A fun but unusual read. Interesting cast of colorful characters that would be the envy of Elmore Leonard but written in an experimental style. AlthougA fun but unusual read. Interesting cast of colorful characters that would be the envy of Elmore Leonard but written in an experimental style. Although the way the sentences are stripped down to their essentials in a way that calls James Elroy to mind, this is no White Jazz. Strange how few of the reviews here comment on the clipped, abbreviated, sentence-fragments-are-the-new-sentence style. The voice is also odd, like a Greek chorus of Southern California bros who only care about weed, sex and real estate, which sounds kind of horrible now that I've put it that way. All of which suggests I didn't enjoy the book, which isn't the case at all, and I'm very much looking forward to reading Winslow again. ...more
A beguiling story with a first-rate premise that yields a slippery story that won't be pinned down until the last page. It's got hidden history, amnesA beguiling story with a first-rate premise that yields a slippery story that won't be pinned down until the last page. It's got hidden history, amnesia angst, super-spies and sleeper agents, and a villain who will stop at nothing. I've never read Meltzer before but am a big fan of Goldberg's literary fiction so I'll go on a limb and say it's a great pairing that has produced a firecracker story that's immensely readable. ...more
In each of the twelve stories Carswell engages in a bit of literary impersonation by adapting the style of a wide range of writers, from giants like HIn each of the twelve stories Carswell engages in a bit of literary impersonation by adapting the style of a wide range of writers, from giants like Herman Melville and Flannery O’Connor, to lesser-known writers like Leigh Brackett, who wrote The Empire Strikes Back, crime writer Chester Himes and the enigmatic Yoko Ogawa.
Take this passage from the opening of the Ogawa-inspired “The Reticent Corpse”:
“A crisp sun shone on the Naoshima seashore. Winds tore through red rental umbrellas like a stampede of sheep, stirring up the scene of coconut oil and rotting seaweed. The tide was out, and the jetty was half-exposed, a jagged edge against the surface of the sea.”
Carswell weaves not only the author’s prose style, but the authors themselves into his stories. Chester Himes hustles for money in the south of France, Flannery O’Connor goes on a very bad date. The author even works a writer named Sean Carswell into the collection’s final tale.
This doubling is underscored by an additional link: Carswell introduces a ukulele into each of the stories. Here’s Carswell channeling Raymond Chandler in “The Bottom-Shelf Muse”:
“There was something unmistakable about the model’s eyes, something unapologetic, something that seemed to look right through me even as they were looking away. These same eyes watched Cissy’s fingers dance a Twelfth Street Rag on the neck of a banjo ukulele.”
Packed with references both obvious and obscure The Metaphysical Ukulele is a literary jukebox loaded with hits. ...more
**spoiler alert** What at first seemed like the familiar yet engaging story of an anti-hero worthy of Richard Stark fizzled out into a disappointing c**spoiler alert** What at first seemed like the familiar yet engaging story of an anti-hero worthy of Richard Stark fizzled out into a disappointing conclusion. Nick Mason is a career criminal who was locked away for a long time yet finds himself released after five years of federal time. Why he's out, what he did to get locked up, and what he will or won't do to stay out of jail concerns the plot of The Second Life of Nick Mason. There are two big problems with Nick Mason: he's not very smart and he's kind of a dick.
The second he's let out of jail he's followed by all kinds of people: the good guys who might be bad guys, the bad guys who might be good guys, and the bad guys who are definitely bad guys. When Nick needs to tail someone he goes into super stealth mode to make sure that no one is following him, but when he visits his ex-wife, his daughter, his old friends from the neighborhood, or the woman he's having sex with, he just pulls up in his muscle car inviting all kinds of death and destruction to follow in his wake. And yet he has the temerity to tell the woman he's having sex with that he will never let anyone hurt her. Come. On.
It's a shame because it's a fairly well written book with all kinds of lore about Chicago. Ultimately, I don't think that this kind of character belongs in a world that he knows so well and vice versa. He needs to be like Richard Stark's Parker and never, ever mix business with pleasure.
I'm looking forward to reading Hamilton's Edgar-winning books, The Lock Artist in particular, but I don't think I'll be back for Nick Mason, #2.