Thursday, December 22, 2022

Fall's Favorite Reads


A bit of a slump in my fall reading. I read about as much as usual but didn’t love as many books as I do in a typical quarter. Those I did like, I liked a lot.


The Glitter Dome, Joseph Wambaugh. Not close to my favorite Wambaugh but he’s so good it still makes the list. Why is it not my favorite? It had all the things I love about him, but it reads to me as if he was trying to outdo himself. It’s a little like my feeling about Quentin Tarantino, that somewhere along the way he decided he’d rather make Quentin Tarantino movies than good movies. This reads like Wambaugh decided to write a Wambaugh novel without just letting it be a Wambaugh novel. The difference between Wambaugh and Tarantino is that Wambaugh gets away with it.


Life’s Work, David Milch. An honest and unflinching memoir of one of the great TV writers of our time. Milch studied with Robert Penn Warren at Yale and broke into television with Hill Street Blues; his first script won a Humanitas Prize. He went on to create several other shows, most notably NYPD Blue and Deadwood. It’s a fascinating story, though an uncomfortable read, of how a man’s demons can not only inspire great art but also interfere with it. Highly recommended for Milch fans and those who want to understand some of what drives a writer.


The Ride-Along, Frank Zafiro and Colin Conway. One graveyard patrol shift with a cop and a skeptical citizen who may or may not have her own agenda. The book examines current policing controversies in detail and from multiple angles. Both collaborators are former cops with open-minded evaluations of the profession. The only way it might have been better was if one of the writers was actually a civilian with the same issues with law enforcement the civilian in the book has. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest of current police issues.


Big Maria, Johnny Shaw. Like reading a novelization of a good Shane Black movie, except set in the desert. On an Army artillery range. Picture Harry Dean Stanton (when he was alive), Gil Birmingham (Hell or High Water, Yellowstone), and maybe Alan Ritchson (Reacher) looking for gold hidden in the Big Maria mine, now somewhere in the Chocolate Mountains and meeting an AWOL soldier, a starving cougar, war games, artillery practice, and an exploding burro. No one combines action and humor better than Shaw.

1 comment:

Colin Conway said...

Thank you for THE RIDE ALONG shout-out, Dana! We appreciate it.

And I'll give BIG MARIA a try, too. I read my first Johnny Shaw novel a couple months back (THE UPPER HAND) and enjoyed it. This one sounds like a rollicking good time.