High Praise for a Literary Western
September 11, 2012
Another review for Go Down Looking on Amazon.
This fourth novel in the Rivers series follows Jake Rivers as he discovers life outside of the small, hard, tight life of his youth. As usual Ainsworth’s deft words encapsulate the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of his realistic and interesting characters. You are not only inside Jake’s mind as he discovers the vagaries and truths of relationships, family and corporate life; you care about him, you really care about him. You get angry at him for his pride, temper and misjudgments and are frustrated and puzzled with him by the way life treats him, but neither you nor he ever feel like a victim. His cynical optimism is Jake’s most endearing trait and strongest weapon. The universality of Jake’s episodes and the drop-dead veracity of the characters and their dialogue produce what I think any serious author of contemporary fiction would strive for: reflective thought, deep empathy, life recalled and lessons learned. Reading Ainsworth is a joy and I think he is one of the great undiscovered talents who will richly deserve the success he will find. Trice Lawrence
The book The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, whatever that is worth. My curiosity was piqued, however, because it is, well, a western and westerns don’t usually make that list. Man Booker usually only considers literary fiction, so this could be classed as a literary western.
Although the title is intriguing, I would probably not have picked it up except for the recommendation of friend Charles Bailey, a fan and expert on the writings of Cormac McCarthy and who recently appeared in the movie Bernie with wife Jo and local actor Jerry Biggs.
Yes, literary often does mean confusion and complexity. It seems that many literary authors go out of their way to confuse readers either to show their superior intellect, or just “because they can.” Irritating.
After he became famous, Philip Roth sometimes inserted a few paragraphs of pure drivel that had no discernible relationship to the novel he was writing just to show that he could. Dewitt does not do that. This book is engaging and kept me entertained to the last page.
It is possible that I could be biased because I saw some similarities between the Rivers brothers in my book, Home Light Burning, and the Sisters brothers in this book. Some scenes definitely seemed familiar including the toothache, a found horse, and some characters they meet while traveling.
One reviewer called it cowboy noir. That seems fitting. It’s darkly humorous. From the viewpoint of Eli Sisters, one of a pair of brothers who are hired killers, we get a behind-the-eyes look at how a killer who can otherwise be sensitive feels about his murderous profession and why he can’t seem to get away from it.
If you like shoot-‘em-ups and fast draw heroes who always get their man and the girl, don’t look here. But if you like complicated characters and unusual situations that might make you laugh if they weren’t tragic, consider this book.
Please watch for the trailer for Go Down Looking on your televisions. They are supposed to be starting this month. If you see it, e-mail me and tell me when and where. Blink and you will miss it.