Kathleen's Reviews > The Dead Do Not Improve

The Dead Do Not Improve by Jay Caspian Kang
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Jul 03, 12

Read in June, 2012


In The Dead Do Not Improve, protagonist Philip Kim inhabits the frightening, seedy underworld of San Francisco, one the tourists never see. When his neighbor, who he calls the “child molester” for no good reason, is murdered, and he unwittingly makes eye contact with a member of a notorious street gang, Kim holes up in a shabby hotel.
At the same time, police offer Sid Keanu Finch, who is investigating the woman’s murder, encounters troubles of his own. When he goes to interview Miles Hofspaur, an “entrepreneur” in the pornography industry, Finch ends up passing out after ingesting a bee pollen smoothie at the Being Abundance Cafeteria.
Author Jay Caspian Kang writes in a cynical, stream of consciousness style that is somewhat reminiscent of Holden Caulfield, especially when main character Philip Kim remembers his drug-enhanced college days on the East Coast in that dreamy way that college often invokes, as he throws in random and sometimes obscure titles of books and movies. But he is definitely writing from a California perspective, even referring to a Virginia – North Carolina Interstate highway as “the” 85, a pure southern California idiom.
As he carries the reader along with small bursts of text, Kang reveals Kim’s and Finch’s inner thoughts as they both struggle to discover who has killed an innocent woman, and why Philip Kim is now a target.
Written is short bursts of prose that populate the chapters, Kang uses an energy and originality in his writing to paint of picture of people and a city that seem to be just below the surface of reality.

(As published in Suspense Magazine)
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