Liminal by Chris Keil ( Archived Material )

Ceri Shaw
03/27/14 11:54:08PM

" Chris Keil, an accomplished linguist, ran an upland sheep farm for nearly twenty years. He has worked as a Brixton schoolteacher and a teacher of English as a foreign language. He has specialised in marketing Welsh lamb in Europe, and in collective memory and representations of the Holocaust. He lectures worldwide and has published on dissonant heritage and traumatic memory at Auschwitz. He lives in Carmarthenshire, west Wales, and currently lectures at Trinity College, Carmarthen. "Liminal" is his second novel ." Alcemi Catalogue 2009

'liminal' - of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition ( Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary )

Given the above dictionary definition we might reasonably expect this novel to deal with a life-changing moment in the lives of one or more of its characters and we are not disappointed. For Geraint, the county archaeologist, the moment occurs at a local pub after he leaves via the mens room window. For his son Aled, it occurs at the site of an ancient Greek harbour near Corinth. The narrative subtly explores the transformative effect of these two moments, both on the father-son relationship and upon their relationships with those around them

The fate of both characters is intimately bound up with their association with a fictional medieval Welsh saint. St Brygga ( referred to occasionally as St. Bugger by Geraints son Aled ) went on a pilgrimage to Greece before returning to Wales. Her search for spiritual enlightenment is echoed in the latter day quest of both father and son for a new direction in their lives. The twin related notions of liminality and pilgrimage are explored throughout the novel.

It should not be thought, however, that the book sacrifices narrative pace to philosophical discourse. The more reflective moments are interspersed between accounts of Geraint and his ex-wifes attempts to locate their missing son. A real sense of mystery is woven around the circumstances of his disappearance and the novel takes on the aspect of a detective story for part of its length. The evocations of the Greek landscape and historical sites are beautifully wrought and there is a real tension between Geraint and his ex-wife which enlivens much of the dialogue in these pages.

All in all "Liminal" is a subtle and haunting novel which succeeds on many levels. It is simultaneously reflective and entertaining; philosophical and dryly humorous. If this program had a star-rating system I would certainly want to give it five.

Chris Keil's first novel "The French Thing" can be purchased HERE .

Read our interview with Chris Keil HERE.

Ceri Shaw Email

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Replies to This Discussion

Can I use this for Ninnau?

Bob Roser

Sure ....go right ahead.