Lamb✻ [BOOKS] ✯ Lamb By Bonnie Nadzam ❅ – 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 disintegra Winner of the 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. Bonnie Nadzam has written an insightful fascinating character study supported by a gift for landscape description but marred by some inconsistency Bonnie Nadzam image from The GuardianDavid Lamb is middle aged a liar and a loser a narcissist and a dreamer a kid who never really grew up Living alone in a hotel with other marital flotsam he pines for his ex thinks about having been with her sister then calls his girlfriend a Princeton grad he bangs in hallways Dave is full of promises and espouses idealized aspirations but he always runs rather empty on delivery After his father’s funeral Dave is sitting in a parking lot wallowing in his existential crisis when a child approachesTommie not the prettiest rose in the bunch lives in a world where supper might be a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and tailoring one’s shirt entails liberal use of a stapler Her mother’s bf is the slovenly Jessie not enough interested in Tommie to look up from his TV sports On a dare from not really friends she walks up to Dave as he ponders life and bums a cigarette He is drawn to her Not in the creepy way you are probably figuring about now He sees that this innocent is being toyed with by cruel children and offers to help her get back at them by pretending to kidnap her A sort of friendship grows between the two He tells her “I don’t exactly have any friends in this town” “That makes two of us” she says Tommie’s innocence appeals as a salve to his corruption their loneliness a bond Dave wants to help her teach her show her things buy her things It is unclear just what it is that Dave wants from this pre adolescent girl In some of his imaginings they are like father and child in others odd couple pals But dark thoughts bubble through about wanting to destroy her tiny beacon of light with his emptiness And there is cringe material as well as Dave is not always exactly appropriate with his very young companion Tommie is eager to experience something of the world beyond her stultifying enclave This is one of the odder buddy books I have read Both Dave and Tommie are living lives of uiet desperation and Nadzam has a gift for using landscape description as the expression of their hopelessness The book opens with We’ll say this all began just outside of Chicago in late summer on a residential street dead ending in a wall It was the kind of wall meant to hide freeways from view and for miles in each direction parallel streets ended at the same concrete meridian No trees on the lawn no birds on the wires Northern shrikes gone little gray bellied wrens gone Evening grosbeaks and elm trees and most of the oaks and all the silver brooms of tall grass and bunch flowers and sweetfern and phlox gone Heartsease gone About the tops of upturned trash bins black flies scripted the air” I was hooked from word one Nadzam’s gift for description litters the rest of the tale a presence In one passage she uses landscape to ironic effectWhile the girl was in the bathroom at a Chevron in a travel stop off I 80 Lamb bought two postcards and walked outside to the edge of the broken asphalt where trash and weeds grew in a ragged line and broken glass glittered in the daylight It was hot and everything looked new lighter open In another she captures Dave’s sense that he is missing out on life he scanned the horizon and the ground beneath his feet for something green for a place where he could press his cheek against warm dirt for anything like a loophole a chink a way out Nothing before him but the filthy streets and bright signs announcing the limits of his world Transmission Masters and Drive Time financing and Drive Thru Liuors and Courtesy Loans and Office Depot and a Freeway Inn and a Luxury Inn and a Holiday Inn If there was something beneath something behind it was hidden from him But Dave has a vision of a purer place and time a place in the Rockies with “a line of broken toothed mountainsa swimming hole A river Trees and clear skies” Later “The kid couldn’t know what she was missing the depths to which she was being duped by a world she had no hand in making” He really does want something better for her Ross Partridge as Dave and Oona Lawrence as Tommie image from CriticsRoundupcomIt is this something that the pair hit the road to find Of course this is an America in which even the Rocky Mountain high has been brought low The idyllic mountain pastures Dave promotes are filled with cow patties broken fences a shortage of indoor heat and suspicious neighborsThe triumph of the book is in its portrayal of Dave Lamb In Dave’s vision of himself or his vision of a moment he sees a truthseeker “Look at me I might be a lot of things but I’m not a liar okay?”“Okay”“There’s precious little truth in this world and I am one of its most enthusiastic spokespeople Okay? saith the liarLike all narcissists Dave objectifies the people he encounters He describes his nominal girlfriend thusA heart stoppingly beautiful young woman An expensive and well educated system of reactions and responses and he knew them all Had known them frankly since years before she was born” Yet his affection for Tommie seems genuine Is it? Or has he created a virginal ideal he can use to gain some feeling of power by conuering? His narcissism causes him to believe his own BS He sells Tommie a fantasy but even that pitch is off beginning with natural beauty in a high sage filled valley but mixing in oddities like a cooler full of Mexican beer and a braided rug on a concrete floor A lot of the book is Dave’s internal debate “That wasn’t kidnapping It had been a favor right? A lesson He hadn’t kidnapped anyone She was back in her apartment having dinner with her parents her girlfriends perhaps chastened of whoring each other out for laughs in parking lots It wasn’t kidnapping when the kid ended up safely delivered home in better shape than she left in the morning It was like he found a loose bolt out there in the world and had carefully turned it back into place It was fine” Dave’s whims his impulses rule and his gift of professional level bullshit lets him get away with the most ridiculous actions One could certainly think that the author asks us to accept too much acceptance on the part of the people Dave cons But those of us who have known people of a narcissistic bent can attest to their uncanny powers of persuasion That is a characteristic that Nadzam has portrayed to perfection here Dave told Tommie that his name was Gary“Gary”“Yes dear”“I think I maybe want to call my mom”“Okay”“Okay?”“In the morning?”“Sure”“What do you want to tell her?”“Just that everything is okay and I’m okay and don’t worry”“Do you think she’ll probably worry anyway?”“Yeah”“Do you think a phone call might make her worry ?”“I don’t know”“Maybe we should think about that”Dave has a lawyer’s ability to take your words and make them seem to mean the exact opposite of what you intended He could be a camp guard telling the inmates that everything was ok and would they please hurry along to get their delousing showersSo do they or don’t they? There is one scene in which I suspected they had but a GR friend whose opinion I respect believes otherwise So it is ambiguous I confess that I did have certain standard expectations for the ending but I was surprised at the direction the author chose For those who see Lolita here the author says not so much But she was influenced by another Nabakov work one about Don uixote Don uixote he writes “is a kind of treatise about how meaning gets into things and lives It is a book about enchantment the inappropriateness of enchantment in a disenchanted world” The author also was expressing in this book regret at the pain she has causedLamb vows to show her what’s left of the imagined America he’s been describing He plays with the child not because he is a predator but because he is himself a child; his fantasies of life as a cowboy of entitlement and adventure have eclipsed what should be responsible adulthood only to hurt all those he claims to love It was that kind of hurt — and the despair of realizing I’ve caused as much as I’ve received — that most influenced the shape of my bookWhile this book could have used at least one edit it does succeed in making a character come to life in painting a portrait of a contemporary America that has passed its sell by date when it comes to fulfilling idyllic dreams and in sustaining a very engaging level of tension It is a good book that could have been better but is not half bad and a very impressive first novelA film made of the book was released in 2016 It did not fare wellPS and for fans of The League of Gentlemen my inner voice kept hearing Papa Lazarou throughout asking “is that you Dave?”EXTRA STUFFNadzam on TwitterA few sites are worth a look There is an interview at Other Press and another at Harper Bonnie Nadzam is a tremendous writer Descriptions and details draw you inher prose is gorgeous Having read her book Lions soon to be released this July and having absolutely loved it I couldn't wait to get my hands on another book she wroteLambwas Bonnie Nadzam's first book WOW What a debut Holy smokes She came out moving mountains with this novel LAMB is peculiar It's also gorgeously written I think it's fair to say this book is 'creepy' The plot is disturbing distinctive The narrative is seductive It's not easy to stop thinking about the happenings in this story even when you are not reading itThe reader is asked to 'really' look inside the head of a man who is a 'possible' pedophile Readers are also asked to consider Lamb as a decent man who only wants to help a girl from a broken home Either waywe know a few things David Lamb might be gentle as a 'lamb' as a reader I explored this thought but I wouldn't call him innocent He is a 'down and out' insecure middle age old fart Whether or not he is aware of manipulating Tommie the young 11 year old girl it's what he is doing Nadzam's narrative is clever the way she influences us Upfront she guides us through Lamb's grooming of Tommie yet a window is open for different points of interpretation It's as though Nadzam has designed into the plot for us the readers to be objective not endorsing but understanding and learning how a similar situation could develop It seems to me that the origin of the novel's repulsion is its reminder at how often 'poison evil' is motivated by the best intentions The reading is uncomfortable yet compellingclearly not a book for everybodybut I'll say this Bonnie Nadzam has a great understanding of predation It's my opinionas a girl who grew up as a latchkey kid without a father this story is not as far fetch as we would hope47 stars I swore to myself I would write a proper in depth meaningful review of Lamb something that actually had some meat and substance to it not one of the one paragraph rush jobs I've often done when I don't have the time or inclination to get into a proper write up Something that would make people sit up take notice and think 'wow I really want to read this book'Of course it hasn't materialised yet because I find it really hard to write about books I love And I don't know how I can possibly do Lamb justiceThis is a story about David Lamb a man in his mid fifties who finds himself at a crossroads of sorts His father has died; he has split with his wife but doesn't know if he's made the right decision; he is half heartedly embroiled in an ill advised affair with a younger female colleague who is besotted with him In the midst of this confusion he meets an eleven year old girl Tommie who both disgusts him and arouses some kind of paternal instinct when he sees that she is the butt of a joke made by her savvier 'friends' His interest awakened Lamb finds himself drawn back to Tommie again and again and a plan begins to formulate in his mind he will liberate her from the drudgery of her life take her on a trip to the country teach her about nature and the great outdoorsSo this is a story about a seemingly ordinary man in the grip of a mid life crisis making a strange rash confused risky decision It is also a story about an extremely manipulative fiftysomething man grooming and then kidnapping a pre pubescent child and taking her halfway across the American Midwest to a remote snow bound cabinThere have been and I'm sure there will continue to be the inevitable comparisons to Lolita but Lamb is a far opaue story The slippery shifting narrative is like a voice whispering in the reader's ear inviting them to be complicit in Lamb's actions 'there was nothing wrong with that was there?' but crucially the story is not actually told from his point of view view spoiler Or is it? hide spoiler Bonnie Nazdam's dual degree in literature and environmental studies shines in her debut novel about human desire and dependency and about the beauty and decline of the landscape resplendent in its rawness and fragile vulnerability Nature and humanity form a synergistic elixir that permeates the pores of the storyDavid Lamb is a disturbed fifty something man whose private aches are both diminishing and conuering him His life collides with Tommie who is only eleven years old when she approaches him on a dare in a parking lot Soon after that he has abducted her through his calculated and unctuous intrusions but she believes in her prepubescent mind that she has consensually agreed to his proposals He offers to show her the true beauty of nature and they abscond on a road trip from Chicago to the Rockies without Tommie informing her mother He promises to return her in a specific amount of timeWhat follows is an account from an unknown narrator of their trip The intimacy of the narrator and the almost obliue and uiet ferocity of narration brings the reader to a suspenseful uncomfortable place that is both familiar and alien It is appalling and suggestive at intervals; the uestion of personal boundaries lurks on every dangerous winding roadThe rack and pinion relationship between Tommie and Lamb is both complex and ineluctable Tommie is not even developed yet but matures biologically day by day; David Lamb regresses and his sickness reduces him to predictable behaviors as an outgrowth of his need and desires He uses reverse psychology and mimics a state of innocence and wonder through his delusion and grandiosityHow powerful she was as long as she asserted no will of her own is the theme of this book a dynamic conundrum that blends nature the human need for connection the uestion of will and the paradoxical power of relationships Nature and people are like that sometimes; leaving us and Mother Earth alone allows a ripe bloom aggressive intervention can wither us However ignoring our personal and physical landscapes can lead to decay There is a balance and a tipping point Nazdam's awareness of the environment's impact on nature and humanity and vice versa is psychologically and scientifically acuteSuspenseful drama and murky territory keeps the reader edgy and off balance but there were some pages that stagnated and recycled the drama a bit Fortunately Nazdam usually aimed in a steady and ultimately propelling course Even when the human drama occasionally crawled nature's way continued to pivot and flourish from the narrativeThe narrator is an enigma and it is left to the reader to decide who is telling the story However the voice was also vague with an ambiguity that was euivocal and unintended In lesser hands it would have undermined the story itself But the author kept us gripped to the characters and events of the story's time period enough to give less weight of importance on the storytellerSimilarities to Lolita are shallow and inadeuate easily a first observation but dispensed with as this story is deeply analyzed The names of many characters are provocatively utilized also in all their androgyny This book merits discussion and debate; there are no concrete handy answers only steep steps to further examination and inuiry Closing the last page of Lamb – Bonnie Nadzam’s psychological thriller – I realized I had been holding my breath for the final half hour It’s that kind of booksimilar to a one act play where the narrative keeps getting racheted up and screwed tighter and the audience can never ever even conceive of an intermissionDavid Lamb – an innocuous and gentle name if I’ve ever heard one – is a seductive narcissistic and damaged man on the sunny side of 50 who is experiencing a heck of an existential crisis He turns his attention to a young barely adolescent girl named Tommie “a pale little freckled pig with eyelashes” who is awkward and socially inept He advises her and uestions her and “the girl answered all of his inuiries as if Tommie were some other person in whom they were both extraordinarily interested in”By weaving mind pictures of a fantasy life in the Rockies he manipulates her into taking a road trip to the Rockies with him “And there was nothing wrong with that was there? It was good for her It was just a little tonic for his poisonous heart Right?”The book never crosses over to the physical dark side David Lamb is not your traditional pedophile; he wants something far dangerous from Tommie He wants her to absolve him to testify to his goodness to give him back some of the innocence of his lost adolescence He says to her haven’t always had nice people in my life It makes me behave a little erratically right?” In the Rockies David calling himself Gary continues his manipulation and mental seduction of the young Tommie Bonnie Nadzam wisely makes a plot choice of briefly interjecting David’s girlfriend Linnie into the scene The reader can then contrast how the mental seduction plays out with an adult – and with a child One of the very creepiest scenes in the entire book is one in which the three come together Linnie and Tommie intertwined far than either of them know “I;m afraid everyone’s in on something really wonderful Linnie” David says to her “and I don’t know what it is and I can’t be in on it”Another bold choice Ms Nadzam makes it to “get out of voice” – increasingly as the novel progresses Whose voice is it? The author’s? David’s? Or the grown up Tommie’s? There is evidence that points to the last theory especially when we briefly learn what grown up Tommie thinks about her transformational experienceOnce the story takes hold this book is unputdownable Anyone who has ever had experience with a narcissist will immediately understand the self centered self focused seduction techniues “You’re my twin” David says to Tommie “Your heart is hewn to mine Isn’t it Don’t you see?” And that’s the scariest line of all This is a sick making book It’s about a child molester named David Lamb who kidnaps an eleven year old girl named Tommie It’s inevitable that with this theme Nadzam’s “Lamb” will be compared to Nabokov and his “Lolita” It was a daring choice that Nadzam made She had guts to invite the comparison Shoot maybe she even welcomes it She doesn’t live in Nabokov’s literary neighborhood though she sure lives in his same small town She can write Unlike “Lolita” “Lamb” is almost exclusively about how a molester slowly carefully grooms his victim how he gains her trust and attempts to trick himself into believing the crimes he’s committing are normal interactions between a 50 something man and an eleven year old girl It makes your flesh crawl Each step Lamb makes is small You keep hoping that he’ll do the right thing Maybe he’ll wake up and forget his own needs and let Tommie go He also has a young girlfriend he entices to play a role manipulating her as well as a nosey elderly neighbor into playing along with his game Lamb reflects on his superior level of intelligence He feels entitled to hurt Tommie because others have hurt him We get a window into his sad childhood He’s been hurt so he’s justified in hurting Tommie I did mention this book is sick making right? He’s protected by how sinister his actions are Normal people can’t conceive that Lamb would do such things and Tommie’s long past sticking up for herself Though her theme is ugly Nadzam is a wonderful writer I’m sure she’s done a service by showing us how molesters groom their victims but I hope she has a different theme for her next book Come on Bonniegive us some murderers or drug dealers or sumpin Lamb was a very disturbing book to read On the surface it appeared to be a story about a connection between a middle age man and a 12 year old girl There was no overt sexual abuse involved But under the surface Lamb was a pedophile He stalked and subseuently took a vulnerable 12 girl to groom for his obsession Their 7 days on the road discovering exciting places was in fact a slow preparation of Lamb's ulltimate plan In the end Lamb for some reason did not complete his plan Instead he returned the girl homeLamb knows he changed this girl's life but he thinks he changed it for the better Even though there was no overt sexual abuse there was implied sexual contact for the girl Each time there would be a whisper of sexual contact Holding her kissing her having her sleep in the same bed with him Yes this child's life has changed But not for the better He has changed who she is and it is a change that will follow her the rest of her life Abused children and she was one never get over their abuse Sometimes they get beyond it but never over it I’m not sure words can accurately depict how I feel about this novel other than to say that I really liked it DESPITE its severely disturbing nature Nadzam’s literary voice is stunning; I’ve never read a novel that so accurately characterized its cast through mostly short snappy dialogue It was utterly genius because the purpose it served was to truly illustrate the manipulative nature of child predators That Nadzam was able to get into the mind of someone this twisted and illustrate his beguiling nature is rather incredible to meI was eually awestruck by the lovely moving descriptions of the Midwest and the Rockies – such beautiful literary prose it took my breath away The mix of gut wrenching dread I felt for the 11 year old girl Tommie combined with the natural beauty of the surroundings created a seesaw of emotions that kept me off balance never really sure if Lamb the main character was a bad guy or good guy though my gut was guiding me in a particular direction throughout the novel How could it not?This is a story about a middle aged man who thinks he’s doing the right thing by rescuing a girl from her mundane urban experience in a loveless home surrounded by concrete The book’s focus on the erosion of our natural landscape to buildings and “progress” – and the loss of innocence that children suffer as a result – resonated with me Again – the environmental descriptions were lushWarning this is NOT an easy read especially because of the themes of child abuseabduction I have no psychology degree but I have to think from what I’ve readresearched that this is an accurate portrayal of Stockholm Syndrome in which abductees form emotional attachments to their abductors All books that shed light on the horrific realities of child abuse are important books even if they are extremely difficult to read This novel leaves so much gray area that I am still scratching my head Thought provoking and disturbing I couldn't put it down Many have compared this book to Nabakov’s Lolita The fact that so many readers here note the unsettling experience of this book speaks to successful writing The only way you won't feel a visceral reaction to Lamb is if you're not paying attention or not reading thoughtfully This book is just the perfect proportion of fuckedupedness to gorgeousness and totally riveting As I neared the end I kept rationing my reading so it wouldn't be over so uickly Thank you Bonnie Nadzam for such an amazing reading experience and kudos on the Flaherty Dunnan First Novel Prize I also read this on the recommendation of the bookstore employees and now I am thinking that I don't trust them any When I read Nabokov's Lolita and here the comparisons are inevitable I was stunned that a pedophile could make a sympathetic character In Lamb it's unclear if sex with a child actually occurs though there's no uestion that the relationship at hand in inappropriate Perhaps it's the shock of the subject matter that makes this book alluring because it's definitely not the characters At times the writing is lovely when Nadzam is describing the countryside or when Lamb slips into storytelling mode Lamb is an aging man who is having an affair with a younger woman at the firm where he has worked for nearly twenty years His wife has left him and he goes on a three week leave from work to let things cool off He lies to everyone his former wife his boss the younger woman the child he meets and ultimately himself While initially his contact with Tom the young girl seems like a desperate man looking to connect in the worst of places as the two of them spend time together and at the cabin Lamb starts to come unhinged His ego desperation and lying make him hard to sympathize with and you can't help but feel that he's brought everything upon himself He knows that he's hurt Tom that he's probably irrevocably damaged her young psyche and yet he can't help himself He doesn't get caught which made me feel even less sympathetic here's one thing that this man gets despite the wake of damaged women he leaves behind Tom is seen through the eyes of David and as such she is a vessel and less her own character This is a poor move as it makes it hard to understand and like her beyond sympathy with general troubled young girl tropes I suppose what's important to the novel is what Tommie is to David and her role in that regard is very clear But it's a little unsettling to read a novel like this where the victim remains so blank where my dislike for the protagonist is so much stronger than any feeling I have about his victim Ultimately I think the book is of a gimmick that relies heavily on the shock value of its subject matter and doesn't uite deliver in the depth of its characters I feel as though I know the landscape better than the people

Lamb Kindle ¿ Paperback
  • Paperback
  • 288 pages
  • Lamb
  • Bonnie Nadzam
  • English
  • 02 December 2016
  • 9781590514375