Thursday, 1 November 2012

Lost But Now Found - Lost Angeles Debuts A New Literary Voice

THERE'S ONLY 30 days to go until the release on Lost Angeles and I've another glowing review below.

First novels are a notoriously tricky endeavour, they are sometimes a self conscious re-rendering of the author’s favourite writers and sometimes a clinical enterprise. Any writer will know that it takes time to find a voice, I was surprised then to find that Lost Angeles was Louden’s first offering.

Following the exploits of protagonist Doug, the novel opens on his self imposed exile to Los Angeles.  Beginning at the doors of the arrivals lounge the reader is plunged into Los Angeles. A pacy first chapter sets up the narrative for his Los Angeles adventure; gang fights in the golden arches, biker bars on Sunset Boulevard and unlikely acquaintances. There’s a thrill, drama and whiskey haze that sets the tempo. Louden then takes the step that even some more established writers baulk at; he creates a dual narrative which takes the reader into Doug’s past in Belfast and allows them to experience the events that have brought Doug to this point in his life.

The Belfast chapters are filled with Doug’s pre Los Angeles reality and give the reader an instant visceral look into a relationship that is going sour. It’s the sense of loss and recalibration of a life after an important long term relationship that the reader experiences with Doug. The juxtaposition of his hedonistic quest in the warm sunshine of Los Angeles, and the heartache of the Belfast chapters which are captured against the grey cold post-Christmas January sun, create a novel of depth which tells two simultaneous narratives to their joined conclusion.

The myriad of Los Angeles debaucheries are both witty and memorable but the undercurrent of the past simmers beneath the surface until begins to boil over into Doug’s present. As the novel draws with pace and fervour to its inevitable endgame the reasons for Doug’s vehemently destructive nose dive through Venice Beach are illuminated as the final chapters become compulsive reading.

Louden takes his readers by the hand through Belfast and Los Angeles, a writer who clearly knows both cities, they are written so they feel like a part of the narrative; two very different characters embodying the story that surrounds them.  The writing is open and colloquial and although it comes from a very male voice it has an attitude to emotion and vulnerability that will appeal to both genders. What makes this novel such a good read is the truth which seems to be planted firmly in the narrative. It has a voice which has been missing from the bookshelves; Bukowski with heart and emotion, Tony Parsons with sarcasm, degeneracy and sex. They come together to create a work startling in its individual voice.

It’s a fantastic first novel that delves into the picaresque genre, creating a very modern romantic hero, or perhaps antihero. A novel that can be read and re-read but will still retain its moment in time due to its episodic structure. It is an ultimately multifaceted piece of literature that at its heart beats a debauched, messed up look at love and loss.

-Dr Dawn Hargy PhD

Read the first chapter of Lost Angeles for free [here] before it comes out on December 1st 2012.