Kleene Star (kleenestar) wrote,
Kleene Star
kleenestar

Reading List 2009 (22/55)

Flood, Andrew Vachss
Strega, Andrew Vachss
Blue Belle, Andrew Vachss
Hard Candy, Andrew Vachss
Blossom, Andrew Vachss
Sacrifice, Andrew Vachss
Down in the Zero, Andrew Vachss
Footsteps of the Hawk, Andrew Vachss
False Allegations, Andrew Vachss
Safe House, Andrew Vachss
Choice of Evil, Andrew Vachss
Dead and Gone, Andrew Vachss
Pain Management, Andrew Vachss
Only Child, Andrew Vachss
Down Here, Andrew Vachss
Mask Market, Andrew Vachss
Terminal, Andrew Vachss
Another Life, Andrew Vachss
Shella, Andrew Vachss
Born Bad, Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays, Andrew Vachss
Batman: the Ultimate Evil, Andrew Vachss

Andrew Vachss is the master of mean, the Godfather of gritty, the hardcase of hardcore. (But in that case why am I writing like James Ellroy channeling late-night fifties radio shows?) He’s got a flair for a well-turned phrase - even if he does tend to reuse the best ones from book to book. His books are rooted in some very nasty parts of our culture, and shine a light where a light badly needs shining.

Okay, so Vachss can be a bit formulaic - but why worry when it works? Child abuse + Burke-as-knight-errant + hot but damaged kick-ass chick + cast of eccentric sidekicks = compelling fiction, most of the time. Vachss is particularly good at conveying the seedy underbelly of New York, but he does a good job of taking Burke out of his depth, too. Burke trying to get by in rural Indiana, for example, is played both for amusement value and for cultural commentary.

Vachss does tend to reuse plot elements from his novels in his short stories, or maybe vice versa, so I wouldn’t recommend reading the novels all in a row followed by the short stories - you won’t enjoy them much. Still, I definitely plan to read these again someday. I just might take a little more time between books!

I would not, however, read Batman: the Ultimate Evil again. As clever a conceit as Batman fighting child prostitution is, it’s neither good Batman nor good Vachss in execution. Not recommended.

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