Posts Tagged ‘Novel’

FLORIDA ROADKILL

2010-03-09

[Picture of Tim Dorsey's Florida Roadkill book cover, 1999]A client of mine loaned me a Tim Dorsey novel – “Florida Roadkill“, and I read it in just a few days; it was a ripping yarn indeed.

It all began when I spotted him carrying a copy of a Dashiel Hammet novel, and talk ranged from there, through Raymond Chandler to Robert Altman. Then he handed me “Florida Roadkill”.

One thing I will say about this book is that you get educated.  By the end of it you know a considerable amount more about The Sunshine State than you did when you started.  It references Miami Vice, Humphrey Bogart movies, Baseball, American Football, NASA space launches, Hemingway, the Everglades and loads more.

Doresey’s 1999 debut starts with the 1997 World series baseball, and works backwards in chunks, so the various stories unfold and intertwine in reverse.

You learn weird things too — for example, the novel mentions a 17 year old girl sucking on a dummy tit because ecstasy made her grind her teeth.  Now I have seen teenagers using dummy tits, and just thought they were being teenagery, now I know better!

The first murder was by a Rube Goldberg contraption, a knock-up that we Brits would probably call Heath Robinson. It depended upon the vibration of a rocket launch.

There was also a murder by  Shrink-fit denims in a bathtub, an ottoman-surfing accident, inhaling tyre inflation and filler, drinking crop spray, and being filled with alcohol using a funnel inserted in the victim’s rectum.

The humour is black. Obviously.  It has a couple of central characters that resemble Lenny and George from Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”: the simple Seymour Coleman with his chubby, too-big head and small sunken eyes, and the tall thin, grey haired Serge A. Storms.

Another strand has Black Irish Sean Breen, (wife Karen and two kids — Christopher, 4, and Erin at 3 months) and school chum and fellow wrestling fan David Klein.  These two plan annual, unsuccessful fishing trips in Breen’s skiff, and got caught up in the story line when ill-gotten gains are stashed in their car.

There is a strong world-weary cynical streak throughout the novel, from the corruption and manipulation of the life assurance company, the crop spraying, the lies of Blaine Crease, television reporter and “Holy Moly” Mo Grenadine Radio shock radio jock, and the double-crossing of the developer and of Sharon, to the property developer aiming at the old and infirm.  There is also a sadness that Florida’s landmarks are uncared-for, not well enough known, not understood, and that sexual harassment is alive and kicking in the police force.

There is black humour and irony in abundance, from the Running of the Hemmingways to The ” Three Latin men” turning out to be Russian Mafia!

Dorsey packs a lot into the page, and the book whips by at a fair pace.  There are few moments of calm, and if there was one criticism I would make, it would be that there are a lot of characters to keep track of, and right from the outset.  This is therefore not a book to read in bits and bobs over a long period of time!

Anyway, I enjoyed it enough to move onto his next book, “Triggerfish Twist” (also loaned to me by my client — thanks Dave).

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CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN

2001-06-09

Poor Mr de Berniers! Everyone’s got it wrong and missed the point completely! Can people be so superficial?

[Cover of Captain Corelli's Mandolin]This book seeks to investigate human nature, and mainly platonic forms of love: love for a place, a homeland, an ideal, a political ideal, for a daughter, for commonplace animals, for the enemy, homosexual love, love of fellow man, love for an object (a mandolin), love between fathers and daughters, adopted children, mothers and sons, love between enemies and between old men of differing beliefs in a Greek cafe.

Nothing lasts really – earthquakes and wars may come, what survives is like a tune passed on in the memory. All platonic, all unfulfilling, all unrequited – ungrabbable, fleeting and personal … like music … ephemeral, emotional, and then gone.

For me THAT’s what the novel’s about — and why the author chose Corelli and the mandolin to be included in the title. This is what strings together all the facets, and if this is not realised, then this book will appear a disjointed and clumsy collection of styles and tales.

  • The movie misses this completely, fails to communicate what the whole thing is actually about!

[VHS cover for Captain Corelli's Mandolin]It is so loosely based on the book, that it really ought to have been called something else! It’s not that the book was edited down for film, or even that the basic idea was changed, the facts and actual plot changed beyond recognition!

Mandras turns out to be a hero in the film! The Doctor survives the earthquake! Lemoni moves in with the Doctor and his daughter. The Captain sends an LP and then turns up for the Hollywood ending! The Homosexuality is omitted completely. The Germans are treated nicely in the film compared with the book.

-The plot has been changed such that the Italians join forces with the rebels (!) against the Germans – so justifying the execution which the Captain manages to survive!

There’s no priest, no restaurant, nothing is unrequited, the mandolin plays a minimal role, the music is not central.

Believe me, this movie is so unlike the book that they are can no more be compared than can a pear with a chair.

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