Elmore Leonard - The Hot Kid, 2005
I loved every page of this great book. I thank Chris Larry for making me borrow this. For some reason, I didn’t think I was going to love Elmore Leonard. I was wrong. Set in the 30’s, this book is full of gun molls, hapless gangsters, shining US marshals, famous bankrobbers, and sparkling dialogue. The prose seems so effortless. All the glowing things that Alex J. said about Philip Roth can be said for Leonard as well. This is a book written by a man who has been at this for awhile and knows exactly what he’s doing. It reminded me of Jim Thompson novels and of Miller’s Crossing. In fact, I would love to see this book made into a movie by the Coen Brothers.
Plus, how can you not like a book that has hundreds of lines like the one uttered by the marshal Carl Webser to a thug who he has been amicably chatting with and who had nonchalantly left his gun on the table in front of him: “You gonna stick your hands out to take the cuffs, or you want to see if you can pick up that gun?”
I'm super excited that Leonard is currently writing a serialized story in the NY Times Magazine using the same characters from this book.
I love Chris Larry and I love Elmore Leonard.
Erich Maria Remarque - All Quiet on the Western Front, 1929
From my grandfather's library.
I can’t believe that I made it to the age of 32 before I read this classic. It is amazing to me that a book this horrifying doesn’t immediately end all wars. The truths spoken in this book resonate loud and clear in 2005, young kids having their youth destroyed by aloof politicians. It must have been an amazingly optimistic time to actually believe that The Great War was the war to end all wars. While Johnny Got His Gun is all piss, vinegar, and bitter anger, this book is more pragmatic and full of everyday sorrow - how even the carnage of war can become merely a routine.
Nick Flynn - Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, 2004
Youthlarge read a chapter of this book in the New Yorker and liked it so much she bought the book.
This memoir has quite a memorable hook. Flynn is working at a homeless shelter in Boston in the 80’s when his father ends up staying there for awhile. He has had no contact with his dad in years. The story, dialogue, and situations are all pretty damn interesting. A good quick read.
Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy, 1985- 1986
I had never read any Auster before but Youthlarge convinced me to read this. I’m glad she did. I remember liking the movie Smoke back in the day and I also was aware that Auster lives in Park Slope. But for some reason I hadn’t bothered to read any of his stuff. This book is great. It makes me want to read some of his more recent work but I’m not sure where to begin. Each of these quasi-detective stories are linked whether it is by recurring characters or by theme. Auster does an amazing job of equating the life of writers with those of detectives. This engaging and odd book was a great end of summer read.
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