Wednesday, August 24, 2011

David Levien

David Levien, author of Where the Dead Lay and City of the Sun, has been nominated for the Edgar, Hammett, and Shamus awards, and is also a screenwriter and director (including co-director of Solitary Man (2009) starring Michael Douglas). He lives in Connecticut.

13 Million Dollar Pop, his third Frank Behr novel, is now out from Doubleday.

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Killing Pablo, Mark Bowden

This book is a definitive telling of Colombian law enforcement, along with U.S. Delta Force, going after the richest, most powerful and notorious drug cartel boss in history. Pablo Escobar was a billionaire and in many ways more powerful than even the President of his country. Finally, his brazen criminality and outrageous violence compelled the governments to overcome corruption and act. Entire countries, with military resources, have an incredibly difficult time bringing down this criminal overlord. Ultimately, it is the families of Escobar’s victims (innocents and criminals alike) who come forth to help the soldiers in his being taken out. Not quite as riveting as Bowden’s brilliant Black Hawk Down, but a fascinating true crime read.

A Drop of the Hard Stuff, by Lawrence Block

Both Block and his legendary detective Matt Scudder are back in top form in this novel. It’s been a few years since I’ve read one of Block’s books, although I grew up reading the Scudder series and the comic Evan Michael Tanner series. (I advise readers to check out the Evan Michael Tanner, Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep series—witty political commentary and exciting spy action.) A Drop of the Hard Stuff is a flashback book, during the time when Scudder has just quit drinking, and is within his first year of sobriety, when he looks into the death of an acquaintance who was also in AA. The idea of taking a drink is never far from Scudder’s mind, which adds to the tension. Reading this is a great reminder that Block, as a writer, is the ultimate craftsman.

Men, Women & Children, by Chad Kultgen

This one is a story of sex and sexual politics in everyday America. In some ways an extension of his debut, The Average American Male, Kultgen paints a bleak, hilarious, disturbing picture of what’s going on inside the minds of people in this country. Kultgen’s prose is unadorned and his outlook unsentimental. This may not be for everyone--at times the going is extremely painful as the lonely, disenfranchised characters desperately seek though rarely, if ever, find connection through physical satisfaction--but Kultgen is up to something important as he chronicles the isolation and existential malaise of modern American life.
Visit David Levien's website.

--Marshal Zeringue