"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of The Big Reap, The Wrong Goodbye and Dead Harvest.

"Bagley's got the poet's eye, but that doesn't mean everything is prettier in his work. It means the ugly stuff is more vivid. More intense. Like a sudden switch from analog to HD. And that's a trait to very much admire in his work." --Anthony Neil Smith, author of Hogdoggin', Yellow Medicine, The Drummer and Psychosomatic.




Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Summer of Bruen

If there is a bridge between fiction and poetry, it is built from the novels of Ken Bruen. Though most of us hicks have a hard time articulating this, we understand that beauty and pain walk hand-in-hand. It’s there in the works of Woodrell, Wolven, Hendricks and Crews, too. But nobody gets it on the page like Ken Bruen. Thanks to Julie at my local public library, I have torn through the Do Not Press editions of:

A White Arrest
Taming the Alien
The McDead
London Boulevard
The Hackman Blues

I just reread All the Old Songs and Nothing to Lose and “The Time of Serena-May” from A Fifth of Bruen (Busted Flush Press). Knocked the fucking wind right out of me. If I ever get to be half the writer Bruen is, I’ll be happy. Don’t even think about the fact that those were early works and he hadn’t yet hit his stride.

The latest in the Jack Taylor series, Sanctuary, is just out—or about to come out—and it’s the one book I have to read this summer (not to slight the new releases by J.D. Rhoades, George Pelecanos, Tony Black, Victor Gischler, John Connolly, Tana French, Robert Crais or James Lee Burke). When I think of Jack Taylor and everything he’s lost over the course of seven novels, I think about these two lines from Li Po’s “Taking Leave of a Friend.”

Here we must make separation
And go out through a thousand miles of dead grass.

The next time some douche bag tells you that crime fiction can’t be art, hit him with a copy of Rilke on Black or American Skin. Then make sure he reads it. That will shut his mouth for a while, and the next time you hear from him it will be to ask if you have any more Bruen.

3 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

You just wait. He'll be by soon to thank you. The world's kindest man and most heart-felt writer.

Cory said...

Bruen is so good that I am trying to spread his books out so that I don't read them all at once. Hard to do!

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I can't do it, Cory. As soon as I get one, I have to drop everything else and read it. There are still a few I haven't read yet: three of the "Brant" novels and HER LAST CALL TO LOUIS MACNEICE.