Later on, I'm hoping to enroll it in the KDP select program where it's a free download for the first five days, but right now it's priced at 99 cents. All I ask is that you bug every breathing person you know to go out and buy as many digital copies of "Reprise" as they can, that you become my walking advertisement, neglecting meals and showers for days in a row just to convince people to buy my work. (In reality, just you sharing a link to its amazon page on your Facebook would make me overwhelmingly happy enough - we can talk about the Leasure consumer zombie syndrome later).
I really do hope you enjoy this work.
What if your family vanished without a trace?
Len Rossdale is a rock star coping with the price of new found fame.
During a celebrity’s costume party held on October 31st of 1992, Len's wife Olivia, along with their newborn child Tanya, disappears. All of the authorities hired to trace the two come back empty-handed. For the next twenty years, the aging icon Len leads a remote life, scarred by the traumatic loss. His band has dissolved and gone their separate ways.
However, the second biggest change in his life is about to happen. Len meets another woman named Rachel. Len finds himself falling in love with this stranger. What he does not know is that she possesses a dark secret, one which will leave him scarred forever...and she may also contain information about the family he thought he would never see again.
'Beautiful Ruins' conjures up that very feeling. It is mixed with lyrical imagery, fully realized characters, exotic settings such as the Coast of Italy and Old Hollywood, and is interspersed with eqaul parts funny diatribes and tragic musings. It explores what all of great literature should, which is the reality of the human condition. Quote: "What person who has enjoyed life could possibly think one is enough? Who could live even a day and not feel the sweet ache of regret?"
Is it a little too self conciously literary? An argument could be made. It brings to my mind the historical works of Gore Vidal and the effortless prose of Erskine Caldwell.
At one point, Walter describes the aesthetic of some of his favorite writers: "Hemingway's stoic detachment, Dos Passos' ironic tragedies, Celine's absurd black hearted satires." This summarizes what Jess Walter's overall goal on writing may be.
This book deals with serious issues without bombarding the reader with morose spectacle. Exemplary quotes:
"People can handle an unjust world; it's when the world becomes arbitrary and inexplicable that order breaks down."
"He didn't think of Heaven as a smiling place. If mortal sinners went to Hell and venal sinners like himself went to Purgatory, then Heaven had to be full of no one but saints, priests, nuns, and baptized babies who died before they had a chance to do anything wrong."
"Our names are writ in water anyway, as Keats said, so what's it bloody matter?"
"Italy (is) a great epic poem, Britain a thick novel, America a brash motion picture in technicolor."
"Cowards die many times before their death. The valiant never taste of death but once."
Beautiful ruins encapsulates people who are successful in the culture of LA but miserable in their personal lives, "failed writers but successful drunks." As a Lake Tahoe local for the past sixteen years, I found one of the main protagonists excerpt from a screenplay about the Donner Party (simply titled Donner!) quite amusing.
A scene that stood out to me is when a male character visits a woman that he loved as a young man who has become a prostitute. The dark humor and tragic, brutal way in which his naivete towards her falls apart is rendered with an incredible craftsmen's outlook.
I think that anyone who enjoys literary works, historical fiction, and stories which reflect the richness and sadness of life should read Jess Walter's masterpiece.
Book review: The Cut by George Pelecanos.
Pelecanos. The name is synonymous with legend, inspiration, influence, aspiration, at least to me and many other would be writers of crime. The reasons as to why are pretty simple. Dialogue smoother than silk, heartfelt character development, realistic action sequences, and well researched facts about the world of criminal investigation.
Since George Pelecanos has that rare gift of creating unique protagonists unlike any other, he infuses them with a sense of practicality and distinctive poetic rationalism.
How to describe Spero Lucas, the heart of the novel "The Cut." A Marine who served in Iraq, whose past I wish was just a bit more detailed (despite the amazing ending paragraphs). I think his character is best summarized by this quote from The Cut:
“He felt, somewhat, as he had upon his return to the States: no duties, no mission, no cause.”
Lucas is a man who likes to keep busy, much like his prolific and multi-talented creator. I love "The Cuts" simple, Elmore Leonard inspired sentence structure.
"Right As Rain" would be in my top books of all time.
"The Cut" doesn't quite level up to that prior book I just mentioned, in my opinion, but then again, most books don't. Nevertheless, it's still an impressive work of contemporary crime fiction.
Anyone who has read this writers work knows that it is not a stretch to call him the most natural living writer of cultural obsession within dialogue found in Noir fiction since Tarantino. Reading books, watching movies, listening to music with a decent glass of bourbon in your hand - the characters of Pelecanos appreciate the small stuff.
I think most modern crime readers can easily agree upon the idea that Connelly has earned his place among the legends he admired when he started writing, notably Chandler and Hammett (who he still references in his works in various subtle ways, such as naming a street after one of them in this very novel).
A surprising amount of the novel deals with Bosch's relationship with his 16 year old daughter - a premise that feels as if it could be boring, and yet it parallels the kind of double life police lead. Is that sort of contrast new to the genre? Of course not. Does it still feel relevant in Connelly's hands, despite how the home scenes often have a striking resemblance to John Updike at various intervals? Definitely.
I am fairly confident Connelly has an international readership, and yet Bosch feels like a representative of the bleaker side of California. 'The Black Box' opens up with a riveting description of the state of LA in the midst of the Rodney King controversy. He brings the period alive without loquacious indulgence, which can be mistaken for simplicity.
Personally, I enjoyed 'A Darkness More Than Night' much more, but no one can dethrone Connelly from his place in commercial west coast crime writing.
“The United States has a strip-mall sameness about it now. It's easy to criticize that--I often do--but maybe the appeal is that we all like what we already know. We claim to embrace change. But in the end, especially in these times, what truly draws us is the familiar.”
Quote also, in no uncertain terms, summarizes Cobens aesthetic.
The good thing about it is that it's central focus is the character David Martin, the protagonist of Zafons previous novel, "The Angels Game." Anyone who complains about The Angels Game having a non sensical ending (something I never agreed with) will have their questions answered with "The Prisoner of Heaven."
The bad things about it?
Do not get me wrong. Prisoner is a fine novel, if Zafons prior two works weren't such stunning examples of modern monumental cornerstones of craft. It is a good novel, but not a good Zafon novel.
Maybe it's because I'm biased. The Shadow of The Wind and The Angels Game were immersive works of ridiculously high quality mystery fiction, ones rarely, if ever, equaled since. Zafon is high up among my favorite living writers because of his vast array of abilities and the alluring, gothic world he created.
Zafon is entitled to have written a book that falls short of his standards at this point after his literary accomplishments, but is he excused for having written a slim novel that reads like a parody of his style? I've seen that trend in authors who get too comfortable in their careers (a la, Pat Conroys work "South of Broad").
"Prisoner" was such a let down on a major level. Zafons epic vision of Barcelona isn't as fleshed out as the lush city is in his two other major works, mainly because the heart of it is a prison story - a setting that makes sense when considering the social and political reality of the historic settings, but an almost obscene choice of locale for a masterful storyteller such as Zafon, who can make an insane asylum, a street corner, and an ivory tower seem striking within a matter of one short chapter. I get it - claustrophobia has always been a theme within his material. Yet never has it been as dominant as it is here.
"The Prisoner of Heaven" feels like a rushed job on a weekend from the second best selling author in Spain.
Don't get me wrong. Fermin is an amusing character as always, even if the humor seems forced every once and a while. The ending is intriguing.
I will read the next Zafon novel, of course. I just hope he gets back into classic shape with the broad canvas which myself and many others prefer to see him use.