Monday, June 21, 2010

Read: "Dark Crimes" edited by Ed Gorman

Read: Dark Crimes: great noir fiction from the '40s to the '90s edited by Ed Gorman, 1991, 0881846996.

Decent. I did not like some of the stories and disagree with the noir status of some. But, like I've thought before, noir is in the eye of the beholder.

There were two short novels. The Red Scarf by Gil Brewer and Anatomy of a Killer by Peter Rabe. Anatomy had intros written by Gorman and Bill Crider. I skipped the intros. I read Pronzini's intro about Brewer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brief Read: "Pink Box" by Joan Sinclair

Brief Read: Pink Box: inside Japan's sex clubs by Joan Sinclair, 2006, 9780810992597.

I read Adelstein's book and looked for more info on Japanese crime and sex culture. Notice I did not say subculture. There does not seem to be a subculture. Everything is easily and openly available as a legal, commercial service.

This book is not what I was suspecting, I did not realize it is a photo book. I'm glad it is because the photos and their captions tell a great bit about the business.

This one paragraph from Sinclair's ending essay succinctly explains what I would have tried to record:

The clubs are a reflection of modern Japan, a literate society, where the rules are written out, prices are not negotiable, and fantasies are predetermined, pre-scripted, and prepaid. The Japanese depend on uniforms to distinguish a stranger's role in society. The sexualization of the characters of everyday life (the waitress, the schoolgirl, the commuting receptionist) and the desire to break society's rigid rules (No groping on the subway!) lead to cosplay (costume play) and elaborate playrooms. Finally, Japan is a consumer culture, with a thriving free-market economy that strives to meet demand: as a result, Japanese clubs cater to the narrowest of obsessions.

1. How many dudes masturbated while reading this?
2. How many dudes said they did not jerk off but, instead, declared how important the book is as art in an attempt to score with some chick?
3. With those thoughts in mind, there is not much nudity. Only a handful of shots depicting sex - those were swingers clubs and not hookers and customers.
3.b. The photographs are more of an anthropological record, not erotica. Although. let's face it, throw in a couple nude chicks and people will see what they want.
4. Sinclair has a photo of a sex menu accompanied by it's English translation. Absolutely and completing fascinating and odd.
5. Sex work is mostly acceptable, but not entirely.
6. The openness and privacy of the sex clubs is often referred to. Every fetish is available - and there are many - but clubs, employees, and customers are quite secretive. Sinclair had to work hard to get access.
7. I assume Sinclair does the google. Sinclair, do you have other books planned?
8. Sexual intercourse for money is illegal - but done anyway of course. Everything else is legal.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Half Listened, Half Read: "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn

Half Listened, Half Read: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, 2009, 9780307341563.

I downloaded this from Overdrive and was really enjoying the novel. Then my dang MP3 player had the audio input work loose and the sound would cut in and out. So, I checked out the book instead.

Libby is the last surviving member of her immediate family. Excluding her imprisoned older brother who murdered Libby's mother and two older sisters 24 years ago. Libby is a freaking mess. She is getting through life but never thinks about the night of the murder, is completely alienated from her aunt, is a kleptomaniac, tends to find places to hide her 4'11'' frame as she did the night of the murders.

Libby has been living off a trust fund started when she was orphaned but is now almost all out of cash. She gets an offer to appear at a true crime convention for $500 and takes the offer. Libby starts to wonder if maybe her brother is innocent. Told through Libby, Libby's mom, and Libby's brother Ben.

Excellent book. Flynn does a great job with her characters. She never shows through thought and action how screwed up Libby is. Great character description like how true crime guy Lyle tends to point one ear at a time to someone who is talking.

Another great description is the steakhouse meeting between Libby and her trust fun administrator. One of the death club guys with a turquoise earring described as the kind of earring that D&D guys wear. The kind of guys who think magic tricks are really cool.

For the audio version:

1. The mix of prose and Libby's narrator was mesmerizing. A great match of story and reader.
2. Blatant mispronunciation of Salina.
3. Imaginary town with an imaginary prison near it. Do I care? No. But I checked the KS map and a map of KS prisons to see if she was basing the imaginary towns off of real ones. I could not tell. The fictional town seems north to northwest of Salina.
4. The female narrator made it difficult to tell when character is speaking or just having an internal monologue.

Comments1. Flynn has great set-ups and herrings making me wonder who is guilty of the murders. I always believed Ben was guilty but had accomplices. There was no other explanation convincing enough to say otherwise. Especially the fact that he was there at the time of the killings.
2. Not too happy with the ending explanation of what happened. Flynn does allude to the killer and the circumstances earlier on but it still felt a little forced.
3. Libby's drunken father is such a scumbag. He deserves to be drowned like the rat he is.
4. Flynn tells the story back and forth from 1985 to present day. You don't see the present day version of several of those characters until late in the novel. I liked reading how those people turned out.
5. I enjoyed the KS setting.
6. Great job by Flynn in showing the teenage perspective of Ben and how he thought and why he acted how he did. The same goes for the stress that Libby's mom was under as a single mom of four kids with no money and a farm defaulting on its loans.