Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pete Dexter

Deadwood Dexter’s Deadwood is boisterous, wild, and darkly humored epic. The humor and the intricate exploring of the characters makes you forget that this book catalogues murder, insanity, sickness, suicides, mutilation, prostitution, and the mud and the squalor of a frontier town. This mingling of darkness and character driven comedy is as finely tuned as anything since Heller’s Catch 22.
Train: A Novel Dexter is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. His spare and menacing style, quirky characters, bizarre humor, and capturing of place are all on display here. This book involves racism, golf, a caddie named “Train”, a police Sergeant obsessed with control, failed land deals, a rich widow(and survivor of a terrifying boat hijacking), an ex-boxer “Plural”(a great Dexter creation), some creepy criminals and psychopaths, and lots of random violence in 1950’s L.A. This has been described as Dexter’s take on a Walter Mosley book and this is correct, but Dexter’s style is very dissimilar to Mosley’s warmer take

Brotherly Love The ironically named Brotherly Love is a cold, sparse and terrifying, an unrelenting plunge into a nightmare. There is Dexter’s scalpel sharp dissection of character and black humor along the way, but for the most part this the most relentless Dexter I have found yet. A tale of thirty or so years of two mob connected cousins in Philadelphia is told intimately, sparsely, and claustrophobic as opposed to sweeping. Brilliant narrative economy, dialogue, and character and I’m left with question of whether or not Dexter is a realist or a surrealist. Or his ultra magnified exploration of character revealing how much both sides of the coin are the same.
God's Pocket Dexter’s sense of terror and comedy is firmly in place in his very first novel.The book follows the impact the random murder of an unrepentant sociopath on the neighborhood he is from and a couple other unfortunate outsiders pulled into the events. The story told is one featuring painfully exquisite character sketches, brutal comedy, and violence and told with eye towards grit and street smarts. It reminds me of Nathaniel West, Lehane’s Mystic River( Lehane uses a quote from this book as an epigram)Robert Stone, Richard Price (who provides a blurb), and Robert Altman and Sydney Lumet movies but Pete Dexter feels too original for comparisons.

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