My Last Lament

Aliki, one of the last lamenters in Greece, is dragging the weight of her life behind her in the opening pages of My Last Lament, James William Brown's brilliant work of historical fiction. "There is this about the dead: they're so light. They slip in and out of our world with no effort whatsoever. By contrast, we seem heavy, dragging our lives along behind us like an old sack of stones."

To lessen this burden, Aliki begins to tell the story of her life, speaking into a tape recorder left by a sociologist studying the art of Greek laments. As her memories unfold and unpack themselves, her recounting evolves into a lament itself, for all that she has loved and lost in her long life.

By framing the story as a kind of oral memoir, Brown (Blood Dance) has crafted a novel that is at once epic in its scope and yet remains grounded in the confines of one woman's life. Aliki shines through every page of My Last Lament, a strong and consistent voice that proves a near-perfect vessel for Brown's lyrical prose and centers a story that moves backward and forward through time to recount both Aliki's past and her present.

Brown's ability thoughtfully to address meaningful reflections while examining the very essence of what it means to be alive--in any time, any place--is what makes My Last Lament exemplary of the historical fiction genre. "How does any story end? It just turns into the beginning of another one, the one about us all." --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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