Been on the road for the last week or so, and spent the last few days readjusting to NY, life and work. Here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve been reading and currently enjoying.
The Kings of Cool by Don Winslow: I was a little hesitant at first with this book. I love, love, loved Savages. It was, hands down, my favorite book of 2010. So, the idea of going back in time and exploring the origins of Ben, Chon and O (timed to the release of the movie version of Savages, natch) kind of rubbed me wrong. I’m just not a big fan of prequels. I have an issue with already knowing how a character’s going to end up. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a necessary addition to the Savages story, and made me want to re-read that book. Winslow dives into the characters fully, and creates a fluid, kinetic and fun adventure that stands on its own as a great crime novel. I was reading this in the days leading up to me seeing Savages the film, which made for an interesting viewing experience. More on that later. Short version: If you dug Savages, Kings of Cool is on par and worth your time. Winslow isn’t trying to cash in. There was obviously another story to tell involving these characters and he’s told it.
Clockers by Richard Price: Speaking of books and their movie versions, reading Clockers has been a long time coming. I saw the Spike Lee joint a few years ago. It didn’t bowl me over. It was alright. I had just finished Price’s lovely Lush Life and foolishly decided to watch the movie before the book. Unimpressed by the movie, I put reading Clockers on hold. I feel foolish now. The book, not surprisingly, is much more nuanced than the film and adds a depth to the characters that just didn’t make it onscreen. The two leads — burnt out homicide detective Rocco and Dempsy “clocker” Strike — are two sides of the same tarnished coin, and their alternating narratives push the story forward well. Price is great at showing you life on the street — warts and all. This isn’t romanticized, and there’s a plot element that he adds early on that makes that very clear. I’m only about a third into the book, but it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a crime fiction fan. I’ll be seeking out the rest of the Price library, stat.
Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez: I’m a bad comic book fan. There’s no other way to explain why it’s taken me so long to get to Love & Rockets. I’m a huge Dan DeCarlo fan, obviously, and his influence on the Hernandez Bros. is obvious. But there’s more to it than that. I’m only a few chapters in and already hooked on, well, everything — art, story, characters. I don’t want to make any sweeping comments about the series yet, but I did buy the next two volumes of Jaime’s story to keep me busy for the rest of the summer. Thanks to Jacq Cohen at Fantagraphics and Sean T. Collins for their help and guidance on this huge gap in my comic book reading.