Wednesday, November 10, 2010


First novels with series characters (Rene Shade & Jack Irish, respectively) by authors who have since become more ambitious -- not by writing longer or abandoning genre formats, but by digging deeper and writing better.

They have a fair amount in common. Both are very firmly rooted in a distinctive, rough locale (the Ozarks, Southeastern Australia) and are intimately aware of distinctions of neighborhood, dialect, clan and family, favoring the sort of claustrophobically close-knit communities in which all the characters seem to be at least distantly related. Both are mas macho sports aficionados, Woodrell steeped in the lore and legend of boxing, Temple of horse racing. (Temple also writes the best descriptions of dogs I think I've ever read.) And both have compressed and rich prose styles designed to make those settings seem dense and menacing.

That, and the fact that their most recent novels (here and here) are innovative eye-openers, right up there with the best of Kate Atkinson.


Tulkinghorn said...

My wife loved the new Atkinson Brodie novel (out here next March but available now at a good price-- $13.00 plus postage--from Amazon UK)

Digging deeper in the same field is a lesson that many say Dennis Lehane should have heeded before writing the somewhat pretentious last three books -- two of which made pretty good movies, but still.

David Chute said...

Though I like all three, I doubt there's much overlap with fans of these two. Not until Jackson Brodie visits a hillbilly crank den.