Saturday, October 02, 2004

What I read this week

Everything went pretty smoothly this week in the end. And though I was crazy busy, I still had time to read three novels (the train ride to and from New Haven justified some fiction). All excellent, as follows:

Charlie Williams's Deadfolk--a lovely book. I can't wait to give this to my brother J. who will love it. The writing is amazing, it's an excellent first-person voice, very funny, very dark in terms of violence. I liked this book very much indeed. I am especially fond of first-person narration, and this is a superb example of the way that even a complete sociopath becomes perversely endearing if you get the voice right.

Ken Bruen's Hackman Blues. Another really good one. I am amazed by the way this guy writes these first-person voices as well: yes, his narrators tend to have a sort of family resemblance to one another, but this one is great & distinctively different from every other one too. The prose really sings, there's a way Bruen's books move at a fast clip without ever becoming overly stylized in the way I associate with James Ellroy or (worse) Kathy Reichs.

And last but not least, George Pelecanos's Hard Revolution. Pelecanos is great. He's not my absolute favorite--in this vein, I prefer Richard Price, who really is the master (and it's possible that Samaritan was his best yet). And in some sense he cares more about reconstructing a time and place and less about the language itself--he's a great writer, but he's not a stylist in the way that (for instance) both Williams and Bruen really are. However, he really is unbeatable on these scenes of Washington in the 60s and 70s. Very good stuff. I am especially fond of books where you learn the backstory of characters and how their fates unfolded from earlier times, so this was a good one. (Interesting move, writers doing this in a series--I approve because it breaks what might otherwise be a bit of a rut--again, a good example is the latest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. This is a series that's just gotten better and better, and I loved getting the tale of how Reacher lost his faith in the military.

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