Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Chad Dundas

Chad Dundas’ debut novel Champion of the World was a 2016 Boston Globe Best Book of the Year as well as a finalist for the David J. Langum Sr. Prize for Historical Fiction and Reading the West Book Awards. His short fiction has appeared in the Beloit Fiction Journal, Sycamore Review, Sou’Wester and Thuglit.

Since 2001, he’s worked as a sportswriter for outlets such as ESPN, NBC Sports, The Sporting News, Bleacher Report, and the Associated Press, among others.

Dundas' new novel is The Blaze.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
The sad truth is, with three kids under the age of eight and what amounts to two (or three) jobs depending on my workload any given week, I don’t get to read as much as I should. I’m also embarrassed to say I’m a bit of a slow reader, which further complicates things. I’m always amazed by people who can steam through an entire book in a day or two. I’m dying to know their secret. But I am resolved to do more reading in 2020 – it’s the time of year for resolutions, after all.

I’ve stockpiled a disconcerting number of year-end “best of” lists in my browser bookmarks folder during the last couple of months and I’m intent on working my way through as many of them as I can. At the moment, I’m about halfway through The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (a New York Times pick for best mystery of 2019, if I’m not mistaken) and so far, it’s delightful. Set in New Orleans during the mid-1970s, it has a pleasing “’70s cop show vibe” as fledgling private investigator Tom Phelan and his embattled secretary/investigative partner Delpha Wade meander through a series of cases while searching for the estranged brother of a mysterious wealthy client. Phelan and Wade are both enchanting point-of-view characters and Sandlin delivers some of the best one-liners I’ve encountered in a long, long time, like describing Nixon's “Watergate gang” as “holding the truth underwater until it ran out of bubbles.”

If you want a book that makes it easy to imagine mustachio-and-sideburn bedecked plainclothes cops skulking around in wide-lapeled plaid suits, I recommend The Bird Boys highly.

I also just finished Every Man a Menace by Patrick Hoffman, which came out in 2016 but was new to me. This novel left me out of breath and fanning myself like a degenerate gambler watching a horserace. Not sure I’ve ever read a book like it before, with Hoffman intricately following a group of sketchballs who are all trying to screw each other over on a huge shipment of MDMA. The drugs move from southeast Asia to Florida to San Francisco and main characters drop like flies as the reader slowly catches up with what’s really going on. The initial review I read called Every Man a Menace “kaleidoscopic” and that seems about right to me. It’s dizzying and great, but also a little on the heavy side. Reader be ready.

In early 2020, I’m looking forward to a host of new releases, including the next installment in Joe Ide’s terrific “IQ” series, called Hi Five, which drops on January 28.

Now I just need to find some damn time to read all these books.
Visit Chad Dundas' website.

My Book, The Movie: The Blaze.

The Page 69 Test: The Blaze.

--Marshal Zeringue