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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.35" Width: 5.43" Height: 0.71" Weight: 0.84 lbs.
Release Date Jan 30, 2006
Publisher Adlibbed Ltd
ISBN 1905166354 ISBN13 9781905166350
Availability 0 units.
More About Chris Bell
Hilari Bell is a librarian in Denver, Colorado, where she lives with her family. Her favorite books are fantasy, science fiction, and mystery -- all the ingredients for a great novel! Hilari is also the author of the Farsala Trilogy -- "Fall of a Kingdom", "Rise of a Hero", and "Forging the Sword" -- as well as "Songs of Power", "A Matter of Profit", and "The Goblin Wood".
Reviews - What do customers think about Liquidambar?
Pretty Trippy Apr 11, 2006
Liquidambar takes the reader on a weird and fantastic ride to the city of Fulcrum to meet its strangely familiar and somehow debilitated citizens.
When searching for something to compare this novel to, I don't think of other novels, but more computer games such as Grand Theft Auto (with less violence of course) or a movie such as Sin City (again with less violence).
There is a pervasively dark and constrained feeling about the action, as if everything is somehow being controlled and the characters, including freelance hack and reluctant private eye Typo Blod, have virtually no free will. They do what they have to do. They act out their pre-ordained roles.
None of that makes the book predictable - far from it. And none of it makes it humourless either. Typo has a good line in self-deprecation and many of the scenes are inherently humourous.
Liquidamabar is a strange and compelling read. Give it a go.
Buy this book or I'll play you some chin music! Mar 11, 2006
You may not have heard of Chris Bell, but take my word for it, his first novel is well worth risking a tenner on. On the face of it, Liquidambar is a "gumshoe" novel in the finest tradition of Farewell, My Lovely and The Big Sleep, but the hero's sharp suit and classic car and the molls and heavies he follows (and who follow him) are where its resemblance to any detective novel you've ever read before ends.
Liquidambar is an imaginative tour-de-force, plunging a going-nowhere modern-day journalist into a surreal parallel universe of Edward Hopper's paintings. The town of Fulcrum, frozen in smalltown 1930s America, may itself be going nowhere, but Typo finds more action there than he ever did back in the "real" world, falling in love with the redhead from Summertime, being beaten up by hoods from Nighthawks and finding himself drawn into the lonesome life of the woman drinking coffee alone in the late-night Automat.
If you like Hopper and Raymond Chandler - and, really, who doesn't? - this novel will be an enjoyable and absorbing experience. It's original, certainly unpredictable, beautifully written and cleverly structured. With its several creepy and rather pervy characters (including, notably, a cross-dressing mob boss), it's got all the makings of a cult novel, and would make a superb film along the lines of Blue Velvet and Repo Man.
British author Chris Bell stays true to his concept (and, most importantly, to Edward Hopper) throughout the novel as well as to his many other artistic, literary, cinematic and musical influences - nods are made along the way to artists as diverse as Steely Dan, David Lynch and Russell Hoban.
The book is littered with nice lines. Some of the many I noted down while reading include:
"He's in my face quicker than you can say blackhead."
"You close your head, you boob, or I might just play you some chin music!"
"She looks about twenty and is as delicately put together as a fine watch."
I did find a couple of sections overlong, but other scenes, such as one in which Typo finally tracks down his elusive dream woman on a train and they drink each other under the table while trying to find out the truth about each other, and another chapter in which her estranged husband Reagan meets an icy end at the hands of the mob, were so gripping and absorbing I didn't notice the pages turning.
As a first novel this is an excellent piece of work, and I really hope it's the first of many from Chris Bell.
An inventive metafictional journey into a painted landscape Mar 7, 2006
Chris Bell's award-winning novel Liquidambar is a striking literary experiment that takes us on a metafictional journey through the film-noir inner life of its protagonist, the very marginal freelance journalist Typo Blod. Liquidambar begins with a witty framing device that skewers the world of alternative weekly newspapers - anyone who's ever written for, or spent much time reading, the kind of local free papers that devote lots of excited ink to topics like "The City's Best Cup of Coffee!" will chuckle at Bell's on-target parody.
We're introduced to the story by Typo Blod's editor, who describes Blod's increasing financial desperation, followed by his mysterious disappearance. The only clues as to what happened to Blod, we're told, are in the mysterious manuscript Blod left behind, which forms the body of the book.
In that manuscript, Blod - who finds the notion of time "elusive" - describes how an eccentric stranger he meets on the train sends him on a surreal journey into a vintage smalltown landscape of drugstore soda fountains and private detective adventures. Before we're very far into this tale, the reader may find that some of the story's settings - and the names of the chapters - begin to ring a certain set of bells. That's because Bell has chosen to use a series of memorable and evocative Edward Hopper paintings as reference points for Blod's story. Each chapter of Blod's manuscript invokes a specific Hopper painting (such as the iconic Nighthawks), from which it borrows atmosphere, characters, set decorations and even mood lighting.
For this reason, readers may find it helpful to view the relevant paintings as a visual accompaniment to each stage of the story - either by consulting a Hopper book or tracking the images down online.
By means of this device, we accompany Blod on his journey through a series of painted scenes that gradually form themselves into a larger narrative arc, as Blod attempts to solve a kidnapping case, pursue the elusive woman he's become obsessed with, and perhaps even unravel the larger mystery of his own paralysis. If you've ever strolled through a museum gallery wondering what kind of stories the people in the paintings might tell if they could speak aloud, Liquidambar just might give you a clue.
An excellent first novel Mar 5, 2006
This is an excellent first novel. The narrator undersells himself with self-deprecating humour that does make those first few chapters less inviting, more nihilistic. But, you must stick with it. There are strong echoes of "The Singing Detective" here, but also authors like Murakami and Hoban spring to mind.
In many ways, this work is an homage to American painter Edward Hopper, so some knowledge of his work is an advantage, but not essential -- again, you didn't need to know much about old-time musicals to grasp Potter's "The Singing Detective", did you?
Bell has a great command of language. There's not a page that doesn't present some (usually discomforting) wit. A work of this sort sits as neatly as a critique of modern fakery and "reality TV", as it does as a comic assessment of an equally emotionally bankrupt generation, those walking dead of the 1950s.