When was the last time you read a great movie? Here's one with "silver screen" written all over it. And starring all your favorite actors. Well, actual...more
When was the last time you read a great movie? Here's one with "silver screen" written all over it. And starring all your favorite actors. Well, actually look-alike doubles of your favorite actors. Who are tired of making a measly living getting hired out for mall openings that want Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts on hand, or covering for a star who's relapsed into rehab, or even porn films. But who wouldn't pour money into a film with Pitt, Roberts, Robert De Niro, Danny De Vito, Samuel Jackson and George Clooney in it? Especially if they couldn't tell the difference between the real stars and Memorex? What could go wrong with a hustle like that? Count the ways. And while you're finding out if this gang of doppelgangers can get the money from the even more crooked Hollywood players and exeunt, you get to watch their antics along the caper, both hiding and flaunting their faux famous personas, setting up the caper in a glitzy S&M/D&B brothel, handling two budding romances and a couple of gay tiffs between Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman (or at least it looks that way), and juggling evil producers while avoiding their own melt-down. And of course, since you're reading a movie, it has a happy ending. But happy for whom?
This is the first novel from film-maker Rory Cantwell, adapted (surprise, surprise) from a script, and it has some newbie rough spots. But that's so beside the point. It will move you along and keep you entertained, and you just know you'll someday get to say, "The Double Hustle? I read the book," (less)
The political issues aren't that vital to enjoying this book. I have lived and worked at the border for many years, and written about it professionally...moreThe political issues aren't that vital to enjoying this book. I have lived and worked at the border for many years, and written about it professionally as novelist and journalist. And I get damned sick of all the parvenu writers coming in for ten minutes and writing disinformed crap about the border area. Even good writers like Wambaugh and Jefferson Parker have blown it.
The smart thing about "El Gavilan" is that it's not set at the border, except in some pastiche flashbacks. So the author can stick to what he knows and get it right... and tell an interesting story that isn't dependent on the "immigration" buzz for it's value to you as a reader.
Because the massive presence of Mexicans and Central Americans in Heartland USA is a reality, and possibly more important that one goes on in border states. That's an issue in "El Gavilan", but not so much as to over-ride the story. And it's a good story that keeps you wondering where it will go. The characters are interesting and complex enough to escape stereotypes. Sheriff Hawk, the title character, is a good example: a lawman totally opposed to illegal immigration and those who coddle and abet it, yet personal friend to illegals and in the business of selling them fake ID's so he can keep track of them.
It's not world class writing and plotting (whatever that would be). Many plot turns are clumsily telegraphed, then revealed as a surprise. (The dead girl was beaten by a guy with a lot of rings, the evil sheriff wears a lot of ring and keeps his hands in his pockets. Gee...) One thing I chuckled at was a touching story of cross-border love marred by the idea that Mexican girls are easier to "score" than American girls, a famously false premise, unless there is cash involved. This was one of the few incursions of this book into Mexico and an illustration of what I mean by it being better for writers to stick to the milieux that they know.)
But it's a good read, satisfying, and thought-provoking. Most people would rather have opinions on immigration than think about it, so it's good to see some balance. (less)
It's a rather notorious book that was sold clandestinely on beaches for years, but now has its own website and everything. (Except an ISBN...it's stil...moreIt's a rather notorious book that was sold clandestinely on beaches for years, but now has its own website and everything. (Except an ISBN...it's still to underground for that)
One thing you learn right away (aside from the obvious list of words that people use but dictionaries don't) is the way in which slang reflects culture as it really is.
For instance, the book points out that the world "padre"--literally "father"--is used as a synonum for "cool". Whereas "madre"--meaning "mother"--is a depreciative word, almost a slur, unprintable in newspapers in it's slang sense.
Does that give a cultural insight, or doesn't it?
But mostly it's just information on how to say "brewskis" and "babes" and "quit bitchin" in Mexico. And, of course, the nasty bits, as well.
And lots of fun to read, guaranteed laughs along with the education and degradation.(less)