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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
Cypress Grove - James Sallis I initially notched this up as an atmospheric but convention-bound noir, with enough familiar landmarks and the occasional clunky bit of generic dialogue to make it a pleasurable but unsurprising read. Wrong.

Sure, there's the much-touted allure of Sallis' prose, line by line lovely whether casually noting a thrum of cicadae, pecan shells thick on the ground, or the stunned look of a man who's just had a knife shoved up under to pin his bottom jaw to the top. None of it's gratuitous or showy; the book feels lean yet detailed. Even more, I loved the wit which made descriptions advance the narrative, condensing setting & character & tone -- e.g., "The bartender shrugged, shoulders rising momentarily from a tier of low-end vodkas and gins to one of call Scotches and subsidizing."

Even more, I loved how this book reminded me of--even compared favorably to, even occasionally surpassed--the great noirs of Goodis, Himes, Thompson, Willeford. Forget plot, which has a reasonable hook but is there mainly so Sallis can hang all those other trappings of noir. It gracefully trips up some expectations, plots itself around and about and then into a reasonably-satisfying conclusion. But the dance is the thing. Good book.