Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Brief flashes of memory creating the beauty of what has passed anew (Books - With a Zero at its Heart by Charles Lambert)

I have written enthusiastically of Charles Lambert's novels Little Monsters, Any Human Faceand  The View from the TowerHis new creation With a Zero at Its Heart (The Friday Project, 2014) is excitingly fresh.  Although it reflects qualities I have observed in his other work - the driving energy, the concentration on sensory experience in everyday life, and the cleanliness of prose - it refines them into something uniquely and lovingly felt.  Lambert divides his narrator's life experiences into iconic categories like money, travel, language, danger, correspondence, work, waiting, death, books - 24 in all - dipping into 10 episodes per category.  The episodes span early childhood to late-middle-age.  Each is a 120-word prose snapshot, bracingly terse but warm with remembering.  They evoke the prose poems of Frank O'Hara in their colloquialism, but with less smart-assed whimsy, and this seems not entirely without intention, as O'Hara is referred to in the section on waiting.