RARA-AVIS: My Summer Reading List: Al Guthrie's HARD MAN

From: Brian Thornton ( tieresias@worldnet.att.net)
Date: 19 Jul 2007

Just finally catching up on my summer reading list, also wrapping up a couple of writing commitments, and have a spare few minutes to drop a line to the list about a book I finished a while back: Al Guthrie's HARD MAN.

This book has been kicked around this list a few times, and I'm not prepared to add much, except for a few overarching comments. First, I don't usually find it productive to disagree with Eddie Muller on things noir-related, but I must respectfully disagree with his harsh review of Al's latest book.

During the 1970s they said that "Only Nixon can go to China," with the implication that only an old hard-line anti-communist like Nixon had the credentials to deal with the communists without appearing to either kow-tow to, or collaborate with them. I'd like to think that in a similar vein, my own oft-chronicled dislike for some of the sadism and gratuitous, cartoony violence that is current en vogue among many of the genre's current crop of Young Turks would give me a bit of credibility in saying that I quite liked this book.

Perhaps it's because I know Al. Perhaps it's because he's a far more skilled writer than many of the other Young Turks currently in the business, maybe it's some combination of the two, but it takes a deft touch to pull off truly unadulterated black comedy, and I think that our Mr. Guthrie does so masterfully. I laughed my way through this book, including that crucifiction scene. No other writer in the genre not named Ken Bruen could have pulled that scene off.

So take this for what it's worth, but I heartily recommen HARD MAN to any Rara Avian who cares to take a chance on it.

All the Best-

Brian Thornton

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