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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old July 30th, 2005, 20:48 Thread Starter
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William Christopher Baer

He's a new NOIR THRILLER writer in the mould of hunter .s. thompson and speacialies in miniliasim writign where as similar to albert camus and chuck palahniuk

I 've recently just read 2 of 3 books in his trilogy ...featuring a cop called Phineas Poe ...an ex cop who wakes up in his bathtub with his kidney missing arfter a one night stand with a girl called Jude

i won't [PHP]Spoil[/PHP] the plot and the direction of the twists
yet his books are kiss me , judas and penny dreadful and hell's half acre

i consider his writng to be extremely addictive however it's subjective so people may disagree

another aurthor's opinion of will christopher baer and his trilogy
author author
Will Christopher Baer is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Kiss Me, Judas and Penny Dreadful. His third Phineas Poe novel, Hell's Half Breaking down obsession, love, and hunger: Craig Clevenger, author of The Contortionist's Handbook, has performed an autopsy in essay form on Will Christopher Baer's nihilistic antihero and hunger artist, Phineas Poe.

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By Craig Clevenger
The third line of Will Christopher Baer’s first novel, Kiss Me, Judas, reads: “I’m cold, religiously cold.” Upon reading that line I snapped the book shut, ceased my browsing, and bought it, nearly swallowing the story whole that same afternoon. By every account I’ve received, the reaction is always the same. That line is the point of no return, where the reader is at the mercy of the book.

“I was thinking of the air in those ancient churches in Europe, ” Baer says, “those huge cathedrals of marble, and I thought the air in those places must be what the last breath you take will feel like.”

Raymond Chandler is famous for descriptions that fuse disparate elements into a strange whole and make mid-century Los Angeles so vivid, even to someone who’s never set foot on the West Coast. Where Chandler gave us spiders on wedding cakes and “hair the color of a brush fire seen through a dust cloud,” Will Christopher Baer turns up the heat and makes you feel every creak of his narrator’s bones and every emotional leak in his heart. His stories have “pink and grey sky, the color of muscle,” and the narrator turns to greet his long lost lover “slow as blood clotting.” Baer can give form and flesh to things you don’t like to think about, but does so in a way that compels you to read anyway.

Kiss Me, Judas is the first volume of Baer’s Phineas Poe trilogy, originally released in hardcover in 1998. He followed with a second volume, Penny Dreadful, in 2000. Both are being re-released in hardcover this fall from MacAdam/Cage, along with the yet-to-be-released third volume, Hell’s Half Acre, originally dubbed “a 300-page suicide note” by his previous publisher.

Baer’s narrator, Phineas Poe, is an angel who’s fallen about as far as possible— dismissed from the police force and ushered into a mental hospital following the undercover narc work that turned into a full-time addiction; Poe is also haunted by the memory of his wife,who died under very sketchy circumstances. During the course of three books,Poe has been tracking Jude, a latter-day femme fatalecum- field surgeon, who stole his heart after a one-night stand at the opening of Kiss Me, Judas. Where other guys might find the woman’s number on a cocktail napkin, Poe simply finds: “If you want to live call 911. ”Yeah,along with his heart, she took his kidney. But she did have the decency to sew the wound shut and dump him into a bathtub full of ice. Religiously cold, indeed.

Most sane people would be screaming for justice, not to mention abstaining from cocktails with gym-rat prostitutes sporting black medical bags in seedy bars. But Phineas Poe doesn’t do the sane thing. Phineas falls in love with Jude while working up the nerve to kill her. Over the course of Baer’s three-novel chronicle of Phineas Poe, our mono-kidneyed anti-hero loses even more to his anti-lover, including his sanity and chunks of his memory too large for the padlocked ice chest holding the aforementioned organ.

He loses her during Penny Dreadful, but instead gets involved more deeply with Eve,a supporting player from the first novel,along with a significant crosschuck of the Denver, Colorado population who’ve been sucked into a sort of live-action role-playing game involving biting off bits of each other’s tongues and binging on a drink called “The Pale,”which, by its description, I imagine is some sort of Baer-inspired mixture of absinthe, liquid morphine, and Drano.

Trust me, read Will Christopher Baer, and quickly—very quickly—so called neo-noir stories about political corruption and cops on the take start to seem,well, downright cute.

In terms of mood and texture and characters operating in a moral vacuum, the Phineas books are probably as noir as they can be,” says Baer. And he’s right, they are. But there’s a heart beating at the center of the books.

“The one element uncharacteristic to noir is probably Phineas himself,” he says. “While he may be nihilistic and self-destructive, at the cellular level he is too much a romantic, and at times extremely vulnerable, by the standards of the hard-boiled noir protagonist. Phineas is still susceptible to having his heart broken by a kid offering to share his juice box.”

And that about sums up Baer’s work: Neo-noir fiction with a hopelessly romantic protagonist. “Whenever someone asks me what my books are like, the first words out of my mouth are ‘scary love stories,’” says Baer.

Hell’s Half Acre—the third scary love story—is being released this September in hardcover, along with the re-issues of Baer’s first two novels. After tracking Jude across the country and a few borders south, Phineas returns to San Francisco and first crosses paths with Jude as she’s once again relieving some poor sap of a chunk of flesh. But Jude’s not working for hire this time, she’s getting payback. From whom and for what is the source of the story. In brief, there’s a snuff film, a sociopath lawyer, a child (“he has hands that could make a monster cry,” writes Baer), and a host of drugs, sharp objects, and malicious intentions.

Poor Phineas. All the dude ever wanted was his Jude back. But in trying, he succumbs to Jude as she pulls him into her web of payback, because it’s his payback, too. If you’re an ex-cop in a book or a movie, you should know better than to go with that whole “one last job” scenario because it never works out. But Phineas doesn’t know he’s a character in a book. He’s also brain damaged, drug addled, and a slow learner, so he jumps in…not quite head first, but he jumps nonetheless.

What follows is arguably the most compelling story of the three, and perhaps the most artfully executed. Phineas sums up his relationship with Jude:

It sounds complicated but it amounts to boy meets girl and girl steals his kidney. Boy wants his kidney back. Boy wants to kill girl. Boy catches up with girl and decides he likes her. He just might love her. And so he doesn’t kill her. He becomes her partner, and pretty soon boy and girl get along like two ducks flying high in a washed blue sky.
Even more succinct is Poe’s patchwork of memories of Jude, where the conflicting nihilism and romanticism of Baer’s work square off on the page:

I remember the strangest things about her. I remember she played with matches when she was nervous or bored, lighting one after the other until she burned her fingers. She favored a black raincoat on cloudy days,and wore nothing under it. She liked to flash me in elevators.…She had a tendency to bite but never broke the skin. She was a trained killer but still she was afraid of spiders. She brought me ice cream when I was sick, and spent a lot ofmoney on fantastic hats. Jude never did anything lightly. She could be washing the dishes, making spaghetti sauce, playing a video game, or painting the bathroom red. Or fighting a guy twice her size. She did everything with the same, delirious gum-chewing mania.
“I think,” says Baer,“after three books, I’ve finally got the hang of writing a novel.”

The statement startles me, at first, because it seems to me that he had the hang of it from the very start. But it makes sense, coming from a relentless self-editor who completely submerges himself into his narrator’s mind when he writes, almost to his own detriment. But now that Baer’s prose is trimmed and toned, by his own standards, to fighting weight, the future of modern noir just got brighter. Which is to say, darker. Much darker.

Lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. Do you think when Jesus comes back he's gonna wanna see a ****ing cross, man?
Bill Hicks

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