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by Bonnie Nadzam

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Other Press, LLC
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8.20(w) x 5.56(h) x 0.86(d)



Winner of the 2011 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

Lamb traces the self-discovery of David Lamb, a narcissistic middle aged man with a tendency toward dishonesty, in the weeks following the disintegration of his marriage and the death of his father. Hoping to regain some faith in his own goodness, he turns his attention to Tommie, an awkward and unpopular eleven-year-old girl. Lamb is convinced that he can help her avoid a destiny of apathy and emptiness, and even comes to believe that his devotion to Tommie is in her best interest. But when Lamb decides to abduct a willing Tommie for a road trip from Chicago to the Rockies, planning to initiate her into the beauty of the mountain wilderness, they are both shaken in ways neither of them expects.
   Lamb is a masterful exploration of the dynamics of love and dependency that challenges the boundaries between adolescence and adulthood, confronts preconceived notions about conventional morality, and exposes mankind’s eroded relationship with nature.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lolita gets a 21st-century spin in this gripping debut. Unlike Humbert Humbert, David Lamb is not obsessed with underage girls but stumbles across one. David's wife has left him, his father has died, and his work life is in shambles when outside a strip mall he meets a seventh-grade girl, "a pale little freckled pig with eyelashes" named Tommie, whom he entices into a pretend kidnap game "to scare" her friends. What he does once he gets her in his car is drive her home, but he also continues to meet her and give her rides to school. Their friendship intensifies, leading to a road trip, "Just a little secret trip in your secret life," from Chicago to an abandoned family house of David's in rural Colorado. There they hole up and eat beans, eggs, and junk food while Tommie's mother has no idea where she is. What David promises the 11-year-old is a fantasy, and he comes across as a father figure, a friend, but at times something far more creepy. With Colorado neighbors snooping, the questions become, how far will this go and what will happen if anyone finds out? Nadzam has a crisp, fluid writing style, and her dialogue is reminiscent of Sam Shepard's. The book suffers from the inevitable Nabokov comparison, but it's a fine first effort: storytelling as accomplished as it is unsettling. (Sept.)

Related Subjects

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