Re: RARA-AVIS: Jason Starr

From: William Denton (
Date: 25 Feb 2003

On 25 February 2003, Ron Clinton wrote:

: Hope everyone's listening to the Jason Starr interview right now on
: (Tues., 2pm)...

I missed it--what did he say?

I read his new book, TOUGH LUCK (2003), at Christmas, and really liked it. I was making a trip by plane, and started reading it in the waiting lounge and finished it just before we landed. The only thing that made me look up was when the flight attendant banged my elbow with the drinks cart.

Starr's back in the territory he's staked out, a story in New York involving money, gambling and obsession, but the lead isn't the latent psycho he's written about before. (I mentioned it before, but there's a classic Starr moment in another book, where the main guy is having a bad day and gets into an argument with his girlfriend. All of a sudden, he finds his fist cocked at his shoulder. You realize, this is going to get very bad, very soon.) This time, the main character is Mickey Prada, a poor kid who works in a fish market so he can save up money to go to college. He lives with his father, who's senile, in a run-down apartment.

The book starts with Mickey in the fish market. A mobster comes in. He and Mickey talk, and a visit or two later Mickey's laying down some bets for him, because the mobster's bookie is out of town. It happens again. The mobster never wins, but he never pays Mickey the money he laid down. Mickey has to cover with his bookie. He starts running out of money. The bookie gets mad. There's a girl, too, and there are racetracks and guns and whores and fights and stealing. Mickey's got very bad luck, and his life goes downhill from page one. There are twists along the way, of course, and a mean kicker on the last page.

The book is in a trade paperback edition, $12 USD/$18 CDN, which is a lot for a short book, but that's how it is these days. Think of it as a new Fawcett Gold Medal. It moves fast, the writing is lean, and it's great modern noir.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : : Caveat lector.

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