Message for Mr. Lazarus, A

ISBN 9781770864078 | EBOOK | $9.99

Category: Short Fiction

 


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Synopsis

From an old house with gingerbread in Vancouver – where it is possible to tell the days of the week by the smells drifting from the chocolate factory in the basement – to Dresden before the fire-storm, Nicaragua during the time of the Sandinistas, these stories take us to places where our senses can expand. In a house by the sea, a woman struggles to discover her lover’s secret thoughts. A ferry ride in Canada is taken by an unfaithful wife. A failed hero contemplates a final deadly game at harvest time. Characters who live in the grip of forces they cannot control – cravings, jealousies, obsessions, private terrors – look for truth, which lies in wait in dark, seductive places.

In the prize-winning novella “A Message for Mr. Lazarus”, a man flees to a remote hideaway in Costa Rica. He keeps nodding off to sleep, then jerking up again. And every time he does that – lets his guard down – he is back in his BMW once again, screaming across the plain of Guanacaste, refusing to be passed even on blind corners, which is how they drive here, everything dry, smoke-hazed, the mountains in the east shimmering like dreams; and flame trees flashing by, and herds of thin white cattle, and now and then a palm, and in every little village he has to slow for pageants of the Crucifixion … In a small hotel he remembers as the most beautiful place in the world, the man remains “dogged by luck” and all his attempts at ironic self-deception will not keep him from an offer of redemption that he might have chosen to avoid.
 

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Awards

Winner of the 2001 Danuta Gleed Literary Award
Winner of the Malahat Review Novella Prize


Praise

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“With the publication of A Message for Mr. Lazarus, Barbara Lambert joins the growing throng of first-rate female short story writers in Canada. In her debut collection she proves herself a deft practitioner of the short story form, and an eminent cartographer of the heart … a stunning piece of work.”
Quill & Quire, starred review

“The novella and stories … have the luster of antique tapestry.”
The Globe and Mail

“[Lambert] is a writer who is able to get inside a person’s head and chart their unexpected actions so they make perfect sense. This is short fiction at its best.”
Edmonton Journal

“In the same literary league as those penned by master storytellers Raymond Carver and Shirley Jackson.”
Georgia Strait

“Lambert exhibits cool control in a Handful of labyrinthine tales.”
View Magazine

“This collection starts off with a three-page account of a couple who notice a man who died several weeks earlier, dining at a nearby table. The half-dozen stories that follow often have a similar quirky flavour, an unsettling quality … soon the images start piling up, the boxes, traps and cages along with “leaping free” and “taking the plunge.” … Lambert’s stories are put together with care and precision, and reward a careful reading.”
Toronto Star

“Lambert uses her words the way a painter applies colours, building up intensity and depth as she tells her tale.”
North Shore News


Preview

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WOLF LEHMANN IS A small bald man. He is tanned well beyond the current cautious norm, his head shiny, oiled, fastidiously shaved. He wears well-pressed chinos, sockless loafers, a guayabera he bought in Playa de Coco at a beach shack run by Nicaraguans, maybe Contras, maybe genuine refugees. A boy called Manuel did the bargaining for him. Wolf is not here to think about the boy. (But if you can stay until the rains, señor, even the fence posts will make roots, they will put out little vines….) No, he does not need to think about the boy, nor does he intend to dwell on the matter of the snake. It is about the guayabera that he is uncomfortable now. He dresses with the care, the attention to detail, of those who suspect that, no matter what, they will always miss the mark somehow. Perhaps when Irene Lansdowne comes out to greet him after her siesta she will read something into his wearing of this garment, something mistaken but sly. He should have left the ruffled shirts to the Americans, the ones who hired the boy’s cousin’s other boat and went out far past the islands after swordfish.

Playa de Coco is near the Nicaraguan border, and Wolf has driven that whole distance in not much more than a morning. He is hungry. Famished, actually, he tells himself. He has been waiting quite some time for his club sandwich to arrive. He keeps nodding off to sleep, then jerking up again. And every time he does that — lets his guard down — he is back in his BMW once again, screaming across the plain of Guanacaste, refusing to be passed even on blind corners, which is how they drive here, everything dry, smoke-hazed, the mountains in the east shimmering like dreams; and flame trees are flashing by, and herds of thin white cattle, and now and then a palm, and in every little village he has to slow for pageants of the Crucifixion, and the roads are crowded with groups of adults, children, dogs … Then suddenly something is on the highway, right in his path, something slides out, alive and wild, and instead of jamming on the brakes, he hits the gas instead.

He jerks awake to find a boy setting down the glass of soda water he also ordered quite some time ago.

¿Por favor, donde es mi sandwichito?” he asks.

“Your sandwich, club, is coming in one moment,” the boy replies.


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About the Author

Lambert, Barbara - is a writer and textile designer. She was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Prize and the Journey Prize, and has won the Danuta Gleed Award for Best First Collection of Short Fiction, and the Malahat Review Novella Prize. (read more)

Books by the Author

Message for Mr. Lazarus, A - Barbara Lambert
ISBN 9781770864078 | EBOOK | $9.99

Winner of the 2001 Danuta Gleed Literary Award
Winner of the Malahat Review Novella Prize

Characters who live in the grip of forces they cannot control - cravings, jealousies, obsessions, private terrors - look for truth, which lies in wait in dark, seductive places. (read more)
Whirling Girl, The - Barbara Lambert
ISBN 9781770860933 | 5.5" x 8.5" | TPB | $22

When botanical artist Clare Livingstone unexpectedly inherits her uncle's property in Tuscany, she travels to Italy to learn why, despite their long estrangement and complicated past, she was chosen to maintain his legacy. (read more)

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