J. Robert Lennon

J. Robert Lennon’s latest novel is Subdivision.

In late​ 2016, David Sedaris attended a piano recital delivered by his longtime partner, Hugh. Hugh had practised with obsessive intensity for many hours a day, but ultimately performed poorly, disappointing himself in front of a room full of his fellow students and their parents. ‘I’ve never seen him so vulnerable,’ Sedaris wrote that night in his diary, excerpted here in...

I was trying to find the edge: Cusk-alike

J. Robert Lennon, 3 June 2021

At the beginning​ of Second Place, the narrator recalls a time in her life when imagined fears blinded her to real dangers. ‘Why,’ she asks, ‘do we live so painfully in our fictions? Why do we suffer so, from the things we ourselves have invented?’ It’s natural to want to draw parallels between a work of fiction and its author’s life, and to assume that...

Surely, Shirley: Ottessa Moshfegh

J. Robert Lennon, 21 January 2021

About a third​ of the way into Ottessa Moshfegh’s Death in Her Hands, the protagonist, Vesta Gul, walks into a library, fires up a web browser and clicks on a page entitled TOP TIPS FOR MYSTERY WRITERS. The rules she scrolls past – ‘create a three-dimensional world’, offer ‘a clear and convincing motive’, ‘try to surprise the reader at the end, but...

When​ I was 13, one of the things I liked best about Stephen King – my hero and bête noire, godfather of my literary children, internet mensch, unstoppable retirement-proof zombie of letters – is the fact that you could turn to the end of any of his story collections and learn, in an amiable afterword, how he got his ideas. King explains how each story came to be, generally...

Little Grey Cells: More Marple than Poirot

J. Robert Lennon, 5 March 2020

KateAtkinsons 12th book, her fifth starring the detective Jackson Brodie, opens with our hero making some kind of escape with a young bride. She tosses her veil and bouquet onto the back seat of Brodie’s car, and they ride off into the sunset. Brodie glances at his companion: ‘He noticed she was cupping the bowl of her belly, where she was incubating an as yet invisible...

Something remarkable happens in the opening pages of J. Robert Lennon’s seventh novel. Elisa Brown is driving home to Reevesport, in upstate New York, from Madison, Wisconsin, where her son...

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In 1945, Somerset Maugham contributed a list to Redbook magazine of what were, in his opinion, ‘the ten best novels in the world’. Maugham’s choices were neither surprising nor...

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In 1986, a postal employee in Edmond, Oklahoma ran amok with a gun, shooting 14 co-workers dead and wounding six others before killing himself. Nearly twenty similar incidents occurred at...

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