Jim Lambert, the author of Sub Rosa and Other Stories, discusses his creative foray into the genre of short story telling. This book is a great choice for a Christmas gift or a gift to yourself if you want to dig deep and learn more about Louisiana history.
As a successful attorney, Jim has built a lifetime experience of telling his clients’ stories through writing briefs for the court; but he was always constrained by the facts! His heart is exemplified by his involvement in Kairos Prison Ministry on Death Row at Angola.
In his current quest to blend the facts surrounding actual historical characters with intriguing stories of fictional marginalized characters, he has been able to start within his own mind, get in touch with his creative spirit, and has hit the mark with compelling stories that pull you in to read more. (Sort of how Netflix pulls you in within six seconds to watch the next episode!)
Jim thinks short stories should be the dominant literary genre for today’s times. He’s always loved reading short stories and in retirement, he has hit the mark in taking his creativity to a new level that we can all enjoy, no matter how busy we are.
Many years ago he read a book about Frank Lloyd Wright, by T. C. Boyles, “The Women,” which was told from the point of view of one of Lloyd’s graduate students recounting the life of this talented but complicated man. It inspired Jim to use real people as a starting point and tell their life story from the vantage point of a fictional character.
One of his stories in the book focuses on Lee Harvey Oswald as a 14-year-old young man who grew up in New Orleans. “Lee and Me,” is told from the fictional perspective of Oswald who got into a fight and was helped by a classmate. Lee was grateful for the help, and as you read the story you have to wonder what could have become of the young Lee (and our country) if his life had taken a different turn.
Sub Rosa and Other Short Stories is a compilation of stories featuring a fictional story based upon events that transpired in Louisiana. It may be purchased on Amazon here.
Jim Lambert’s connection to New Orleans runs deep. He was born in New Orleans and was adopted from a Baptist orphanage. As a young lawyer, he moved back to New Orleans in 1976; he then moved to Lafayette in 1978, where he has kept a home ever since. Many of his stories are steeped in New Orleans culture in a manner that only a native could share.
Each chapter in Sub Rosa shares a compelling fictional story of events that happened in Louisiana, such as the following: a young lawyer sent to investigate the murder of Black troops in the Jim Crow South, and a mental patient obsessed with the film Harold and Maude. Dwayne, the protagonist of the opening story, “Blood in My Hair,” is serving a life sentence for unintentionally contributing to the death of a police officer; the prisoner, who’s known as “Cowboy,” spent much of his adulthood riding bulls in rodeos, has been craving a similarly perfect, adrenaline-filled moment ever since his incarceration began. In “Find Franny Now,” a woman named Lydia gave up on optimism after her autistic son was diagnosed with brain cancer and her husband subsequently left her; her general lack of hopefulness extends to Franny, the titular missing teenage girl, who Lydia believes has no chance of ever being found.
In each story, Lambert reveals the humor and tragedy running through the lives of these unique human beings.
Jim shared during the interview of his childhood growing up in Alexandria and how the “Lost Cause” permeated his community and affected the way people grew up understanding the world. He would come to understand how actual riots and killings that had occurred were never shared in the history books. As an example, rumors of a race riot that occurred in Alexandria on January 10, 1942, resulting in 18 or 19 black troops being killed, were smoothed over by the U. S. Govt. in the aftermath and chaos after Pearl Harbor. This knowledge deeply impacted Jim’s understanding of how events are officially documented by official government reports and how historical events can be skewed.
Jim recommends “The Sky is Gray,” by Ernest Gaines for anyone thinking they want to experience true literary genius. He also shared the inspirational true story of Ken Kesey of the Merry Pranksters‘s trip across America in 1964 where the group gave out LSD to bystanders for the inspiration to write “Prank” which was set in New Orleans and Lincoln Park.
Sub Rosa and Other Stories may be purchased on Amazon here.
We thank Jim Lambert for sharing his life story. His commitment to the underserved is beyond compare.