Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Blues With Ice by Tin Larrick

Blues With Ice by Tin Larrick
First published by Obscure Cranny Press today, the 18th July 2017.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the ebook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Meet 20-year-old roofer and aspiring blues guitarist Alex Gray, who, on the cusp of the millennium, is heading west to California to seek his fortune. Armed with big fear, bigger dreams, a handful of dollars and his beloved guitar Camille, he arrives in Los Angeles to a self-imposed ultimatum: Make it here and now, or grow up and Get Serious.
It's a well-worn track, however, and Alex follows the vapour trails of former dole-buddy and expat-done-good Marvin Price. Already gregarious and exuberant, Marvin has been well and truly Californified by his year in the sun, and persuades Alex that fame and fortune are practically guaranteed the moment you clear customs.
As if to prove the point, a fortuitous encounter with homeless Santa Monica busker Rosco Dunhill III leads to a showcase at Rosco's downtown residence, and the American Dream seems to be playing out in front of Alex. But the sudden appearance - and transformation of - Alex's onetime love, Marie Clement, is a broadside he doesn't see coming, and the flames of Possibility evaporate almost as soon as they have appeared. Not one to admit defeat, Marie injects her new zest for life into Alex’s dejected dumbfoundedness, and pretty soon the three of them are in search of the elusive busker, chasing the spirit of Gonzo and the soul of the Beats around California.

I've been eagerly awaiting this new Tin Larrick novel since reading an early draft version several months ago. Blues With Ice is very different to his previous crime and thriller books. Inspired by 1950s American Beat classics such as Jack Kerouac's On The Road ( to which numerous nods are given) it recounts the highs and lows of a six week trip to California in the late 1990s. I also journeyed alone to California, albeit for just two weeks, at around the same time so this was a wonderfully nostalgic read for me. I didn't have a guitar, nor was I in search of stardom, but I did meet some amazing people in Los Angeles and rode the Amtrak from LA to Santa Clara and Santa Clara to beautiful San Francisco.

Larrick's naive hero, Alex Gray, is very English in his manners and outlook and this clash of cultures provides much of the thoughtfulness in Blues With Ice. His last ditch attempt to kickstart his music career is frequently derailed by alcohol and drug-fuelled days and nights, leading himself astray as often as he is led. I enjoyed following his journey and seeing how quickly he matured emotionally during what was a brief period of time. Larrick evokes the American cities in an interesting way although we do mostly see them through the bottom of whisky glasses and beer bottles.

The Beat writers seem to be undergoing a resurgence of influence at the moment and the style of Blues With Ice reminded me of Harry Whitewolf's travel writing especially Route Number 11. If you liked that book, I would certainly recommend Blues With Ice to you and vice versa.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Tin Larrick / Coming Of Age fiction / Books from England

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