Rich's new novel is Middle Man, the sequel to Caravan of Thieves.
Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Rich's reply:
An old friend recently said, “I finally read that Irwin Shaw story you used to talk about, the one you said was perfect.” I had no idea what he was talking about. “'Tip on a Dead Jockey',” he said. I remembered reading it but not giving it that recommendation so I reread it. It is perfect. And that led to other Shaw stories like “The Greek General,” “Love on a Dark Street,” and my favorite, “Girls in Their Summer Dresses.”Learn more about the book and author at David Rich's website and blog.
Irwin Shaw gets guys – tough guys, soft guys, self destructive guys, lucky and unlucky guys. He gets guys as clearly as anyone - Hemingway, Updike, doesn’t matter. There are guys who over estimate themselves and over trust their buddies like Alex in “The Greek General.” And there are guys who underestimate themselves and pass on a good bet the way Barber does in “Tip on a Dead Jockey.”
For Shaw it’s never unrealistic histrionics or dramatic displays of anger that define his men; it’s the bizarre, illogical logic of everyday decision making. Barber is a tall, blonde California guy, a guy the women run to, and other guys want to hang with. He is hiding out in Paris; he won’t answer his letters, won’t go home, and won’t take the big chance when it comes along. But he will hand over a large portion of his remaining cash to a friend’s worried wife and offer false reassurance because she looks like she needs it.
Barber weighs the pros and cons of Bert’s proposition, considers his instincts, his fears of flying over water and of Egyptian jails, his experience with people, but the decision is made when the horse in the seventh race falls and the jockey dies. For Richardson, though, the same event has the opposite meaning. The story has the graceful symmetry of an O. Henry story told with calm, resolute cynicism.
In “Girls in Their Summer Dresses,” Michael is out with his wife and she keeps catching him looking at women and forces him to talk about it.“Michael sighed and closed his eyes and rubbed them gently with his fingertips. "I love the way women look. One of the things I like best about New York is the battalions of women. When I first came to New York from Ohio that was the first thing I noticed, the million wonderful women, all over the city. I walked around with my heart in my throat.”Irwin Shaw gets guys.
And she presses more and gives more and then, “You want them," Frances repeated without expression. "You said that."
"Right," Michael said, being cruel now and not caring, because she had made him expose himself. "You brought this subject up for discussion, we will discuss it fully."
Frances finished her drink and swallowed two or three times extra. "You say you love me?"
“I love you, but I also want them. Okay."
My Book, The Movie: Caravan of Thieves.
My Book, The Movie: Middle Man.