Sub Rosa and Other Stories

Sub Rosa and Other Stories. James Lambert. Balboa Press, 2021.

A variety of tales – mainly regional (Louisiana and the South), some historical (1950-60s, Jim Crow and Civil Rights era) – all told in a voice that is direct, engaging, part of the landscape itself and easy to connect with. Within the regional setting, Lambert digs out all the threads — nature vs. culture stories, escape vs. quest stories, chaos vs. order stories, and sometimes stories that turn over the stones of, e.g., a rewritten racial past to show the underside. The voice is steady but the style varies — sometimes “like a bull ride — rough, fast, and bloody” (as in the Angola Prison story, “Blood in My Hair”), sometimes finely senstive to small epiphanies (as in “Hobby Shop” and others). In the latter case, it’s like James Joyce’s Dubliners for the (mostly) rural South. All in all, a good range of well-told tales.

Gary Gautier

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