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These prize-winning stories deal with life, love, loneliness, delusion, misunderstanding, death. An office worker wakes to find his body invaded by a mysterious parasite. A desperate woman seeks escape through fire. A girl who knows only the forest is taken to the city for the first time. A solitary young boy conjures a girl from leaves to replace his twin sister. In one story a governess is forced to come to terms with the truth of the family she has loved and served, and the world in which she lives. In another, a one-night stand with a sadist triggers a meditation on sexual pleasure and serial killers. Some characters look for work, for ways to change their lives, for somewhere new to live; others for someone to love or be loved by, or to hurt. Not everyone is good. Not everyone is honest with himself or herself. Not everyone gets what they want, or deserve. The stories’ settings range across time and space, from the colonial outback in the late nineteenth century to contemporary urban life in London and Rome and Paris, to both warring sides of the Second World War. The tone is comic, dry, satirical, vivid, magical, disturbing, poignant, spare. Not a word is wasted in these stories, which describe the world not only as it is and was, but also as it might be.
‘These are accomplished stories of great subtlety and restraint. I absolutely love ‘The Scent of Cinnamon'. Made all the hairs on my arms stand up. A classic. So confidently and beautifully written ... Charles Lambert is a very interesting writer who could one day attain classic status.’ —Maggie Gee
‘For Little Monsters: Beautifully written and crafted, and more compelling than many thrillers.
’ —John Harding, Daily Mail
‘For Little Monsters: When I was thirteen, my father killed my mother' is an opening line that could go one of two ways. Thankfully, it pans out into a haunting novel, not a turgid misery. This is the story of a young girl ripped apart by grief, shunted off to an uncaring relative and, finally, finding the stability she craves in her Uncle Joey. But the chance to upset the equilibrium of human relationships is only ever a breath away.’ —Good Housekeeping
‘This volume contains the best story I have read in several years, although the prize jury felt otherwise: Charles Lambert's "The Scent of Cinnamon". While other stories in the anthology push the creative boundaries of the short story form, Lambert's story is a classic short story in the O. Henry mould, complete with a surprise revealed at the end that adds a whole new dimension to what you have just read. The story is not one word longer than it should be, and every word is meaningful and well-chosen. The portrayal of longing amidst isolation is powerfully moving. This story is a work of art which should be taught in schools as a model of the form.’ —Amazon.com
‘“The Scent of Cinnamon,” a love story of heart-rending proportions, is written in a language that is simple and readable, yet one that rides on the undercurrent of the classics, and in most parts, modern-day magical realism. Intimate situations are probably the hardest to depict. In this beautiful story, Lambert proves himself a master.’ —Manila Standard Today
‘Talented Charles Lambert presents "The Scent of Cinnamon," a memorable and haunting tale of an arranged marriage between a widow and a farmer. It's the kind of story you have to read twice, for the ending is so surprising — and so good — that rereading is the only way to make sense of it all.’ —Oakland Tribune
‘Charles Lambert's ‘Entertaining Friends’ contains writing that is charged and memorable – with a powerful sense of place. Compelling reading.’ —Patricia Duncker
‘Charles Lambert writes as if his life depends on it. He takes risks at every turn. As an editor, this is exciting to see, and as a fellow writer, it is inspiring – particularly when the results are so marvellous. In ‘The Scent of Cinnamon’, Charles Lambert pulls out the deepest-held emotions of his characters – love and desire and loneliness and hope – until they ripple across the page, and the reader feels them too.’ —Hannah Tinti