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Lazarus by [Akley, Jason]
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Lazarus Kindle Edition

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Length: 732 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Product Description

An avant garde update of a classic Greek tragedy.

Akley’s new novel is a deeply ambitious project, 700-plus pages of experimental prose filled with allusions to the Bible, the Beatles, Marx, Nietzsche, Johnny Cash and the cool jazz of Miles Davis, but readers who stick with it will be amply rewarded. Although labyrinthine, it is also gratifying. Akley’s previous work includes a number of award-winning children’s books, but this project is decidedly adult. Lazarus is a contemporary version of the Oedipus trilogy, Sophocles’ timeless epic about the benighted family of a man who kills his father and marries his mother. However, the novel is less a retelling than a refraction. Akley shines his ancient source through a prism and watches the colors spin and dance on a white wall, jumping between generations and growing family trees whose limbs are sometimes chopped with surprising speed, he delivers a tale as engrossing as it is complex. However, he manages this sprawling project with a steady hand, his deft prose is the thread that keeps his patchwork quilt from falling to pieces. The author experiments with numerous forms, piecing his story together with diary entries, e-mail correspondence, dramatic dialogue and, to great effect, screenplay. Each form is more adeptly handled than the last and such flexibility proves his skill.

A challenging but altogether cutting-edge, first-rate magnum opus by an up-and-coming author.

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Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1832 KB
  • Print Length: 732 pages
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc. (Dec 19 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004O6MQSK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,026,349 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0d69348) out of 5 stars 29 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0d508f4) out of 5 stars Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. James Joyce March 28 2014
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Jason Akley. We know too little about him. He is the son of a colonel in the United States Air Force, and has traveled extensively across America and Europe following his father's military assignments. He currently resides in Illinois. He started writing stories at the age of eight, and has had his poetry published in two books. He is the author of children's books (Sweet Pea and the Bumble Bee and The Candlestick), `Crossroads form Damascus: Mississippi', `Salted with Salt and The Altar of Silence: Two Novellas, Rick's Place, and The Psalmist. Akley has a BS degree from Tulane University in physics and mathematical economics. But to discover what the man is truly about it is necessary to read his books. He has the gift that imbues Bukowski's writings, the poetic balance of such poets as John Berryman, Allen Ginsberg, and Hart Crane, and the imagination and flights of fantasy that circle reality like few others writing today. Think Foer, Burroughs, etc.

LAZARUS is an undertaking. Over 600 pages long, it has been called `a contemporary version of the Oedipus trilogy, Sophocles' timeless epic about the benighted family of a man who kills his father and marries his mother.' Because of the complexity of the tale it may help incipient readers to know the chronology of the Roman Family, provided as the last pages of the book: 1695 First Chartres settle in North Carolina to escape Huguenot oppression, 1738 Joseph Chartres born on the family's tobacco plantation, 1766 Joseph Chartres moves his family to New Orleans, 1783 Grandson born by daughter, Annabelle, to a negro slave, 1804 Grandson changes his name to Joe Hamilton, leaves New Orleans, and begins trading in the Upper Louisiana Territory near St. Genevieve, MO, 1815 Trading Outpost started on the Osage River, eventually becomes the town of Hamilton, 1828 Joe Hamilton marries Heather Branscomb, 1829 Charles Hamilton born, 1832 Heather runs off. Joe Hamilton shoots himself. Charles Hamilton, and his father's business, is taken into the care of Branscomb, 1843 John Chartres, great-grandson of Joseph Chartres, carries on the family business in New Orleans, with his son as they witness the negroes in Congo Square, 1853 Charles Hamilton takes over his father's business; marries Daphne, 1854 Daughter is born; Daphne dies in labor, 1857 Charles Hamilton frees David from slavery, 1864 David lynched by confederate soldiers; Charles Hamilton never seen in the town again; Branscomb cares for his daughter, 1884 Charles Hamilton dies; leaves everything to relatives in New Orleans; Chartres name Americanized to Charters, 1885 Shanks family moves to St. Louis from North Carolina, 1900 Lucas Roman born, 1907 Lucas Roman's father dies; Lucas sent to an orphanage, 1914 Lucille Roman born, great-granddaughter to Charles Hamilton , 1917Storyville closes; Lucas Roman leaves the orphanage, 1928 Lucas Roman kills a man in a fight, changes his name from Shanks; settles in Hope 1931 H.L. Charters stands on a corner in Chicago, 1933 Lucas Roman marries Lucille, 1936 Ira Roman born, 1937 Billy Roman born, 1938 James Roman born 1940 Elizabeth Roman born, 1945 Frank Roman born; jazz musicians reminisce on the New Year, 1948 Ira goes with Lucille to see Billy, 1952 Ira kills Frank; sent to reform school, 1954 Lucas Roman rapes Elizabeth; she goes to Grand Isle to stay with Lucille's relatives and have the baby; Ira returns from reform school, 1955 Lazarus born at Grand Isle; Tom lynched at English Bend; Ira comes to New Orleans and promises to drown the baby in the river, but doesn't; Ira disappears, 1960 James Roman marries Alice ,1966 Mary born to Elizabeth from her first husband; Jude Roman's sister born to James and Alice, 1975 Jude Roman born; Lazarus comes to Ozark region; Ira returns; Lucas Roman found drowned in his pond, 1976 The road is closed through Hope; Lazarus meets Elizabeth, 1979 Lazarus marries Elizabeth 1980 Judith Roman born, 1982 Luke Roman born, 1984 Lucille Roman dies, 1997 Jude Roman graduates Tulane, 1998 Jude Roman discharged from the military; returns home to Hope; meets Ira on his way home with his father, 2000 James Roman diagnosed with cancer; Jude starts novel about Roman family, 2001 James Roman dies, 2005 Ira returns to Hope and tells Lazarus and Elizabeth their true relationship; Luke Roman is killed in a car accident involving Ira on Rt. J; Lazarus blinds himself; Judith Roman secures her mother and father's letters after Elizabeth kills herself at Grand Isle; Jude Roman marries and buys a house, 2006 Jude Roman's daughter born, 2007 Judith fights Branscomb to close the road through Hamilton; she and Branscomb's son kill themselves, 2008 Jude finishes novel. So much for the web of information that informs the story.

Jason Akley tell fine stories, yes, but it is in the bathing of his literate skills that provides the real pleasure of reading his experimentally designed work that makes him so extraordinary. It is only fitting to share a couple of passages to assist the lure to his opus: `The next morning she and the children walked to church. Lucas Roman didn't attend church. Preacher Everett Field spoke about faith and works and charity. When the preacher made an altar call, Lucille went down, and he laid hands on her. His touch dropped her like a domino, and she lay there on her back, slain in the Spirit. The children grew tired and left their pew to go outside. It was a sunny morning, and they played in the field behind the church. Ira stayed behind, though most everybody had left, including the preacher. It was time to head home for supper. Lucille stayed at the altar. After laying on her back she got up and prayed on her knees. Ira sat in his pew and watched as his mother prayed.' Another passage: I didn't ask to be born. I ripped my mother open coming out. She needed forty stitches. I guess ever since I've been the proverbial black sheep of the family. It sometimes happens when you're the oldest. One must be awfully conceited to talk about oneself without embarrassment. But my intentions are honest. And telling the truth is usually the funniest thing. We come from a void. I was tied to it at my birth. I remember it. And because of it I live a morality of expediency. I've learned the unveiling of one illusion just means replacing it with another. It's inevitable.' Too long a review, perhaps, and a long book, but the magic of Jason Akley deserves all the attention he is receiving. Brilliant. Grady Harp, March 14
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0d5090c) out of 5 stars Magnificent and Praise-Worthy Prose April 16 2014
By John J. Staughton - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
There are some books that leave you breathless, exhausted, and inspired, while most simply leave you reaching for another tome. Lazarus is absolutely a member of the former group, and while there will certainly be moments where you are unclear as to what you just read, push on. This is the sort of book that looks intimidating and will be intimidating, but it is also an essential read for lovers of words and those who worship the many forms that telling a story can take. I absolutely loved Lazarus because it approached life as we live it: brutal, unpredictable, and impossibly fleeting. There were enough layers of meaning and intention in this epic southern saga to make Joyce and Faulkner tip a cap and the at-times melodic, experimental, and powerful prose dragged readers forward through something truly memorable.

I had never heard of Akley, nor read his work, but am always intrigued by a weighty and heady book. This certainly fit the bill in both regards. Watching a family rise and fall in America, as Hawthorne might say, is like watching the story of an entire nation encapsulated in the pain and pleasure of one bloodline, town, state, or relationship. Akley touched on a vast network of human emotions and left no choice for his readers but to pay attention, keep track of the perpetually swelling list of characters, and try not to miss the forest for the trees. It was a stunning story, told with impeccable prose, and will likely inspire you to find your own words to express the madness of the human condition. At the very least, you will leave understanding a bit more about what it means to live and die. Tremendous.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0d50d44) out of 5 stars A Southern/Modern Oedipus tale April 12 2014
By Robin Perron - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
For those of you who have either read the Oedipus trilogy by Sophocles and loved or read and hated it, Jason Akley’s new take on the tragedy will draw you in. Lazarus is a modern day take on Oedipus which chronicles more than three centuries with the Roman family. While the story is admittedly long, the time it takes to read is well worth it due to the interwoven nature of the family members’ lives.

Lazarus takes you from the first member of the Charters/Roman family settling in North Carolina after escaping Huguenot oppression in 1695 through the tragic suicides of their modern descendants in 2008. Because the story is written from the perspective of many different characters it can be easy to get lost, however, this same writing style also provides the reader with a way to feel how things shift in the family as time goes on. Akley does a great job of drawing the reader in and making them reflect not only on the relationships in the story, but also on many facets of their own lives.

Lazarus by Jason Akley is well worth the read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0d51120) out of 5 stars Well Done, Just Not For Me May 15 2014
By Kirstein Howell - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I prefer literary prose and a more concise, high action story myself. Regardless of personal preference though, this was a well-written story. The story, while written with short and simple sentences, still painted vivid pictures of setting, action and character. Truly, it was real-life prose, both understandable and easy to relate to. While some scenes were graphic, and many plights of the characters not typical to all families, still the author made them familiar, drew the reader in and tugged at the readers emotions. The characters had depth, as did the plot. All of these things show great writing talent to me, even if the story wasn't exactly my usual read.

I know this review is short, and the story worth more, but I'm being cautious of what I say, not wanting my personal preference to in any way cloud the merits of the story. The story was long, but well-written. Even if not for me, I want to give the author his props. Its a story I feel many would enjoy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0d51108) out of 5 stars Epic, if a bit unwieldy undertaking May 25 2014
By LESLIE OBRIEN - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
And I mean that for the author and his readers. This was an epic undertaking for me. My first experience reading Akley was his “Crossroads from Damascus” novel, so I’d already experienced his tendency to jump around in time and perspective, so was prepared for it this time. But despite that, it took some time for me to get into the rhythm of the novel. As other reviewers have noted, this is very much a southern gothic novel with not so obtuse references to Sophocles’ Oedipus AND Faulkner. And about one-third of the way into the story, I stopped to read through the timeline at the end and that helped me significantly through the remainder of the novel.

The words themselves are well-crafted and Akley has a knack for language that many would-be writers could only dream of. Everything from, “Sincerity is hard to recover once you’ve lost it. That’s why some intentions are best left guessed at. For how else do we recognize each other?” to “I learned the earth is not as silent as the sea. And it does give something back as you listen.”

This is no simple novel of the life and times of generations of a family. This is a novel filled with tragedies, successes and small life lessons along the way. While it’s not a family that I would ever want to be a member of, the stories that unfold are what life is all about in all its glory and heartbreak laid bare for all to see, as uncomfortable as it may be.

“Now that I’m an old woman I don’t believe much in choice. They say people can change, but I don’t think that’s the whole truth of it. Seems like it’s the circumstances that give people the chance to be different, different from what they were in the past. Just depends on whether the circumstances are better or not as to where they give the credit, or the blame. I guess that’s why I never saw the point in plans, especially if they tried to involve me. Seemed like it was just a way to give folks a sense of purpose so they felt like they were in control of something, if anything in control of themselves…”