Saturday, November 15, 2008
Posted by lex dexter
For reasons that no doubt pertain to my life story (yawn), I hold The Killing of a Chinese Bookie alongside seminal personal texts like Ulysses, Spiderland, and Larkin's Collected Poems. It's worth noting that the curatorial gods at Criterion have released the film in a deluxe, two-dvd package that includes Cassavettes' original cut, the theatrical version and a whole bleeping bunch of features. I'd've put it on one of my holiday wish lists, but I couldn't wait. Sunovagun is coming my way, asap! (Read the "Customer Review" for high praise from a civilian.)
Ross Macdonald, The Instant Enemy
The great thing about Ross Macdonald's coming-after Chandler is how, by extension, Macdonald's gumshoe protagonist Lew Archer confronts the late-60s, early-70s milieu that only a genius satirist like Roger Altman was capable of contriving for Philip Marlowe (in the film version of The Long Goodbye). Anyway, I inhaled this Archer gem in one sitting, another dry and eerily thoughtful installment in an unfuckwithable noir series. It deals with a poor little rich girl and LSD against the archetypal backdrop of rich and fucked up Southern California. What else could I want?
Richard Price, Lush Life
Wow, how haven't I read this guy before? He's the last of the hot shots from the Wire dream team (avec Simon, Pelecanos, Lehane) I've gotten to, and probably the one with the most critical esteem behind him going into that project. I read a lotta crime novels, kids, and let me tell you that this thing is as near-flawless as anything not attached to the name Mankell, albeit of a totally different style/tone/diction.
Holy shit! Set on the Lower East side, Lush Life is filled with cops, kids from the projects and a deep ensemble of "arty" also-rans living out their vie boheme in the believable, wage-labor terms we're all so familiar with. More than Pelecanos (and this is saying something, for me), Price rivals David Simon when it comes to serving up multiple socioeconomic strata at a time with his storytelling. And his dialogue is pitch-perfect, sonorous and just like life.
Lawrence Block, A Long Line of Dead Men
Another admirable installment in my beloved Matt Scudder series, though the plot centers on a contrived silly secret society that is below Block's usual standard of reasonableness. That said, even without a completely A+ plot line (it's an A-, no worse), there's still plenty to enjoy in Scudder's first person narration and Block's really fluent manner of setting things up. If you're interested, and don't want to start at the beginning, I recommend a Eight Million Ways to Die/When the Sacred Ginmill Closes book 7", both of which may be in my top 10 detective novels of all time.