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<b>Michael Miller</b>"Reveals a writer with emotional heft, tight prose, and searing insights into the complexities of a criminal world that must have looked pretty harmless--until it suddenly wasn't."
When he was just six years old, Zachary Lazar's father, Edward, was shot dead by hit men in a Phoenix, Arizona parking garage. The year was 1975, a time when, according to the Arizona Republic, "land-fraud artists roamed the state in sharp suits, gouging money from buyers and investors." How did his father fit into this world and how could his son ever truly understand the man, his time and place, and his motivations?In Evening's Empire, Zachary Lazar, whose novel Sway was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by ...
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When he was just six years old, Zachary Lazar's father, Edward, was shot dead by hit men in a Phoenix, Arizona parking garage. The year was 1975, a time when, according to the Arizona Republic, "land-fraud artists roamed the state in sharp suits, gouging money from buyers and investors." How did his father fit into this world and how could his son ever truly understand the man, his time and place, and his motivations?In Evening's Empire, Zachary Lazar, whose novel Sway was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications, brilliantly attempts to reconstruct the sequence of events that led to his father's murder.
How did Ed Lazar, a fun-loving but meticulous accountant, become involved in a multi-million dollar real-estate scandal involving politicians and Mafia figures? How much did he know about his colleagues' illegal activities? Why had he chosen to testify against his former business partner, Ned Warren, Sr.? Warren was "a mystery man," according to 60 Minutes, widely known as "the Godfather of land fraud." The day before Ed Lazar was scheduled to appear in front of a grand jury he was killed in a "gangland-style murder," as reported by Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. Four hundred mourners attended a memorial service for him the next day. Evening's Empire is based on archival research and interviews—introducing a cast of characters as various as Senator Barry Goldwater and Cesar Romero—and is clarified by scenes imagined in the context of this evidence. Itis a singular and haunting story of American ambitionand its tragic cost.
Of Zachary Lazar's previous book, Sway, the reviewer for The New York Times Book Review wrote, "This brilliant novel is about what's to be found in the shadows." The same can be said of Evening's Empire's true story, but here the shadows are very close to home.
"Evening's Empire is a fascinating take on a time and a place, built from the inside out by a conspicuously interested party, as entertaining and evocative as could be, like a Scorsese movie, only richer, more thrilling for the memoir-like underpinnings."—Frederick Barthelme, author of Doubledown
"Zachary Lazar has written a gripping book of unexpected beauty. In Evening's Empire, he remorselessly examines the ambiguous nature of both the shady deal and the good life. His analytic impulses soar with breathtaking imaginative leaps."—Christopher Sorrentino, author of Trance
"Evening's Empire is a remarkable work of non-fiction in which reporting and imaginative empathy combine. Lazar's story of the murder of his father is spooky, sharply-focused, loving, beautiful, and richly redolent of a recent America now vanished into the past."—Ian Frazier, author of Family
"Although Evening's Empire is categorized as both memoir and true crime, much of the book reads as a novel. . . .The multiplication of Warren's intrigues and a cumulative sense of doom supply its narrative drive."—Laura Miller, Salon.com
"Reveals a writer with emotional heft, tight prose, and searing insights into the complexities of a criminal world that must have looked pretty harmless—until it suddenly wasn't."—Michael Miller, BookForum
"The style is gorgeous—understated, precise, atmospheric. Like a pointillist painter, Lazar gives us vivid dots that are all the more powerful because we have to do the work or connecting them."—Joan Wickersham, The Los Angeles Times
"Remarkable...a brave book, a project that promised to pay off its author in pain....via his effort [he] achieves a literary catharsis."—John Anderson, Newsday
"A brilliantly conceived, genre-bending story that features taut, exquisite prose."—Chang-rae Lee, author of Native Speaker
Evening's Empire is an artful exercise in reportorial chiaroscuro."—Amanda Heller, Boston Globe
Posted November 30, 2010
"Evening's Empire: The Story of My Father's Murder" by Zachary Lazar tells the story of his father, Ed Lazar, an accountant who got lured by the promise of easy money in real estate by mob men Ned Warren, only to end up murdered on the day before he was to testify in front of the grand jury. The author includes a copy from a mid-nineties paper clipping, so the reader knows the outcome from the get-go, but the story is unraveling what really happened.
The author was six years old in 1975, when his father was killed. Thus, much of the information from the book was gotten through countless interviews, research, and previous writings. At one point, Lazar even includes a page from the FBI file on his dad. In other words, this book is pretty well-researched.
I was always intrigued by mob stories, and this book certainly lives up to that. Ed Lazar is characterized as an innocent man who picked a stable career in accounting, being taught that it's better to be financially careful than a daredevil as early as college. However, after Ed started getting a meager salary for his job, he became irritated with his risk-taking employers who were raking in the dough and living a much fancier lifestyle. It was then that Ed re-considered how he was living his life and eventually became involved with Warren-a con-man who was quickly making a fortune from things like selling Arizona land to non-existent customers, and selling non-existent Arizona land (unless valleys and hills count) to Americans stationed out of the country. Warren needed a good accountant to keep track of his increasingly ambitious real estate endeavors, and in Ed he found that.
The information compiled is told from several points of view, and paints a detailed picture of its main characters. A compelling read about corruption, murder, and real estate fraud.
Posted January 12, 2010
No text was provided for this review.