Friday, December 17, 2004

Mr. Paradise Not Quite That

Elmore Leonard books range from lukewarm to sizzling hot reads for me. Unfortunately, Mr. Paradise runs on the lukewarm side. The dialog’s hot, but the story’s cold. It’s a short novel, just under 300 pages, with big typeface and lots of space between paragraphs. Yet, there are several throwaway conversations and events that could have been left out. So maybe Mr. Paradise could have been a very good short story.
The plot revolves around the murder of Mr. Paradiso and his call girl, Chloe. Detective Frank Delsa is tracking down the muderers while falling in love with Kelly, who was also at the murder scene. I don’t normally gripe about a story having to be “believable,” but, Leonard’s a pro that’s lived near Detroit most his life. With Mr. Paradise he makes it difficult not to be critical when several places and people in the story just seem so unlikely. As a native to the areas Elmore refers to in Mr. Paradise I feel its my duty to warn anybody wanting to visit Detroit to find someone like Kelly, a gorgeous Victoria Secret’s model, living in a chic downtown Detroit loft, with her call girl roommate, Chloe, doesn’t come close to existing. It sounds interesting, but it’s just not plausible. Even worse, Leonard pulls the tired cliché of having her and the Detective fall in love.
Luckily, Leonard saves the novel with his sly and witty dialog play between characters. Despite all the faults, the story moves along at a quick, enjoyable pace. Elmore Leonard will remain on my reading list but let’s just say I’m expecting more.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Review: Clive Barker's Galilee

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a novel by Clive Barker. I’ve always enjoyed his books, especially Cabal. Since Halloween was just around the corner I was also in the mood for something with a bit of a scare. Fortunately for me, I was more in the mood for a good story than frights, because while there are some vividly haunting scenes in Galilee, it is not a bonechiller. The element Galilee has that I enjoyed immensely was a style of prose that makes they story so wonderful I was savoring the words.
The story of Galilee is told by Maddox, Galilee’s half-brother, they are both members of the Barbarossa family. A family with a very powerful and strange background, they seem to have the ability to live for centuries and have some mystical powers, but they are not Vampires. Maddox narrates the history of the family with fantastic tales surrounding the family’s members, although his main subject is Galilee. Galilee is the outcast of the family that lives by the sea, occasionally coming in contact with members of the Geary family. Unlike, the Barbarossa family, the Geary family is very much human, they are rich and very petty people. You can also easily pick up that they were modeled after the Kennedys. The conflict of the story involves Galilee’s relationship with Rachel Pollenberg, Mitchell Geary’s wife and the connections between the two families since the Civil War.
What’s interesting about Galilee is thinking back on the novel, the conflicts and climaxes are really quite subtle. For all the grand talk Maddox does about the events that are taking place, they are relatively small tragedies. However, the way Maddox lays out the tale and describes the events you’d think the world was continually crumbling around him. In many ways, Galilee is Clive Barker’s Gothic Romance novel, it’s dark, mysterious, and achingly beautiful.