J Robert Lennon is the author of four novels including Mailman and The Light of Falling Stars. His stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, the Paris Review, Granta, Harper’s, and the New Yorker. He lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife and two sons.
with J Robert Lennon
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
JRL: About a year, all told. It took much longer to publish it
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
at first--I was just killing time while my son was taking naps.
But after 20 or so I decided that I was actually writing a book, and
began to take the project more seriously. Some of those early stories didn't make the cut.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
the lesser stories seemed to fall into a pattern - they were mostly
ironic-reversal stories, or half-assed fables. It was pretty obvious
which the better ones were. I'd been sending the book out in an
essentially random order, until a book editor told me I should arrange
them into thematic groups, and write an introduction for the whole. I liked this idea and did as she asked.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
Not really - I am mostly trying to amuse myself, or perhaps my wife or
my friend Ed. It always seems highly implausible that anyone will
ever read what I'm writing at the time. I have occasionally
written a story with the intention of reading it aloud, in front of an
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
Very gratifying! I suspect there aren't many, though, so my solemn thanks to them.
What are you working on now?
JRL: A short, weird novel. And an article about Margaret Atwood for a magazine.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
JRL: Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
by Wells Tower is the only one I can think of at the moment. It's
superb. I also have read the two most recent "best of"
anthologies, the Best American and O. Henry.