Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dead Boys

Another Goodreads recommendation I enjoyed. Dead Boys, a collection of short stories by Richard Lange, was a fantastic read. I'm finding myself getting into short stories more after a lifetime of not really getting them (outside of T.C. Boyle). I have two collections signed out from the library right now. And speaking of Boyle, Lange thanks him in the acknowledgments. I had to think that was a pretty good sign.

All of the twelve stories take place in Los Angeles and focus on men, all who are facing demons of some sort or another. There's a house painter who has been robbing banks on the side with some buddies in an effort to save enough money to move out of their seedy neighborhood. In another story, the main character discovers he has an ex-con half-brother when the brother comes and visits the narrator and his wife. The visit exposes the narrator's insecurities about his job and marriage. Another story involves a guy on a bender largely because he believes he is haunted by the ghost of his ex-wife.

Lange is an excellent writer. I love some of the phrases he used in his stories. The stories were all really good. There weren't any clunkers and while there was a lot of similarity in the stories, they weren't formulaic by any means. His characters have a hard reality about them, different from say, Donald Ray Pollock's characters which are just creepy and far-fetched.

My only problem was that they were short stories. Nothing stood out about any of them individually. None of them made a lasting impression. It's not because they weren't any good - they were fantastic - there just was not enough there for me to look back and say, "Wow, that story about x was just awesome". The similarities of the stories don't help in that regard either.

I definitely liked it. In another year, I could see this book cracking my top ten. Once again, though, I'm going with a one-star rating.

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