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For Week 45 of my Deal Me In 2014 project, I selected my second in a row, and final, Ray Bradbury story “Some Live Like Lazarus”. I’ve had a resurgence in interest in Ray Bradbury with these final two stories. I’m thinking about how to incorporate more of his stories into 2015. My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here. DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.
As the story began, I guessed correctly that this would be a black comedy. An impressive black comedy that didn’t hit a wrong note.
In 1890, at the age of five, Anna Marie first sees Roger, also five, visit the Green Bay hotel during the summer with his mother, whom he clings to rather fiercely. Fast-forward seventy years, and Roger has continued to visit Green Bay each summer where Anna Marie still lives. And he still clings fiercely to his 98 year-old mother. As Anna Marie puts it, Roger’s mother is an “ancient sachet of bones and talcum dust”.
The story tells the ins and outs of Anna Marie’s and Roger’s “three’s a crowd” relationship. After more than six decades, the reader can’t help but hope for some sort of resolution and eventually a resolution happens. This reader felt the excitement for Roger’s late awakening; however, poor Anna Marie doesn’t get a break.
Early on, this paragraph captures perfectly Anna Marie’s frustration and her slightly warped, but warranted, view of Roger along with the changes of an odd, lengthy relationship:
Next year…next year…no year at all, I heard someone murmur. Myself, gripping the window sill. For almost seventy years I had heard her promise this to the boy, boy-man, man, man-grasshopper and the now livid male praying mantis that he was, pushing his eternally cold and fur-wrapped woman past the hotel verandas where, in another age, paper fans had fluttered like Oriental butterflies in the hands of basking ladies.
The story gets its title from a poem written by an “unknown author”, maybe “Anna Marie” herself:
Some live like LazarusIn a tomb of lifeAnd come forth curious late to twilight hospitalsAnd mortuary rooms.Better cold skies seen bitter to the NorthThen stillborn stay, all blind and gone to ghost.If Rio is lost, well, love the Arctic Coast!O ancient LazarusCome ye forth.