Sunday, July 26, 2015

Don Winslow's Savages: James Ellroy meets Woody Allen on dope

Don Winslow's 2010 novel Savages reads as if James Ellroy and Woody Allen were one person, and that person took careful notes while hanging around with people who did lots of drugs.

(Woody Allen, you ask? A bit of description on Page 30 could,  but for one word, have come straight from Allen's early comic crime parodies:
"John Sr. was a founding member of the Association, the legendary group of Laguna beach boys who made millions of dollars smuggling marijuana before they fucked up and went to prison.")
The social observation  in Savages is unbeatable, the characters managing at the same time to represent social types and to seem full-blooded, three-dimensional, and sympathetic, even the worst of them.

The satire of ruthless young entrepreneurs and their trickle-down moralizing is priceless ("Money isn't enough [says a multi-multi-multi-millionaire young drug dealer who spends his spare time working on Third World development projects], you have to commit your heart, soul, and body.")

My only gripe with Savages so far, other than that it ruined a trip I planned to New York today because I stayed up till 5:45 a.m. reading the damned thing, is that once that main conflicts have been set up and Winslow has to resolve them, the plot elements begin to fall into place just a bit too mechanically.  Now, let's go finish the novel and see if I can prove myself wrong.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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6 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

I really have no excuse for not getting on to Don Winslow yet. I have been hearing great things about him for years.

July 27, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

As have I. I read "The Death and Life of Bobby Z" a few years ago and liked it but did not love it. Maybe Winslow has hit his stride since then. ("Savages" is 2010, and it includes a humorous observation on the difference between Northern California and Southern California that you might like.)

July 27, 2015  
Blogger seana graham said...

OK. Then this may be the one to start with. Although I have heard many observations on that difference. With a foot in both camps, I am either unbiased or a pretty severe judge.

July 27, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I forget the context of the Northern California/Southern California comparison. The book takes place mostly in Southern California, with considerable Mexican involvement.

July 27, 2015  
Blogger Ben said...

Oh man, was it your first reading? I envy the hell outta you!!

July 31, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It was my first reading of Savages, but not of Don Winslow. I had read and liked The Death and Life of Bobby Z, but Savages blew me away, as those crazy kids say.

July 31, 2015  

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