Every week I look at the New York Times bestseller list. Because I think I should. Or because it’s Sunday morning and I’m feeling lazy. Or something. I know that the list is compiled from bookstores out in the provinces, but still…who is buying/downloading all that Glen Beck? Is the Bay Area an island of sanity, or a little insane? Bay area bestseller lists don’t list right wing commentators or romance novelists. Perhaps we’re out of touch. I’m biased, but I think the Moe’s list is a great snapshot look at what serious readers are buying. Steig Larsson’s there, and Michael Lewis, and Tinkers…but also Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures in Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, and Bike Snob : Systematically and Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling.
I reread Low Bite a day or so after finishing The Girl Who Kicked Stuff series. There’s fun, enjoyable mystery writing—I need a once-a-week-fix—and then there is the real thing. Every so often I have to read something a little deeper—and a little more satisfying. The women in Sin Soracco’s prison novel kick and get kicked, too. The difference is in the prose. Soracco’s narrative voice is scary real, stripped down in the classic noir style, but not stylized. First published in Barry Gifford’s original Black Lizard series, this tough short novel stands up to the best of that list: Thompson, Williford, Goodis.
Recently Leonard Gardner read at Moe’s along with other contributors to The Fighter Still Remains: ACelebration of Boxing in Poetry and Song . He read a short piece from his 1969 boxing novel Fat City. I’ve read it at least three times. Some novels are made to be read every ten years or so. As the reader matures, the novel and its characters seem to reveal new secrets. Gardner read an excerpt about a Mexican boxer taking a train up to Stockton for a fight. A beautiful, sad scene. I may not wait another ten years before I read Fat City again.
(Reposted from 9/2/2010)