Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hey, I've earned it! A Vanilla Book Review

Okay then, after three posts in three days I think that I can get away with one tiny little vanilla post; so then, how about a book review?

Oh, and if you stick with me until the bitter end there just might be a vague link to spanking. You never know, eh?

Anyway, the book in question is one of my favourite's, that I've just downloaded to my Kindle; it's "Eight Million Ways to Die" by Lawrence Block. It's ostensibly the tale of an unofficial private eye hunting the killer of a prostitute on behalf of her pimp, but the underlying story is about compulsion, and the lead character's struggle to come to terms with his deepening alcoholism.

That all sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? Trust me, it isn't though. Throughout the novel is enlivened by the world weary voice of Matt Scudder, our hero and unreliable narrator.

I think that the novel probably has more resonance if you've read the four earlier ones (this is book 5 of 17), in which we see Matt's increased dependence on alcohol. It's just part of the fabric of the books; Matt drinks freely but to an increasing degree.

Matters culminate in book 4, "A Stab in the Dark", when Jen, a woman that Matt is seeing, begins to attend AA meetings, and, as a result, seeks to avoid seeing our hero.

"8 Million Ways to Die" begins with Matt meeting a hooker who wants his help in leaving her pimp (the splendidly unusual Chance), and we are casually informed that he has just left hospital, it turns out for alcohol related problems.

Matt helps the girl, who subsequently turns up dead; he suspects Chance, until Chance tries to hire him to find the real killer. We then follow Matt around the city as he pulls at various threads in order to unravel the mystery.

We also see Matt struggling with an urge to drink, and, sometimes, giving in to one; we explore the roots of his need to imbibe what is in effect poison, and, it becomes clear, continuing to do so will kill him.

We also learn more of Chance'e compulsive need to remake himself, Joe Durkin (a New York City cop) and his compulsive need to keep doing his job, and finally the killer, and his growing compulsion.

As with most of these things Matt solves the case, in a fairly realistic way, but, far more interestingly, he also realises his need to heal. On several occasions during the story Matt attends AA meetings, but this is no blind praisefest for the work of the organisation. Matt questions the religious elements, and laughs at the standard phrases members often use.

I found the end of the novel to be quite touching; I do each time that I read it. I won't spoil it for anyone who intends to pick this book up.

Okay than, short and sweet.

Back tomorrow with more spanking.

All the best


There's also a mid 80's film version, scripted by Oliver Stone, but it's not a patch on the novel.

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