"You could only do this shit so long. Someone was going to recognize them, or follow them, or just do something brainless when they came in the door. They wore the cop jackets and badges and they moved with purpose and told themselves they were smart, but there was only so much luck and then it was gone. At the end of the day they were as doomed as the goofy bastards they were ripping off. Manny and Ray would do lines in the truck before they went in, getting their edges sharp, making their minds fast. It couldn't go on forever. Everyone was high. Everyone was stupid. Everyone had guns."That's the end of Chapter Two of Dennis Tafoya's novel Dope Thief, and such weighty sentiments so early in the book are a key to Tafoya's purpose. "Showing the consequences of violence, the panic, is the thing I think is missing from TV shows" — at least until The Sopranos and The Wire — he told a gratifyingly crowded house at this evening's Noir at the Bar in Philadelphia. (And thanks to the good people at the Pen & Pencil Club for being such good hosts.)
I'm unsure how much more to report, since political events at the Pen & Pencil are traditionally off the record, and I don't know whether similar etiquette applies to readings, but Tafoya also had some sobering words about current conditions in the publishing business, conditions to which he seems to be adjusting exceedingly well.
Pete Dexter read next in an event independent of mine. That legendary newspaper columnist, novelist and screenwriter told fine old newspaper stories and read a heartbreaking section of his new novel, Spooner. I shall follow his future and his past career with interest.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009