Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jess Walter: Land of the Blind

I don't know if it's actually considered a genre, but in my mind there seems to be a particular kind of American novel dealing with growing up in the 60s/70s. Something about the way the author is both nostalgic for that time of comparative innocence, yet often writes very bluntly about childhood cruelties and emerging sexuality.

The frame for the novel is once again the Spokane police department, and once again Caroline Mabry (as in Over Tumbled Graves). It isn't a part of a series though, I like that, it stands alone ad does it well. A man is taken in to the police station saying that he wants to confess, and, at a loss, Mabry gives him pen and paper and lets him start to write. He writes and writes, and tells the tale of growing up poor in Spokane, of the most-bullied kid in school who eventually becomes his friend, of loyalties and sex, of wanting to be rich and looked-up to. Mabry begins to suspect that possibly he really has killed someone, and starts looking for this someone while he is still writing.

I think Walter really managed the balance between novel and crime fic frame well here. Towards the end there is a heightening of pace, as we begin to anticipate a violent act, and instead of feeling disappointed when it fizzes out I felt like it was appropriate. It wasn't a thriller. In the end it's just Mabry and the confessor, Clark Mason, waiting for sunrise. I liked it.

I was going to write some quotes, but I'm a little too tired. I recommend it anyway.

In other news, today I tried to buy books for friends and failed. I find it soooo hard to buy books for others, I don't know why. I kind of know what I'd like to get them, but what if they don't like it? Indecision, indecision....

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