the abstract of the story on The New Yorker webpage (this week’s story is available only for subscribers). Jonathan Lethem’s “Pending Vegan” was originally published in the April 7, 2014 issue of The New Yorker.

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I’m hit and miss with Jonathan Lethem. We’ll have thoughts up soon. In the meantime, please leave your comments below.

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By |2014-03-31T12:36:29-04:00March 31st, 2014|Categories: Jonathan Lethem, New Yorker Fiction|5 Comments


  1. Betsy March 31, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Trevor – This story is hilarious. I may not have liked the last Lethem story that I read, but I admire this. It’s funny and thoughtful at the same time. More Pending Vegan, Mr. Lethem!

  2. Ken April 5, 2014 at 4:39 am

    I was also very amused by this story and laughed out loud several times. I have felt the same dismay and horror at calculated “fun” environments such as Disneyland or Sea World—all this fuss, waiting, being buffeted by endless crowds of seemingly bovine fellow visitors, energy, money spent etc. for what doesn’t seem worth all the agony. I have felt that these places had an almost sinister design, as if deliberately attempting to freak me out. Lethem captures all this plus the ambivalence of many meat-eaters who can’t give up something they enjoy despite all the usual ethical arguments. This all combines with the odd, surreal ending with the dog. Could it really be the same dog? Would a dog remember? I’m not sure.

  3. Roger April 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I liked this one, too. Lethem’s verbal pyrotechnics are as spectacular as ever. In one instance, he’s literally got a dog jumping up like a kind of fireworks. Ironically, this is a “message” story like Boyle’s a couple of weeks ago, but seems to work better. Maybe because the questions posed by both adoring and eating animals are more profound than the issue of IT-addiction explored in Boyle’s story? The ending was perfect, with the dog licking the “webbing” between Espeseth’s fingers, reminding us that we are animals, too, despite thinking of ourselves as different and better.

  4. Ken April 7, 2014 at 2:14 am

    Roger, since you note the questions posed here, I’d say it’s not a “message” story like Boyle’s but one with a strong thematic element involving our relation to animals. Boyle, in contrast, is contributing to the established discourse which bemoans our enthrallment to technology (although a. he has a good reason to be nervous and b. his story is very entertaining).

  5. Roger April 7, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Ken, interesting perspective. I suppose one reader’s “message” story is another’s story with a “strong thematic element” involving a contemporary issue. From my standpoint, Pending Vegan takes a strong position about how society today continues to treat animals despite our appreciation of them.

    I also wonder if it’s the same dog at the end! Though the more important point is that Espeseth believes it to be.

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