Miskatonic University Press

George Pelecanos, The Cut


After returning home from the gym Denton showered, shaved and dressed. He put on a blue Viyella shirt from Stollery’s, tan flat-front Dockers, argyle socks, and ankle-high leather kicks from Aldo. He felt good. He poured himself a glass of an inexpensive Argentine Malbec that had gotten a good review in Toronto Life a couple of months before. He had picked it up at that LCBO on Yonge around Summerhill, the big one in the old train station. He had an hour to kill before heading out for the evening.

Denton sat on the cream-coloured sofa he had bought at an auction over ten years before. It was looking a little worse for wear, and his cats had scratched the back of it, but no-one could see so he didn’t mind. Sofa suited him fine, no need to go spending a lot of money just because of a few tears. It was comfortable. He liked that.

On the table was a copy of the new Pelecanos joint, The Cut, which he’d started reading the night before. Can’t read Pelecanos without some music, he thought, and he put on the new Trombone Shorty joint, For True, that he’d picked up when he saw Shorty perform at the Opera House in November. Man put on a show. Played the trombone and the trumpet and sang and danced and worked the crowd. At the end of the show everyone in the band switched instruments and Shorty even played the drums. Damn, people were exhausted and sweaty just watching. Be good to see Shorty perform in his home town, New Orleans, some time, maybe on Frenchman Street. The music came through his speakers at a strong but reasonable volume and Denton relaxed.

Denton picked up the book after putting his Android smartphone on silent so that he wouldn’t be disturbed. He’d admired Pelecanos’s work for a long time. Even exchanged a bit of email with him years ago. Seemed like a regular guy, the kind you could have a beer with. Or a glass of Argentine Malbec. Man knew how to write. He’d staked out Washington DC as his own territory, but not the DC with the politicians and the rich people. The DC with real people, middle-class and poor. People who worked. Pelecanos told stories about trying to be a man, an honest man working hard, in a world full of hate and crime. King Suckerman, the DC Quartet … those were some fine books. Seemed like he often told the same story, but he told it well, in a straight-forward style. And he always mentioned good music and movies and books. Denton liked that. When he knew the music and movies and books it made him feel good, like he was on the inside. When he didn’t know them, he looked them up. Pelecanos had worked on The Wire and Treme, two of Denton’s favourite television shows. Man was talented.

After an hour of reading the book, Denton was disappointed. Seemed like all the freshness was gone and all the man did now was list clothing labels and bands and streets and never really described people. The plots and characters were all tired repeats of previous novels. Pelecanos was getting into some new characters, and dealing with young veterans of the war in Afghanistan, but it didn’t work like the old stories.

Damn, Denton thought, this shit isn’t so tight any more.