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Suspicious Circumstances: An Album of Events and Oddities with Thoughts on the Word What

Suspicious Circumstances: An Album of Events and Oddities with Thoughts on the Word What

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By A. Robert Lee

Out now

In this deliciously delightful and amusing new work, world-traveller, writer A. Robert Lee masters a surprising form: the weird-essay-vignette. In a series of random, yet suspiciously linked, encyclopaedia-like entries, he revisits the bizarre, the banal, and the absurd behaviours, events, and trivia that fuse to create a life – from sexing ostriches, to giant fake teeth, to the meaning of meaning. For readers who love informative comedy, or armchair philosophers who find flipping through dictionaries a serendipitous hoot, this will be a book never to forget, and always to return to.

A. Robert Lee was a professor in the English Department at Nihon University, Tokyo 1997-2011, having previously taught at the University of Kent, UK. Currently he lives in Murcia, Spain. His creative writings include Japan Textures: Sight and Word, with Mark Gresham (2007), Tokyo Commute (2011), Ars Geographica: Maps and Compasses (2012), Portrait and Landscape: Further Geographies (2013), Imaginarium: Sightings, Galleries, Sightlines (2013), Americas (2015), Off Course: Roundabouts & Deviations (2016), Password: A Book of Locks and Keys (2016), Written Eye: Visuals/Verse (2017), Alunizaje/Lunar Landings, with Blas Miras (2019), and Writer Directory: A Book of Encounters (2019). Among his academic publications are Multicultural American Literature: Comparative Black, Native, Latino/a and Asian American Fictions (2003), which won the American Book Award in 2004, and Modern American Counter Writing: Beats, Outriders, Ethnics (2010). He edited The Joan Anderson Letter for The Black Spring Press Group in 2020.


"I had so much fun reading Suspicious Circumstances that it felt as good as getting high, no drugs needed. The wit and wisdom of its vignettes—really prose poems laced with laughter—dissect the customs and dispel the dreariness of ordinary life. They are a much-needed provocation, like Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen turned inside out." - Jan Herman, Author of A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood’s Most Acclaimed Director, William Wyler (1997)

"It may well turn out that A. Robert Lee is the bastard offspring of Mark Twain and Spike Milligan. In Suspicious Circumstances, Lee riffs, muses and philosophises on the quirks of life in a series of lively, intimate and witty vignettes. This is a must for lovers of literature, travel, technology, vultures and the word “what.”"- Douglas Field, University of Manchester

"Sometimes laugh-out-loud amusing, often subtly wise, always entertaining. Suspicious Circumstances: An Album of Events and Oddities with Thoughts on the Word What is a treasure-house of reminiscences and wandering imagination. Episodes from a varied life
-- academic, traveller, observer -- are recalled in his own distinctive, eclectic style, with his love of the different meanings of words and concepts evoking unexpected images in the mind of the reader. Read this book to be transported to new ways of thinking about
frequently-used phrases and the world around us." - Irene Mansfield, Lawyer, Human rights activist

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