Friday, July 15, 2005

“This is not a democracy, it’s a cheerocracy.”

The Movie: Bring it On, 2000 (Jessica Bendinger, screenwriter; Peyton Reed, dir.)
Who says it: Kirsten Dunst as cheerleading captain Torrance Shipman
The context: Torrance faces down dissent from her rival, Courtney (Clare Kramer)
How to use it: When you’re making an executive decision for the good of the team.

Thanks to Lucy and Tom Ehrenfeld for recommending this line.

Curiosity can be so inconvenient. Here's what I'm wondering about this morning: when Billy Bob Thornton (allegedly) went on that diet where he ate only orange food, did he allow himself Cheez Doodles? If so, that might be a diet I can get behind.

And it's time to acknowledge that I've been reading too much crime fiction. Last night, I drove by the American Tissue plant just north of Augusta, and I was grossing out until I realized it wasn't human tissue they meant. Sheesh.

What I Read This Week

Michael Connelly, The Closers. Harry Bosch returns to the LAPD to work cold cases, which the department now calls "Open Unsolved." His first case seems like a slam-dunk: a DNA match on a gun that killed a beautiful 17-year-old girl in 1988. Sifting through the old investigation, though, Harry finds echoes of corruption that resonate in the department to the present day. It's nice to see Harry back on the force, and this series is one of my favorites. Weirdly, Connelly's prose seemed a little awkward in this book -- characters speak without contractions, sentences are even choppier than usual. But that's a minor quibble.

Dylan Schaffer, I Right the Wrongs. Schaffer's debut, Misdemeanor Man, was a pure delight: a legal thriller starring a low-level public defender who moonlights as a Barry Manilow tribute artist and struggles to care for his father, who has early-onset Alzheimer's. In this sequel, Gordon Seegerman (aka Barry X) defends a high school football hero whose theft of a rival team's mascot leads to murder, and to the solution of a long-unsolved mystery. Good stuff, not quite as snappy as the first novel, and the timeline of the last few chapters gets a little confusing. I've mentioned before that I'm not crazy about present-tense narration; it's hard to do well, and seems to call attention to itself.

Charles McCarry, The Secret Lovers. Man oh man I love this book, which I had to reread for a client. I consider it the best of all American Cold War espionage novels (although I'll entertain counter-arguments for McCarry's classic The Tears of Autumn). CIA operative Paul Christopher comes to grips with the emotional costs of the life he has chosen, as he pursues an operation that may get a brilliant author killed and cost Christopher his marriage. This book is shamefully, shockingly out of print, although I hear that the Overlook Press plans to reprint it soon.

Jeff Shelby, Killer Swell. And then I went from the sublime to the... not. This debut novel, introducing surfer-P.I. Noah Braddock, isn't bad, but it's so close to being excellent that it made me want to snarl. One redraft under the supervision of a good editor would have taken care of three major plot howlers that wrecked this book for me: the unjustifiably coincidental discovery of the victim's body; the fact that the victim's father hires Braddock without pointing him to the obvious prime suspect, whom the father has no reason to protect; and the fact that an important secondary character hasn't heard about the victim's death a week or more after it happened, despite having close personal and professional ties to the victim's husband. Shelby's obviously talented, and deserves better from his publisher than this.

1 comment:

Aldo said...

I really liked KILLER SWELL. You are spot on with the editting. I look forward to the next one. Hopefully I'll catch up with him this week.