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The Liquidators
By Tom LeClair
The Liquidators is proud to announce the publication in June 2006 of Tom LeClair’s new novel, The Liquidators. In this, his fourth and most powerful novel to date, the widely published critic takes on the American Dream, creating what Kathryn Kramer has called a “rich, gritty new myth” about the country and its people. Keenly realistic in setting and characters, The Liquidators is both an homage to and a partial retelling of Absalom, Absalom!.

The novel’s narrator and central character, Thomas Bond of Middletown, Ohio, has built a cross-country liquidating empire of mostly African American truck drivers who roam the nation’s heartland selling off the failed products of its commerce. Aging and ailing, Bond wants to see his life’s work continue, but his children are uninterested and finally force him into desperate measures and unexpected revelations about the family’s past. When his attempts to find a successor ultimately fail, Bond imagines a project that sets off further family conflict and surprising recognitions.

In its empathetic portrayal of the ebb and flow of daily life in what is now ritually referred to as the “Rust Belt,” The Liquidators is at the same time a nostalgic defense and comic critique of an America built on material accumulation and inevitable liquidation. It is thus also a fable of failure: an old story of patriarchal altruism and selfishness, paternalism and exploitation, that is poignant, stark, and, above all, true.

LeClair’s latest and most resonant work is an audacious tour de force that negotiates the detours and dead-ends of contemporary American life. It also continues the literary passage that has marked modern American fiction from Faulkner to Stanley Elkin, to whom The Liquidators is dedicated.

Read the first chapter…

Acclaim for The Liquidators
A road story about the literal and metaphorical end of the road. The Liquidators is an often funny, sometimes ironic, and always profound cautionary tale about the American dream’s waning glow. That Tom LeClair so compassionately probes the near-demise of a way of life and the dissolution of the family, while revealing a country hardly recognizable but for its dying dignity, makes The Liquidators what it is: poignantly brilliant.
- Melanie Wallace, author of Blue Horse Dreaming and The Housekeeper

A rich, gritty, new myth about the liquidating of a family and of America, and what might be saved. LeClair wrestles with the hydra-headed monster Capitalism, and in haunting vernacular eloquence, traps us into ruing either outcome of the contest.
- Kathryn Kramer, author of A Handbook for Visitors from Outer Space and Rattelsnake Farming.

Not since Stanley Elkin’s The Franchiser have I read such a witty, exuberant novel of ideas about American commerce and its philosophical overlays and underpinnings. LeClair masterfully captures and/or invents the patter of Tom Bond and his colorful competitors in liquidation, all of them twenty-first-century Barnums of bric-a-brac who rove from town to town to sell surplus goods. A terrific, surprising, heady novel.
- Michael Griffith, author of Spikes and Bibliophilia.

About the Author
A widely respected critic, Tom LeClair was a member of the jury that chose the 2005 National Book Award for fiction. In addition to his novels (Passing Off, Passing On, and Well-Founded Fear), LeClair has written two books of literary criticism, The Art of Excess and In the Loop, and coedited a collection of literary interviews, Anything Can Happen. He has reviewed books for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Nation, Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Book magazine, and American Book Review. LeClair is currently Nathaniel Ropes Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati.

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