Bonnie Nadzamauthor of the critically acclaimed, award-winning debut, Lamb returns with this scorching, haunting portrait of a rural community in a "living ghost town" on the brink of collapse, and the individuals who are confronted with either chasing their dreams oragainst all reasonstaying where they are.
Lions is set on the high plains of Colorado, a nearly deserted place, steeped in local legends and sparse in population. Built to be a glorious western city upon a hill, it was never fit for farming, mining, trading, or any of the illusory sources of wealth its pioneers imagined. The Walkers have been settled on its barren terrain for generationsa simple family in a town otherwise still taken in by stories of bigger, better, brighter.
When a traveling stranger appears one day, his unsettling presence sets off a chain reaction that will change the fates of everyone he encounters. It begins with the patriarch John Walker as he succumbs to a heart attack. His devastated son Gordon is forced to choose between leaving for college with his girlfriend, Leigh, and staying with his family to look after their flailing welding shop and, it is believed, to continue carrying out a mysterious task bequeathed to all Walker men. While Leigh is desperate to make a better life in the world beyond the desolation of Lions, Gordon is strangely hesitant to leave it behind. As more families abandon the town, he is faced with what seem to be their reasonable choices and the burden of betraying his own heart.
A story of awakening, Lions is an exquisite novel that explores ambition and an American obsession with self-improvement, the responsibilities we have to ourselves and each other, as well as the everyday illusions that pass for a life worth living.
Bonnie Nadzam has published fiction and essays in many journals and magazines, including Granta, Harper’s Magazine, Orion Magazine, The Iowa Review, Epoch, The Kenyon Review, and many others. Her first novel, Lamb, was recipient of the Center for Fiction’s first novel award in 2011,and was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. It has been translated into several languages and made into a film that will be released in 2016. She is also co-author with Dale Jamieson of Love in the Anthropocene (OR Books, 2015).
If you are looking for a good novel to read I highly recommend, Lions by Bonnie Nadzam. I like stories that I define as quiet. Stories that are not flashy but slowly plot along with everyday life. Develop a vivid sense of place and characters. Stories that deal with life and relationships. Great novel.
More than 1 year ago
A Lilac Wolf and Stuff Review
**I received a free digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
What a great author! I had a friend recommend Lamb, and I forgot all about it until he saw I was reading Lions. Now I have to read Lamb!
I want to paint an impression of what I felt reading this. It's a story about family, friends, a dying town on the high plains of Colorado. It's an area that is still a rough place to live, especially when nearly everyone has left the town due to persistent drought and what sounds like bad soil.
The town really does love it's stories, it's something that helps them get through the rough times. A mysterious stranger comes to town and John Walker takes him in. Him and his wife feed the man and his dog. Give him fresh clothing, money (that they really don't have much of themselves) and send him on his way. That's when I was hooked. That old fashioned kindness that beats back the constant fear we live with today.
John and his son Gordon are metal workers, welders...like their ancestors before them. The Walkers were never farmers or hunters, which made this an odd town to settle into. The town was built on promises, promises that never came to anything. And the people that are left, are either ready to leave or determined to stay.
For someone who seems to be an indie author, at least she's fairly outside of the mainstream, I thought the writing was fantastic. This story was so finely woven, that even though there was much sadness and anger, there was also comfort. The town is literally dying around them, and I can only imagine what that's like, but we've all seen those towns. Where you can't imagine anyone living there. And the more remote you get, the more often you see this. The exodus from farming communities to large cities is still happening.
She explains the why, the real why, alongside the stories. The droughts, the falling prices on produce. How you make more money renting out water or mineral rights than from farming. And if you are doing that, why remain on the farm? How the towns don't have any money, thus there's no maintenance happening. As far as I could tell there wasn't even anyone is a position of power over Lions, other than the police chief...and he seemed to be working alone. They took care of themselves.
You can understand why Leigh (Gordon's childhood sweetheart) was dead set on leaving. I finished this about an hour ago before writing this, and I just sat and stared...I wanted to cry. This book really touched me. It's not happy, it's not romantic, but it is beautiful.
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