If you are a fan of Richard Grossman's work, I warn you now: you will not like this review.
The Book of Lazarus is one of the worst books I have ever read, and I'm not talking about something like bad plot or stale characters. The entire structure of this book is horrible. Almost 500 pages of random, structureless "writing" - although there are huge sections with no writing at all, so I guess I can't exactly call it writing. The beginning of the book is filled with photos of people and barely-legible scribblings that serve as a sort of caption. As you progress through the book, you run into a small chunk of narration - this is the only part of the book that can really be called a story, and it tries to anchor all the other random sections together and give an explanation of what is going on. It also references itself - in this short story narration, there is mention of The Book of Lazarus. That was somewhat interesting... you were given the chance to read the book that was the focus of the story. I know there have been books mentioned in other novels that I wished I could read, so I appreciate this tactic.
However, that is in no way enough to make up for the rest of the book. Along with these other sections, there are more sections that are only barely related to one another. The end of the book has a bunch of black pages filled with single-sentence fragments or lines of poetry, and then there is a poem that is a few pages long to go with it. Oh, and let's not forget the scrawled stick figure drawings that are sprinkled around for "artistic effect." Just like the beginning photos and scribbled captions, these sections are about as easy to dredge through as a field of mud.
But that isn't even the worst part. There is a big chunk in the middle of the book that is written in the stream of consciousness style... and it goes on for seventy pages. I wish I were exaggerating.
Just so I don't give the wrong impression, let me explain: I have no problem with the stream of consciousness writing style inherently. (For those of you who don't know what stream of consciousness means, picture a constant, unfiltered and unstructured narration of all your thoughts, put down on paper. Generally, there is no punctuation and no sentence or paragraph structure. Many authors have put this style to good use for things like dreams, short flashbacks, etc.) However... have you ever tried to read something that went on for more than a page or so with no punctuation and no structure? It gets muddled and hard to follow - and you usually end up reading faster and faster because there's no punctuation to help your brain remember to take a pause every so often. Now imagine reading like that for seventy pages. Or rather, don't. It's painful and pointless - and to top it all off, parts of it were downright disturbing.
As an author myself, I don't ever want to sound like I am censoring what other people write in their books. However, there are some topics that should be handled with care - not just thrown into the middle of a jumbled, seventy-page run-on "sentence" that catches the poor reader completely off guard. Shock is not always a good thing to transfer from author to reader, especially when the topic can be offensive.
Overall, this book gets zero stars, and a warning to stay away. Even the most masochistic of readers have been warned.
If you're curious, I would point you in the direction of your local library - don't waste your money. (For those of you in the Tri-City area of Michigan, check out Grace A. Dow.) If you really want a copy of your own, Amazon.com has copies.