Review: 'With a Zero at its Heart' by Charles Lambert (2014)
Charles Lambert's haunting and highly original WITH A ZERO AT ITS HEART is a sequence of short texts, each of exactly 120 words.
Arranged by theme, including objects, clothes, sex, danger, travel, work, theft, animals, money, language, among others, these form striking glimpses – comic, tender, shocking, enigmatic – of one man's life.
Today I’ve got a review of a slightly different book lined up for you! As I mentioned before, I absolutely love chick lit, but it’s nice to switch it up with something else every now and again. I was contacted by LightBrigade PR about Charles Lambert’s ‘With a Zero at its Heart’, which was released on the 22nd of May. Charles Lambert’s debut novel ‘Little Monsters’ was released in 2008 and was followed by a short story collection and another novel in 2010. I wasn’t familiar with his work, but the unique concept of this particular book made me curious and I was lucky enough to receive a review copy to give it a chance and check the book out!
‘With a Zero at its Heart’ is written in the form of a memoir, but with a particular format that’s quite unique. The book consists of 24 chapters, each with its own theme such as fear, money, sex, and death. Each of these chapters focuses on its specific theme and consists of 10 paragraphs of 120 words each. It provides a look into the life of one man, memory by memory, giving the reader glimpses of it and the space to fill in part of the story himself/herself.
I can honestly say this novel was different from anything else I’ve ever read before. I’d describe the book as a sort of puzzle, consisting of lots of different pieces, each with a different shape and different colours, but together forming a whole. It’s the task of the reader to piece these memories together, and as you read through the book you start connecting certain parts. Each paragraph is like a story on its own and some of them really grabbed me, being the start to its own longer story that slowly developed in my mind, while others I only read once and didn’t make me feel as much.
It’s quite an intense read. These are intimate memories and some of them are wonderfully written; it’s amazing how certain emotions or situations, ranging from childhood to the teenage years to adulthood, can be described in just 120 words. I would say the book is even slightly poetic at times, and the author really has his own distinctive writing style. I found myself rereading numerous paragraphs, in order to understand and appreciate them better or just to really form the memory in my own mind. ‘With a Zero at its Heart’ is a unique, incredibly intimate and gripping read; a book consisting of puzzle pieces of which several are still floating around in my mind, waiting for me to pick the story up again.