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Lennon, J Robert

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1970-    ) US author whose earlier works, though they occasionally imply the fantastic, can be understood in terms of a heated, surreally dense naturalism. In its depiction of a small town transfigured by a domineering entrepreneur, Happyland (cut version July-October 2006 Harper's; 2013 ebook) edges into the Horror inscape of a writer like Jonathan Carroll; Familiar (2012), on the other hand, can be read as a genuine sf novel. Its protagonist, a middle-aged woman trapped in a desolated life, finds herself suddenly transported into an Alternate World similar, except in her seemingly much improved circumstances, to the reality she has left. An apparent Jonbar Point – the exact event that has enabled her son, in this new world, to avoid death, a survival whose effect is transformative on all around him – is not examined; but the protagonist's attempts to cope with Identity Transfer into an "improved" version of herself, to which she has been inescapably wed, are told with fixating intensity. A similar Equipoise governs Subdivision (2021), whose protagonist is trapped in a guesthouse in a world with quasi-animate handheld AIs who die if not shone upon, revenants and a dance of flickering beings, possibly due to a scientific experiment in a surreal neighbouring City. As with most twenty-first century examples of Fantastika, these novels gain immensely when their premises are understood literally. [JC]

John Robert Lennon

born: Philipsberg, New Jersey: 7 May 1970


  • The Light of Falling Stars (New York: Riverhead Books, 1997) [hb/Marc J Cohen]
  • The Funnies (New York: Riverhead Books, 1999) [hb/Charles Björklund and Marc J Cohen]
  • On the Night Plain (New York: Henry Holt, 2001) [hb/]
  • Mailman (New York: W W Norton, 2003) [hb/Veet/CSA]
  • Castle (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2009) [hb/Kyle G Hunter]
  • Familiar (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2012) [hb/Kyle G Hunter]
  • Happyland (no place given: Dzanc Books, 2013) [ebook: cut version first appeared July-October 2006 Harper's: publication of 2005 original edition cancelled by W W Norton: na/]
  • Broken River (London: Serpent's Tail, 2017) [pb/]
  • Subdivision (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2021) [pb/Kyle G Hunter]



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