RARA-AVIS: Blonde Lightning

From: BaxDeal@aol.com
Date: 12 Oct 2007

so I had been happily reading a few chapters of Ken Bruen's The Guards every evening before turning in, enjoying the man's liquid prose style, when I made the big mistake of cracking open Terrill Lankford's Blonde Lightning and proceeded to lose two work days

I'm not necessarily a slow reader and Terrill's text goes down easy. but I kept finding myself re-reading so I could hear William Holden's voice in my head narrating it to me. because Blonde Lightning is a crime story in the same way that Sunset Blvd is. not a mystery per se, more of a very dark drama about the desperate individuals who are attracted to Hollywood like mayflies to a buglamp

with similar results

I have to cop to the fact that Sunset Blvd is my favorite movie of all time and I identify with Joe Gillis the washed up screenwriter/gigolo to a pathetic degree. heck, the look in Ben Affleck's eye before he blows his brains out in Hollywoodland still haunts me months later. it's my default expression

similarly, I find myself looking in a mirror as exiled development exec Mark Hayes clings to his sad little dream of making movies and haunts many of the same places I've found myself in late at night

Blonde Lightning not only nails the personalities of those occupying the various social strata in our increasingly dysfunctional business, it also features a journalistic play by play of how a small, independent film is made, and the things that can go wrong. if you've ever been there, you can't help but nod your head and laugh

and yet, the book is not the typical screed most Hollywood novels are. it's a riveting thriller, it is emotionally satisfying in a way that good drama is, and the plot is as tight as the jeans I used to wear back in the 70s. the depiction of Mexico as the end of the road is as vivid as Kent Harrington's Tijuana in Dios De Las Muertos. you can smell the dogshit baking in the sun. and finally, the denouement proves that you don't have to be dead, maimed or in jail at the end to be noir either

sometimes getting what you want qualifies as well

so, thank you Terrill for getting it right

I still haven't finished reading The Guards

John Lau

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