The first substantial collection of short fiction from "a writer with enough electricity to light up the country" (Ann Patchett)
"I guess the things that scare you are the things that are almost normal," observes one narrator in this collection of effervescent and often uncanny stories. Drawing on fifteen years of work, See You in Paradise is the fullest expression yet of J. Robert Lennon's distinctive and brilliantly comic take on the pathos and surreality at the heart of American life.
In Lennon's America, a portal to another universe can be discovered with surprising nonchalance in a suburban backyard, adoption almost reaches the level of blood sport, and old pals return from the dead to steal your girlfriend. Sexual dysfunction, suicide, tragic accidents, and career stagnation all create surprising opportunities for unexpected grace in this full-hearted and mischievous depiction of those days (weeks, months, years) we all have when things just don't go quite right.
This item is Non-Returnable
- ISBN-13: 9781555976934
- ISBN-10: 155597693X
- Publisher: Graywolf Press
- Publish Date: November 2014
- Dimensions: 8.66 x 5.06 x 0.71 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds
- Page Count: 236
Off-kilter stories of the American landscape
In the title story of J. Robert Lennon’s new collection of short fiction—a book 15 years in the making—a man stumbles, surreally, into a kind of dream job on a tropical island, only to sense that something’s not quite right.
Indeed, nothing is ever quite right in the 14 stories that populate See You in Paradise, whether it’s the subtle exhilaration that comes with a very realistic tragedy or the slow unwinding of a family thanks to an inter-dimensional portal in the backyard. The stories range from the relatable to the bizarre, the comic to the horrific, and yet they’re all unified in the creation of a strange American landscape that’s at once alien and all too real, a landscape with the power to transform us in remarkable, unexpected ways.
In tales like “Zombie Dan” and “The Wraith,” Lennon deftly weaves the supernatural into scenes of domestic discord and sexual dysfunction. The realistic elements of those stories are so sensitively and vividly portrayed that you could substitute a zombie for an old friend from college and get much the same emotional impact, which somehow makes the supernatural tint that much darker and more effective. “Portal,” which opens the collection, leaves such a lasting aura of strangeness that, as you move into less supernatural (but no less weird) stories like “Hibachi” and “Ecstasy,” they seem haunted by their own darkly funny magic. Even if it’s not there, you sense it. There are spells at work in all of these pages, and just like the characters that populate them, by the time you’ve turned the last page, you’re not the same.
The greatest trick of See You in Paradise, though, is Lennon’s ability to deliver bitingly surreal fiction that also makes you believe, with each passing page, that you’ve been where these characters are. When life is at its strangest, you laugh and cry and shriek unexpectedly, you become the monster under your own bed, you take leaps of faith and insanity that pay off in terrifyingly big ways, and somehow all of that wound up in this book. It’s not just a sampling of more than a decade of work by one of fiction’s most satisfyingly inventive voices. It’s a harsh, hilarious, unnerving portrayal of a world just strange enough to not be our own . . . but only just.