FAMILIAR by J. Robert Lennon


Email this review


Lennon’s (Castle, 2009, etc.) latest literary effort chronicles Elisa Macalaster Brown’s life as it quantum-shifts into a parallel universe.

At some random midtrip interval, with Elisa wending her way homeward from her annual pilgrimage to the grave of her son, Silas, dead in an auto accident at age 15, she morphs into a different version of the same person. No longer a spare, contained woman in cutoff jeans driving her familiar Honda Accord, Elisa becomes more voluptuous, more properly dressed, apparently in midtrip in a new car on her way home from a professional conference. And Silas isn’t dead, which she'll soon learn. But there is this: All that has been a barrier to peace and contentment remains. She is still the mother who “has created a family of miserable loners who seem incapable of helping one another.” Silas’ death had forced Elisa to confront love in all its forms and contours, but now she faces a world where all seems nearly identical, except that Silas and his brother, Sam, are grown men estranged from their parents. The book unfolds slowly in first person, present tense, providing the deepening intimacy necessary to examine how Elisa comes to believe she has shifted to an alternate universe. And as the story develops in her new world within her new self, the new Elisa grows “increasingly frightened ... by the possibility that she might now be sent back against her will, in an instant, the same way she got here.” While Silas’ every action reveals him as near sociopathic, it is Derek, Elisa’s husband, who best serves as both foil and catalyst. Approaching the complex internal story without postmodern irony, Lennon has a gift for stretching the borders of character.

A surrealistic tale about the enigma to be found in second chances.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-55597-625-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Graywolf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2012


FictionBROKEN RIVER by J. Robert Lennon
by J. Robert Lennon
FictionSEE YOU IN PARADISE by J. Robert Lennon
by J. Robert Lennon
FictionCASTLE by J. Robert Lennon
by J. Robert Lennon


FictionCASTLE by J. Robert Lennon
by J. Robert Lennon
FictionTHE ADULTS by Alison Espach
by Alison Espach
FictionSWEET LAMB OF HEAVEN by Lydia Millet
by Lydia Millet