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10 april 2021

The Digger's Game is a deliriously well-written novel, almost entirely in dialogue, George V. Higgins' tribute to the impertinence and obscenity of the American language.     read more

2 april 2021

"La Grande Perche" means something like "The Beanpole": a tall gaunt woman in her middle years, whom Maigret arrested long before under circumstances that still trouble him. Instead of coming along quietly, Ernestine la Grande Perche had stretched out on her bed "nue comme un ver" as the French put it, naked as a worm (12), daring him to drag her away.     read more

25 march 2021

I have announced, several times, that I was reading the last Montalbano novel, but Riccardino really is the last; there will be no more … unless somebody finds another manuscript or scrap of one in the late Andrea Camilleri's desk and markets it as the final final Montalbano.     read more

14 march 2021

The Time It Never Rained (1973) is usually considered Elmer Kelton's best novel. It is a flawed novel, but a fascinating one. It attempts to be true to direct experience of work and nature, while filtering that experience through the conventions of genre fiction and ideology. It is packed with rhetoric and contains big dollops of pathos and sentimentality. It attempts to unpack racism but remains stuck in the very paternalism it critiques; it tries to give Mexican-Americans a voice but constantly strains that voice through the prejudices of its Anglo protagonist. That protagonist, Charlie Flagg, is its only believable character. But having a central character, whose intense willpower refracts the view we get of everyone else in his orbit, puts The Time It Never Rained in the company of some of the best fiction, not just of the West but … of the West, I suppose.     read more

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