brothercyst: genre novel

Sunday, January 28, 2007

genre novel

It's a good idea to be more reclusive. I won't be going out socially as much in the coming months. There are too many books to read. The pleasures to be had from these books will probably be more intense and diverse than the pleasures to be had from "going out."

Last night I read the first "genre" thriller I've read in a while. Michael Connelly's The Poet. It's engaging. I read the last 400 pages in one stretch. Mostly the prose consists of what Martin Amis calls "dead sentences"--sentences that are purely utilitarian, that exist only to convey information. But from time to time there are pleasing moments, like when the narrator says of his parents:

I am also sure that since that time I have continued to disappoint them in the choices I have made. I think of these as small disappointments accruing over time like interest in a bank account until it was enough for them to comfortably retire on. We are strangers.
The plot--concerning a serial killer of cops--is deviously structured (I am sometimes amazed by the intricacy of narrative that thriller writers are able to devise...I cannot imagine, say, Salman Rushdie or Martin Amis or James Salter or Norman Mailer or almost any other esteemed "literary" writer except James Ellroy, if he counts, building machines that work so's a skill that goes underappreciated) and Connelly switches pleasingly from first person to third person, quietly going all "meta" so subtly that the undiscriminating reader will not be jarred. I like that. It's like a long take in a thriller film that's incredibly difficult to pull off yet doesn't call attention to itself.


trevor johnson said...

I tried to download a Connelly audiobook, The Lincoln Lawyer, but the person logged off after I had gotten about 1/3 of it. I'm unfamiliar with his work. I did download Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. I've never read him either.

The only person I've noticed who switched from 1st to 3rd person is James Patterson. The Big Bad Wolf, I think. (Although I don't think Patterson is a good writer, he's a popular, mainstream writer. I'm forced to listen to a lot of mediocre books based on the selection of the public library.)

What do you mean by 'going all meta'?

NickAntosca said...

I mean he was doing something that called attention to the inherent artifice of fiction. Switching oars midstream, so to speak. When you tell a linear story using consistent voice, tense, and person there's an illusion that it's "real." In college film theory classes they sometimes call that "suture." Unless I'm remembering that shit wrong and "suture" is something else. The field of film studies is desperate for respect from its academic peers, so its apostles often found it necessary to create confounding theories that would intrigue outsiders. Like "apparatus theory." I don't know why I'm talking about this.

Tight toy night said...

If you're looking for a good genre novel, I recommend "A Corpse in the Koryo" by James Church. It's been compared a lot to Martin Cruz Smith's excellent Arkady Renko mysteries--the single best evocations I've ever read of Russia, fiction or nonfiction--because it's set in North Korea, and it's quite probably the best portrayal of contemporary North Korean society. There's a murder, and some action, and a plot that propels itself, but mostly it's strikingly beautifully written. Truly worth reading.