Gun, With Occasional Music Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 38 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Gun, With Occasional Music.
This section contains 665 words
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Gun, With Occasional Music Summary & Study Guide Description

Gun, With Occasional Music Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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The following version of this book was sued to create this study guide: Lethem, Jonathan. Gun, with Occasional Music. New York: Harcourt Books, 2003. Paperback. Originally published in 1994.

The novel is set in a dystopian future America. The main narrative technically takes place in the year 2008, about 14 years after the book’s original 1994 publication date. In this dystopian future, the United States is ruled by a totalitarian government that has stripped away many personal freedoms. For example, it is illegal for anyone to ask questions unless they are a government-sanctioned ‘inquisitor.’ Most inquisitors work directly for the government. The protagonist/narrator, Conrad Metcalf, is a license private inquisitor who lives in Oakland, California. He used to work as a government inquisitor, but the left that position after becoming disillusioned with the government’s totalitarian nature. Metcalf is now generally motivated by his desire to uncover truth and fight for justice whenever possible.

One day, a local urologist named Maynard Stanhunt is found murdered. The government quickly decides that a man named Orton Angwine is the culprit, despite having no solid evidence. Angwine hires Metcalf to solve the case and prove his innocence. Metcalf refuses the case at first but eventually accepts. As Metcalf begins to investigate, he interviews people connected to Maynard Stanhunt and Orton Angwine. One interesting connection is that Maynard’s wife, Celeste, left him a few weeks ago and is now living in a house with Angwine’s sister, Pansy Greenleaf (real name Patricia Angwine.) As Metcalf investigates, the government inquisitors tell him to stop, as they have decided to simply arrest Orton Angwine. However, Metcalf ignores the inquisitors.

As Metcalf continues to investigate, he finds that a man named Danny Phoneblum seems to have connections to almost all of the people of interest in the case: Maynard, Celeste, Pansy, and even Maynard’s business partner, Grover Testafer. Metcalf soon learns that Phoneblum is a powerful local crime boss who even has some secret contacts within the government. Metcalf also learns that Testafer secretly works for Phoneblum, as did Maynard. As Metcalf continues his investigation, the government arrests Orton Angwine. However, sometime after Anwgine is arrested, Celeste is found murdered. Metcalf becomes even more sure that Angwine is innocent. However, before he can complete his investigation, he is arrested by an inquisitor who also secretly works for Phoneblum.

Metcalf is placed in a cryogenic freezing chamber in prison and is released six years later. He finds that the authoritarian government has extended its power and control even further. The government has even figured out a way to erase and censor elements of people’s memories. Metcalf hurries to complete his investigation, and he quickly solves the case. He goes to the government inquisition office and explains that Celeste used to be Phoneblum’s lover, but Celeste left him to be with Maynard. Phoneblum kept track of Celeste because Maynard still loved her, and Phoneblum wanted to use Celeste as leverage to keep Maynard working for him. It soon became apparent to Phoneblum and Maynard that Celeste was having an affair with someone, so they sent someone to kill Celeste’s paramour. However, it turns out that the paramour was Maynard; Maynard simply did not remember because he had become addicted to a memory-eroding drug.

After Phoneblum and Maynard accidentally caused Maynard’s death, Phoneblum no longer had any use for Celeste, so he had her killed as revenge for her leaving him in the first place. The government inquisition department accepts this solution of the case and releases Angwine. Metcalf then goes to kill Phoneblum, but he discovers that Phoneblum is now senile, and his crime syndicate is now run by Joey Castle, who used to just be one of Phoenblum’s cronies. Metcalf decides to kill Joey rather than Phoneblum. Metcalf is then arrested and cryo-frozen again. Metcalf remains determined to continue fighting for truth and justice, no matter what the world is like when he awakes again.

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