“The Loop”
by J. Robert Lennon
from the August 26, 2019 issue of The New Yorker

My knowledge of J. Robert Lennon’s work is slim, mostly coming from a few reviews of Castle and Familiar that John Self posted on his blog, oh goodness, some years ago (see here and here). It’s strange: I remember these reviews quite well, but a few moments ago I would have told you I have never read anything by Lennon, and that, it turns out, is not true. I simply did not remember that I have read one of his stories, “Breadman,” which appeared in The New Yorker in 2015. Looking back at the post (here), I do remember reading the story and I remember the conversation around it, but that’s about it. Fittingly, one of my comment there ends with “I remain a fan if not a stalwart supporter, and I too doubt this will remain in my memory long.” His work appeared in the magazine two time prior, as well, in 1999 and 2000, and I’m pretty sure in 2000 I was reading everything in the magazine, so I may have read “No Life,” but, no, if I did, I don’t remember that either.

Will “The Loop” stick with me better? I’m hoping so! I definitely feel I owe it to Lennon to give it a shot.

Here is the first paragraph:

Divorced, fired from adjunct teaching after a botched attempt to unionize, and her only child lost to college, Bev had, for the first time in decades, more freedom than she knew what to do with. The empty house, hers alone, disgusted her: she sold it, against her daughter’s wishes, and moved to a two-bedroom apartment in a new building downtown. Between the house money and the monthly support payments from her ex—he was fucking his assistant and had signed these things away with the heedless joy of a rabbit sprung from a trap—she’d been given the opportunity to think carefully about what to do with the rest of her life. This quickly came to seem like torture. So she volunteered for Movin’ On Up.

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