Monday, July 5, 2010


by ZZ Packer

I wasn't loving the New Yorker fiction issue for this year until I got to this story by ZZ Packer, an author whose work I've noticed in the magazine before. 

Dayward tells the story of Lazarus and his deaf sister Mary Celeste, who, following emancipation, have decided to seek out their mother's people in New Orleans rather than stay on the plantation in Mississippi where they had been slaves.  Lazarus, being about fourteen and mouthy, couldn't leave without insulting their former owner, Miss Thalia, who set hounds on them.

When the story begins, the hounds are chasing the brother and sister through the woods.  The prose immediately sucks the reader into the story, as he or she slowly pieces together what is going on for these two abused children.  Lazarus must make a difficult decision to save his sister, sacrificing a part of himself to be able to stop the dogs.

This is a story about some very tough kids, and their determination to rise above their unfortunate beginnings.  I'm not sure if this is the entire story or if this is an excerpt from a larger novel.  If that is the case, I would gladly read the rest of it, as Lazarus got into my head.

Also - I love the Chris Ware cover.

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