Friday, July 06, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 6, 2012

Two weeks from today is Georges Simenon Day on FFB. Let me know if you would like to do a review of one of his works here if you don't have a blog.

Friday, October 12 will be Agatha Christie Day.
(I will be away the two Fridays before that so I pushed it ahead a bit.) I am thinking of Ed McBain and Patricia Highsmith after that although I am open to a writer from another genre should he have a adequate back list for us.

The Assistant, Bernard Malamud

Malamud was certainly one of the favorite writers of my youth and this is my favorite of his novels. Although a good case can be made for the stories collected in THE MAGIC BARREL.

In this one, an elderly grocer is an anachronism in his neighborhood. Business is bad. After a robbery, he takes a fellow up on his offer to serve as his assistant. Frank is actually one of the robbers and his attempts to ameliorate his crime go astray when he becomes involved with the grocer's daughter.

This is a dark book. Its great strength lies in its portrait of a man wrestling with his inclination to do evil and its portrait of the Jewish community of the 1950s in New York City.

Although THE NATURAL probably won Malamud his fame, this book written in 1957 is just as satisfying without the supernatural elements.

Ed Gorman is the author of the Sam McCain and Dev Conrad series. He also writes short stories, westerns and edits anthologies. You can find him here.

Hard Man by Alan Guthrie

Allan Guthrie's Hard Man is actually a couple of books, both of them excellent. There's the storyline with Pearce, the Guthrie man we've met before, avenging the murder of his dog in a serio-comic (and occasionaly black comic) pursuit of a lunatic named Wallace. And then there's Edinburugh, the city where it's set, itself.

The violence of the story plays well against the violence of the city, which Guthrie manages to make seem much smaller than does Ian Rankin. This is because Guthrie and his multiple cast of characters all inhabit a very small psychological (if not physical) section of the city. If Rankin's cop is looking for something resembling truth, Guthrie's characters are looking for nothing more than satisfying the immediate needs of their rather amusingly diseased minds. Jim Thompson with the heebie-jeebies.

This is a quick, compelling novel that proves that Guthrie is as restless as his characters. I don't think he's a writer who'll settle for doing the same book over and over. This is a calculated and successful departure from his first two books. Interesting to speculate on what he'll do next. Harcourt/Otto Penzler

Yvette Banek
Joe Barone
Brian Busby
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards
Curt Evans
Jerry House
Randy Johnson
Nick Jones and Nick Jones
George Kelley
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis/Barry Gardner
Todd Mason
J.F. NorrisLinkDavid Rachels
James Reasoner
Gerard Saylor
Ron Scheer
Bill Selnes
Michael Slind
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang
Prashant Trikkanad


Anonymous said...

I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read Malamud. I know I'm in the minority when I say I was not a big fan of THE NATURAL (the movie, that is). I hate that mystical slow motion crap.

I will definitely do a Simenon review. I've got over 100 books read to choose from but I will try and read a new one.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sorry that I can't get rid of the you tube thing.
You will like THE ASSISTANT of the short stories in THE MAGIC BARREL, Jeff.
Don't read THE TAVERN ON THE SEINE. Not one of his best for me.

Deb said...

Patti--I will be doing an FFB for both the Simeonon and Christie weeks. I'm not sure which Simenon I'm going to do--I had a Maigret all written-up and then I read a couple of non-Maigrets that I really enjoyed--but for Christie I'm definitely going to write about ENDLESS NIGHT. I will email them to you a few days before the due date.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Patti. I'll start with the short stories, now that I'm down to the last 3 in the Cheever book.

Jeff M.

Gerard said...

I hate that mystical slow motion crap.


Nick Jones (Louis XIV, the Sun King) said...

Thanks as ever for the link! I've added a link that Fletch post. Monday's post on Richard Unekis's The Chase might be of interest too: that really IS a forgotten book!

Yvette said...

I must say I've never read Malamud either. My only excuse is that no one can be expected to have read every author ever mentioned by any blogger on any respective sight. How's that?

Patti, did you notice that the heroine in the book I reviewed for today is named, wait for it, wait for it......PATRICIA ABBOTT. Yup.

Count me in for Simenon and Christie.

Todd Mason said...

I still need to read THE ASSISTANT...THE MAGIC BARRELL was certainly my first book of his, and the collected or selected stories followed soon after. A number of the novels are still in various boxes, alas...likewise, I've read Guthrie short fiction, in CRIMEWAVE (iirc) and elsewhere, but no novels yet. So much ahead of us all, and time fidgets.

Deb said...

Todd, I think it was Schopenhauer who said, "We buy books in the hopes we will live long enough to read them."

pattinase (abbott) said...

Time fidgets. I like that. I think it fidgeted less fifty years ago.
I need to live another hundred years because I know the fate of my books should I go earlier.