Celtic Noir

My poor neglected blog. Almost three weeks since my last post. Sure, the novel’s been making me work for my pages. You’d think corporate conspiracy and mind controlling mushrooms would be easier to write, but I did manage to pull off a haunting JFK vigil, followed by a chase scene involving a limousine and a city bus. I ended up loving the layers of thematic resonance; my writer’s group loved the accelerating plot.

But really, I’ve been reading.  A lot. A dozen books since my last post. Five of those devoured cover to cover in an afternoon or an evening.  Some of it is simple word lust, some of it is escapism, but not  a little is pure omnivorous  delight.  I love characters that challenge expectations; I love fresh surprising language;  I love savoring the mechanics, the structure of storytelling.

I won’t go into all twelve here, just a note or two about the ones that stand out:

In Full Dark No Stars, Stephen King’s four novella narrators are all murderers and all sympathetic.  I was a little nervous about this one because King’s last novella offering, Blockade Billy (which included Morality previously pubilshed in Esquire) was an overpriced ripoff at 14.99 , but Dark‘s seductive richness delivered like vintage King.

Ken Bruen is my new Celtic noir addiction. Like any genre master, he has his own signature: His protagonists, hard drinking and hard living by nature (even when they’re trying to sober up), thirst after books like life’s elixir while  gray morality blends the good guys and the bad. I can see how the formula might wear thin eventually, but four books in (Bust, London Boulevard, The Magdalen Martyrs, and Calibre) I’m physically unable to put one down.

Speaking of noir, I’m still ambivalent about Dennis Lehane’s Moonlight Mile. In keeping with the genre’s proletariat sympathies,  Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie mentions corporate greed and lack of health care a bunch of times. Yet, novelists who illuminate class distinctions do so as much by humanizing the poor as by demonizing the rich.  Lehane seems to have lost some of the pathos that characterized his earlier books.  It’s like he’s reacting to economic tides he read about in the paper while his feet stayed dry. Still, it was good, in some places great.

Like I said: ambivalent.

Three days to break and counting. If I can write five words for every page I read, it should be a productive one.

Happy…well…whatever makes you happy.

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