Friday, June 08, 2012

Steven Torres' crime fiction across cultural borders

I don't like to get too anthropological about crime fiction, and Steven Torres is a novelist, not a social scientist.  Still, Torres' position as a member of at least two worlds (he was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, moved back to Puerto Rico, then came back to New York) probably makes it easier for him to look across cultural borders and ask, "Why?" Here's one such bit from The Concrete Maze:
"`Why is cockfighting illegal?' he asked. `We eat chickens anyway.' I didn’t have an answer for him. In fact, I didn’t have a single word for him, but that didn’t stop him.”
That's not all there is to Torres in the almost two books of his I've read in recent days. More than most crime writers, Torres has his protagonists try to imagine what it's like to walk a mile in the other fellow's shoes. Here's a bit from Death in Precinct Puerto Rico:
"In her mind, he sat in a dejected state, as many prisoners sit in prison when they begin to feel what they have done." 
And, though his books are not comic, Torres' eye for detail in the fictional Puerto Rican town of Angustias will elicit smiles, as here when, out of space in the tiny station-house jail and the municipal office, Sheriff Luis Gonzalo has a deputy resort to an emergency alternative to hold a suspect:
"Vargas walked his man up the center aisle of the church, stopping to genuflect with his prisoner before the altar as he headed towards the back of the church where the offices were." 
 © Peter Rozovsky 2012

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Blogger Steven said...

I really like Torres' books too. They're awesome.

Sorry. Had to do that. Many thanks for the kind words.

June 09, 2012  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

I'm a fan of Steven Torres's books. The Precinct Puerto Rico series is often hilarious, and CONCRETE MAZE is just simply a super book that should have made a lot of people sit up.
But what can I say? Publishing is in a very bad way.

June 09, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, Steven, you have good taste in books. Thanks for the note.

June 09, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., maybe blogs and e-books can help spread the news. Seems to this outsider that one advantage of e-books is that they need not disappear, the way a traditionally published and printed book does when it does out of print.

Needless to say, I agree with you so far on Steven Torres. I saw you had blurbed one of his books, so I knew you were a fan.

June 09, 2012  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Let's hope you're right. Too many fine writers have been abandoned in favor of publishing celebrities and vampire novels.

June 09, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And, from what I understand, publishers unwilling to take chances.

June 09, 2012  

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