RARA-AVIS: Kiss Tomorrow Good-Bye

pabergin (pabergin@gte.net)
Sat, 3 Apr 1999 21:12:52 -0500 I'm only speaking for m'self here, and can understand why some folk don't
like KISS. It's not an easy book. I think it's a masterpiece because it can
be read and enjoyed (if that's the right word for a book that is
claustrophobic, more than a little bent and occasionally downright
unpleasant) on more than one level.

As a crime fiction period piece, it shows the author to be easily the equal
of such noir contemporaries as Cain and Woolrich.

As a study in what I guess you'd call criminal psychopathology, it is
unmatched. Paul (or Ralph, or whatever the hell his real name is) is
arguably the first INTERESTING out-and-out psychopath in American crime
fiction. And the way his downfall comes is perhaps the most interesting and
successful blend of hard boiled writing and Freudianism ever attempted.
Paul/Ralph is one very diseased puppy. That his destruction comes as a
result of looking into a metaphorical mirror is artistry cubed. P/R is one
tough punk. It's simple fact that the only one equipped to take him down is

The book can also be read as a social satire. Bitter, dark and not very
funny, but the thread is there.

HORSES is a much better-known and more-read book, but I think that's because
it's easier. It doesn't make the demands upon the reader that KISS does.

It's a little like hanging an Andy Warhol instead of a Francis Bacon. Andy's
a lot easier to get along with. By any objective standard, though, KISS is a
friggin' masterpiece.


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