Interview with: Charles Lambert
by Megan Taylor
Having loved his award-winning collection ‘The Scent of Cinnamon and Other Stories’ (Salt, 2008), I was delighted to meet Charles Lambert earlier this year. Charles was just as warm and interesting as you might expect from his writing and after being thoroughly blown away by his most recent release, ‘With a Zero at its Heart’ (The Friday Project, 2014) , I got back in touch with him to find out more.
‘With a Zero at its Heart’ is an unforgettable book, which tells the story of a man’s life through a series of beautiful fragments. The language is as breathtaking as its structure is groundbreaking – every one of its twenty-four themed chapters is divided into ten paragraphs, each of these consisting of 120 words. This seemingly patchwork approach comes together triumphantly (seamlessly!) illuminating what it is to grow and love and lose – to be alive.
It’s a mesmerising and compelling read, full of human treasures, which made me smile and cringe, laugh and cry. Subjects including ‘The Body’, ‘Theft’, ‘Money’ and ‘Waiting’ reveal that there is nothing mundane, even in life’s smallest moments, and in the chapter entitled ‘Work’ I don’t think I have ever read such a resonant description of the magic of writing.
...The one true work is the one that works something out, uncertain what it is, working in darkness, working the inside out. Outside the circle of light is the darkness and silence of a mine and there is no telling what the mine will hold. What’s mine is yours. There is no sense to work but in the doing.
In the wake of this perfect depiction, it feels almost sacrilegious to ask Charles to explain his writing further. Nevertheless, here I go...
Foul, it was foul. Naida clamped her hand over her nose, but it was too late. Trapped inside her nostrils, the fumes were spreading to her brain, dissolving it. She gagged and her hand scrambled to extract three mints from the box she kept ready in her pocket. No sucking now, this is an emergency.
To read more click here.
by Frank Westworth
Illustration: Bradley Wind
There is something monstrous frustrating about writing. And writing provides an essential release from the frustrations of writing. Does that read like nonsense?
I’ve been writing full-time since 1988. I write mostly non-fiction about motorcycles, with cars thrown in on occasion. Writing about a personal obsession is a dream occupation, is it not? It is; there’s nothing subtly clever in that comment. But it’s also monstrous frustrating. Editors make constant demands on authors. I know this to be true because I’ve been a full-time editor for exactly as long as I’ve been a full-time writer, and I make the same demands on myself as on the authors whose copy I buy: wordage, style, structure, syntax. I do this because The Reader demands it. Monthly magazines survive only if they appeal sufficiently to The Reader, and the magazines I’ve edited have been survivors. Mostly.