“She could take care of herself…”

He sipped his martini and appreciated how her faded jeans stretched against her haunches as she kneeled to work the fire. He thought about the size of the staff needed for a place like this. A full-time grounds-keeper, for sure. A pool man. Maybe a handyman, too. Housekeeper, definitely, even with auntie in residence. The guys in the truck. It added up.

One thing was certain, somebody filled that ice bucket, somebody put this wood out here, somebody took the covers off these chairs, somebody lit these torches, somebody swept away the desert that would never give up its claim to the land. Maybe she called ahead on that radio-phone in her fancy XKE.

He wondered how long it would be before she mentioned her husband again. Or would he have to bring it up. He knew he should feel guilty, but he didn’t. Mrs. Lyman was a big girl. She could take care of herself. (from “Joey’s Place”)

Historical fiction

Just read an interesting perspective on historical fiction in an article about “Wolf Hall” author, Hilary Mantel in the October 15, 2012, issue of the New Yorker Magazine:
“Historical fiction is a hybrid form, halfway between fiction and nonfiction. It is pioneer country, without fixed laws. To some, if it is fiction, anything is permitted. To others, wanton invention when facts are to be found, or, worse, contradiction of well-known acts, is a horror; a violation of an implicit contract with the reader, and a betrayal of the people written about. Ironically, it is when those stricter standards of truth are applied that historical fiction looks most like lying.” (Larissa MacFarquhar)

“Vegas” – a missed opportunity

The opening cattle drive, with “Las Vegas” superimposed over the alleged 1960 setting, should have been a warning. Starring Dennis Quaid as Sheriff (to-be) Ralph Lamb and Michael Chiklis as Vincent Savino, the new boss of the fictional Savoy Casino, the “Vegas” premiere episode quickly reminded me why an animal gnaws off its own foot to escape a trap. Granted, I wasn’t expecting a documentary, but when the lead character is “based upon” a real-life Nevada native and Clark County Sheriff, a little authenticity would be nice.

It all starts with Quaid’s character getting angry because an inbound passenger plane scatters his herd, so he gallops to the airport to complain that they should bring the planes in “from the east, over the casinos.” This reminded me of when I worked at the Desert Inn pool as a kid and tourists would ask, “Does the sun set over there every day?” Note to show’s producers: McCarran is east of the Strip, therefore, east of the casinos that existed in 1960. The subsequent fistfight with the oddly thuggish airport personnel was probably meant to emphasize Lamb’s two-fisted personality, but it came across like bad backyard antics on Youtube. Remember, this was … (more)

Review: NIGHT SQUAD, by David Goodis

A very interesting noir piece by a writer whose troubled soul (and alcoholism) kept him from securing a place in the pantheon of pulp writers who achieved recognition beyond the genre. (His book, Dark Passage,” was made into an unusual Bogart/Bacall film in 1947.)

A down-and-out, disgraced ex-cop surviving in his netherworld community of darkness, rain, water, and despair is contracted by the local criminal boss for a mysterious task that the ex-cop must slowly deduce. Then he’s “recruited” by the boss of the police department’s special unit, “Night Squad.” And this boss has very special and personal reasons for wanting the criminal boss eliminated.

They’re all here — broads, bimbos, and courtesans; cons, crooks, and grifters, all uniquely drawn and brought to life. It’s all here — booze, “tea,” gun battles, brawls, lust, and hot pursuits. In the end, Goodis’s talent, like Chandler’s or Hammett’s or Cain’s (to name a few), was not giving us  happy endings for any of these characters. Even the police boss’s revenge is tinged with vinegar.  In this world, darkness prevails.