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Monday, March 07, 2011

I've just listened to two "Men Who Say PPPpfffftth To Most Responsibilities" books. I found yet another Lee Child mystery and a Stuart Kaminsky novel.

Always Say Goodbye, the Kaminsky novel, is maybe the 5th in a series? I've never read any of the others yet I never felt lost. I could tell characters who drifted in were getting that check-in sort of moment, when you see what's become of people who starred in other books. They didn't felt extraneous, though. That's pretty impressive.

I like the writing; I like the main character. He wears his depression like it's a talent but people in his life seem to call him on that. I can bet having that depression mentioned and stroked and cultivated in a series of stories would get old to read about. I should know -- I'm a depressive. It's like toothache. All your attention might be focused on it, all your thinking is shifted by it, but I'm not sure it's worth embracing as a person's self-definition, at least as the one most important characteristic. All right, depression might be a big chunk of the personality, but not really a skill. Okay? Okay.

The way secondary characters talked, like minor poets or college students, was fun. I liked little bits, like the security guard giving Lew an abridged version of his hopeless life. I enjoyed the fact that the whole plot was full of seams on purpose. Plastic seamless plots are easy for sure and I've read a lot of them.

There was a holocaust survivor popping up ("I'll show you something real to be depressed about") and she didn't make a lot of sense to the story and felt sort of thrown in. Never mind that all sorts of things are thrown in. That one survivor that didn't feel like a good fit was funny because I don't think she's from another book. Usually the people who are wedged in for no good reason are there to wave hello from the fictional past.

The secondary characters worked for me -- like the cheerful, up-for-anything, tow-truck-driving brother-in-law. And I loved the computer technician and musician who are forced by family tradition to be assassins. (Though that subplot about their father was sort of silly) The random messiness of the book is something I appreciate.

But anyway, the whole genre of Men With No Responsibilities is very appealing at the moment. I'm all wet from sucking up water from the flooded basement and I'm waiting for the guys who'll replace the fallen gutter. Those guys who live on the road or in a tiny rented room are looking real smart.

I'd say something about the Reacher novel, but hey, it's a Reacher novel. Seen one, seen many. He's more human instead of the avenging god he becomes later, because this was an early book. He does kill a few bad guys, but when it comes to fist fights he just breaks an arm or two. Actually I can't recall any scene where he smashes up five guys at once. It must be a VERY early one.

One spooky thing: a lot of the book is set in and around the twin WTC towers but of course there is absolutely no foreshadowing because this was written a year or so before 9/11. Funky.

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