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Vital Fluid [Paperback]

Tom Bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)


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Book Description

August 1, 2009
"Herein lies the danger of the practice..., for if the mesmerist is corrupt of heart, foul of mind, and diseased of soul the vital fluid which he projects will be tainted..." Vital Fluid is inspired by the uncanny performances and fascinating life of John-Ivan Palmer, the top stage hypnotist in America today. Deceptively simple on the surface, delicately complex throughout the subtext, Vital Fluid masterfully merges two parallel story lines distanced by time and culture in this satiric alternate history / modern fantasy exploration. Two rival hypnotists are pitted against each other in an increasingly bizarre series of performances across an absurdly chaotic America; while, woven in like fine silk, a pair of Victorian era mesmerists match mystical wits before the intolerant and intolerable European bourgeoisie.

Editorial Reviews

Review

A masterpiece... there are no words to describe the eerie dream this book is to me. --John-Ivan Palmer, hypnotist, comedian, author<br /><br />Tom Bradley is one of the most exasperating, offensive, pleasurable, and brilliant writers I know. I recommend his work to anyone with spiritual fortitude and a taste for something so strange that it might well be genius. --Denis Dutton, ARTS & LETTERS DAILY

Tom Bradley is one of the most exasperating, offensive, pleasurable, and brilliant writers I know. I recommend his work to anyone with spiritual fortitude and a taste for something so strange that it might well be genius. --Denis Dutton, ARTS & LETTERS DAILY

About the Author

Tom Bradley is an American novelist, essayist and writer of short stories. He is the author of The Sam Edwine Pentateuch, a five-book series, various volumes of which have been nominated for the Editor's Book Award, the New York University Bobst Prize, and the AWP Award Series in the Novel. His essays and short stories are anthologized extensively in America and in Europe.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981011780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981011783
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 3.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,320,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerist Mayhem December 24, 2010
Format:Paperback
"Subtle" isn't a word a lot of people would apply to Tom Bradley, but a close reading of his new hypnovel VITAL FLUID reveals that this is a writer who can spin a seemingly simple OTT yarn about warring hypnotists which has deeper layers of meaning that can be easily missed.
Philip Deacon is the better hypnotist, in both senses of the word -his craft is more ingenious and he is empathetic humanist- whilst his rival, Simon Magus, is a sly manipulator who uses his powers to wreak havoc. A mounting series of exhibitions across America that includes a visit to the militairy academy of a polygamist cult leader and a rampage through a Native American casino leads to a final showdown during a riot in the slums of LA, which provides a surprisingly touching, yet fitting finale.
Subtle? On the face of it, no; Bradley people's his bizarre settings with grotesques that make Jerry Springer mutants seem rational... except when you stop to examine them, Bradley's characters actually seem to have more depth than the average trash talk show slug fest participant. As an example, early in the book Deacon is due to give a performance at a high school, and fundamentalists are protesting outside. In other hands this would have been the whole joke; ha ha, lookit the stoopid religious nuts. But a number of pages later two housewives from the picket line "darn full of the holy spirit" converge on Deacon at his motel room door, quoting scripture righteously before suddenly their unconcious reason for being there becomes apparent. It is a brief scene that is a clever jab at fundamentalism rather then a blunt thud, whilst at the same time showing by his actions what kind of man Deacon is.
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More About the Author

tombradley.org

Tom Bradley is one of the most exasperating, offensive, pleasurable, and brilliant writers I know. I recommend his work to anyone with spiritual fortitude and a taste for something so strange that it might well be genius.
--Denis Dutton, editor of Arts & Letters Daily ("among the most influential media personalities in the world," Time Magazine 14 June 2004, U.S. edition)

The contemporaries of Michelangelo found it useful to employ the term terribilita to characterize some of the expressions of his genius, and I will quote it here to sum up the shocking impact of this novel as a whole. I read it in a state of fascination, admiration, awe, anxiety, and outrage.
--R.V. Cassill, editor of The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction

Bradley's characters tend to be less than respectable, yet imbued with a ferocious sense of the absurd, which is essential for survival and sanity--or at least what passes for sanity--in environments akin to madhouses...Dr. Bradley is a Class-A tongue-in-cheek satirist, and some of his sharpest barbs are those that zoom in on the pompous and pretentious world of modern--or post-modern--literature.
--Pacific Rim Review of Books

...impressive, funny, pleasantly challenging, and utterly unique.
--Dennis Loy Johnson, Moby Lives

The real point of reading Bradley, aside from his illumination of the ridiculous and grotesque world around us, is the rolling cadence of his pitch-perfect writing. We prize competent prose here at Danse Macabre, but we absolutely adore the rich, coloratura tones of Bradley's work, the strong, steady voice guiding us with spot-on verbiage and heady switchbacks to revelations by turns disgusting, divine, and gut-bustingly hilarious.
--James Kendley, Danse Macabre

When is the world going to wake up to the genius of Tom Bradley? ...one of the most criminally underrated authors on the planet.
--Andrew Gallix, 3:am Magazine

Beyond the flawless surface of his stylistic facility, I am most impressed by Tom Bradley's ability to walk the edge of a tone that is simultaneously irreverent and profoundly serious. His work derives from the tradition of bawdy and absurdist black comedy of the late sixties, but is not an imitative slave to that tradition. It seems to me that Bradley has learned well from that generation of authors, but has mitigated their example with an even more traditional moral seriousness. It is a delight to be able to laugh aloud when one reads, and it is even more satisfying when there is a significant point to the laughter.

--Gordon Weaver, author of The Way We Know in Dreams

Tom Bradley is the libertine that Camille Paglia tries to portray herself as, in order to keep her Jocasta fantasies at bay.
--Jonathan Penton, "When Spencer met Hannibal: Recreational Cannibalism in the New American Century"

The fetid swamp of patriotism. The vapid legacy of TV culture. The intolerable stench of America's meat-based habits. Tom Bradley has seen it all coming and given it an inimitable voice. His prose delights as it slices and carves. His ideas entertain even as they challenge and provoke. We finally have a term for what falls between fiction and non-fiction: Bradley.
--Mickey Z., author of Dear Vito

Brilliant evocative writing. Bizarre imagination let free--an enviable skill.
--Consuelo Roland, author of The Good Cemetery Guide

A drowning tide of ebullient doom...
--Phil Rockstroh

Tom Bradley is a writer of truly extravagant gifts...It is remarkable to me that anyone who writes at such length could have an ear as fine as his for the rhythms of prose--but every sentence is considered, balanced and felicitous... I'd be hard pressed to think of any writer who has Bradley's stamina, his range, his learning, his felicity.
--Stephen Goodwin, author of Blood in
Paradise

Bradley's trajectory of books, from the early SAM EDWINE NOVELS up through the mesmeric satire of VITAL FLUID and essay collections like PUT IT DOWN IN A BOOK, is toward a geist where categories have yet to be described. The fastenings and joineries of his new textual and graphic ubiety are measured in calibrations from some other dimension where the usual sockets and taper points of critical disassembly have to be replaced. Even with that, FAMILY ROMANCE is deviously structured to lead conclusion jumpers straight to the Hall of Laughter.
--NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu's Exquisite Corpse Journal

It takes a twisted sense of humor to appreciate this lunatic scholar, degenerate Harold Bloom, and biblical madman.
--John-Ivan Palmer, nthposition Magazine

I found Acting Alone to have an incredible energy level.
--Stanley Elkin, author of A Bad Man

Tom Bradley, this enormously misplaced exile, as he enters his second quarter century commuting back and forth between Hiroshima and "Naga-etcetera," would make Lafcadio Hearn reel with laughter, if not shake his head in wonder.
--Lolita Lark, editor of RALPH Magazine

...an astute thinker and a stylist of rare brilliance...more than lives up to the glowing recommendation....expressed with great insight and charm...
--Harold Lime

Tom Bradley is one of the most misunderstood and ill-appreciated master-writers on the planet... This spectacular literary Lucifer, star of the East, talks like Hume might be imagined to have spoken to the comely Grisettes of pre-Revolutionary Paris (Well, here we are, young ladies! Here we are!)...
--Jesse Glass, author of The Lost Poet

I tell you that Dr. Bradley has devoted his existence to writing, number one, because it's fun (I mean the big complicated fun that none of us can ever hope to imagine, except during infinitesimally brief and rare moments in nature), and, number two, because he intends for every center of consciousness, everywhere, in all planes and conditions (not just terrestrial female Homo sapiens in breeding prime) to love him, forever, starting as soon as possible, though he's prepared to wait thousands of centuries after he's dead, or even longer if it turns out to be necessary. That's the ambition he cherishes. Talk about an ability to defer gratification...
--Cye Johan, Critical Appendix, Fission Among the Fanatics (Spuyten Duyvil Books, NYC)

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