Book Details

KIRKUS DISCOVERIES REVIEW: An avant garde update of a classic Greek tragedy. Akley’s new novel is a deeply ambitious project, 700-plus pages of experimental prose filled with allusions to the Bible, the Beatles, Marx, Nietzsche, Johnny Cash and the cool jazz of Miles Davis, but readers who stick with it will be amply rewarded. Although labyrinthine, it is also gratifying. Akley’s previous work includes a number of award-winning children’s books, but this project is decidedly adult. Lazarus is a contemporary version of the Oedipus trilogy, Sophocles’ timeless epic about the benighted family of a man who kills his father and marries his mother. However, the novel is less a retelling than a refraction. Akley shines his ancient source through a prism and watches the colors spin and dance on a white wall, jumping between generations and growing family trees whose limbs are sometimes chopped with surprising speed, he delivers a tale as engrossing as it is complex. However, he manages this sprawling project with a steady hand, his deft prose is the thread that keeps his patchwork quilt from falling to pieces. The author experiments with numerous forms, piecing his story together with diary entries, e-mail correspondence, dramatic dialogue and, to great effect, screenplay. Each form is more adeptly handled than the last and such flexibility proves his skill. A challenging but altogether cutting-edge, first-rate magnum opus by an up-and-coming author.

 

Book Excerpt

Strange at what people see and what the truth is. Yes, I’ve learned the riddle. At home the projects that lead to our progress goes to the lowest bidder, like it is here in New Orleans, that’s how our schools are built, our hospitals, and we all know who it is before the council meets. Yes, the riddle, solved now in its subtle monetary ways, now and as always just a differently trapped wheel of slavery, our vain image to that fragile balance in Nature and its checked desires. The riddle where yes we crawl at first, crawling until we can stand on our two feet, and for a while we’re not blown over, and when we do we always get back up again, proud, until it is too late and we realize we’re still crawling, just now with a crutch, but crawling nonetheless, still really as a child with our vain dream manifestations all around us, not knowing what we’ve created, what we are anymore. And this is the mystery, ended, but we know now what we wanted, why the riddles exist… No, this doesn’t really bother me anymore. Nor does she anymore really, just something in my past stirred when I’m here. Time doesn’t hold any progress for love and learning the meaning of it with its loss. It moves on as the other stays constant in its coincidences. I have other things to comfort me now…

 

About the Author

Jason Akley

Jason Akley is the author of five books. He has a BS degree from Tulane University in physics and mathematical economics. His other writings include two children's books, Sweet Pea and the Bumblebee and The Candlestick, as well as a collection of novellas, Salted with Salt and The Altar of Silence. Both of the children's books were award-winning finalists in the Children's Picture Book category of the National Best Books 2007 Awards, and one was also nominated for the 2008 Evvy Awards. Lazarus was included in the Kirkus newsletter as a best submission of 2010. His sixth book, Crossroads from Damascus, is a collection of stories and poems as yet un-published. Currently, he's working on his seventh book, Rick's Place, and he's enjoying spending time with his wife and two daughters. He hopes to continue engaging readers with thoughtful stories.

Also by Jason Akley

Salted with Salt and The Altar of Silence
Rick's Place