By J. Robert Lennon
Graywolf Press, 2012. 205 pgs. Fiction
Driving home from her yearly pilgrimage to her son’s grave, Elisa Brown finds herself instantly changed. One moment, she is driving an old car with a cracked windshield, and the next she’s ten pounds heavier, in different clothes, and driving an air-conditioned SUV. As she stumbles through this new life, trying to learn her job and piece together her recent past, she also attempts to solve the mystery of what happened to her. Did her consciousness somehow jump into a parallel world? Is she here to fix a mistake from her other life? Or is she suffering a psychotic break? Lennon does not do the work of answering these questions for the reader; instead he lets the unsettling tension between the familiar and unfamiliar pull the reader through the book without succumbing to the temptation of a tidy ending.
I relished reading this book, racing through it in under a day, but I enjoyed it in the way that one enjoys an old black and white horror movie: it made me look over my shoulder obsessively and have curious thoughts about whether I am who I think I am or not. This book is definitely not for everyone, but those who loved the mild and haunting creepiness of, say, I am the Cheese, might find that J. Robert Lennon is their new favorite author.