Thursday, April 9, 2009

Writer, Los Angeles, California, Fiction

I'll be damned. Usually the books I champion fall by the wayside, lost in the swells of marketing gibberish or are buried in all the other crap out there.

But every so often, very rarely, somebody gets it right.

My friend Richard Lange, the blisteringly talented author of Dead Boys, won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Right. On.

The title of this post mirrors the deceptively simple description the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation granted to their latest honoree: "Writer, Los Angeles, California, Fiction."

For the six or seven of you left to whom I haven't already given copies of the book, you can catch up by going back to read my review of Dead Boys from the dearly departed Rocky Mountain News, and read my column, "Radio Noir," that integrates an interview with the author.

While we're at it, let's also grant a small preview of the man's next novel, This Wicked World. Here's a very small slice at the new book, due out from Little, Brown in June, from the Kirkus Reviews Mystery Special.

After laying bare the ragged soul of Los Angeles in Dead Boys (2007), his critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Richard Lange opens a wider canvas for his debut novel. “It’s a crime story set in Los Angeles and the desert outside,” says Lange. “It starts as something of a whodunit and morphs into a revenge caper told from the points of view of a bunch of different characters, good and bad. It’s got drug dealers, dog fighting, crazy strippers, kung fu, a rattlesnake and a fortune in counterfeit bills.” The book finds ruminative ex-con Jimmy Boone backing up an amigo by tagging along to look into the case of a dead kid on a downtown bus. It’s a wider-ranging story than those in Dead Boys, but one that resonates with the same forlorn sense of humanity. “What I tried to retain from the stories is that overarching sense of desperation and desolation, characters with complex psychologies that you find yourself liking in spite of their many failings,” says Lange. "I hope people will fall for the people in this book as well. I sure did. I felt bad every time I had to kill one."

The book is already garnering a few complimentary blurbs, like this one from Joseph Wambaugh: "The down-and-dirty events and street talk in this debut crime novel reminds me of a young James Ellroy, and like Ellroy, Richard Lange can really write."

I'll have more to say about This Wicked World next month, but in the meantime you can do yourself a favor by pre-ordering the book.

No comments: