Pieces for the Left Hand by J Robert Lennon - review by Toby Lichtig

Toby Lichtig

Small Town Tales

Pieces for the Left Hand


Granta 213pp £10

J Robert Lennon's Pieces for the Left Hand comprises one hundred literary titbits, mostly no longer than a page – a smorgasbord of condensed observations about middle America in the form of finely honed parables. Lennon's voice is wry, and the style always plain, though the tales range from the prosaic to the paranormal. His medium is absurdity, and perhaps his foremost target is human affectation – starting with his own. In the introduction, we are told how he regards his writerly solitude: ‘with a kind of moral superiority’. This he ‘swiftly quashes, but not without a moment of amusement at his own vanity’. ‘The author’, we are told, ‘is often amused by his faults.’

Precious few of his protagonists are; most would do well to regard themselves less seriously. Take the actress, for example, who is sick of being recognised and seeks peace in a small town. The residents are sensitive to the burden of her fame and go out of their way not

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