Friday, March 2, 2018

February's Favorite Reads

White Jazz, James Ellroy. My trip through the LA Quartet is complete and I’m a better person for it. Ellroy’s novels are flawed in general—American Tabloid the notable exception—by overcomplicated plots. White Jazz avoid this for the most part, but the ending is still a somewhat frantic wrapping up of loose ends. The best written of the quartet, Ellroy is in full control of the style and voice he’d use to such advantage in Tabloid. He’s an acquired taste and not for everyone, but no other writer makes me revel in the excesses of his prose like Ellroy.

The Given Day, Dennis Lehane. Maybe the best book I’ve ever read. This or The Grapes of Wrath. I read The Given Day when it first came out and loved it. It’s even more powerful ten years later after having watched recent American history play out. True, Lehane had the benefit of 90 years’ hindsight when he wrote the book and wears his heart on his sleeve, but the way he weaves facts and fiction makes points about the eternal struggle of the haves and have nots few others can. I’ll have more to say on this after I’ve had some time to digest it.

All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire, Jonathan Abrams. Reads like Connie Fletcher’s best work, though guided and far more introspective. Abrams gained access to just about every surviving member of the cast and key members of the crew; it’s a shame Robert Colesberry and Robert Chew had passed. The nuggets here are too many to cite, and to cite too few would do the book a disservice. Besides, I don’t do spoilers. All fans of The Wire need to read this.

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