Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Christopher Goffard

Christopher Goffard is a general assignment reporter at the Los Angeles Times. His first book, the literary crime novel Snitch Jacket, will be released in the U.S. in October.

A few days ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I just finished American Prometheus, the excellent Robert Oppenheimer biography, which is about how cold war hysteria devoured one of our greatest scientists, and which reminded me that during the first test of the atom bomb, the Los Alamos gang did not even know if the explosion would ignite the atmosphere.

At an airport I picked up Malcolm Gladwell's engrossing The Tipping Point -- his exploration of the subterranean life of social trends from smoking to suicide to kids' TV shows -- and read it on a cross-country flight in nearly one gulp.

I'm now deep into Don DeLillo's Libra, which is a reimagining of the Kennedy assassination as a conspiracy hatched by disaffected CIA agents, with a fascinating psychological portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald as this angry cipher desperate to merge his life with history.
Publishers Weekly gave Snitch Jacket a starred review:
In Goffard's impressive debut, a darkly comic romp through the Southern California underworld, Benny Bunt, a 41-year-old dishwasher, finds his main escape in the Greasy Tuesday, a blue-collar bar in Costa Mesa. Among the recidivist misfits, his is a harmless familiar face. What they don't know is that Benny is a snitch who earns pocket money by ratting out his buddies to the cops. Enter one Gus “Mad Dog” Miller, a massive, bearded Vietnam vet, covered with prison tattoos; Gus holds court at the bar with outrageous tales of his exploits, military and criminal. Gus soon becomes Benny's best friend, and seeks his assistance in a contract killing. Only problem is, the police “botch” their surveillance and Benny ends up taking the fall for a double homicide committed at the Howling Head festival in the Mojave desert. Goffard's prose shimmers with intelligence and humor, and he has a keen ear for telling detail. Fans of such cultish neo-noir scribes such as Charlie Huston and Duane Swierczynski will be richly rewarded.
The Page 99 Test: Snitch Jacket.

--Marshal Zeringue