RARA-AVIS: Best of 2008

From: bobav1 (bob.vietrogoski@gmail.com)
Date: 23 Dec 2008

  • Next message: Brian Thornton: "RARA-AVIS: Rara Avian Holiday Wishes (and a little something for Bob V.)"

    The book that most got to me this year was Shannon Burke's Black Flies, which is a coming of age story about an EMT (emergency medical technician) in Harlem in the early 1990s. Although the book is tough, colloquial, dark, and sometimes even sinister, it's probably technically neither hardboiled nor noir. Hell, it's even got a happy ending, and it got a front page review in the New York Times Book Review, which is impressive for a paperback original. But the tight, simple story is compelling, and the incidents described stick with you. Today's EMTs probably see more real life ugliness and trauma in a week's shifts than a classic PI saw in a lifetime.

    I also just recently read Pelecanos's The Turnaround. I'm a Pelecanos devotee and enjoyed this one a lot, but I think it's slightly less than his best. Some of the chronic Pelecanos themes (see http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=36005 for useful commentary) are a little overused, even for me. The list's Pelecanos haters (hi Brian!) should skip it. My latest Pelecanos experience is in working my way through The Wire, which I highly recommend once you clear out 12 hours of your life per season for concentrated viewing.

    Happy holidays,

    Bob V in NJ, who's been a rara-avis member for at least 10 years and probably posted less than 10 times . . . .

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