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Monday, November 28, 2016

Forecast for the Weekend: Rainy and Noir



We had a truly soaking weekend here in Valencia. It must have rained more in the past two days than in any good year here. I spent almost the entire weekend reading and finished three books, all of the same nature. Crime fiction isn’t really my thing, or at least that was what I thought but perhaps now it is. I think that my problem was that I didn’t like bad crime fiction—and I still don’t—but one book I read sort of turned me around on the genre.

Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto is a noir pulp masterpiece. I loved this book. It's the second best book I read this year behind Mario Vargas Llosa’s La Fiesta del Chivo so that's pretty good company. This was one of the few times since I’ve had my eReader that I really wanted a paperback in my hand. I’d like to have a copy of this, preferably with an old time drawing of a guy with a gun and a gal on his arm.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what is wrong with most TV series and this only pertains to those that began with promise and went south at some point. I think that it is vital that the creator know from the very start just how long is needed to tell the story. You can’t expect to drag out a series to make more money and think that the story can be watered down indefinitely. I’m not the biggest fan of True Detective but I liked the fact that it had a very definite timeline. Galveston is as tight as a great short story and there is hardly a line that could be removed without taking away from the whole.

The set-up scene was better action than I’ve come across in a long time. It’s believable, frantic, and terrifying. Violence isn’t fun like you see it portrayed in most films. Violence has consequences so wipe that fucking smile off your face, for starters. No one is smiling in this scene which our narrator tells us lasted all of five seconds.

From here we have the classic getaway with a not-too-experienced prostitute. They are just getting to know each other as Roy drives into the rest of his life, wherever that may be and we think it won’t matter much anyway seeing how he’s a goner already.

She faced me and laid her knees on the seat. “It’s starting to feel like I never needed a drink as bad in my life as I do now.”

“Well, you’re young yet.”


Broken people in a squalid landscape with no way out except the only way possible in this kind of story. While most of us haven’t lived in this seedy world we’ve probably driven by it and made a point of not stopping.

She took us southwest and eventually into vine-clotted dells, past trailers scabbed with rust. Another gas station was fronted by broken foundation stones where the pumps had been ripped out, glassless windows, almost entirely overtaken by weeds and kudzu. We passed the school football field, and leaving the town proper, a black billboard posted off the road read in white letters HELL IS REAL.

OK, maybe that last bit was over-kill but I loved the “scabbed with rust” part. Roy and Rocky don’t have the faintest glimmer of hope but at least Roy sort of knows what hope means. He even considers it if not for himself perhaps for the two girls.

It was the sort of place for people with nowhere else to go, a motel where the occasional guest checked in to commit suicide, people too absorbed in their own failures to pay much attention to us.

It’s a pretty creepy joint but it’s a great place to park a reader while we wait for the shit to hit the fan, and it always does.

¡¡¡Spoiler Ahead!!!

There was only one place in the narrative where I pushed the book back and questioned the author, when Roy won’t testify against Stan to save the girl. I just thought that he would have wanted revenge more than saving the kid who was probably going to be a mess anyway. Brilliant resolution. I finished the last page in a cafĂ© near my house. I just set my eReader down on the table and I wanted to clap out loud except I felt like someone knocked the air out of my lungs.

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