Sunday, June 04, 2006

Update: Shame-Faced Podcast

Episode two of the spin-off to the spin-off blog is now available. In this outing, Rosemarie and I consider guy films and chick flicks, checking out examples of each form that we’ve managed to miss (The Great Escape and Dirty Dancing).

Twenty-two minutes long, 8MB wide, and available at iTunes or right here. Get it while it’s hot.

Book: The Dramatist, by Ken Bruen (2006)

As a Ken Bruen fan, I was already looking forward to his latest Jack Taylor novel. Then it seemed the entire new wave of writers that have revived noir started raving about it – particularly the ending.

At the indispensable hardboiled fiction list Rara Avis, author Duane Swierczynski said “when I finished that one, the book just fell out of my hands. I couldn’t believe Ken had gone there ... when (my wife) finished, she threw the book across the room. And then she started to cry.” Ray Banks described the ending in this interview as “a real kick in the heart.” So The Dramatist vaulted to the top of the TBR pile.

Ex-garda Jack is somehow clean and sober, but still getting tangled in a variety of private investigations, including what may be a string of serial killings involving the work of the playwright J. M. Synge. All the Bruen hallmarks are present. Effortless prose that flows like Jameson’s at an Irish wedding. A dense stew of pop culture references that serves to deepen our understanding of Jack. And characters that walk off the page and slap you in the face.

Then I got to the ending. And much as I hate to say it, it felt tacked on, even forced.

Maybe it was because I knew something was coming. But I’m pretty sure that even if I didn’t, those closing pages would have left me cold. It’s as if Bruen felt compelled to rain on Jack’s parade. I’ve been to Ireland plenty of times, and here’s what I know: if there’s not a cloud on the horizon, just wait. One will be along soon enough.

Still, I’ll be reading the next Jack Taylor book (Priest, already available in the U.K.) as soon as I can get my hands on it. Bruen’s that good.