An Undone Deal
"I didn't quite believe it was she at first," says Lamb, 46. But as they talked he realized that, on this grim day, something wonderful had happened: Winfrey had picked his 1992 debut novel, She's Come Undone, for her TV. book club. Almost instantly, Lamb's life changed: After Oprah announced the selection on Jan. 22, Pocket Books issued a million-copy reprinting. Undone shot to the top of The New York Times paperback bestseller list, and his kids began bringing home pals to hear Oprah on the answering machine. Though he won't discuss specifics, Lamb, who made his Oprah appearance on Feb. 28, concedes "it's a possibility" that he will soon be a millionaire.
Lamb spent eight years working on Undone, the story of a girl who endures rape, obesity and mental illness but finally finds spiritual renewal. The novel sold respectably, and critics noted Lamb's ability to create a female narrator. Oprah was no exception. "She mentioned having been raped herself, and the weight issue," he says. "She and I have a real connection."
Lamb hasn't let celebrity go to his head. He and his wife of 18 years, Chris, a first-grade teacher, plan to stay in their three-bedroom home with their boys, Jared, 15, Justin, 11, and Teddy, 6, and he will continue teaching at nearby Norwich Free Academy. "I've never been focused on money," says Lamb. "If I can put our guys through college and share a bit of this good fortune, that's what's important."
That, and writing. Lamb has nearly completed a second novel, about twin brothers. But has he gotten much work done lately? "Since Oprah called," he says with a grin, "nothing."