An unnamed woman checks into a guesthouse in a mysterious district known only as the Subdivision. The guesthouse’s owners, Clara and the Judge, are welcoming and helpful, if oddly preoccupied by the perpetually baffling jigsaw puzzle in the living room. With little more than a hand-drawn map and vague memories of her troubled past, the narrator ventures out in search of a job, an apartment, and a fresh start in life.
... a dazzling enigma packed with mysteries in miniature ... Is the Subdivision a place, an emotion or an event lodged in the back of the mind? Is it limbo, or a wall persuaded to shield us from the truth? Lennon is a masterly aggregator of dread. His refusal to neatly answer these questions allows for a bold, unsettling narrative to take shape. The main character’s memories have been fragmented, jumbled and reassembled in a district specifically zoned for her story. Every novel is a subdivision in this way: a plot of land, a land for the plot.
... masterfully told ... what a pleasure it is! Page after page features passages that beg to be read again, with wonderfully inventive visuals along the way ... Indeed, it isn’t long before readers are led to believe the entire world Lennon has built is a before-and-after place, which deepens the story’s nightmarish vibe while propelling the narrative forward ... [Lennon] is one of those rare contemporary writers who’s forged a unique way of storytelling that fuses imagination and reality to create narratives that are presently compelling and resonant long after the last words are read ... While It’s easy to envision his work being analyzed by the MFA crowd, the plots and language are equally appealing to everyday readers who want accessible storytelling that’s intriguing as opposed to confusing (or so obtuse that it takes a room full of those MFAs to figure out what the stories mean) ... Yes, he’s brilliant, but he knows the writer’s most important priority is to entertain. Which is exactly what he does in Subdivision, where cryptic chills and surprises lie around every corner.
... a novel with a key. But rather than shocking us with a twist ending, Lennon gradually clues us (and the narrator herself) into what’s really going on beneath the surface. This process is heavy-handed at times ... The narrator’s metaphorical sublimations of traumatic events and relationships tend toward the obvious, and one of the recurring images, of a jigsaw puzzle filling itself in on a table in the guesthouse, reads like a cliché. But Subdivision is never less than riveting, thanks to Lennon’s lean and evocative prose, our thrilling inability to predict what will happen next, and the certainty that it will be something surprising and disturbing.