With a Zero at its Heart: update

zero coverWith a Zero at its Heart was published at the end of May, almost four months ago now. They’ve been busy months, but it really is about time I produced a round-up of what’s been said about the book since then. This is an exercise that normally requires a little judicious editing by omission. You know, the ‘could have done better/different/nothing’ reviews that dog the heels of even the best-received books. But ZERO seems to have pleased everyone, either because of or despite its formal aspects. The most common response to the book (variously described as a novel, novella, short story collection, autobiography, etc.) has been to nod at the number-crunching aspect of it (120-word paragraphs, 10 paragraphs per theme, 24 themes, plus – although not many people have mentioned this – a one-paragraph coda to round the whole thing off), and then to say that, despite all this ingenuity, this Oulipian bravado, it’s actually very readable. For which, much thanks. Anyway, here are some links for anyone who’d like to see what kind of reception the book has had in more detail.

The Guardian: “… elegantly written and carries considerable emotional clout…”

Savidge Reads: “Highly recommended reading, one of the most original books I have read in a very long time.”

Mischief and Miscellany: “It’s quiet, and fragmented, but the feelings are whole and strong. It’s tender, melancholy and playful all at once.”

Writer’s Little Helper: “The search for the ‘book of the year’ is over.”

Tony’s Book World: “…a rigorous honest approach to conveying a life…”

Freeburner: “…the story is always fresh, with every little piece filled with a degree of surprise and wonder.”

A Spoonful of Happy Endings: “…a unique, incredibly intimate and gripping read.”

Polari Magazine: ” Cumulatively the effect is searingly honest and, as a result, rings emotionally, intellectually and morally true.”

BookCunt: “…just fucking lovely. Give it a whirl.”

A life in books: “The beauty of this book lies in Lambert’s language – his skewering of a particular sentiment with a pithy phrase, his evocation of an experience in a few striking words.”

Follow the Thread: “With a Zero at its Heart makes an interesting point of comparison with Knausgaard, in that both treat incidents from the author’s life as a way of exploring memory. But where (say) A Death in the Family creates a dense thicket of detail shot through with moments of transcendence, Lambert’s book is quite spare and crystalline; the experience of reading it is more a gradual accumulation of pieces that coalesce into a whole picture.”

Words around Books: “Lambert is a masterful writer and storyteller and With a Zero at its Heart is a testament to his thorough understanding and appreciation of both the human condition and the beauty of words.”

Girl, 20: “…sublime and poetic…reminded me of Milan Kundera…”

Out and About in London: “The cumulative effect of these fragments is quite stunning…”

Viv Groskop in Red’s 10 Best Summer Reads: “…an unusual and wonderful book…”




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