Mark Desrosiers's Reviews > Tough Luck

Tough Luck by Jason Starr
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's review
Jun 20, 10

bookshelves: fiction, overrated-drivel
Read in June, 2010

Reviews of Starr often refer to his "spare, snappy crime writing" and call him a throwback to Jim Thompson and James M. Cain. Here's an example: Finally, one afternoon after school, Sal Prada took Mickey to a pet store on Avenue N and Mickey picked out a Tabby. Mickey named the kitten Spunky. Mickey played with Spunky all the time and he took good care of him. He always made sure there was fresh food and water in Spunky's dishes, and he changed his litter box two times a week.

Seriously, that's just the beginning (or rather, middle): this novel has all the crisp snappiness of a Babysitter's Club installment, and slogging through all the stoopid paragraphs made my brain atrophy, I'm certain of it. Not to mention the two dimensional characters, the wooden dialogue, the retarded worm turning in the hapless protagonist's brain (which nonetheless does not derail the contrived mechanics of the plot), the Mister Rodgers urban sociology, and the irritating reliance on Kurtis Blow and Run-D.M.C. to provide the 1984 period details. On the whole, Tough Luck could turn into a pretty decent B movie, if it got some punched-up dialogue and some Tarantino-style rearranging. But even that thought pissed me off, because B movies end in under 100 minutes.

Starr is associated with the mighty Ken Bruen, so let's hope he can absorb a thing or two from him about randomness, depravity, lust, and the way people actually talk.
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