“It’s a stunning psychological thriller, a total identification with madness that creates drama without either belittling or romanticizing the insane.” - Los Angeles Times
A man purchases a house, the house of Fra Keeler, moves in, and begins investigating the circumstances of the latter’s death. Yet the investigation quickly turns inward, and the reality it seeks to unravel seems only to grow more strange, as the narrator pursues not leads but lines of thought, most often to hideous conclusions.
“Oloomi enters so fully and sympathetically into the mad logic of her narrator that scenic detail, chronology, cause and effect, and even such mundane props as cactus, mailman, and ringing phone are bent, doubled, or subsumed by the paranoid geometries of meaning he draws. . . . Subtly menacing, but not without humor, the novel derives momentum and tension from the space between its clear, intelligent language and the absolute unreliability of its narrator.” - Slate
“A rare gem of a book that begs to be read again.” - Publishers Weekly
“Obsessive/delightful, Fra Keeler subtly elaborates on life’s details, its ordinary lunacies. Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s observations are droll and often hilarious. Her novel’s incidents pile up and on, tilting and shifting under the weight of language’s bizarre disturbances. Fra Keeler is wonderfully imaginative, the work of a terrific young writer.” - Lynne Tillman
“You ask: What sort of fiction are we reading here? Anticipating just this question, on her ‘Acknowledgments’ page, Oloomi provides a checklist of books and films that she says made this work ‘possible': works by César Aira, Thomas Bernhard, Luis Bunuel, Nikolai Gogol, Alfred Hitchcock, and Clarice Lispector, to name only a handful from her inventory of what one could call the ‘literature of madness,’ if ‘madness’ were not so reductive a term for the complexities to which Fra Keeler pays tribute.” - Gerald Bruns, American Book Review
“Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the descendent of writers as brilliant and disparate as Max Frisch, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Per Petterson. Fra Keeler is a compelling and humorously associative meditation on how ‘one lives against one’s dying,’ and how that living will be in contra-distinction to all that explains that death on paper after its fact. Would that more book groups read books of this complexity and intelligence; discussion would reach on into the wee hours!” - Michelle Latiolais
“In Fra Keeler a mind churns on itself, while reality—if it is reality—comes rushing at it with a strange stutter, everything a bit lost, a bit off, and ready to be ground up further by the uncertain perception of the narrator. This is a book by turns funny and strange, but always entertaining.” - Brian Evenson
“Obsessive. Surreal. Darkly comic. Chilling.” - Robert Coover
“At once philosophical and beautiful, Fra Keeler is an intoxicating work.” - The Coffin Factory
COVER ART: dead tree © Elijah Burgher, 2012
Elijah Burgher is online at Ghost Vomit.