Synopses & Reviews
Finally available in the United States, a singular story collection that Time Out
declared “unsettlingly brilliant”.
A student's suicide note is not what it seems. A high school football rivalry turns absurd — and deadly. A much-loved cat seems to have been a different animal all along. A pair of identical twins aren't identical at all — or even related. A man finds his own yellowed birth announcement inside a bureau bought at auction. Set in a small upstate New York town, told in a conversational style, Pieces for the Left Hand is a stream of a hundred anecdotes, none much longer than a page. At once funny, bizarre, familiar, and disturbing, these deceptively straightforward tales nevertheless shock and amaze through uncanny coincidence, tragic misunderstanding, strange occurrence, or sudden insight. Unposted letters, unexpected visitors, false memories — in J. Robert Lennon's vision of America, these are the things that decide our fate. Wry and deadpan, powerful and philosophical, these addictive little tales reveal the everyday world as a strange and eerie place.
"Lennon muses in brief, deadpan vignettes on mortality and progress in a small New York university town. Grouped under seven rubrics that range from the prosaic ('Town and Country,' 'Parents,' 'Children') to the existential ('Mystery and Confusion,' 'Doom and Madness'), these segments catch the unnamed narrator, a 47-year-old married man living with his professor wife in a renovated farmhouse and with ample time to walk, in moments of self-reflection and thoughtful observation on happenings such as a disused road's disappearance from a map, or how an under-construction water pipeline becomes a lethal joyride conduit for students. Or he wonders how his cat has obtained another cat's collar; why he sometimes feels like an intruder in his own home; and how dreams and memory often play tricks on him. One segment aims at exposing the sadness of an acquaintance who struck it rich, but it can't quite prove that money doesn't buy happiness; riffs about artists and professors poke fun at the charlatans and theorists of the trades. Occasionally withering and frequently hilarious, these anecdotes highlight little knots of human curiosity." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Pieces for the Left Hand consists of 100 very short stories...in which not a word is wasted, and not one of which could be cut. Despite its self-deprecating title, the collection is anything but offhand: it is a rigorous display of storytelling verve, quantity and control....It is his most perfect work so far.” WYATT MASON, London Review of Books
About the Author
J. Robert Lennon is the author of five novels, including Mailman and The Light of Falling Stars. His stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, Harpers, Playboy, and The New Yorker. He lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife and two sons.