Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Richard Grossman: The Book Of Lazarus

Experimental novels are infamous for their oddities of construction and presentation, and The Book Of Lazarus is no different. In its first few pages, the reader encounters an "In Memoriam" list, complete with dates, of something called The People's Liberation Brigade; a prostitute's list of new year's resolutions; an angry letter/political manifesto; a couple pages of aphorisms; a ransom note written by a kidnapped girl; and a set of snapshots of people who supposedly lost their lives while trying to rescue others. Unlike many books of its type, however, The Book Of Lazarus features a lengthy middle section designed to eliminate reader confusion. In hectic narration delivered by a leather-wearing Catholic lesbian Libertarian artist—the sort of character for which experimental novels are also famous—we learn that the book is a scrapbook left by a man named Lazarus who lost his mind after botching a kidnapping years before. The whole concept is actually quite clever; the middle narrative section doesn't detract from the portion that consists of the madman's diary. Unfortunately, it does explain almost all of its contents, creating a true oddity: an experimental novel in which all the loose ends are neatly tied up, leaving nothing for the reader to wonder about. It's a shame—there's no chance of having missed something vital, so there's no need to reflect on The Book Of Lazarus once the last page has been read.

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