For fans of true crime - or even crime fiction since this is so beautifully written and structured - as well as those interested in Japan. One of my fFor fans of true crime - or even crime fiction since this is so beautifully written and structured - as well as those interested in Japan. One of my favorite types of hybrid; the non-fiction work that is deeply personal / internal, veined with the character and intellect of the author, whilst also being expansive, capturing the penumbra around the subject. Touches topics as varied as the history of Korean's in Japan, the Japanese legal system, the mizu shobai (the "water trade", a euphemism for the Japanese night time industry which is fueled by alcohol and a dizzying variety of sexually charged "entertainments.")
Parry links victim, perpetrator, author, and all those involved in the case through the common task of trying to fill in a person shaped whole, to detail a silhouette so persuasively that we understand what is not there. An impossible task ... and the futility and melancholy of it runs throughout.
Hammett leaps up the list of my favorite crime writers ... the rare example of a writer that transcends the genre, like Ellroy, Cain, Richard Price anHammett leaps up the list of my favorite crime writers ... the rare example of a writer that transcends the genre, like Ellroy, Cain, Richard Price and a handful of others. ...more
My reading's gone from LSD (Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) to LDS. A quick read that operates on quite a few levels, all with fair success: the basic thMy reading's gone from LSD (Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) to LDS. A quick read that operates on quite a few levels, all with fair success: the basic thread, the forensic recounting of a brutal double murder, mother and child; the necessary background, a recounting of the history and basic tenets of Mormonism; the argument, that there is a thread of violence running through Mormonism; and the ancillary explorations that dip into the religious building blocks of America, often rife with millenialist brimstone and a bright line between the redeemed and the damned, and the Mormon role in settlement of the west.
The part that is likely to get the most resistance, and the Mormon church did respond before the book was released with a lengthy condemnation of the book, is the argument regarding the violence of the religion. The embrace in some quarters of violence by the religious is by no means unique to Mormonism - the book has a great quote by Bertrand Russel condemning all organized religions while conceding that they do require our admiration for assisting in the development of a fixed calendar and mapping out celestial movements, but nothing more ... no acknowledgement for their contributions to peaceable existence, charity, humility, empathy, etc. This statement of violent commonality is not to say that the Mormon flavor isn't unique and that the argument is facile, tautological. He discusses concepts of blood atonement, the Mormon's old testament view of God, the history of persecution (often brought upon themselves - but when you're the chosen people, you're obviously right - and how it's built into their "exodus" Moses of the American southwest mythos), and, to some degree, stemming from the doctrine of polygamy. Many will think of this book as being "about" polygamy ... but I'd say that the connections between polygamy and violence could have been explored more thoroughly. For example, no consideration is given to the idea that a competition for the ability to propagate may be part of the cause of violence. Competing with other men, cowing women into submission, "stealing" families, incest, etc. Nor does he discuss how the message of "building a kingdom" can drive some people out of mainline Mormonism and into Fundamentalism.
All told, great read. If only for the intense oddity of Mormon history. Literally left me astounded every 15 - 20 pages. Now I feel compelled to read Executioners Song and Mikal Gilmore's Shot in the Heart....more
A quick read, mostly satisfying. I guess expecting Hammett or Jim Thompson was aiming too high. But after The Wanderers, this just felt thin. Not theA quick read, mostly satisfying. I guess expecting Hammett or Jim Thompson was aiming too high. But after The Wanderers, this just felt thin. Not the same intent, but views on the brutal and brutalizing side of life....more
Reads very much like a season of The Wire - for good and for bad. Mostly good, though there are a few moments that verge on scripting, or character tuReads very much like a season of The Wire - for good and for bad. Mostly good, though there are a few moments that verge on scripting, or character turning to caricature, in a way that may work much better visually. The brilliance of the dialogue goes without saying. More importantly, there is brilliance in the gradual collection of set pieces, almost the building of a world from props, or more accurately, urban detritus and abandoned wreckage - Harry Steele's repurposed synagogue, the synagogue collapsed (to be rebuilt, renewed, shined and polished elsewhere but incorporating the best of what was not destroyed utterly in the death rattle of the original), the underground "refuge" of previous generations of immigrants (the modern city literally built on / over them). This is, at its best, a story of revenants, the echo of founding myth (like a new minted dollar passed down, creased and dirtied) ... afterimages of people, populations, structures and how they can turn the present, the living, into their reincarnations. Or, perhaps, with the thread of Judaism woven, dybbuks.
Can't wait to read the Dempsey trilogy; just ordered Clockers, Freedomland, and The Samaritan from Amazon. I'm in the deep end....more