8.14.2008

Just two regular killers talkin' cars and kids...


I actually took the title of this post from one of my favorite action lines in Melissa Rosenberg's script for Dexter's "An Inconvenient Lie." But I thought of it more than a few times when reading Derek Haas' debut novel The Silver Bear.

For a gripping genre yarn, Haas seems mainly concerned with pulling his assassin's tale down to earth. Just another killer, figuring out who he is -- a coming of age story played in reverse. I enjoy a good genre yarn as it is, but I love this kind of approach. It's one of the reasons I love Graham Greene so much.

There were some style choices that made me pause throughout its pages, but the story kept me enthralled. Mr. Haas is a good storyteller -- and I'm sure my 2 cents just made his day -- so I raced through the slim novel lickety split. I recommend it. Wouldn't kick it out of bed for eating crackers.

Very lean, very straight. Boy gets shat on. Boy meet gun. Boy kills. Boy becomes a man -- and Man and gun have to deal with his shit. But with lots of past/present back & forth to layer the forward progression of the story.

There's a passage near the end of the book that I wish I had copied down before I returned the book to the library. Haas phrases it really well. All cutting and pithy. I almost don't want to attempt to approximate it here, but I can't help it. Otherwise I wouldn't really have a reason to put this post up.

It was about how all men are shaped by violence. Their lives are molded by it, fed by it -- regardless of whether or not it's in their nature. He pretty much eliminates nature from the issue. It's there, and it's going to be a part of the equation for everyone. The idea was effective and perfectly placed; worth the whole read on its own to see someone tell a violent story and insist on its simple universality.

He had me sucked in -- I just wish that he had kept his feet on the ground the whole way through. Would have been nice.

ps. I wish more of Hollywood's great storytellers would take a stab at writing a novel and see how well they tackle its form. I enjoyed sitting in Haas' approach for a few hours. Made me shuffle through some old novel idea notes, brought those old day dreams back. Ah, publication lust.

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