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Group Reads > February 2015 - The Long-Legged Fly

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message 1: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 820 comments Mod
This is an unusual crime/suspense novel. The story unfolds slowly over several decades and it's interesting to watch our detective age. There's not a lot of action here, but the author does present a fascinating, bourbon-fueled look at New Orleans.


message 2: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 398 comments I was somewhat disappointed by this. The writing style was sufficiently gritty but the story skipped around too much for me to settle into the story. There was an intriguing books withing books meme, though when Lew started writing detective novels. At one point he said something along the lines of "Reviewers were even mentioning, Chandler, Hammett, MacDonald and Himes when discussing my books. They shouldn't have." The last sentence was true enough. Bottom line; the prose is good but the story was choppy and didn't flow.

One unexpected treat for those listening to the audio recording is the blues guitar riffs at the beginning and end. They are either actual recordings of Blind Willie Johnson's music or a damn good imitation.


message 3: by Mohammed (last edited Feb 03, 2015 02:28AM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) This is not a straight, linear PI story. Its non-linear story about Lew, his city. It works great for me because of the prose, the character is great to me.

This is for fans of Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor books. Another modern great PI series more about the character,his city, him talking about other literature etc

I dont read quality authors like these two for simple plot,story.


message 4: by Mohammed (last edited Feb 03, 2015 02:27AM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Melki wrote: "This is an unusual crime/suspense novel. The story unfolds slowly over several decades and it's interesting to watch our detective age. There's not a lot of action here, but the author does prese..."

I have read 3,4 books and he goes through New Orleanes modern history,social issues of his times along with Lew Griffin. Its more like Treme, The Wire about the city itself.

Like i said in my earlier post in this thread you dont read this series for action,PI story. Its focused on the ficitonal memories like story of Lew Griffin, his hometown. Its almost autobiographical since Sallis is similar in his affection for New Orleans.


message 5: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new)

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
I liked the prose, the mood better than the plot. It's not so much a mystery as a character study.


message 6: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 398 comments Algernon wrote: "I liked the prose, the mood better than the plot. It's not so much a mystery as a character study."

Yep.


message 7: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
I am planning to read this book as soon as it gets here -- then hopefully I'll have something to add into this discussion. BTW -- I'm a huge fan of Bruen's Jack Taylor series.


message 8: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new)

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
I haven't read any novel by Ken Bruen yet. He has been on my wishlist for years. I might nominate him for April group read.


message 9: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 820 comments Mod
Algernon wrote: "I liked the prose, the mood better than the plot. It's not so much a mystery as a character study."

Yeah, it's all that, but I will say that it's been over two years since I read this one and I STILL REMEMBER IT. Maybe that says more about my memory (or lack thereof) than it does about the book. Anyway...what was I going to say next?


message 10: by Mohammed (last edited Feb 03, 2015 11:40AM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Algernon wrote: "I liked the prose, the mood better than the plot. It's not so much a mystery as a character study."

Well put Algernon that is what im trying to say, its a character study. The mood,the prose, getting inside the mind of Lew is the strenght. Its like Griffin was writting his memoirs, we read it afterwards.

I have hard time remembering, the PI cases, the actual plots of the novels but i rememer the mood, Lew himself, the setting so vividly.


message 11: by Mohammed (last edited Feb 03, 2015 11:44AM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Algernon wrote: "I haven't read any novel by Ken Bruen yet. He has been on my wishlist for years. I might nominate him for April group read."

He is so great in Irish sense, so much black humor, great rambling prose that will be weird for regular PI,crime fans. Jack Taylor cares more about messing around in Galway than the PI cases he gets. Its about Galway, the authors hometown just like Sallis.

Frankly it starts as Scudder like PI series about an alcoholic detective trying to work despite his messy life but it becomes hard to describe noir ala Derey Raymond rather than PI novels. He loves James Crumley which you can see in his stories.


message 12: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Nancy wrote: "I am planning to read this book as soon as it gets here -- then hopefully I'll have something to add into this discussion. BTW -- I'm a huge fan of Bruen's Jack Taylor series."

If you are Jack Taylor fan you must read it. Its similar type different PI series, great prose, talking about alot of things that isnt about crime,PI plot. Only difference is Lew Griffin is less depressing, mentally stronger than Jack Taylor.


message 13: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Mohammed wrote: "Algernon wrote: "I haven't read any novel by Ken Bruen yet. He has been on my wishlist for years. I might nominate him for April group read."

He is so great in Irish sense, so much black humor, gr..."


Huge Derek Raymond fan as well. He's one of the bleakest writers ever.


message 14: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Nancy wrote: "Mohammed wrote: "Algernon wrote: "I haven't read any novel by Ken Bruen yet. He has been on my wishlist for years. I might nominate him for April group read."

He is so great in Irish sense, so muc..."


I have read only the first Factory book and it was to put it in not so PC way bloody brilliant :)

Of course Raymond, that series was qouted several times by Bruen, Jack Taylor in their series so im the kind of fan who loves Derek Raymond type noir done well.


message 15: by Josh (new)

Josh Stallings | 3 comments Ken Bruen is bleak heart breaking beauty. Can't get enough of him. I've been wanting to read James Sallis, what's a good book to jump in on?


message 16: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new)

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
I have heard that Drive is more accessible, but I only read this month's pick, and loved it.


message 17: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 820 comments Mod
Josh wrote: "Ken Bruen is bleak heart breaking beauty. Can't get enough of him. I've been wanting to read James Sallis, what's a good book to jump in on?"

Mohammed would be a good member to ask. He's read a lot of Sallis.


message 18: by Mohammed (last edited Feb 08, 2015 04:10AM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Josh wrote: "Ken Bruen is bleak heart breaking beauty. Can't get enough of him. I've been wanting to read James Sallis, what's a good book to jump in on?"

Bleak heart breaking beauty well said :)

Sallis is start with his book The Long Legged Fly which is book 1 in Lew Griffin series. Book 1 and book 2 The Moth should show you what kind of series, author he is. Drive is good,lean,mean heist noir but it is not as complex as this series.


message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul | 910 comments Just received an email from my local library to say a copy of The Long Legged Fly is waiting for me to pick up. Hopefully i can contribute to this thread in due course. Been wanting to read Sallis for sometime.


message 20: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Starting today. I only have sporadic read time though -- weekend guests!


message 21: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Umm -- did anyone else notice the time error in chapter six? The Black Panthers didn't exist until 1966 and he's got them in 1964.


message 22: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 398 comments Nancy wrote: "Umm -- did anyone else notice the time error in chapter six? The Black Panthers didn't exist until 1966 and he's got them in 1964."

Were they actually identified as Panther members? I got the impression that they were more Pantherish than Panther.


message 23: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Umm -- did anyone else notice the time error in chapter six? The Black Panthers didn't exist until 1966 and he's got them in 1964."

Were they actually identified as Panther members? ..."


He actually says part Panther.


message 24: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Glasser | 58 comments I enjoyed the story and read it very quickly, kind of a pallate cleanser compared to the other books I've been reading lately. I liked the character and thought it was interesting that even though he met a woman he loved, who gave his life a sense of purpose, he was so drawn to the city he hated that he stayed and let her go.

I also find it interesting that this is a series character considering we see this man age through several decades. Are the books chronological?

After I read the book I looked up the author and was pleased to see he wrote Drive. I never read it but I loved the movie.


message 25: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Reading it quickly for me is impossible. There is so much here. There are all manner of literary and musical references to suss out that end up being appropriate to the story. The city and Griffin seemed to be tied to one another in more ways than one, and Lew himself...well, he's not that easy to fathom. And I'm only on page 122.


message 26: by Richard (new)

Richard (richardv) | 45 comments I really enjoyed this when I read it. I agree that at times, the structure makes it a challenging read, but I agree with Samantha that Lew Griffin is a fascinating character to follow. Sallis is a great writer and I plan on continuing the series!


message 27: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new)

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
I read this a couple of years ago, but I remember the early blues references like Robert Johnson.


message 28: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Algernon wrote: "I read this a couple of years ago, but I remember the early blues references like Robert Johnson."

Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith...then there are poets whose works have a bearing on Griffin's current situation as they're mentioned; Chester Himes' early (non-crime) works about race and how to solve the racial problems of the time as well as other African-American authors who took on the same issue, the focus on History with a capital H ... there's a LOT going on in here.


message 29: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 398 comments For those wwho haven't had the chance to enjoy Robert Johnson, here's Crossroad Blues.


message 30: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Samantha wrote: "I enjoyed the story and read it very quickly, kind of a pallate cleanser compared to the other books I've been reading lately. I liked the character and thought it was interesting that even though ..."

I dont think so because the books are set in different times back and forward in the series. More present times when the book was written or decades ago in the younger days of Lew. The timeline is not so important compared to Lew, the people in his life. He knows the city so well, the same people he sometimes know for decades.

Its very non-linear but still a personal story that you see him change through the years. I cant even remember which book was set in which times.


message 31: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Nancy wrote: "Reading it quickly for me is impossible. There is so much here. There are all manner of literary and musical references to suss out that end up being appropriate to the story. The city and Griffin ..."

You are getting the series like i did, read it slowly for all it contain, references to books,music etc

Lew i cant fathom even after 4 books. He is not easy to get because sometimes you read about him in way different times. He is no moral hero like Scudder but not selfish destroyer of his own life like Jack Taylor.


message 32: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Mohammed wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Reading it quickly for me is impossible. There is so much here. There are all manner of literary and musical references to suss out that end up being appropriate to the story. The cit..."

I try to read all books that way.


message 33: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Reading these comments makes me thing I need to read this series. I am huge Ken Bruen fan and lean more Ross MacDonald than some of the traditional, hardcore noir. These books all seem to sit in th..."

Call it literary -- that's the best way to describe it. So much better than average fare.


message 34: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (last edited Feb 10, 2015 06:06AM) (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Mohammed wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Reading it quickly for me is impossible. There is so much here. There are all manner of literary and musical references to suss out that end up being appropriate to the story. The cit..."

On p. 129 of my copy, Walker paperback ed., the father of the "retarded" boy (sorry -- I'm not changing original wording to be PC) says that Lew has a face showing "pain and confusion', but also he can tell from Lew's face that he's a good man. I think so far that's how I see him, but then again, I'm only at page 138.

I do think though, that he does have some self-destructive tendencies -- the drinking, for example.


message 35: by Mohammed (last edited Feb 10, 2015 07:07AM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Nancy wrote: "Mohammed wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Reading it quickly for me is impossible. There is so much here. There are all manner of literary and musical references to suss out that end up being appropriate to t..."

For me it depends on the book. If its an ambitious writer, like you said the best PI,noir writers to me personally the ones as you called it literary. Ken Bruen for the prose style,humor,character. Sallis for everything happening around Lew, the ambitious non-linear stories.

Block and Scudder i can read them just walking around NYC streets to get inside the worldview, philosophy of Scudder. Him talking about his times,social isssues is more interesting than the actual PI cases.

Also sometimes i want to read simpler,fast paced criminal noir action Quarry and Max Allan Collins. Not his best writing but his most fun to read. Nate Heller books ar better written but Quarry killing people for money id twisted fun to read. I have respect for all different kinds.


message 36: by Mohammed (last edited Feb 10, 2015 07:06AM) (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Nancy wrote: "Mohammed wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Reading it quickly for me is impossible. There is so much here. There are all manner of literary and musical references to suss out that end up being appropriate to t..."

Trouble i have hard time remembering exact scenes but i remember he has issues with drinking, other personal issues. But i liked from the start he wasnt too low, complete addict. Maybe because i have been seen how low Jack Taylor got in his series that everyone looks healthy,normal in comparision ;)

This series is very memorable but its doesnt have big important arcs like Ken Bruen series i remember more the voice of Lew and the colour, mood of his city,times. The is no The Dramatist case, Tinkers, Magadalena case, Headstone, Priest, The Devil case etc


message 37: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
I pick up books with no expectations -- and I'm much more of a people rather than plot oriented reader. To me a good writer uses plot to examine what people do, how they act around the action, what makes them tick.


message 38: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (last edited Feb 10, 2015 08:48AM) (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Finished. I'm intrigued enough that I plan to pick up the other series novels.

What I see is that in The Long-Legged Fly, Sallis gives the reader a bit of a challenge.

potential spoiler ahead for those who haven't finished: (view spoiler)

Great choice -- loved all of the literary/musical refs, and the changes in New Orleans and the world Griffin experiences throughout the quarter of the century this book covers.


message 39: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) Nancy: I'm also people reader more than plot but that depends on the field I'm reading. Some books I read for authors Who are great in my eyes and I expect better things. The authors I read often I expect better and better writing. Its only average or normal ,not all-time favs I have no great expectations. Sallis have written good, ok books that was slight. bigger disappointent because he has been brilliant in Drive, Lew book 1-3. I think its important not to accept weak books by modern greats because then how can we rate their best work's??


message 40: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Mohammed wrote: "Nancy: I'm also people reader more than plot but that depends on the field I'm reading. Some books I read for authors Who are great in my eyes and I expect better things. The authors I read o..."

That's why I'm a little picky in reading choice.


message 41: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 257 comments Sallis is a skilled writer--his first chapter makes you wonder who is speaking. The image is so graphic you need to find out, esp. when the second chapter is Lew speaking. Each chapter is short, and this increases its impact, esp when you know the following one will be just as graphic. One learns a lot of history and sociology about one of America's most uncanny cities--and not one long-winded phrase in doing so. Talk about moving a story along through dialogue, monologue, and events. Reminds me of another skillful story teller, William Lashner.


message 42: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Jay wrote: "Sallis is a skilled writer--his first chapter makes you wonder who is speaking. The image is so graphic you need to find out, esp. when the second chapter is Lew speaking. Each chapter is short, an..."

I found it interesting that (view spoiler).

Thanks for introducing me to this writer!


message 43: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new)

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
all this lively discussion here made me go back to Sallis and start the second Lew Griffin novel: Moth. I know it's not the subject of the dialogue here, but I believe it's as good as the first one, so If you enjoyed this month's pick, don't stop. keep reading!


message 44: by Richard (new)

Richard (richardv) | 45 comments Just like Algernon, I'd read this a while back but this conversation has given me the kick in the butt I needed to continue with Moth as well! It's fascinating so far and has given me an even bigger appreciation for The Long-Legged Fly.

When everyone is finished with Fly, I'd love to hear more thoughts on the ending!


message 45: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 3 comments Loved this. Lew is a really interesting character - very existential, a very deep thinker. The time jumps were fascinating, like captured vignettes from his life and how he'd changed, not so much focused on the one case. I, too, loved the movie, Drive, so I'm more interested in reading the book now.


message 46: by Nancy, Fallen Angel (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 482 comments Mod
Michelle wrote: "Loved this. Lew is a really interesting character - very existential, a very deep thinker. The time jumps were fascinating, like captured vignettes from his life and how he'd changed, not so much f..."

I've never seen the movie Drive, but even if I was so inclined, I'd probably want to read the book first. That's just how I work.

I thought the forward movement in time in this novel was very well done. I don't think many authors could pull that off in just one book -- my guess would be that in the rest of the series,the author will draw from these different time periods and flesh out Griffin more thoroughly. Now I have to read the rest of the novels to see if I'm right!


message 47: by Richard (new)

Richard (richardv) | 45 comments I don't think it's available as an ebook in the U.S. I believe that there are U.K. Kindle versions from No Exit Press.


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