Saturday, November 27, 2010

Savages -- Don Winslow

I've reviewed five or six of Don Winslow's books here, so it's no secret that I'm a fan of his work. I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this one. Maybe I was saving it.

Savages is the story of Ben and Chon, a couple of high-end marijuana peddlers in Laguna Beach, and O (short for Ophelia), the young woman they both love and who loves them in return. (Yes, there's quite a bit of sex in the book.) Things are fine until the Baja Cartel decides to take over their business, though "take over" means that Ben and Chon continue to do all the hard work. They turn down the offer, having become incredibly rich already, and say they'll just retire. The cartel says they won't, and when they don't cooperate, Elena, the head of the cartel, has O kidnapped. Hilarity ensues, because this is a very funny book. Savagery ensues because, well, the cartel is made up of savages, and Chon's a savage, too. Ben isn't, but he has to become one or pretend to be one, and we are what we pretend to be. In the end, it's the savagery that triumphs.

The first thing you'll notice about the book isn't the plot, though. It's the writing. Reading Savages is a little like reading a New Wave SF novel in the '70s, lots of playing around with words and format and conventional narrative and such. It works just fine for me, but it might not work for everybody. Check it out and see what you think.

6 comments:

  1. Janet Maslin of the NY TIMES picked SAVAGES as one of the Ten Top books of 2010. I own a copy and as soon as I finish correcting this stack of term papers I think I'll go find it and read it.

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  2. It's on my TBR pile. I was about to start it when the galley of Winslow's SATORI, a prequel to Trevanian's SHIBUMI, came along. I'm mid-way through it and its great, cheesy fun.

    Lee

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  3. I liked SHIBUMI. I was in HS when I read it.

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  4. This is easily my favorite crime novel of the year--nothing else is even close. This despite the fact that I'm a bit puzzled by the ending. Anyone have anything to say about the ending that won't spoil it for those who haven't read it yet?

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  5. As a retired English prof, I'd say it was an "indeterminate" ending.

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  6. Thanks, Bill. That's what I thought, but it didn't stop me from reading the last few pages 5-6 times before settling on the old "if he'd 'a wanted ya to know he'd 'a told ya" rule.

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