Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Currently, my list is in the wrong order. I meant for Slammer to be number one (if they need to be numbered at all, that is) and Bury Me Deep at number ten.
But whatever. They all kick ass. Check that shit out.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
In the novel we follow a group of characters whose lives intersect in hilarious, highly improbable ways. There is disbarred plastic surgeon Frank, a desperate fellow going through a nasty divorce. With his shady lawyer, Frank works out that if he hires someone to kidnap his wife, he could collect half a million in insurance, then fake paying it off as long as he paid the kidnappers. Meanwhile, his secretary Karen (who is a part-time armed robber), unwittingly strikes up a romance with the kidnapper in question, a cool cat named Ray. Then Karen’s ex-boyfriend Rossi is released from prison, his aims being to get his Ducati, gun, dog, and sixty grand back from Karen.
And if you’ve lost your way already, dear reader, no fucking worries. There’re a billion twists and turns in The Big O but Burke keeps shit nothing less than fucking crystal, no doubt. Thing is, there’s a billion and a half coincidences in this beast, so much so that it’s like Burke is fucking daring you to call bullshit on him. It’s never overtly stated, but there’s clearly some sort of hilarious fate or destiny shit going on here, but it’s handled so straight and nonchalantly that you’ll forgive him at every gleefully implausible encounter and connection.
And even if the wild-ass plot bugs you, there’s no getting around how beautifully drawn the characters are or how absolutely hilarious the dialogue is. I don’t toss around Elmore Leonard references lightly, and this shit would make the Master proud. By the way, quick question, is “the painters are in” as a euphemism for “on your period” a common phrase in Ireland or is that just something within this world Burke has created? It’s my favorite euphemism since I read about “using the tradesman’s entrance” in Crooked Little Vein (which, for those whose minds aren’t consistently in the gutter, means to have anal sex).
One thing you should be aware of, my fellow noir addicts, is that this isn’t some big-body-count-ultra-violence extravaganza. There’s lots of crime shit and a crazy plot, but it’s not intense thrill ride you might expect from that plot description. That said, you’ll be carried along just fine by said dialogue and complex story regardless. Like I said, we’re in Elmore Leonard territory, and you never had trouble finishing his shit in a flash despite his lackadaisical style, did you? You did? You fucking lie. Well, unless you’re talking about Maximum Bob. Jesus, that one was a bit of a slog.
So get on board with this Declan Burke fella. He’s got some fucking chops, no doubt about it. I mean, what the fuck do I have to do to make you pick up this fucking book? Mention Elmore Leonard again? Cause I’ll do it, don’t you make me bust out that necessary cliché yet again, you bastard!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
If you find a better top five out there this year, either you're an idiot or the writer is dead-fucking-wrong.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
And that's advice from a dude who isn't even a fan of the genre - her stuff is that re-fucking-freshing.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
But let’s kick shit off with Give Us a Kiss, Woodrell’s most personal novel to date. It’s the story of crime novelist Doyle Redmond returning to the Ozarks to convince his brother Smoke to turn himself into the cops seeing how their parents are being harassed daily by the cops. When he finds his brother, instead of getting all bounty hunter on his Smoke’s ass, Doyle ends up involved in a scam.
Smoke, his girlfriend Big Annie (named not for her weight but for her massive breasts), and Big Annie’s gorgeous daughter Niagra (like the honeymoon destination but spelt wrong) take on Doyle as security for their harvesting of a fat weed crop. The Dollys (the Ozark family we meet later in Winter’s Bone) have been snooping around Smoke is worried they’re gonna rip them off. Turns out Smoke’s instincts were correct and Doyle ends up murdering one of the infamous clan. Now the foursome is really in the shit.
Woodrell is clearly having a blast telling this tale and it’s filled with funny descriptions and hilarious dialogue. A great part of the book’s appeal is just the sense of fun that permeates much of the book (Jesus, I just wrote permeate like some kind of learned reviewer fellow. I'm a douche). Hanging out drinking in the warm night air, golfing on a woodsy course where the holes are just stacks of cow pies, going down on a beautiful hillybilly babe – it’s all rendered with love and longing. Even in Woodrell’s darkest works, there’s always a bit of escapist, man-I-wish-I-was-a-dirt-poor-hillbilly fantasy going on. Yeah, life may be hard in the Ozarks but a lot of the time it looks like some good old fashioned fun.
But it’s not all fun and games, dear reader. Shit gets violent and exciting and revelations happen and all that good shit you expect from a crime novel goes down, to be sure. Like Winter’s Bone, it’s clear that shit is never going to get all tragic on your ass, and that’s just fine because you’re happy to go along for the fun, pot-clouded ride.
There’s a lot of fun to be had in Tomato Red as well, but when shit goes dark it makes your heart absolutely fucking break. It’s the story of Sammy Barlach, a drifter who stumbles West Table and also into a fucked up but extremely tight-knit family and becomes an honorary member. There’s the adorable Jamalee Merridew, a smart young gal with her eyes set on high society, her gay hairdresser brother Jason, the most beautiful boy in the Ozarks, and their mother Bev, the local whore.
Figuring Sammy for one of them “rough types,” Jamalee enlists Sammy as a bodyguard of sorts, protection for when she gets her blackmail business off the ground. Her plan is to have Jason fuck married rich women then extort them for money, eventually netting them enough cash to move to some fancy place like Florida or Hollywood. Naturally, things don’t go as planned and this sad little family gets broken up toot-fucking-sweet.
Family is a major theme in all of the Woodrells I’ve read so far, and in Tomato Red that shit really hits home. Sammy is just searching for some place to fit in and be loved and it looks like the Merridews are as good a bunch as he’s likely to ever find. As with The Death of Sweet Mister’s protagonist Shuggie, when it looks like he’s gonna lose his pathetic family, the evil in him is released. The good times and hope that Sammy experiences before it all goes to shit make it hurt twice as hard.
Tomato Red is a breeze to read but tough to take. There are scenes in here that no shit devastate so if you’re looking for something a little lighter, I’d read Give Us a Kiss first. That said, be sure to get around to Tomato Red eventually because if you don’t, you’re missing out on – yeah, I’ll just fucking say it already – a modern classic.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Dealing with The Troubles: Stuart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast and Brian McGilloway's Gallows Lane
Monday, November 23, 2009
This time out, Tommy Caffee is basically the Speaker of the House’s bitch, doing the man’s dirty work and losing his soul more and more every day. Soon enough, Tommy sees a way to get out of politics and off the Hill all together in the form of a waterfront project that he is in a position to get a nice chunk of down the line. His brother Michael is running things now that Freddie Cork is in the can, and he’s having a tough go at it. He’s cheating on his wife and paranoid that his cousin Colin is fucking his girlfriend, and his paranoia is kind of warranted. Colin is deeply in love with Kath and she’s feeling slighted enough by Michael to maybe take him up on a good fuck.
Meanwhile their mother Rose is suffering from Cadmium poisoning from her many years working at the jewelry company and Tommy’s wife Eileen is pregnant with their fourth child. Also, Freddie Cork eventually makes bail and Michael’s not sure if he knows that yes, it was him who served Freddie up to the Feds. The Caffees’ friend Declan is working homicide and trying to put his marriage back together, but Tommy gets the bright idea to assign Dec to a puppet task force investigating corruption in the House. Little does Tommy know that Declan isn’t just a fuck-up drunk anymore, he’s trying to do right, so it’s a bit of shock when Dec starts getting closer and closer to Tommy’s own illegal dealings.
So that’s a lot of shit to deal with in eight short episodes, but creator Blake Masters and crew make it flow nicely and in an unforced manner. Because this is essentially Showtime’s answer to The Sopranos, there’s plenty of sex (including the most graphic and hot sex scene I’ve ever seen on television) and some kick-ass violence and mob stuff, while also some sharp satire and knowing depictions of middle-class life. But if you’ve watched the previous seasons, you’ve come to expect that shit.
What really surprises this time out is how fleshed out not only Colin becomes, but Freddie Cork. We got to see some of the inner-depths of Cork last season when his gay son died, but in the third season the fan favorite (or is “Fuckin’ Moe” the fan favorite since Pete died?) really gets to shine. When he’s released on bail, his lawyer strongly advises him not to do any shady shit. Cork’s assets are all tied up as well, so he needs to earn somehow. Seeing how on his tax returns he’s a car salesman, he calls in his chips and works at the dealership for real, only to find that he’s actually a bit of a natural. Of course, he eventually gets back in with Michael and the rest of his old gang, but instead of the hot head we’re used to, he shows himself to be extremely wise and self-sacrificing, the kind of leader that Michael Caffee will never be.
Colin gets lots of airtime this season as well, at first drinking and drugging himself into oblivion to take Kath off his mind, then trying to hide his feelings and actions from Michael, who will surely kill them both if he gets wind of their affair. Shit, Michael’s so fucking crazy these days he doesn’t even need a good reason to suspect anything is going on.
It’s all very smart and exciting and promises to come to a very gory head at end (and I mean, you’re expecting the-end-of-the-world-style tragedy by the close of the show), but like The Sopranos, the writers decide subvert your expectations somewhat. It’s still a disturbing and sad wrap up, as is fitting for such a dark show, but not the bloodbath you might’ve expected.
So I’ve mentioned The Sopranos like thirty fucking times in this review and to be honest, that shit isn’t fair. There are similarities to be sure, but it’s a lot to lay on a show that is really great on its own terms. Despite the revisionist assholes out there who say The Sopranos was over-rated, it truly isn’t. It is the most painful, smart, satiric, entertaining, bleakly true and ballsy exploration of American upper middle class life we’re likely to see ever again (yes, that statement is huge, but it’s true – and I love me some The Wire but there’s no getting around the greatness of The Sopranos), so pitting the decidedly modest but still wonderful Brotherhood against the show is not really fair at all. Its aims are smaller, but its aims are true as fuck.
Actually, because this is, you know, my fucking blog and I can do whatever the fuck I want, let me use some space in this review of shit you’ve probably never seen before to plead a case for The Sopranos. I don’t think we’ll ever see such a viewpoint properly expressed in television again. I mean, the show was basically an anti-drama in a lot of ways. Where damn near all stories are about a character changing, The Sopranos stayed brutally honest to a theme we rarely see handled well: man’s inability to change. The show is essentially about people who have shots at redemption, only to turn it down because it is hard to change, because they’re lazy or financially satisfied or their family and friends are terrible influences. I mean, think of Vito Spatafore, Carmela, Tony himself, both of their fucking kids – they all give in to the temptations of either the mob lifestyle or American middle-class life in general.
Then there’s just the writing itself, how eventually the show became about brilliantly undercutting and subverting your expectations of the storylines. They’d build something up to look like it was going to lead to the biggest pay off of all time, then fuck you over with an even more random turn. Shit, the randomness of life is something an entire other blog post could deal with as well. Then there’d be major plot things that would just pop up out of nowhere and be handled in that very same episode (I’m thinking particularly of numerous season five episodes – the most entertaining season of TV of all time, a close second being season three of The Wire). But through all the randomness and fuck yous, the mob shit was always engaging and violent and approachable and the suburban shit was painfully familiar. And it was probably the funniest show of all time too.
Okay, I’ll wrap this shit up now because you can probably find similar views elsewhere on other blogs that do this shit better. What was I talking about again? Oh yes, how Brotherhood season three was really fucking good, if a little shorter than it should’ve been. See that shit. Also, respect The Sopranos. Or see that shit as well, but if you haven’t seen it yet, what the fuck? Are you fucking culturally illiterate or some shit? Wow, this turned into a fucking mess, but like I said, it’s my blog and I can do whatever the fuck I want.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thus begins Ree's search for her father, a journey that will put her in all kinds of danger seeing how it puts her at odds with the rest of the Dolly clan, a powerful old hillbilly force in those parts. But Ree's got the sand to confront the old ones and the old ways when it comes to saving her family - shotguns, meth-crazies and beatd0wns be damned.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Bird Dog starts out with middle-aged nobody Harold Dodge being asked by a sexy co-worker to help her get her trade-in back from the shithole LA dealership that sold her a true lemon. You see, it’s known around the office that in a past life Dodge used to “bird dog” for a dealership, hell he even wrote a book on how not to get robbed, got published and everything. Seeing how a good-looking young thing like Marianna wouldn’t give a guy like Harold a second glance in a normal situation, Harold comes to her rescue toot-fucking-sweet. But sure enough, things don’t go well with slimy salesman Vito Fiorre at Joe Covo Matsura and next thing you know Dodge ends up with a body in the trunk…
Though you initially think you’re entering into some sort of off-beat private eye series, Bird Dog turns out to be more of an Elmore Leonard-style crime novel, only with more graphic sex and violence (which, come to think of it, is what most of the best crime novels of the nineties were like. There’s a paper there somewhere...). In other words, you have your sharp prose, your dead-on dialogue, cool good guys, funny bad guys, and a zippy pace. Good time had by fucking all, right?
That’d certainly be enough to get my vote, but Bird Dog takes shit in slightly sicker, more noir-than-merely-hard-boiled direction later in the book. Naturally, I don’t want to spoil shit for you, but to put it in movie terms, this shit gets more Blood Simple than Get Shorty, if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, see more films, you fucking elitist.
If I don’t have your interest yet, I honestly don’t know what the fuck to say to you, aside from hit the supermarket and snatch up a Grisham when buying your fucking white bread. But if you need just a little bit more of a push, let me say that there’s plenty of great car salesman lore and car porn in this beast too, not to mention a fantastic sense of place for its LA locations.
There you go, there’s your fucking icing on the awesome cake. So go and get yourself some Bird Dog, then some Low Rider, then join me in mourning the death of the Harold Dodge Car Noir Thriller series.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
It's written by Ian Rankin of the Rebus novels fame and drawn by Werther Dell'Edera.
So, you know, it's one of them graphic novel things.
This is a fucking long one so don't say I didn't warn your ass.
Check it out right here.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Also let the Nerd make clear: this ain't no Halloween-is-coming post either. Just like I don't need a holiday to drink a bunch of booze, I don't need a holiday to make me like horror either. Both are great any time of year.
Off Season, Ketchum's first novel (now available uncut and uncensored!) from 1980, proves that Ketchum has had those globe-sized balls since the beginning of his career. If you like your thrills with a gigantic fucking safety net, then you best leave this one to the fucking professionals.
Off Season tells the story of three NYC couples who go to a remote cabin in coastal Maine for a week of sex and drinking, only be preyed upon by a feral family of cannibals that live in a cave.
Seriously - that's all there is to it. Sounds like the plot of a forgettable horror film that you pop in late and pass out before it ends, never bothering the next morning to see what you missed. But Ketchum makes that shit come alive, dear reader, alive in ways you probably didn't want to ever think about.
Essentially, this is the ultimate Deliverance-style story. You take a bunch of realistic, recognizable characters with common insecurities and problems then throw them into the most extreme situation imaginable and watch all that petty shit melt away till nothing is left but the will to survive. In addition to the struggle of the couples, Ketchum also sheds some light on the lives of the in-bred cannibals, even dropping almost plausible hints as to how such a clan has managed to stay hidden and fed for so long.
Like most of Ketchum's work, there's no supernatural shit going on in Off Season if that kinda stuff bothers you. Basically, this is a disgusting, agonizing story story told breathlessly and without compromise. After all the players are laid out for us, the attack goes down and the second half of the book takes place over just a few hours and good fucking God is it hard to put this beast down once you're in the shit. For a book with a shit-ton of action and suspense, you're never less than completely clear about what's going on and how while also never skipping ahead because you're bogged down in details. You ever notice how in a suspense sequence, authors will always over-explain shit to the point where it takes a lot of will-power to not just skip ahead to see what the outcome of the scene is? That shit never happens with Ketchum, dude is always on-the-money.
And according to an afterword by Ketchum in the edition I read (Leisure Books June 2006 edition), the original version of Off Season did not have the perfect, devastatingly bleak ending that the current version does. So if you read this book years ago, I strongly suggest you pick it up again. You gotta admire a book that, in addition to being about...you know...in-bred cannibals raping, cooking and eating people, manages to have an even more dire climax than you could have ever imagined.
Like I said, dude goes all the fucking way. If you think you've got the stomach for it, the Nerd strongly suggests you follow his ass.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Let's try that again: For the unfaithful, let's sleepwalk through this fucking plot summary dance yet again:
Real Time is a Canadian feature directed by Randall Cole starring Jay Baruchel (Seth Rogen's fellow Canadian roommate in Knocked Up) as a degenerate gambler and Randy Quaid (ummm...if you don't know who Randy Quaid is, see more movies) as the hitman who has come to make him pay. Instead of just shooting Baruchel and calling it a day (the deadbeat owes 68,000 and has sixty bucks to his fucking name), Quaid gives him an hour to make amends, do whatever he wants before he takes one in the back of the head. And it's in, you know, real time (which makes it a short fucking movie, remember when they used to make those?).
Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Julia follows an alcoholic party girl who has lost her job and the trust of her few remaining friends. At an AA meeting she meets a crazy-eyed young woman who offers her a job: If Julia helps her kidnap her son back from his wealthy grandfather, she'll give her thousands of dollars. After the initial stakeout of where they plan to take the boy, Julia does the job on her own with the intent to get millions out of the grandfather instead. But, you know, that shit just ain't that easy...
What really makes Julia such an intense experience, is that Julia is shown to be such a fucking drunk wreck that we're constantly in fear for this little kid's life. I mean, if you can't handle child-in-jeopardy stories, this movie is definitely not for your ass. Director Erick Zonca knows how to keep you twisting in your seat throughout, every scene offering some terrible possibility to make your fucking guts turn.
He also shoots the film in a naturalistic style, the look helped out by the improvisational feel of the dialogue and performances. Julia is constantly lying, be it to authority figures, friends. accomplices, or - most often - her hostage, and Swinton truly sells the idea that she's just coming up with bullshit off the top of her head. Zonca's film is the rare crime film not concerned with great zingers and sharp dialogue so much as it is with people sounding natural.
The movie might run a little long (it's damned near two-and-a-half hours), but you're never bored because you're convinced that all bets are off, that anything - no matter how horrible - can fucking happen. So if you like you can handle a decidedly fucking un-slick crime film that has the power to make you woozy with dread, you better netflix yourself Julia toot-fucking-sweet.
Also, don't trust that lamer-than-fucking-lame poster. I fucking hate that shit. I mean, sell the movie for what it is: a crime film, not some sappy fucking...what the hell kinda movie is that poster trying to sell? Whoever was in charge of publicity for this film is a fucking assclown, as evidenced by the fact that this movie never opened anywhere near me here in the Twin Cities. Crime films are perfectly fucking marketable, you movie-biz douches!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Holy shit! Did you just read that last sentence? That was almost like a printable fucking blurb or some such bullshit. I gotta watch myself or I'll be on every other book cover like I'm fucking Connelly or Child or something (because I'm so fucking obviously that huge in the publishing world...). And would you look at that. Connelly is blurbed on the cover of this boo already. Color me fucking shocked.
Monday, August 3, 2009
I probably give a little too much information about myself in this review.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
If you've been reading this site a while you'll know that I dig Abbott's shit a whole helluva lot.
That said, I think you'll be surprised by what I have to say this time around...
Nah, I'm just fucking with you. It's awesome.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Just look at, well, almost every trilogy ever - The Godfather, The Matrix, Star Wars, Hank Thompson, Spiderman, Evil Dead, Indiana Jones (Crystal Skull never happened), Lord of the Rings (would it have killed Tolkien to kill a couple of fucking characters?) - it's a fucking huge rarity is what I'm getting at here, dear reader. King of the Road is incredibly dark, heart-breakingly sad, thrillingly violent, and fucking hilarious as all hell. It's a fucking shame that that's the end of our man Blake, the toughest bloke in Mangel (fingers-tightly-fucking-crossed Williams will revisit Blakey on a later date).
King of the Road kicks off with Royston Blake being released from the funny farm after a few years stay. He's all set to have a few pints, smoke a few cigs, be a good dad to Sal's and his kid, and take up his old post as doorman for Hopper's, the most respected pub in all Mangel. But Mangel has changed something fierce while he was away. There's a big gleaming shopping mall erected where Hopper's once stood, and Blake's doctor has gotten him a job as the "doorman" (read: mall security guard) at the behemoth, a job that makes all kinds of different Mangel citizens get ideas for our Blake.
Struggling "old guard" merchants like Nathan the Barman and Doug the Shopkeeper want Blake to bring down the mall from the inside. His old pal Don wants him to play a central role in heisting the mall. And the mall's owner Mr. Porter wants to use Blake as an enforcer, a thug whose purpose is to beat those that mean to destroy Mr. Porter's empire. But Blake being Blake, none of these well-laid plans are going to go down smoothly...
You see, the genius of Royston Blake is that he's so hilariously retarded that he never fully understands what he's into. Since he's our narrator, Williams allows Blake to express just enough information that the reader fully understands the implications of what he's involved in, but Blake almost never does. It allows for a lot of consistent laughs throughout the story, and one shockingly sad "revelation" at its end.
And that is a major part of why this book worked for me so fucking well. Deadfolk was a nasty piece of work that had plenty of solid crime shit going on, while I thought that Fags and Lager - though hilarious - was sometimes too wacky and ridiculous to fully work as a noir novel. King of the Road manages to be funnier than both novels and also more dark and tragic too somehow. It's the best of both books, no fucking joke!
In case you're not getting this, dear reader, I'm saying that you should pick up this fucking book toot-fucking-sweet. Damn it, read the whole trilogy. You'll thank me. Least you will if you're a sick fucker who likes shocks, laughs, and poop-mouth in your reading material (which is kind of a pre-requisite for this site, you know). And though I've expressed it many times over, let me say I can't fucking wait for Williams' return to novelifying with Stairway to Hell this August. Three long years is two years too fucking many.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Give it a shot right HERE.
So I've read one psycho noir and one PI novel from New Pulp Press.
Wonder what other sub-genres they're gonna cover...
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Fighter is the story of twenty-something Ontario rich boy Paul Harris and working class upstate New York amateur boxing teen sensation Rob Tulley. Rob wants out of the life but he's too much of a born natural (and his uncle and father have invested too much time in his training) to shit on his ticket out of blue collar-dom. Paul has been coasting through life working for his old man's winery business until he gets the shit kicked out of him one night, an event that makes him want to see just how much punishment he can stand. Rob trains and looks for excuses not to fight while Paul gets more and more masochistic (and 'roid-filled) until the two come together in The Barn, a place for modern day gladiators on the Canadian-American border.
As with Fight Club, there's plenty of angry-young-man-who-fights-to-feel-something stuff in The Fighter. Paul's life gains a purpose once he discovers fighting. He figures he can never out-do his father's more traditional masculine achievements - building a successful wine business from the ground-up, wife-and-kids and all that - but he must know if he could thrive in a more primitive masculine way - taking and giving out punishment with his bare-fucking-hands (Speaking of Fight Club, there's a sly reference to the earlier classic in the form of a rich kid who Paul himself beats up who then becomes a radical animal rights activist who lives on Paper Street...).
But enough with the masculinity discussion bullshit. I mean, what next? The Nerd's gonna start pontificating about James Dickey and Cormac McCarthy or some such hoidy-toidy douchery? What stands out in this ass-kicker is the violence, which is plentiful and painful. If you find better descriptions of carnage, send that shit the Nerd's way. On second thought, I'm not sure I could handle shit much rougher than The Fighter. Yeah, I just said that shit. This shit hurts that fucking much.
Plus, this shit is funny, moving and full of awesome lore. There's shit in here about the good old days of traveling fighters going town-to-town betting they can take any man in the county along with shit about modern underground fighting circuits where they douse their wrapped fists in lye or worse. I mean, there's enough awesome fighting lore in this bitch to fill a hundred books. Then there's shit about steroids and boxing training and...goddamn this fucker Davidson has a ton of fucking cool ideas.
Crime novel or not, the Nerd guarantees that The Fighter will give you your sick noir jollies from page one onward. It's violent, it's challenging, it's sick, it's sad, and it's a fucking fast-as-all-hell read. Trust the Nerd, dear readers. It's not like he's asking you to pick up a quilting mystery here, for fuck's sake.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
There’s only one word for Gary Phillips’ The Jook and that word is fucking cool (you had to believe the Nerd would spice up said word with some Grade-A poop-mouth, am I right?). This fucking beast is just oozing with cool. I haven’t read any other shit from Gary Phillips yet, but if his other books are half as cool as The Jook, you can bet the fucking farm the Nerd’s gonna be on top of that shit toot-sweet.
The Jook tells the story of Zelmont Raines, a Super Bowl-winning wide receiver that’s fallen on hard times. He’s just been sent home to
Surely he can make the team and start living the high life once again, fucked up hip or no.
But then a pretty little thing working for the owner of the Barons named Wilma Wells starts whispering in ol’ Zelmont’s ear, saying that there’s an easier way to gain the green. Namely, by ripping off some mobbed up NFL big wigs for cool millions…
So you have this classic femme fatale noir story with the neat twist of the main character being an ex-bad boy (well, not so “ex-“ I suppose) football player. That’s enough for me to recc this shit right there, but Phillips also loads this motherfucker up with tons of crazy sex scenes and gloriously violent, cinematic action sequences. Then there’s the fucking nutso heist shit towards the end and…
So yeah, you could say the Nerd dug this shit.
But what really makes it all work is Zelmont Raines himself. He’s telling his own story in a voice that is tres fucking cool, every other line dripping with distilled badassery. Zelmont’s a cocky motherfucker with flaws out the ass, but he’s so fucking enviably awesome (only a God like Jim Brown or Fred Williamson in the seventies could truly do him justice on the big screen) that you’re totally with him to the bitter end.
Like a double of Maker’s on the rocks, The Jook goes down easy then rocks your shit something fierce right afterward. It’s straight up hot sex, blazing action, and classic noir told in a bracingly modern, unabashedly cool way (I wish there were more words capable of expressing “cool”-ness, but there just fucking isn’t, dear reader).
So trust the Nerd, dear reader: your ass wants some of this shit right here. Your ass wants it in the right fucking now.
Friday, June 12, 2009
And this shit is fucked up, dear reader, very much so. You're probably wonderin what the Nerd is doing reviewing some "literary"-sounding short story collection, thinking I've gone NPR on your collective asses or some shit.
But what especially makes Knockemstiff work for the Nerd is that it feels like you're reading a novel. I mean, yeah, I like a good short story as much as the next guy (Plots with Guns, Thuglit - that stuff consistently rocks my shit), but more often than not I'm not gonna pick up a book unless it is a novel (though I did love Expletive Deleted which was...goddamn it, what is the Nerd without hard and fast fucking rules!?) and Knockemstiff works both as something you dip into at your leisure or read in a fury like a kick ass novel.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Jason Starr’s Fake I.D. was just released in the
You see, dear reader, I’m scared for where Jason Starr appears to be heading. His last book (sans Ken Bruen, that is) was The Follower, no doubt a good book but way too “mainstream thriller” for the Nerd’s taste. Starr’s biting brand of yuppie douchedom peppered many of the main characters and the suspense was top-notch, but in the end it was a very traditional stalker novel, a plea for a new, less fucked-up readership.
Shit, The Follower even got a mass market paperback deal after long runs in hardcover and trade form. Obviously, somebody in the publishing world thinks Starr’s on the right track.
I wish the dude all the success in the world and everything, but I can’t seem to get excited about his new one, Panic Attack which is coming in August. I’ll fucking read it, for sure (no doubt it’ll be suspenseful as all hell, it’s what the dude does, for fuck’s sake), but I no longer have that raging nerd boner for his work like I used to, that old faith that his shit will go all the fucking way.
Fake I.D. is the old Starr doing what made me love him in the first place. It’s dark, nasty, hilarious, and undeniably hard-fucking-core.
It’s the story of bouncer, degenerate gambler and wannabe actor Tommy Russo, a cocky son of a bitch who thinks he’s got the world coming to him. One day at the track he gets an offer to join a horse-owning syndicate from a fellow degenerate gambler. Thing is, his stake in the ownership would be ten large, a lot of money for a
Nobody writes asshole protagonists quite like Starr. He could really give a fuck whether you like Tommy Russo, just knows that the dude’s actions and general scumbaggery are going to draw you into the story regardless.
And that’s because, like I’ve said all along, the guy is a master at suspense. Fake I.D. is one of those rare books where you’re saying Oh fuck! and Oh shit! aloud through the whole thing, your heart just fucking racing from the tension. Goddamn it felt good to read some of the old nasty shit again.
I knew that Starr couldn’t do these types of books forever. There’s only so many ways to do his brand of updated yuppie James M. Cain novels before any self-respecting author would want to move on to something different. Personally, the Nerd could read this shit till the fucking cows come home and never give a shit about the same-y-ness in the fucking least.
But that’s, you know, just me in all my fucked-up glory, I suppose.
So pick this shit up toot-fucking-sweet, dear reader. Fake I.D. is a pleasant (in a nasty and sick sort of way) trip through Jason Starr’s old stomping ground: Noir York (Jesus fucking Christ - did I just type that lame shit?). And oh yeah: fingers well-fucking-crossed that Panic Attack is more Fake I.D. than it is The Follower.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Dennis Tafoya manages to have his cake and eat the shit out of it too with his debut novel Dope Thief. What starts out at as an ass-kicking noir actioner eventually turns into a thoughtful, honest and Pelecanos-esque (Pelecanish?) search for redemption. The real fucking kicker of it is, dear reader, is that Tafoya is able to pull that shit off in fucking spades.
Dope Thief is the story of Ray, a thirty year old ex-con who rips-and-runs a la Omar Little with his junkie pal Manny. The pair try to keep it light, never killing, and stealing only from small-time players around
First off, let the Nerd say that Tafoya is top-fucking-notch at writing action sequences. The violence in this beast is fucking cinematic as all hell and there are some set-pieces in here that bring to mind Charlie Fucking Huston – no joke, dear reader. There’s a scene where it’s Manny and Ray versus two pissed off bikers that just fucking rocked my shit – almost as hard as the molester house shoot-out in Gone Baby Gone did (the book, not the film, hands-down the best action sequence I’ve ever read).
Now you’re thinking, Silly Nerd, a novel cannot thrive on violence alone. What of the other elements of the text? Well, hoidy-toidy-pretentious-douche reader, here we fucking go:
Naturally, all this extremely well-done violence wouldn’t be worth the paper it was printed on if it weren’t for the reader caring about those that are affected by it, and Tafoya’s hero Ray is one hell of a complex protagonist. He’s smarter and wiser than the career he’s chosen for himself, where the most common retirement options are death or imprisonment. He’s also racked with guilt over a lover who died because of him back in his high school days, the pain of the loss fucking up all his present female relationships. Then his imprisoned father comes back into his life due to the old bastard being diagnosed with a terminal illness. And then there’s the bookstore girl that Ray falls hard for despite worrying that his father’s abuse of his mother means that he himself will be a piece of shit wife-beater…
So yeah, there’s a lot of shit outside of Ray’s crime life that is covered in the novel and that’s what makes the book really fucking sing. We grow to really care about him and become heavily invested in his efforts to leave his lawless days behind him. Thankfully, all that shit is handled with a sobriety that keeps shit from getting too touchy-feely lame on your ass. Like I said up top, dude’s Pelecanistic or whatever the fuck the term should be.
In case you’re just not fucking getting me, dear reader, I’m fucking well saying that you should check this shit out. Dope Thief is emotionally involving and bloody-as-hell to boot. What the fuck more could a crime fan ask for?