Wednesday, July 16, 2008

THE CLEANUP by Sean Doolittle

The Book: Sean Doolittle, THE CLEANUP. Advance reading copy of a Dell paperback original, 2006. Inscribed by the author. Fine condition.
First read: 2006
Owned since: 2006

Although I get a lot of advance reading copies, I don't keep most of them; if it's a book I particularly like, I'll usually buy a copy once it comes out. In fact, I did buy THE CLEANUP once it came out -- a couple of copies, even -- but gave those copies away and kept this one, since it's inscribed to me.

I've blogged before about how much I admire Sean Doolittle's writing, not just the individual books but the fact that each book has been an effort to try something new. His first book, DIRT, was a cross between Carl Hiaasen and THE LOVED ONE; the second, BURN, was harder-edged, but still had that dark sense of humor. RAIN DOGS was much more serious in tone, and more of a character study.

THE CLEANUP brings all those elements together into a book that is his best to date, made several awards shortlists, and won the Barry for Best Paperback Original. Ruined policeman Matthew Worth has been demoted to working nights at an Omaha supermarket. The one bright spot in his miserable life is the checkout girl, Gwen, who sometimes shows up with bruises she doesn't want to explain.

One night, though, things go too far, and Worth decides it's his responsibility to make things okay for Gwen. What he doesn't realize is that Gwen's abusive boyfriend had some very nasty friends, who were expecting a delivery from him -- and are anxious enough about it to track it down. The plot twists and turns like a hairpin rollercoaster, bringing everyone to a finish that feels both surprising and inevitable.

Sean has a short story in a brand-new collection, but it's been too long between novels. When's the next one, man?

Five Random Songs

"Gimme Shelter," Patti Smith. A great cover from her collection Twelve, spooky and desperate.

"Have I Got a Girl for You," from the Company revival soundtrack. The 1970s origins of this show are a little too obvious in this song.

"I Missed the Point," Neko Case. If you listen to the words of this song, you realize it's actually a prayer.

"Study War No More," The Weavers. Awfully cheerful for a song that should be either angry or sad.

"Dreaming My Dreams with You," Alison Krauss. A lovely waltz, appropriate for weddings.


Tom Ehrenfeld said...

Glad that you're listening to the Company revival. Yes, the dated 70's feel remains in several of this production's numbers (especially the limp Another Hundred People), but is more than made up by the pep of so many other songs in this production. Don't you love Marry Me A Little? I really never thought much of Bobby as a character (too ambiguous and shallow to register), but Raul Espereza (sp) sings the crap out of his songs, and for the first time breathes life and drama into the character. This is a show (and even a particular production) that just doesn't need the interstitial scenes, since the songs function perfectly well as dramatic vehicles....

Ooops. This blog is all-Sondheim all-the-time, yes? Yes? Anybody?

sd said...

Answer Girl, you sweet thing. I have no good excuses for the delay between books, but I can cleverly distract you from my failings with the pub date for the new one: March 09 (Feb 24, to get all scientific). Also, I love you.


AnswerGirl said...

You have two kids, a day job and side projects, Sean -- you don't need an excuse.

March, huh? Now I have something to live for ... all is forgiven...