Thursday, January 8, 2009

Guy Books

I took some time off during the holidays to spend with family and to get in touch with my inner Christmas spirit. Christmas is a wonderful time to slow down and meditate on what is really important.

For me it was also a time to engage in a guilty pleasure: what I call Guy Books. These are the male equivalent of the steamy romances some of our female readers check out by the bushel. They are almost always thrillers with lots of violence and sex and a hero (usually macho, but sometimes a regular guy who has to step up to the occasion) who always triumphs in the end. Yeah, I was a literature major in college. No, you can't expect beautiful language and realistic dialog. But you can expect an exciting escape from the winter doldrums.

I do firmly believe that all readers should read whatever they want, no matter what I or anyone else says, so I guess I shouldn't feel too guilty about these fun reads.

I prefer Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone novels to his more famous Parker books. The characters aren't very different and the dialog has the same stale "sparkling repartee," but I guess I've just read too many Spensers. Sea Change contrasts the world of outrageously wealthy and depraved yacht owning visitors and the regular townies and cops in Paradise, MA during a sailing festival. The dialog is familiar, the characters are predictable but the plot twists keep the pages turning right until the end.

The catalog summarizes Elmore Leonard's The hunted: "Al Rosen is hiding out in Israel when the hit men start showing up.... The raunchy settings, sleazy characters, and unexpected plot twists that have become Leonard's trademarks abound." This is an early Leonard, but celebrates the same world of amoral characters taking whatever they can get as his more recent novels and movies. It also includes some of the sharp writing and clever dialog that places Leonard above the crowd in the "Guy Books" genre.

In Fresh Disasters, Stuart Woods' character Stone Barrington ties up with the New York Mafia. Barrington is a lawyer who tends to use his retired cop status to make the New York police force his private army. Here, Stone gets sucked into representing a sleazy and ruthless small time player, Herbie Fisher, who is a continuing character in the series. The plot twists, the characters act and the pages keep turning. This is one of Woods' best Stone Barrington novels, well plotted and fairly well written.

Everyone has the right to read whatever they want--and sometimes it is nice to just turn off your critical faculties and read something silly.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Hubby brought home a new Lawrence Block Hit and Run for his holiday fun. :)