Cogan's Trade is George V. Higgins' third novel, following The Friends of Eddie Coyle by four years. Like that venerated classic, Cogan's Trade is almost all dialogue as it begins, punctuated by brief descriptions to establish a scene. I realized a few chapters into this book what a brave move this was on Higgins' part. Write chapters and chapters of dialogue, with little or no intervening description, and you'd better be damned sure that dialogue can hold the reader's attention. How much of the dialogue you come across in your reading is that good?
So far, it works. So, who are those European authors? The first is Garbhan Downey, who offered some thoughtful replies to critical comments I posted about The Friends of Eddie Coyle a few years ago. Among other things, he expanded my awareness of Higgins' work beyond that one book, which is all I had known of Higgins before.
The other is Bill James. My post this week about James' new novel, Vacuum, took me back to my 2009 interview with James, which included his declaration that
"I’ve said it boringly often, but the one book that influenced me above all was The Friends Of Eddie Coyle, by George V. Higgins, for its dialogue and its subtle treatment of the fink situation."
© Peter Rozovsky 2012
Labels: George V. Higgins