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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.
Christ, it gave him such a feeling to put that nice new coat on her, to button it up right beneath her freckled chin. It was just a day with a girl, right? Just a couple of harmless days, and he’d leave her alone by and by. He would become the source of a few odd treasures in the wreck of her bedroom closet. She’d forget all about him by Christmas. But when they were back in the truck driving east, back into the filth of the city, as if without warning from himself, he slowed down and looked
and nose and chin. “No. You’re not. She is probably worried, but we’ll send a postcard, and she’ll get it tomorrow, or maybe the next day, and that will make her feel a lot better.” He held her face close and spoke nearly into her mouth. “And by the time she gets worried again, you’ll be knocking at the door. A little more mature, a little wiser. Your beautiful long hair kissed with October sun from being so high up in the mountains. And she’ll be able to see all this, won’t she?” “Yes.” “And
them?” She shook her head. He made like he was wiping sweat from his forehead. “I thought for a minute you’d just been setting me up this whole time.” • • • • • They set up a dinner camp on the river and the girl opened two cans of sliced potatoes and a can of corned beef hash. It hissed and snapped in the hot metal pan, and Lamb watched the girl turn it until all the pan was greased. “Watch the heat,” he said. “I am.” “Not too high.” “I know.” “Here. Move it here.” “I can do it.”
back, my dear.” • • • • • Imagine you’re in bed. That little old twin bed, back at home. The sheets wrinkled and soft and cool. Your legs clean and strong. Your shoulders sliding down your back, just melting away. Right? Say you’re reading a book. You let it fall a little, into your knees or upon the satin edging of a deep vanilla-colored plush. Cars shushing past outside. You’re just napping in there, just resting and reading, your body recharging. You can barely read the print on the
he’d parked, the narrow road was split with a high stripe of needlegrass and thistles. I-80 hummed behind them. He took off his father’s baseball cap and wiped his forehead on his forearm. The girl snorted and opened her soda, a fine spray of mist. “I can take you home if you’re just going to snort at me, miss piggy.” “No no. I’m listening.” “Are you going to interrupt?” “No.” He reached over and, without touching her, ran his palm close before her face. “You have to close your eyes. Are