Sunday, August 17, 2014

Discussion by Kalteis and Frankson, photo by Detectives Beyond Borders

(Photo by your humble blogkeeper, Porto, Portugal, 2011)
Dietrich Kalteis, a novelist whose debut I reviewed earlier this year, also has a penchant for verbal mano-a-mano and an eye for atmospheric scenes, and he has chosen to illustrate some of the former with some of the latter. His newish Off the Cuff site pits Kalteis and fellow author Martin J. Frankson in a series of discussions that include the kinds of questions I like to ask and, in its current edition, some thoughts on crime-novel titles that I suspect you will enjoy reading. And now Kalteis, whose Facebook feed regularly includes stunning photography, plans to illustrate his posts with my noirish photos. The current Off the Cuff discussion unfolds under a photo I shot in Porto in 2011 (above/right). So feast your eyes and feed your head.

And read what I had to say about Kalteis'
Ride the Lightning: 

I read Dietrich Kalteis' debut novel, Ride The Lightning, as an uncorrected galley, so no quotations allowed. But trust me: The book is pretty good.

What I like best is that it sustains a breakneck pace without sacrificing character to action, or action to character. Kalteis made me care about his cast of lowlifes, screw-ups, and marginals without stopping the action too often for endearing moments of humanity or self-conscious wit. What these characters show of themselves, they show in the act of doing what they do. 

What they do is grow, develop, and sell drugs; rip each other off; try to stop each other from growing, developing, and selling drugs; and seek revenge. Even the worst of the main characters is good enough at what he does that he earns a reader's respect. He gets kicked around and beaten up and gets his leg caught in an animal trap, all of which he deserves, and his very resilience is admirable. I also like Kalteis' understated nude-beach scenes.

This novel, appropriately for a book under consideration at Detectives Beyond Borders, crosses the U.S.-Canada border, from Seattle to Vancouver, where most of the action happens. So Karl, the bounty hunter who loses his job and has to shift from the U.S. to Canada, muses that he expects less violence as compensation for his reduced income. (Karl states this in a more entertaining fashion, but this was an uncorrected galley, so no quotations allowed.)

I also like characters' references to Medicine Hat, Alberta, as "the Hat," as well as the mostly downmarket setting, not so much because I got to go slumming, but as a reminder that peaceful, low-key Canada has its lowlifes, too. 

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Blogger seana graham said...

This sounds good. If I ever get a bit more caught up on my more obligatory reading, I'll take a look.

January 11, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's like to appeal to fans of McFetridge, Dana King, Charlie Stella, and similar authors, though it's not exactly like them. It's just a bit more like some of the slam-bang neo noir that I've read.

It appears you have a fair amount of obligatory reading these days. I hope that reading proves not too onerous.

January 12, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

It's not really onerous, it's all good stuff. It just doesn't seem to let me go to my first inclinations as often as I'd like.

Also, I am a slow reader.

January 12, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Aha! I shall leave you to it, then, confident that whatever you read will prove worthwhile.

January 12, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Likely" to appeal, that is. This time I can blame computer problems for my sloppy typing.

January 12, 2014  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

I like me some lowlifes. They sure keep them well hidden, from what I've seen of Canada, though.

January 12, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Maybe our Canadian lowlifes are more self-effacing than their American counterparts.

If you like the idea of Canadian lowlifes (and midlifes, too, for that matter), you might also read John McFetridge.

January 12, 2014  
OpenID identitytheseries said...

I love the sound of this book - my to read pile is heaving but I think it has to go on! I know that area well, having lived in Vancouver a few years and once illegally sneaking across that very border - ahh, memories!

January 13, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd curious, then to know what you think of the novel, which I can, of course, recommend that you read.

August 17, 2014  
Anonymous Jim Benn said...

Great photograph, Peter. Would make a decent book cover...mysterious.

August 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, thanks. I have taken tentative steps in that direction. The photo might work on one of Robert Wilson's books.

Incidentally, I recommend Porto highly as a destination.

August 18, 2014  
Anonymous Mary Beth said...

John McFetridge's books were such a surprise. Before reading them, in my mind, Toronto was so Canadian - so "nice". Who knew Toronto was such a hot bed of corruption. The thought that kept running through my mind as I read was "Now I know how easy it is for Rob Ford to get his drugs."

August 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ha! Rob Ford is such an easy target. I wonder if a Ford figure might turn up in a future McFetridge novel.

interesting you should highlight McFetridge's portrayal of Toronto as a hot bed of corruption, because he always makes his bad guys recognizably human. He once made this entertaining observation about his villains, that they:

""See themselves as breaking laws, but they see the laws as kind of temporary."

That was more than just a laugh line. He told of seeing university buildings named for Canadian brewers who made their money shipping beer into the United States during Prohibition, even altering the shapes of the bottles to make smuggling easier. The drug smugglers in his books, he said, fully expect one day to see the BC Bud School of Finance.

August 19, 2014  

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