Friday, May 25, 2007

How do you write a book review for a 15 year old book? It’s not new, but it is not old enough to have begun the endless war with time and relevance that all works of art must undertake. It’s not yet the same as writing at length about books by long dead people from decades long before I was born, or even work by Salinger, whom is socially dead by his own design. Wayne is not dead. He is still very much greeting Chicago daily with 2 fists raised up, his back endlessly against filthy gangway bricks.

I always dug The Holy Terror, and not just for the omnipresent Chicago scenery and mood, though that is wonderful. Reading it for the first time 9 or so years ago I remember being struck by the wash of grey in the characters, environment, and conclusion. The conclusion is unsettling and unresolved, something I enjoyed immensely back then. The Painkiller is still out there, lurking in Chicago’s broken streets, though gentrification has certainly shoved him out of Wicker Park (I’ll also gather that Humboldt is too pricey as well). I loved the way the city breathed on each page and became a hulking character in the corner of each scene.

This past week’s reading was a bit different. I found all the things above still there in the same ways they had been before, but I ended up focusing on what wasn’t there – the attractive people coming and going, the nice bars, the good neighborhood with the nice homes on its blocks, and the pain free people. These things are mentioned sparsely and then forgotten. There seems to be a brutal disconnect of the world all of the characters occupy and the rest of Chicago. It is very clear that there are two (maybe Infinite) Chicagos at play here, and that Wayne only cares about the one with grime, filth, broken cement, and pain ridden humans, each responding differently to themselves. It is interesting to think of the true Wicker Park of 1989 in the novel and place it next to the true Wicker Park of today and see that the other Chicago steamrolled Wayne’s characters and their world. Their stomping grounds were not very happy so maybe that’s ok. Chicago is a big place and there will always be dirty alleys and narrow gangways for Vic and Haid to retreat into. They are still out there for sure, stumbling around El platforms.

I can’t recommend this book enough, both as an excellent modern horror tale and a true snapshot of Chicago. It’s not that expensive. C’mon, read a great book and then tell Wayne about it.

Oh yeah, while I’m telling you how to spend your money, buy a Cognition cap. Mine fits better than any other cycling cap I’ve ever bought. Good hat, good people.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

well this was a surprise, mr. cady. i haven't even been visiting blogs for several weeks now because of, well, whole shitloads of things. you are way cool to post this.

Scott said...

How weird. I ws just taking a dump and thinking about this book (No coolation, I swear). I came back to my desk and looked at your blog and boom! You're taling about the book I was just thinking about.

I think I want to re- read this myself. Maybe I'll post my own review, eh?

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Leave it to Citizen Nick. I wonder if he was taking a dump on Earth-17.