Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Ross Thomas/Chinaman's Chance

From: William Denton (
Date: 24 Feb 2005

On 24 February 2005, Vince Keenan wrote:

: When you're talking about Thomas' best novels - and BRIARPATCH is easily
: among them - it's like splitting hairs. For me, the richness of Lucifer
: Dye's character in FOOLS, aided by the immediacy of the first person,
: makes it first among equals.

To tempt you to reread BRIARPATCH, here's a quote. If you say FOOLS is its equal, I'll go back and reread it, because I loved BRIARPATCH.

Ben Dill, the fellow who returns to his home town because his sister died, is talking to Cory Corcoran, an immense former footballer player turned private detective/"frightener." It's one of the conversational interludes between wheeling, dealing, intriguing, and scheming in a southern US town, with hard cases, enforcers, arms dealers, and beautiful lawyers:

  "Who do you frighten?"

  "Deadbeats. Say some guy loses his job out in Packingtown and falls
  behind on his car payments. Well, he's a deadbeat, right? Now some folks
  would say he's a victim of an outmoded economic system that scraps
  people the way it scraps old cars, but you and I know better, don't we?
  You and I know that anybody in this grand and glorious country of ours
  can go out and find himself a job if he'll just put on a clean white
  shirt and go look. I mean a guy who's fifty-four years old and has been
  wrapping bacon for seventeen years for Wilson's out in Packingtown and
  gets laid off, well, hell, he can go wrap bacon for somewhere else. I'd
  hire him if I needen't some bacon wrapped, wouldn't you? Sure, you

  "So this guy, this skilled ex-bacon wrapper, falls behind on his car
  payments and the finance company turns him over to me. And if his phone
  hasn't been cut off, I call him up and say in my real deep scary voice,
  'My name's Corcoran, pal, and you owe use money and if you don't pay up,
  something's gonna have to be done about it--understand?' I'm really a
  pretty good frightener. Well, sometimes the guy pays up--I don't know
  how, but that's not my worry. If he doesn't, I get hold of this kid who
  used to steal cars for a living and we go out and repo the car so the
  guy can take the bus when he goes out looking for a job wrapping bacon."
  Corcoran paused. "Like I said, I'm a little ridiculous." There was
  another, longer pause. "I think I'll have another drink."


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : : Caveat lector.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 24 Feb 2005 EST