See You in Paradise
“Portal” is from J. Robert Lennon’s story collection, SEE YOU IN PARADISE, (Graywolf Press, 2014). Lennon is the author of a previous story collection, Pieces For The Left Hand, and seven novels, including Mailman, Familiar, and Happyland. His short fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Playboy, Granta, The Paris Review, and elsewhere.
He has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and his story “The Rememberer” inspired the CBS detective series Unforgettable. His book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, and The London Review of Books He lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches writing at Cornell University.
Publisher’s Weekly’s review of the book said: Menace runs through many of the 14 stories in novelist Lennon’s collection, tales of quotidian suburban existence into which he often introduces a surreal element. Three of the best stories, “Zombie Dan,” “The Wraith,” and “Portal” are postmodern riffs on classic science fiction and horror themes.
Lennon said this about the origin of “Portal:” My wife and I bought an old house not too long ago, and the woods out back are filled with artifacts from previous inhabitants: rusted tools, the remains of walls, old overgrown farm roads, orchard remnants. The previous owner was something of a new age aficionado, so we often find crystals or other little devotional items, as well. So I got the idea that a magic portal wouldn’t be out of place, and that it would have to be broken, like everything else.
From there I developed the story’s rather blase voice–in its world, magic portals are like any other real estate dilemma, and inevitably have an effect on family life.