Classics in September is ongoing at Crime Fiction Lover, and readers may be interested in my first CIS piece: The Top 5 Women of Noir. This is a companion to my earlier piece listing five of the top hardboiled writers. As before, I’m very interested to see if you would add anyone to the list (too many writers, too few spots!). So feel free to leave a comment here or there. And keep an eye on Classics in September at CFL.
Posts tagged Megan Abbott
It isn’t like I need books. I have plenty, and quite a few I’ve yet to read. But somehow they’re hard to resist. Is it a cliché to compare them to crack? Give me something more addictive, then, you would-be Chandlers. I would say that it’s more addictive than good bourbon on a warm night, but that would bring up memories I’m happier to let fade. So I’m going with crack—less guilt for me.
And I’m surrounded by crack dens. I just found out there’s another used bookstore in the area with pulp and hardboiled (they spell it “hard-boiled”) sections. I’ve managed to resist going there, which is no mean feat. Just give it time. My resolve is inversely related to my disposable income.
Besides, I haven’t finished the bender from the last den of iniquity I visited. The local League of Women Voters had a book sale. Had their latest, I should say. They’ve been doing it for decades to raise money. They’ve been having an annual book sale almost as long as there have been women voters. And I was happy to give them my money.
I thought it would probably be worth my while to visit the book sale during one of the three days it was running. Until two weeks before the sale. The library was collecting donations and I’d see what people were dropping off when I went there. I was walking into the library. There was a trunk, and donated books stacked up in it. On top of the pile was Megan Abbott’s The Song is You. I was like Walter Neff seeing Phyllis for the first time. I had to have that book. All that noir voluptuousness on the cover was irresistible.
The end of the semester was a flight to the finish, as usual. But I’m recovering nicely with the help crime fiction, and have already finished a couple books over the weekend (I can read at a pretty decent clip when research projects and grading don’t interfere). I hope to be writing a bit more, as well. So watch this space—with any degree of luck, it will be more interesting than it was over the past few weeks.
One book I was eager to read was James Sallis’ sequel to Drive. Driven does not disappoint. And yet. Drive was a taut novella, spare and elegant in its crushing brutality. Sallis’ laconic prose was economical and precise. He didn’t paint the picture with a brush. He carved it with a scalpel. The wounds bled. But he didn’t make any more incisions than he had to.
Sallis’ skill has not abated one jot in Driven. Again we delight in the efficient, bleak storytelling. And yet. The story is brilliant. And yet.
Unlike Drive, Driven is obviously not a stand-alone story. I think Megan Abbott is correct, Sallis is leading us to Driver’s inevitable demise, and each brush with death that Driver escapes will only make us mourn the end more. But Driven neither the beginning nor the end. And at only 158 pages, I felt Sallis had ample room to expand his tale. He could fit Drive, Driven and at least one more book the approximate size of the first two within the confines of a Michael Connelly novel.
Still, is that a fault of the book, or the author? I’m not sure. I want more. But that might just be because Sallis is a damn good writer. For better or worse, this damn good writer parcels out his saga in short novellas. I may not like it. I want more. But what can I do? Sallis doesn’t leave me any choice. There’s no telling when Driver will hit the skids. But when he does, I’ll be rubbernecking.