Thursday, January 25, 2007

Leftovers

In this posting on View Askew, filmmaker Kevin Smith explains how his celebrity playlist for Itunes was created, then bumped, then revived. He uses a nice turn of phrase about the principle of "manufacturing for use," meaning that if you make something, people should see it.

In that spirit, I'm posting some material that was written for Bookslut but didn't make it into the December issue because of technical difficulties. Enjoy.
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Christmas came early for me this year with a copy of No Dominion.
I’ve already praised Charlie Huston’s acrid experiment in “vampire noir,” Already Dead.That lovely little volume introduced his scowling, sarcastic protagonist Joe Pitt, a savage, vampiric operator with a quick wit who spends as much time sucking down Lucky Strikes and working the infested streets of lower Manhattan as he does partaking of the obligatory pint of blood.

Huston is getting better every time he takes a swing at a new book and No Dominion, hot on the heels of the more traditional thriller A Dangerous Man, is a sweetheart of a book. From the very first page, when Joe contemplates the physics and metaphysics of getting thrown through a plate glass window to the strains of “Sixteen Tons,” through a violent and complex conflict between warring clans over a powerful street drug, Pitt’s second act captures the superb invention of its predecessor. Yet at the same time, it deepens and massages its ingenious narrator with a romantic arc that can only come to a bad end.

Much of the beauty of Huston’s writing comes from its simplicity. His straightforward, punchy dialogue falls tellingly off the lips with the ease of television or film conversations but the words are so tightly wound that they obviously take some serious austerity on the part of their creator. Yet at the same time, Huston’s words snap with a post-Pulp Fiction tenacity that brings a smile every time. Take Joe’s acidic observation on churches, a subject that seems appropriate to both Pitt’s peculiar condition and this particular time of year:

“Churches don’t bother me. Some guys, they do. Some make a big show of it, avoiding places like this, part of the scene they think. Some are genuinely freaked out. Those are the ones that are sure we’re all cursed. They may not say it out loud, but they think it. Most of those kind, they don’t last. Who can last walking around thinking their immortal soul has been consecrated to damnation? Except the folks who think that way and really dig it. Those ones are out there, too. They bug me. Who’m I fooling? They give me the willies. But churches don’t bother me one way or another. Just four walls and a roof. And maybe a big wooden cross with a guy nailed to it. Nothing I haven’t seen before.”