Fiction Reading by Bonnie Nadzam
By: Jaziel Zapata
The venue was San Diego State University’s Love Library. The event was a fiction reading of the novel Lamb, by author Bonnie Nadzam. There was an estimate of thirty people in attendance giving the room a close knit and cozy environment. She had a quick introduction as we learned her educational background. Bonnie Nadzam was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended high school in suburban Chicago. She earned her MA and PhD from the University of Southern California. Her novel, Lamb, has won the Flaherty-Dunnan award-winning novel in 2011.
The novel is about a 54-year-old man, Lamb, and his 11-year-old female companion, Tommie as they go on an adventure. But this is no ordinary adventure as they tread the line between seduction and the disturbing. It is a story about an abduction, a willing abduction as they both take a road trip from Chicago to the Rockies. The plot is familiar to Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Lolita, and although the topic might be been disturbing, Nadzam’s writing made it interesting and intriguing to say the least.
The writing itself is exquisite in both descriptive terms and in its dialogue. Se describes Tommie as a, “pale little freckled pig with eyelashes,” giving her characters a sketch artist’s description. She describes the setting as well as the character’s thoughts with rich language. The dialogue, although sometimes short in nature, is still full of descriptive imagery and subtlety.
He put two fingers beneath her chin and drew her face toward his own…. “Tommie. I’m sort of out of familiar territory here. Do you understand?”
“You feel a little bit the same way, don’t you? Please say yes or no. Please do me that courtesy.”
“Yes you do?”
“Yes I do.”
“Do you know what I’m talking about?”
“I think so.”
She began reading an excerpt of her novel where David Lamb stopped his car on the side of the road to talk to Tommie about their impending trek across the country. She asked us to close our eyes and imagine the world of her novel. She described how Lamb began to talk to Tommie about the journey they are about to take and ask her whether or not she was on board. His questions to Tommie seem both logical, necessary, and disturbing and add to the morbid topic and give a chilling feeling to the reader.
Her reading was flawless and smooth as if one was listening to an audio book. The way she read gave her novel justice as only an author can do. She delivered Tommie’s lines as an 11-year-old would, seeming shy and naive making her story telling that more intriguing. The softness of her voice also gave the reading a chilling calmness making a juxtaposition of the grotesque situation imposed by Lamb and the naïve and innocent attitude of Tommie.
After she finished reading she left us all intrigued making me want to know what happens next. Her reading made me want to find out what happened in this morbid adventure and wanting to peek into the forbidden relationship of Lamb and Tommie.