There is something Tourettic in the way Jonathan Lethem sums up the premise of “Motherless Brooklyn”:
Minna Men wear suits. Minna Men drive cars. Minna Men listen to tapped lines. Minna Men stand behind Minna, hands in their pockets, looking menacing. Minna Men carry money. Minna Men collect money. Minna Men don’t ask questions. Minna Men answer phones. Minna Men pick up packages. Minna Men are clean shaven. Minna Men follow instructions. Minna Men try to be like Minna, but Minna is dead.
Lionel Essrog emits impulsive barks and counts like a one-man freakshow. But it’s not his explosive tics that impress. What does is his single-minded persistence to make sense of Frank Minna’s murder. It’s touching how he makes the most of his Tourette to go after the murderer and vindicate his mentor.
Tourette’s teaches you what people will ignore and forget, teaches you to see that reality-knitting mechanism people employ to tuck away the intolerable, the incongruous, the disruptive—it teaches you this because you’re the one lobbing the intolerable, incongruous, and disruptive their way.
I wonder what it’s like to have a Tourette. It’s probably akin to perpetually scrabbling infinite letters for words that perfectly make sense except for all the rest of the world.