Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dope Thief visits Noir at the Bar

Manny and Ray work in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, making a nice living ripping off drug dealers, but they're a pair of crooks with intimations of their own mortality:
"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

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Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Read Dope Thief in galley earlier in the year. I thought it was terrific.

October 01, 2009  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I wish this hadn't been during the week. Impossible for us to get to, but I really wanted to go.

October 01, 2009  
Blogger Brian Lindenmuth said...

Yeah what she said.

Peteer, does this mean you haven't read any Dexter?

October 01, 2009  
Blogger Dana King said...

Wow, that's a great paragraph. I'm going to have to put DOPE THIEF on the list.

Dexter's DEADWOOD is on my wish list already. Sounds like this was a hell of an evening.

October 01, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, more and more, I'm finding the combination of suspense; violence; humor; and moral seriousness or introspection attractive. Tafoya has it. And his next book just might put one of Philadelphia's best and criminally underknown features on the map, a bonus for those of us who generally regard the city with less than flag-waving boosterism.

October 01, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sandra, it would have been nice to see you, Brian or both. I think I'll be staging future events midweek because that better suits my schedule. But I'll try to plan them far enough in advance that you could make arrangments to attend.

Dennis Tafoya will be on a Bouchercon panel for new authors. Come by and say hello.

Meanwhile, I'll be chairing a panel, and my two apprehensions have been eased already: I'll be sitting behind a table, so no one will see my knees shaking, and I think I have a handle on the pronunciation of Yrsa Sigurðardóttir's name. You did such a good job with your panel in Baltimore; I'd be happy to accept any panel-chairing tips.

October 01, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Brian, that's just what it means. Pete Dexter had left town by the time I arrived, so I missed his columns in the Philadelphia Daily News. But I'll read him now. We turned out to share opinions on a number of timely subjects, and he signed my copy of Spooner with a message that reflected this.

October 01, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, it was a landmark evening in Noir at the Bar history, all right, and the result of a lucky chance. I'd already set up the reading with Dennis Tafoya when the Pete Dexter opportunity arose, so we made a double bill of it. And the evening may already have spawned future events.

October 01, 2009  

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