Reviews in 200 Words

Mailman, by J. Robert Lennon

In Novel (Guest Punch by Benjamin Glass) on December 30, 2010 at 5:52 am

As much as Mailman’s protagonist, Albert, sounds similar to Humbert, the novel compares with Lolita—an upstate NY town, wild characters, perverted love, significant travel in cars. Mailman is told from a very close, third-person narrator and the world presented is wholly unique to Albert, a manic, fifty-seven year old postal worker who secretly, and expertly, opens mail from his route. Then someone gets suspicious. A letter isn’t delivered. A suicide. Despite Albert’s erotic attraction to his sister (an almost magnetic, nearly natural attraction!) we read attentively because this man is so ecstatically odd. He chews raw brown rice every morning. He has an intelligent, yet immature observing mind: “the engine thermometer steady in the middle as a senator,” and we learn much of him through flashback—fierce ambition, break downs, public banishments. His life, aspirations, and fulfillment, like the written correspondence he delivers in this contemporary America, are dwindling; therefore he is necessarily tragic. We see the desperate psychology of a middleman, a non-ontology—yet, “nothing sent is worth anything unless it gets where it’s going.” He is a deliverer without salvation, a vein, a page, and Lennon’s filled it with drama and, in all its meanings, hysteria.

-Benjamin Glass


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