Thursday, February 21, 2008

From Patrick

This is a nice forum for pimping books that normally might not make it into the regular booknews.

Richard Price. Lush Life (28 signed)I'm only halfway through the new Price novel, and already I can tell that it's gonna rate way high on my Top Ten of 2008 list. What's interesting to observe is how much today's generation of crime writers such as Pelecanos and Lehane have inspired and reenergized his work. Especially considering that Price himself obviously influenced these guys. The event that ties together the various strands of this epic is the shooting death of a bartender named Ike Marcus in Manhattan's Lower East Side. The crime is seemingly a random one, but NYPD detective Matty Clark is determined to prove that it just might be an inside job. Price approaches the crime from a variety of angles, and through the filter of different characters' perspectives, and, as always, he makes the city of New York come alive the way few writers can. Russell Banks calls Price "Our post-modern American Balzac," and Lehane overblows it a bit by gushing that "Price is the greatest writer of dialogue, living or dead, that this country has ever produced." Not sure I'd go quite that far, but he's damn good.

Nick Taylor. American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA

"At last, an exhaustive yet readable history of FDR's remarkable Works Progress Administration, which helped put the country to work during the depression and helped to raise the morale of a population that, as Taylor maintains, was not too far from violent civil unrest. I've always been an admirer of the WPA murals that once adorned hundreds of public facilities across the country, but I only knew a tiny bit of the whole story until now. Fascinating."

Allan Guthrie. Kill Clock. After writing Two-Way Split and Hard Man, Scottish hardboiled savant Allan Guthrie decided that he had more to say about the characters, so he's published a blitzkreig novella, available only in the UK, to finish things off. As he says: "So here we find Pearce taking his three-legged dog for a walk on the beach. Before long, his peace will be shattered by the police, ex-girlfriends, death threats, loan sharks, kidnappings, guns, two small children and a midnight meeting that's a matter of life and death." What's not to like?

Darby Penny and Peter Stastny (Photographs by Lisa Rinzler).The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases From a State Hospital Attic. ($25)

When it closed in 1995, Willard Pyschiatric Center in upstate New York had been in operation for over a century. As they were cleaning out the facility, workers found a sealed off attic chamber containing several hundred forgotten suitcases, onced owned by patients in the early to mid part of the 20th century. This book is focuses on the contents of 10 of these suitcases, and the authors manage to put together portraits of ten individuals who, for a variety of reasons, were institutionalized for life. Not only is it a revealing - and in most cases, shocking look at what passed for psychiatric care until fairly recently, but the book restores the dignity of these forgotten people.

To order any of the books on this page please call. 480 947 2974 or vistit

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