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Saturday, September 27, 2008
Department of Book Reports: In Appreciation
Posted by Tammy
"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."
James Crumley died this past week, one of my all-time favorite authors. David McCumber gave him a fine send off in the Seattle PI. I can't say I knew him well, or we were best buds, but I did get to meet him once. And I did get to go drink at Charlie's years ago.
The New York Times ran an obit this week also. I knew this day would be coming, but, Damn.
Crumley was an important American author. Look to any reference on Crime Fiction and you'll find his ardent fans. This is western Noir at it's finest. One to Count Cadence is still considered a seminal Viet Nam novel.
His mysteries revolved around C. W. Sughrue ("Sug" as in "sugar" and "Rue" as in "Rue the God Damned Day") and Milo Milodragovitch, and a motley crew of regulars who would wander in and out of the novels. Cocaine, booze, weed; check, all here, in abundance. But, quite like a Hopper painting that shows us this so plainly, you can relate, and really wish you were able to stumble down to that bar, grab a stool, and just sit there staring into the mirror over the barback. Listen in to that cranky old fart over on the end. He's got some really good stories. I could stay there all night.
When Mexican Tree Duck was published, I and many other fans would mutter behind our hands "not as good as Last Good Kiss, but ya gotta read it". Looking back today, sure, it could have been better edited, but I haven't seen anything come down the track the way this did:
"When the 3:12 through freight to Spokane hit the East Meriweather crossing, the engineer touched his horn and released a long, mournful wail into the wet, snowy air of our second early fall storm in Western Montana. It sounded a hell of a lot like the first note of a Hank Snow ballad."
Montana has an enviable amount of really good authors. That also is to James Crumley's credit. Most all of them will credit the writing class they took with Crumley for inspiring them to go on, to write, to produce astounding books that transcend place.
Penintent Liberal Lesbian has copies over at her day job, and I'm sure your local Fine Independent Bookstore would love to show you more!
Jackson Street Books Pre-Order your signed and personalized copy of Vex Streeter's Scripting Your World now, delivery in 2 weeks, or so.