Sunday, April 26, 2009

10 Good Reasons to buy Adrian McKinty's Fifty Grand

Adrian McKinty's latest book, featuring a Cuban detective named Mercado who has come to Colorado on a single-minded mission, is coming out on April 28th. Here are a few reasons to plunk down your hard earned dollars for it.

1.You’re a fan of high octane, action-driven, well-plotted suspense novels that pull no punches.

2.You’re a huge fan of McKinty’s earlier novels and have been marking off the days on your calendar until you can get his next one.

3.You’d like to be a fan of McKinty’s earlier novels, but seeing as for some reason they’re not all in print, you’re willing to start with one you can actually get.

4.You don’t know much about Cuba, but wouldn’t mind learning a little if it was presented in entertaining tidbits.

5.You know a lot about Cuba, but are always interested in intelligent commentary from someone who’s been there, whether or not they agree with you. (Okay--this description corresponds to pretty much nobody. I'm still leaving it in.)

6.You’re going to Cuba now that the restrictions have been lifted and need a page turner to read on the plane.

7.You love well-crafted fiction with the occasional lyric passage.(Yeah, yeah--I can live in hope that this is going to persuade anyone, can't I?)

8.You are a starlet just making your way in the world, and, having been invited to the Colorado resort scene for the weekend by a minor celebrity, would like some tips on how best to fit in.

9.You are intent upon revenge and would like some ideas for the best way to go about planning it.(Starlet, this reason might be for you, too--post-weekend.)

10.You have this thing for hot, Latina maids.

I deplore the last two reasons, of course, but if it means you are going to go out and buy the book, well, who am I to stop you? I mean, heaven knows, I'm no Detective Mercado.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dust Tracks On a Road, by Zora Neale Hurston

I'll start off by saying that Their Eyes Were Watching God by Ms. Hurston was a mind-blowing experience for me when I read it some years ago. I think it's a one off--not just in terms of Hurston's own works but in terms of all literary works anywhere. I have the deepest, most abiding respect for writers who not only know their material when they see it, but know what to do with it. No one else on earth could have written Their Eyes.... That was Zora's vocation. I have this kind of idea that writers who manage what she did with this book have reserved themselves a special place in heaven. Whether I believe in heaven or not is another matter.

Dust Tracks On a Road is not its peer. I cannot imagine how a memoir written by an imaginative writer really could be. Making this up as I go along, though with very little basis in fact whatsoever, I'd say that fiction writers resolve their pasts a little differently than memoirists--getting bogged down in 'mere facts' leads to trouble for them. Hurston's story is interesting enough as she describes the unique place where she was born--an all-black community in Florida--and the reasons that compel her to leave it behind her. But there are many moments in which she is not entirely candid with us--a strategy that probably had good reason to it at the time. However, this makes for a somewhat deceptive account of her adult life, and what is worse, in terms of the tale itself, it gets flatter and less insightful the further along she goes. My feeling about it, and about much autobiography quite frankly, is that the long ago past has been analyzed and distilled effectively, but the more recent past has not, and either can't or won't be.

I am not really trying to dissuade anyone from reading this book. It is lively and entertaining, and I doubt you'll be bored. But if you really want to find the voice of Zora, don't waste time. Go straight to Their Eyes Were Watching God and dive right in.