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Lennon’s new story collection, “Let Me Think,” is like a puzzle, one of the puzzle pieces scattered on the floor. Some fizzle before it starts, but at its strongest, the book Flux has an indelible assortment of fighting, fighting, failing, failing to communicate, and eating or (hating) pie. Each of the 71 stories, some just a sentence or paragraph, deals with the disappointments, small and big, the existential horrors of modern life and worldly happiness.
A husband and wife represent those parts of themselves that are freed or stranded based on the opening and closing of many doors of their home. A child’s fear increases and becomes uncontrollable, leading to disaster. Titled Helen Phillips’ collection “And Still We Were Happy.” The wedding brief – “Vivah (love),” “Vivah (blame)” and my favorite, “Vivah (marriage)” – are read as bright two-minute plays, with glee and acid and anger. I like to imagine this collection as a “subdivision”, a template for life that the nominal narrator cannot remember. The shortest piece, “Death (later),” is a dose of Rugna Mirth: “I believe in the afterlife in the same way I believe in the party: it may exist, but invite me.” Has not been done, and therefore will never be known. “
The “collective municipal memory” in the “SuperAmerica” story is not so far from the collective city memory of the subdivision. (Sometimes the crow is marginalized on these pages.) “The Cottage on the Hill”, an operative turn, epic in scope, four sections of the book and during a character’s lifetime. Richard roams the same cottage on different weekends for years, always changing himself and the landscape. Some mystery, and faded. “He doesn’t expect any kind of epiphany,” writes Lennon, who only wants to see.
To see and to see, to understand, to connect the dots. In the title story, a father gives his daughter to make him think, to give him a moment of solitude, or just a moment to imagine. The plea appears throughout the collection, as much as a call to prayer: “Let me think,” Lennon’s version of “Let’s be light.” In one of the boldest stories, “The Loop”, a woman named Bev relies on the same day of furniture delivery for a single day, turning herself into a vortex of a pul-de-sac: “First chakra, first hundred, she kept screaming quietly in the first bay, just wait, let me think, let me see.”
In the midst of the collection, “The Museum of Near Mrs.” presents an alternate reality in which Donald Trump was never elected president. His portrait hangs in the titular museum, which is the best thing, but perhaps also a warning, our own personal beckonmau. For a long time, the narrator crashes through the exhibition and into our timeline; He sets clear, waking, rejecting “a life of self-deception” … not by reality but by the seductive and shapely form of imagination. “Puzzles and loops and puzzles can only last so long. Eventually, we get an invitation after the party.” The real world said, “He thinks, and ultimately, life is on him.