Read With a Zero at its Heart by Charles Lambert Online


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....

Title : With a Zero at its Heart
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007545513
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 150 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

With a Zero at its Heart Reviews

  • David Katzman
    2019-03-22 11:55

    Amazing. Absolutely amazing. An experimental work with a big heart. With a Zero at Its Heart is a fictionalized memoir of the author, Charles Lambert's life. Written in 24 themed chapters each with ten numbered paragraphs and each paragraph with precisely 120 words. And, even better, each of those paragraphs flows like prose poetry with beautiful language and striking yet simple imagery. I was reminded of William Carlos Williams who said that poems should be concrete and not abstract. They should use words to represent solid things not esoteric sentiments. Lambert does express profound emotions through these concise paragraphs, but he does so by bringing us into concrete scenes and moments in time.Lambert captures moments from his childhood, adolescences, twenties and up to near his present. This is not precisely a memoir, not specifically identified as such, so I can only surmise that Lambert took real moments in time as inspiration, and these stories may range in their intimacy with the "Truth" of his memories. They may be fictionalized to suit a thematic or stylistic purpose. Regardless, they are written such that they feel honest and profound. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth.Lambert takes us through his personal evolution from a somewhat tormented child through the discovery of his sexual freedom to his relationship with his life partner and then becoming caretaker of his parents on their deathbeds. It's a moving and sensitive story that unfolds a man who is discovering himself, his intellectual passion, his sexuality, his love, and his compassion. But it leaves much for us to interpret for ourselves as readers as well. It called me to reflect on my own childhood and aging.Lambert's precise use of language and beautiful imagery tells an evocative story. Peruse the multiple status updates I posted with this review to savor the style and see if this book might be for you. This is great literature. Highly recommended.

  • Snoakes
    2019-02-24 07:59

    By imposing artificial constraints on himself, Charles Lambert has produced a beautiful piece of work. Bearing as much in common with poetry as with a conventional novel, each chapter is themed and comprises a series of vignettes from the life of a man from boyhood to the death of his parents. It builds up gradually to become a complete portrait of a life lived. I can only assume that it is at least semi-autobiographical as in places it is so intimate. The writing is sparse and delicate and the whole thing could easily be devoured in one sitting, but I found it more effective (and affecting) to read a couple of chapters at a time. Lovely stuff.

  • Jody
    2019-03-01 16:05

    Review first posted on my blog: http://spoonfulofhappyendings.blogspo...‘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.

  • Mandy
    2019-03-16 15:59

    I found this book quite puzzling until I researched it and realised what the author was doing. At that point I began to enjoy it more but I never quite forgave it for that fact that I couldn’t get into without that research. It’s a fictionalised memoir (I assume) though how closely it is based on the author’s own life I don’t know. It’s certainly not a conventional narrative, but is a series of fragments, or vignettes, snippets from the author’s life which gradually build up into a more complete portrait. It is divided up into 24 themed chapters – Sex, Death, Money and so on - each with 10 numbered paragraphs each of which has precisely 120 words. A collection of memories, snapshots from a life. I wasn’t totally convinced by this approach. I didn’t feel it was a gimmick for the sake of novelty, though nor did I feel really comfortable with it, finding the disjointed nature of the narrative unsatisfying even though atmospheric and evocative at times. An original and unusual book, definitely worth reading, but not wholly successful.

  • CasualDebris
    2019-03-15 13:51

    For my complete review, please visit Casual Debris.Among the many talented contemporary writers I've discovered through the excellent periodical The Fiction Desk is Charles Lambert. Having read and reviewed (positively) his two contributions to the publication, I offered him a review of his latest book at Casual Debris. Within a few short days I received a copy of this very attractive little book. 24 themed chapters. Each with 10 numbered paragraphs. Each paragraph with precisely 120 words. The sum of a life.Toss in a final paragraph of a hundred and twenty words and you have a work made up of 28,120 words total. In this oulipian challenge, Lambert's writing is precise, as each paragraph, whether detailing an event or describing an object, must resonate on an emotional level in order that each fragment carry its own significance. There are some sections I found to be stronger than others, with "Danger" and "Colours" being among the weaker, but overall the work is consistent and engaging.These fragments make up a whole that features a sensitive man in search of self via objects, sex and a plethora of emotions and experiences. There is no traditional plot, but the style offers the opportunity to form character more vividly than most plotted stories would. Removing traditional plot removes the character-building limitations that a structured story-line normally requires. Removing structure also lends the work a sense of chaos, making fiction more like life (to paraphrase Virginia Woolf). This is particularly appropriate here since the work is most likely semi-biographical.The title references paragraph two of the section on animals: "He's presented with three white mice in a plywood box, divided by a wall with a zero at its heart." (p.38) These sections ate like chambers of the heart, divided and yet connected by an opening, making the heart whole. The novel is like a set of chambers made whole by its protagonist, his life and self being the zero that connects the various experiences and emotions depicted in the book.

  • Debbie Kinsey
    2019-03-19 14:04

    With a Zero at its Heart is a book with 24 themed chapters, each with 10 numbered paragraphs of 120 words each. This might sound like a gimmick, but it didn’t read that way.Each chapter tells the life of the narrator through its theme, like ‘cinema or what the centaur meant’, ‘money or brown sauce sandwiches’, and ‘language or death and cucumbers’. Each paragraph is one memory, one fragment of something from his life; the first paragraphs are earlier in his life and then they move towards his present. As you read, the broader stories become more apparent – about dealing with his parents’ death, writing, and growing up and finding himself and his sexuality. It’s quiet, and fragmented, but the feelings are whole and strong. It’s tender, melancholy and playful all at once.You could read this book in one sitting, but I didn’t. I think it needs to be read slowly, in the way you would read a short story collection or poetry. It needs space to breathe and to allow the fragments to settle and the whole to emerge. I’ve only read it once so far, but I think it’s one of those books where there’ll always be new things to discover when you go back to it.The writing is absolutely beautiful; understated in the best way. It’s full of little true things and punch-the-air-yes phrases and imagery. I hadn’t even heard of Lambert before this came along, but I will definitely be checking out his other work if this is the way he writes (any suggestions of where to start are welcome!).I’ve got no idea if this is fiction, non-fiction, or a bit of both (I’m guessing both), but it doesn’t matter really. One of the best books I’ve read this year (so good, I nominated it for the Not The Booker before I’d even finished it).I won a free copy from The Friday Project with no expectation of review. It came signed, eep!This review was first published here.

  • Wayne McCoy
    2019-03-21 14:06

    'With a Zero at its Heart' is a very deliberately written book. It could come across as gimicky if it weren't so deftly executed.The book is comprised of 24 themed chapters with titles like Travel or a harp embedded, and Death or a sprig of leaves. Each chapter has 10 numbered paragraphs. Each paragraph has exactly 120 words (I didn't count, so I'm taking the publishers word). Each paragraph themes in with the subject and presents a chronological memory throughout Charles Lambert's life. Each paragraph is concisely and beautifully written, and the whole thing has the feel of memory since we (or at least I) tend to remember events in fragments.It's linear within each chapter, but not for the whole book, so every chapter resets to an early remembrance. It feels a bit more like poetry than prose, but that works for the fragmentary nature of the book. I really enjoyed this one for it's unique composition.I received a review copy of this ebook from HarperCollins UK, The Friday Project and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this unique book.

  • Amanda Yanez
    2019-03-09 14:08

    This review is based on a digital ARC received from Netgalley.With a Zero at its Heart employed a unique narrative style to tell the story of a man's life. Through short, themed chapters--each composed of 10 numbered paragraphs with 120 words--the reader gets a glimpse into the life of the unnamed character. The use of this method shows the reader that it is often an accumulation of the little things, the seemingly insignificant traits and events, that not only turn a person into who they become, but define them to the surrounding world. At the same time, it is a reminder that we should not form opinions of a person based on the handful of events that we witness, as they are just a small part of who that person is.While I appreciated the method employed by the author, and the message behind it, it did make it difficult to connect to the character because we only see bits and pieces of a life told out of order.

  • kathyrn
    2019-03-18 14:55

    [[ASIN:B00I2GVBOS With a Zero at its Heart]] is a novel that reads like a memoir. It is also a novel with a unique format. The book has 24 chapters or themes and each chapter is divided into 10 paragraphs and each paragraph is 120 words. The writing is very intimate and personal and every paragraph is a story unto itself. It is written in the 3rd person and the protagonist is a gay man living in England who came of age during what we called in the United States the British Invasion. He wants a jacket like one of the Kinks have---- his mother has a sweater like Keith Richards wore. One of my favorite sentences in the book is All age is good, he thinks, so long as you are here to grieve. Read as a netgalley copy.

  • Edward
    2019-02-21 14:52

    This is a somewhat oulipian production of twenty chapters of ten numbered sections each exactly 120 words in length. It tells a meandering tale of one gay man's life from childhood to early old age. Chapters are themed: work, home, music, death, sex (etc.). There are recurrent themes: the death of the protagonist's parents, childhood disappointments, traveling and living in Italy. In the end, despite some genuinely lovely and lively moments, it felt thin and uninspired. Lambert, though, can turn a nice phrase and I'll read something else by him.

  • JJ Aitken
    2019-02-21 14:13

    I have never come across anything like this before. The possession of the protagonist as a porthole for the typewriter is such a brilliant idea. Leaving the unanswerable question of weather the narrative is being placed onto the victim or is this the protagonists life being revealed to him and his audience for the first time. This is Art at its highest. Using language that is sparse and stunningly executed to deliver a story that I will remember for a long time.

  • Jennie
    2019-03-23 14:02

    I love the idea of writing word stories and Charles nails it here. His excellent description and candidness draws you in immediately.My only disappointment is that in such short wake you must walk away from it's creation and I, greedily, want more.Much of the book reminded me of a creative writing course I took last summer, many of the exercises like this.Looking forward to reading one of his novels.Intriguing.

  • carelessdestiny
    2019-03-22 15:45

    A fabulous novel in the sense that it's great storytelling that never made me loose interest. A bit like Scheherazade spinning yarns to save her life. The way the rigid grid-like structure he sets for the novel (or memoir?) seemed to disappear as I read on and yet was always there on a visual level, was quite ingenious and magical.

  • Graham Crawford
    2019-03-20 11:13

    I am not normally a reader of poetry books - but I found this quite an enjoyable experience. The little text snippets of memory were engaging, and even though they were obviously quite personal, there was a strong sense of something universal in these themes. The paragraphs on emerging sexuality were the most poignant for me. The sections on language cleverly made me see old worlds in a new way.

  • Alice
    2019-03-01 11:07

    This book reverberates with life in it’s most distilled form. I fell in love with it. My favourite sections were ‘Colour OR cradling fire’, ‘Home OR some other healing agent’ and ‘Nature OR the purposes of love’ – the imagery is heartbreakingly beautiful and tender..Please read full review here:

  • Miranda
    2019-03-08 11:02

    This is truly unique and incredibly beautiful. It's a brilliant portrait and I love the originality.

  • Brooke
    2019-02-21 13:58

    Review to follow.