Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book: Savages, by Don Winslow (2010)

Sweet Jesus, the voice.

That’s what I keep coming back to when I think about this book, and I think about it often. The astonishing voice that Don Winslow uses – omniscient yet friendly, benevolent but wised-up – in this electrifying novel. It’s like God himself has beckoned you closer after a long afternoon on the beach. He watches the sun douse itself in the Pacific with a wry smile on His face. He turns to you, the smell of cervezas and fish tacos on His breath. And He says, “Let me tell you a story. About some people I know.”

The people: Ben, Chon and O. Ben grows the finest marijuana in the Southland and plows his profits into saving Mother Earth. Chon came back from several tours in Iraq with badditude to spare and a pronounced lack of post-traumatic stress. O shops and loves both her men.

The story: The Baja cartel comes calling and says you work for us. Ben and Chon say, no we don’t. Trouble ensues. It’s a SoCal Jules & Jim directed by early ‘90s John Woo.

And, of course, told in that voice. One that manages to be relentless while still finding time for digressions on politics and the spoiled golden promise that is California. If Savages has a flaw it’s that Winslow’s style is too intoxicating; you want to pump the brakes so you can savor the ride, burrow a little deeper into the characters. But they don’t slow down. There just isn’t time. They act and react. So should you. Pick up Savages, and be blown away.