Saturday, February 14, 2009

Songs of innocence


I'm betting that Charles Ardai, whose first two novels were published under the name Richard Aleas, loves I, the Jury. I don't suppose on the surface that's probably an unlikely prediction to make about the founder of Hard Case Crime. One could likely as easily insert any of a number of other iconic hard boiled novels and seem as a likely a bet.

But maybe it really bugs him. I'm not sure. Maybe both.

Both Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence, his two novels about a young detective named John Blake, seem to echo it, to poetically reinterpret it.

Max Allan Collins says that he now sees the first two of his Nolan novels as one long novel, now published as Two For the Money, and having read it all in a sitting or two, I see why. Not that anyone couldn't tell you where one story ends and the other one started, even without the page marking the changeover.

These two Blake novels feel perhaps even more like one novel, although perhaps even more like two sides of a coin, companion pieces. My review of "Little Girl Lost" on its own was tepid.

Frankly, unlike some others, my review of The Godfather would be tepid, at least relative to current opinion. It's The Godfather Part II that places it into a perspective, comments, echoes and rephrases the original work and ideas in a way that makes it great. On its own, its still too close to the tawdry self-conscious Jacqueline Susann/Harold Robbins "bestseller" roots of Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather.

"Songs of Innocence" similarly holds a mirror to its predecessor. It re-examines it, comments on it, echoes its ideas back, rephrases, rethinks and causes you to rethink the ideas. It deepens the character and his struggle and makes it both more specific and more universal. There could be no confusing this John Blake with a character who is driven by the needs of the plot. The sadness that haunts him, the regret. The drive he has to solve this crime, which while driving the plot, also unveils his basic failings as a person, to those around him and to himself.

Look, I can feel this all as oversell myself. These are books that should absolutely be picked up just to fill some time on a lazy afternoon or why ever it might be you read mysteries and thrillers. Not the least of which because they deliver on what any normal person wants from that kind of book. My further excitement and examination, well, come back when you're done and see if you don't agree... I'd be especially curious if I'm the only one with this Spillane theory...


4 comments:

Jonathan Lapper said...

That audio thing is freakin' me out man! I want to put it on Cinema Styles but I fear I would start writing nothing but posts on farting and use words like "poopy" constantly just to hear them read aloud.

Neil Sarver said...

I enjoy it, probably more than I ought to. I am trying my best to not write for it, so don't make me all tempted, damn you!

Jonathan Lapper said...

I put it up on The Invisible Edge and I'm entertained like a simple child. Hearing the computer voice read those kinds of posts out loud is funnier to me than it should be. The most recent one on indecent exposure seemed made for it. Thanks Neil.

Neil Sarver said...

Anything I can do to make the Internet sillier can only make me happy.

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