Friday, October 3, 2008

Lehane's Last Word

Poor Babe never looks happy, does he?

After reading it in truckstops and hotel rooms across this great fractured country of ours, I finally have the chance today to weigh in on Dennis Lehane's great experiment, The Given Day, which creates a great work of messy, anachronistic art from such disparate ingredients as Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge, and one of the most stubborn (and savagely beaten) Irish cops ever put on paper. You can read all about it online or in the paper this morning in The Rocky Mountain News.

By coincidence, after moving away last month from the woodsy hamlet of Sudbury, Massachusetts (where Babe Ruth reportedly drowned his piano) I got to meet the author last night at a sparsely attended but enthusiastic gathering at The Tattered Cover, where Lehane was in a a great fighting spirit over some electoral event next month and had great stories about how the book came about. He was insightful, articulate, and as funny as you might think, which makes me regret the fact that I didn't have time to interview him for this particular bit of history. Maybe next time, if he goes ahead and pushes forward with the same characters in the Roaring 20's.

Here's a bit of bad news though for all of you waiting on another chapter in Lehane's crime series about Dorchester private eyes Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. It ain't happening. Lehane gets this question every single night on tour but had a bit of a different answer for the questioner last night. The standard answer is usually that the series was written by a younger man, and he touched on that aspect last night. And a little more.

"I've tried but they just won't come. And you know, I just got married this year, and she asked if Patrick was going to come back. I miss him, because I miss writing jokes and Patrick was really funny. And I really wanted to get this woman into bed so you know I tried but he just won't come. I'm sorry, but if Patrick won't come back for sex, I don't think he's coming back."

There's more good stuff about Dennis Lehane including video interviews, historical photos and the author's back catalogue at his official website. And Harper Collins also tells me there's a good healthy dose of the book online here.

UPDATE: Waste not, want not. For more on The Given Day, you can check out the newest issue of Bookslut (which was apparently delayed by technical difficulties and small fish), which features my latest column, "Dennis Lehane's Dirty Water." And if that's not enough, there's always Sarah Weinman's take in the LAT, or Janet Maslin's in the NYT. Now please, God, let me read something else.

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