Tommy Red, Charlie Stella. As good as any of his books. Maybe better. I had more to say a few weeks ago.
What Do You Care What Other People Think? Richard Feynman. I don’t go in much for hero worship, but if I could spend a few hours talking with anyone, alive or dead, I’d pick Richard Feynman. His attitude toward life and learning and how to conduct himself seems to me to be pretty much the way to live. Fascinating in every way imaginable. This is the book where he discusses his work on the Rogers Commission that investigated the Challenger disaster and the insights he unveils through that are, as always, more than expected, no matter how much you expected.
The Digger’s Game, George V. Higgins. I can see why Higgins isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Even more dialog-driven than The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Digger tells the reader nothing and shows damn little. You pick everything up from listening to conversations to piece things together for yourself. This is much like what it must have been like for Higgins as a prosecutor listening to wiretaps. It requires investment on the reader’s part—the dialog is so oblique in places it’s almost obtuse—but the payoff is always there. Writers who want to improve their dialog skills need to read every Higgins book they can find, whether they like his style or not, just to understand what he’s doing.
The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler. It’s been a while since I came back to this one. It’s Chandler’s masterpiece and never fails to remind me why I feel in love with his writing. My appreciation of Chandler as a person diminishes a little every time I learn more about him, but when his writing was good, no one was ever better.