Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A knowing heart and a forceful pen... (Books - Little Monsters by Charles Lambert)

Charles Lambert's 2008 debut novel Little Monsters is about how the quality of love we receive in our formative years can impact the love we express to others in the rest of our lives, whether that is in personal relationships, creative art, or political acts. I began writing my thoughts about it here. Through the book, we observe Carol, whose father murders her mother in parallel time periods: in the future immediately following the murder when she lives in the pub owned by her resentful Aunt, and forty years hence, when she seems forcefully compelled to rescue a young refugee at a 'humanitarian' camp where she works. This book's prose has a driven quality, although its pleasures are quieter than Any Human Face, Lambert's recent thriller-love story. His strength is an unflinchingly sensitive eye for the deepest layers of his characters' psyches.
For the first time in our lives together, we have made love in a greedy, selfish way I'd never imagined possible with Jozef, as though we have been starved and are fighting over food. Or maybe not selfish, but self-centred, when we have always been so aware of the other, of the other's pleasure, even at the cost of our own. Now I find what we do both exciting and repellent and these are somehow the same feeling; there is no contrast between them, as there should be. But what I feel, when we have finished and turn our backs to each other to sleep, consumed, is loneliness. I feel I have never known him and will never understand him; that my love for him has been built on gratitude, because he was there when I needed him, and looked after me. And I wonder, with a resentment that borders on despair, why he has never told me the truth about his life.
Lambert writes of the pain of existential longing with a knowing heart and a sure, forceful pen. He knows, as one character says to another in Little Monsters, that 'people are not simple,' and that's why I loved this beautiful novel. I feel I've discovered a deep well in Lambert. Sometimes his work evokes Hermann Hesse for me, although he is less of an innocent. How can it be so plain to an outside eye how we live out of the circumstances that formed us, while we are such a deep mystery to ourselves, he asks?


verbivore said...

All that you've written about Lambert in your last few posts tells me I will love his work. Thanks - I'll order them right away.

Ted said...

Hi Verb - I think you will especially like this one.

Matt said...

I have never heard of Charles Lambert. Your last couple sentences have convinced me to read the book.

Ted said...

Matt - Lambert will definitely be an interesting author for you. I think you would enjoy both of his books, in fact.