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Familiar by [Lennon, J Robert]
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Familiar Kindle Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Length: 225 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

J. Robert Lennon's beautifully written new novel bristles with menace and suspense - a terrific and disturbing read (Daily Mail)

This highly convincing nightmare reads like a thriller; Lennon is painfully truthful about grief and parenthood (Kate Saunders Times)

Tight in focus as well as in construction...an otherworldly narrative (Leo Robson Evening Standard)

Dazzling (Justine Jordan Guardian)

A writer with enough electricity to light up the country (Ann Patchett)

A literary puzzle, a marvelous trick of the mind...as tightly wound as a great Alfred Hitchcock movie. (LA Times)

So breakneck and harrowing, so grab-you-by-the-lapels astonishing, that you may not notice until nearly the end how many questions about your own life it makes you ask. (Elizabeth McCracken)

A novel that imposes itself on the imagination from the opening sentences ... Lennon's brisk prose is both vivid and precise; the dialogue is clear and authentic, often funny. In fact, considering that this is a deadly serious, often bewildering and affecting novel, Familiar is witty and satiric. It is obvious that its genius lies in Lennon's feel for metaphysical contradictions that consistently undercut the realism ... a similar approach to the theme of parallel universes and altered experiences within shifting time frames has also been explored in novels such as Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 or Tom McCarthy's Remainder, neither of which achieves the unsettling mastery of Lennon's far shorter and infinitely superior novel, which could inspire a brilliant screenplay ... Familiar is fresh and original; it is also disturbing in its strangeness, because that strangeness is eerily real (Eileen Battersby Irish Times)

The direct present-tense narration and instantly engaging plight prove an irresistible combination...One of the clever things about the set-up here is how neatly it invigorates some of drearier procedures of conventional fiction...a meditation on family and identity likely to stir brain and heart alike (Anthony Cummins Observer)

Lennon is an American writer whose novels delicately probe the psychology of their protagonists...In Familiar Lennon uses his sci-fi vehicle to create eerie fiction. The notion of parallel universes becomes a metaphor for life choices and their results...immersion in her alternate realities prompts reflection upon the aleatory nature of our own life, in all its uncanniness (Peter Carty Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

A woman's life becomes a mystifying puzzle in this electrifying experimental thriller

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 749 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; Main edition (8 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DR20L5M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,849 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The idea is striking. But it's just like 'Lost' crossed with 'Donnie Darko'. They are engaging and puzzling and wildly entertaining at first, then they kind of go rogue, and no one can tie up the loose ends. Neither could Lennon with this book. The writing is very good, the characters are good. What's it all about? Is the main character, Elisa, in a parallel universe, is she deluded, amnesiac?; is she inside a complicated internet game? Is she a lost character in the wrong metaphysical book? Yes, lots of fun puzzles. Lots of fun clues. And then it ends. Sigh.
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By Jood TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Elisa and Derek have two sons - or they did until the death of Silas, younger brother to Sam. Elisa makes an annual pilgrimage to Silas's grave; it's a six hour journey and as is common in many parts of the States the roads are long, straight and featureless, making the drive tedious. On one such return journey something happens. Within a split second everything changes - she's in a car, but not her car, she is wearing different clothes and in fact is several pounds heavier than she was. It becomes apparent she has been to a conference she cannot remember. Arriving home her husband, Derek, although the same man is different - unusually friendly and welcoming; the house is also different.

Has she suffered a stroke? Is she suffering from split personality? Just what the heck is wrong with her? More disturbing than anything is the fact that her dead son is now alive, an adult - so time has obviously chugged on a few years.

Elisa and Derek's marriage has been disintegrating for many years; the behaviour of Silas seems to be a major factor as he was a disruptive, uncommunicative and provocative bully, taking delight in tormenting Sam. There is no explanation about this behaviour - a personality disorder? A form of autism? We aren't told. Either way he is an obnoxious character.

This is altogether a somewhat unpleasant novel, inhabited by unpleasant people, none of whom I identified with, or felt sympathy for. Elisa and Derek come across as selfish, self-absorbed parents. As for Elisa - she wandered around in a daze, refusing to discuss what had happened to her, but wondering if she, or they as a couple, could have handled things differently.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mid-western American wife and mother Elisa has problems. One of her children is dead, and her marriage is eroding in the wake of the family's grief and guilt. Driving back from a pilgrimage to his grave, she is idly concentrating on a crack in her windscreen when suddenly it disappears. Now she's driving a different car, wearing different clothes, and she's ten pounds heavier.

That's the start of an oddyssey which takes Elisa into a life which is both hers and not hers. Some things are the same - she lives in the same house (painted a different colour) and she's married to the same man, although their relationship is oddly skewed - but her dead son is alive, though estranged and working for a games designer in California. Her job is alien and she has to learn it from scratch. Her new friends are unknown to her, and others she expects to know well have no idea who she is.

At first Elisa thinks she's dreaming, going mad or having some kind of a stroke, then starts to explore the idea of parallel universes with the help of every resource from academe to internet woo-woo. But nothing fits the facts. What is going on? Could this life be real, the previous existence some kind of amnesiac's false memory? Has she somehow got lost inside one of her game designer son's imagined worlds? Is this some kind of second chance dispensed by God? Or has she "ever but slenderly known herself", and the universe has simply filled in the gaps for her?

It's an intriguing psychological thriller, beautifully written and characterised, which keeps the reader guessing and testing theories along with the protagonist. If you're expecting easy answers to the mystery you'll be disappointed by the ending, which is far from unequivocal.
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By A. Rose TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love a book with an unusual concept, so long as it is believable, and this one is written very believably of a parallel life. Here's where I'd like to give a parallel review because some bits were good but at the same time not so good depending how you wanted to view the writing style and story-line. The actual writing and construction of the story is mostly very good but, as another reviewer called it 'typical American rubbish', I know what she means in that some sentences don't really make sense and the use of 'go figure' and 'do the math' as an instruction to the reader I find rather rude.

The story-line starts well, becomes monotonous and a little bit boring, over analyses an obviously ailing marriage, but . . . but, there is something, just enough intrigue through all of it to make you keep reading and to actually enjoy it by the end. After saying all that, the end is rather disappointing and sort of confusing. This was, I thought, about a parallel life but at the end Elisa experiences the same short conversation and trip in an elevator three or four times. Now that's time travel is it not ?

What I mostly got from this story was two versions of how to cock-up a marriage. One where one of your two children dies and everything slowly falls apart over the following years and the other where both children live but are horrible, arrogant and self centred to the point where the marriage guidance counsellor tells you to cut off all contact with them. Dreadful advice and both lead to a failed marriage. There is loads of Elise analysing various situations in which she asks herself if things could have been different, if only . . .

This book could have been much better if only the author had used one of his parallel stories. A great concept but not told to the full advantage of a fictional writer using his/her full imagination. It's not a dreadful book but I won't be recommending it to my friends.
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