Norwood, Charles Portis
This was Portis' first book and I can see the growth that took place in his writing between this and TRUE GRIT.
The book follows its protagonist on a misadventurous road trip (driving a car across country) from his hometown of Ralph, Texas, to New York City and back. During the trip, Norwood is exposed to a comic array of personalities and lifestyles.
Right from the get go the dialog in this is terrific. Norwood is a likable character and his eventual romance a winning one. But somewhere along the line it ran out of steam for me. The desire to keep the ball in the air with humor and oddball characters and situation for the length of the book felt forced or strained.
If I had read this before reading TRUE GRIT, would I have enjoyed it more? I am sure I would have. But TG is such a tour de force that anything would pale in its wake. And this one did.
DOGS OF THE SOUTH awaits me but I think I will let it sit a while longer.
Ed Gorman is the author of the Sam McCain series of novels and the Dev Conrad, series of novels about a political consultant. You can find him here.
Blood Marks, Bill Crider
Ed here: I believe that time will judge this novel an enduring classic.It's rare to see a writer take a sub-genre as over-worked as the serial killer novel and make something completely new out of it.
But Bill Crider has done that with Blood Marks.
The milieu is working class Texas and
the cast a group of realistic characters living believable lives and with the killer at work dying believable deaths. The writing is simple and
forceful and evocative of its era and its social strata.
And the remarks from the killer are as dazzling and deranged as any you'll
find in the entire sub-genre. I'd put this on the same shelf as William Goldman's No Way To Treat A Lady--that much a slap in the face to
wake you from the slumber inspired by all the other hackneyed serial killer novels. A triumph.
Elisabeth Grace Foley
Rob Kitchin and Rob Kitchin