Outskirts Press (2008)
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (4/11)
“Lazarus” revolves around the lives of cousins Jude and Lazarus (grandchildren of Lucas Roman) in their early adult lives. It goes back a few generations in order to show how their lives were shaped. Although the book is titled after Lazarus, it features Jude much more prominently. Jude attended Tulane University and trained with the ROTC but spent much of his time drunk and lonely. He aspires to be a writer and perhaps this book is his attempt at telling his family’s history. Lazarus, although less prominently featured, plays a more pivotal role.
I found this book very confusing. The author tried to incorporate too many different methods of relating the story that it felt disconnected. It did not seem to follow any sort of timeline; rather, it jumped all over the place. There were so many minor characters it was difficult to keep track of how they were related. There were many instances where I read a chapter and had no idea who was speaking until several pages into it. (Every character spoke in the first person.) It was also repetitive at times with several characters each telling the same story from their own point of view. Finally, around page 540, things became much clearer as the previously written pages were succinctly summarized.
“Lazarus” is a modernized version of a Greek tragedy. The plot is actually fairly interesting but, due to the previously mentioned reasons, it took too long to develop and too long to tie events together. It was also curious to me that despite all the drama in the family and the secrets that were eventually revealed, the biggest concern of the townspeople was whether or not a road should be closed. Perhaps there is some symbolism I am missing.
This book, “Lazarus,” is intended for an adult audience only. Those who enjoy classic drama and Greek tragedies will get the most out of this book. Understanding the story will require a lot of patience and a lot of time. It may be helpful to take notes as new characters are introduced in order to remember how they are related to other characters later in the story.