A few months ago when I was first thinking of starting a blog, a writer friend told me that WordPress was “so easy to use, the blog practically creates itself.” Well, that’s probably true if you’re someone who is patient enough to read instructions. Unfortunately, that’s never been my strong suit. I prefer the four-year-old approach of pressing all the buttons until you figure out what you need through trial and error. So, it took me a little longer than expected to get the blog going. As a result I missed a few book birthdays, and I’d like to begin to remedy that now.
So…Happy Belated Birthday to Liza Campbell’s THE DISSEMBLERS, which pubbed last October from the Permanent Press! In this beautiful literary debut, Campbell deftly probes the secrets of the heart, and examines the ways in which art does and does not imitate life.
Here’s my brief synopsis: Young painter Ivy Wilkes idolizes Georgia O’Keeffe and moves to Santa Fe to find her artistic voice, only to discover her true talent lies in creating O’Keeffe forgeries. When she becomes romantically involved with her black market dealer, she wonders if love is possible between people who are not honest with one another, and if anyone is ever completely honest. In her struggle to find her own artistic voice, she navigates the space between pride and guilt, love and selfishness, with devastating consequences.
Open this book to any page, and the first thing you’ll notice is Campbell’s graceful, lyrical prose. This writing is beautiful, hauntingly so, and spare. At just about 200 pages, it’s a slender read, but it packs a punch. I was ecstatic when the New York Journal of Books compared the author’s style to Alice Munro. Something else that drew me in was the unique narrative voice. Even when Ivy confides her most private thoughts to the reader, she remains elusive somehow. Ivy possesses a quiet power that is unnerving; her determination to achieve greatness as a painter at any cost is both inspiring and frightening at times. It’s an intense read, and a rewarding one. I’ve often heard books described as “unflinching” in the exploration of their themes. THE DISSEMBLERS actually earns this by taking a hard look at what motivates us to pursue our dreams, whether it is the desire to be loved or the fear of mediocrity.
It’s an exciting debut from a young author who displays remarkable control and confidence in her writing. I predict she has many great books ahead! For more information on Liza Campbell, please see her website at http://www.thelizacampbellsite.com
Here are a few reviews of THE DISSEMBLERS:
“[Campbell] is wise and sophisticated in the ways of the heart – its yearnings, its self-deceptions – and she can craft some knockout landscape descriptions. The sun, the sky, the heat, the wind rule with a defining sensual intensity here that is nothing less than remarkable.” -The Independent
“Through lyrical prose and stimulating descriptions, debut novelist Liza Campbell deftly transports the reader to Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico. The Dissemblers enthralls from the first page to the last. An exquisite wordsmith, Campbell has successfully crafted a magical novel about the allures and realities of any artistic life. The Dissemblers is by far the best book I’ve read this year.” -entertainmentrealm.com
“The Dissemblers is a beautiful novel in many ways, and Campbell’s prose shines throughout…it offers a loving meditation on the nature of art and its place in our world. Whether describing the sweeping vistas of New Mexico or the longing of the human heart, she paints with words what pigments and brushstrokes might not so readily capture.” –Small Press Reviews
“In carefully wrought prose reminiscent of Alice Munro, Ms. Campbell displays a remarkable ability to shift from Ivy’s interior struggles and musings to the necessities of plot construction to propel the story forward, and uses the severe elegance of both O’Keeffe’s work and the desert environment that produced it to echo Ivy’s shifting loyalties.” -nyjournalofbooks.com
“In her sure-handed, compact debut, Campbell offers a portrait of the artist as a young woman…a subtle yet engaging study of the characters’ contradictions and the corrosive effect that discontentment has on their lives.” -Booklist
For more reviews and information, please check out the following links: