And It Stoned Me

18 Jun

Power of the Dog by Don WInslow


After I read Don Winslow’s novel The Power of the Dog a few summers ago I believed that I would never read as plausible an account of the War on Drugs and it complicit malefactors (the CIA, Drug Cartels, The Catholic Church, various agencies of the Mexican government, FARC et al). Since that book Winslow has published a number of novels and even been assigned to fabricate a Trevanian novel (Satori), which made no sense to me. But then Robert Parker was once asked to complete a Raymond Chandler novel and now Ace Atkins has written a Robert Parker/Spenser novel. I mention this because Winslow’s name will be bantered about in the coming entertainment news cycle (as well as on book pages)as Oliver Stone’s adaption of Winslow’s novel Savages makes its way to the once and future silver screen.

And, of course, as info-entertainment conglomerates become increasingly adept at synergizing/monetizing, it makes sense that Don Winslow has concurrently (with Stone’s flick) published a new opus, a prequel to Savages, entitled, Kings of Cool. The prequel is necessary for obvious reasons and may in fact touch off a new narrative trend in the genre world —especially for writers who never intended to create sequels/series—the allure of monetization possibilities weighing in heavily against other, uh, considerations.

The Kings of Cool by Don Winslow

Janet Maslin raises an interesting point about Stone’s film adaptation — can a movie sustain “Mr. Winslow’s heavenly understatement” without drowning in the violence of drug warfare? Whatever she means by “heavenly understatement’ it would be a shame if the film Savages was just another excuse for sanguinary mayhem

Winslow’s Savages and Kings of Cool are both written in a briskly paced, elliptical style that is particularly adaptable to cinema— lots of quick cuts and bloody mayhem (by now we all know that Mexican drug cartels (which are a necessary component of any LA crime story)means prodigious body counts as well as a Red Sea of gore. Which is not to say that Winslow’s recent fiction is not gripping—just that I found his magnum opus,The Power of The Dog, singularly entertaining. And given that it seemed to have escaped major review attention you may want to pick up a copy and read it for yourself.

Currently reading Land of the Blind by Jess Walter (Harper Perennial)

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