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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 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.
sharpener. She nodded at Lamb, and the clerk pointed his eyes at the girl’s pockets. “You can fit that one in your Levi’s,” he said. • • • • • The first morning was cold, gas blue, perfect. As the light evened out above him, David Lamb leaned against the Ford in the sheepskin jacket he’d found in the cabin and listened to sporadic trills of white-throated sparrows tipping in the wind along the fence wire. Paper birch stood in thick white rows between the river and the road, straight and
her. He was not that kind of man. • • • • • In the middle of the workday at the small firm where he’d worked with Wilson for the last nineteen years, Lamb took his father’s ball cap from the empty chair by his office door and left. He drove through the city, through the warm and thickening haze, returning to the same dim parking lot where he had seen the girl twenty-four hours before. He set himself at the bus stop and was not surprised when he saw her coming down the gummy sidewalk
your chest and the fronts of your arms and shoulders and opens all the pores in your face and repeats itself in your eyes. Fresh breeze cooling your back. The smell of sage and the smell of snow on the wind. Hands wrapped around your little metal cup of instant. You’ll be in your little gray city room, lost to me. A thousand miles away. The little bunks and the barbed wire and the withering bluebonnets gone. And you’ll turn into your pillow and wonder was I ever real? Was it all a dream? There
traffic lights still blinking red, gas stations bright in the bleary cold. Everything was over. The day was a shade cooler, a shade grayer than the day before. “Last day,” he said when they pulled out of a Chevron station. Little cold needles of rain turned to sleet. “And here comes winter.” “It’s only October.” “That’s ice,” he said, nodding at the windshield. When they came into Lombard the streets were black with rain and ice, the parking lots of grocery stores and strip malls nearly
before the first line of daylight had cracked the eastern horizon. Rain splashed against the concrete and pooled in colored puddles of grease. The chilly images a forerunner of winter, an early glimpse of those dark mornings and afternoons that fill a Midwesterner’s heart with dread. Miserable in jeans and his father’s ball cap nearly soaked a dark and even blue, David Lamb went in early to work, to pack up and clear out his desk. When Wilson came by in his long coat, still shaking out a cool