by Joe GoresJoe Gores's novel begins with a quote by Ernest Hemingway, "In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say."
This mantra is what continually inspires the protagonist, Pierce "Dunc" Duncan, a recent college graduate and aspiring writer, on his hitchhiking journey across 1953 America.
Dunc’s journey becomes a picaresque, and often violent, tale that leads him to a chain gang in Georgia, a dangerous night on the Texas/Mexico border, a fixed boxing match in Las Vegas, falling in love in Los Angeles, and finally becoming a rookie private investigator in San Francisco.
The story is very staccato throughout and at first seems more like a collection of short stories than a novel. With the protagonist’s frequent references to Hemingway’s mantra, it’s obvious Gores himself was inspired by Hemingway. It also feels like Gores is emulating him in his writing style. The rhythm of the sentences and straight-forward description are very reminiscent of Hemingway. And with Dunc regularly making references to other writers like Raymond Chandler and James Joyce throughout the novel, the book is also a tip of the hat to what writers go through, how they dull their instrument in order to have something to write.
While there were tid-bits of snappy, hardboiled dialogue, mostly it felt clunky and stiff and lacked a certain style or realism.The story covers many different locations and separate, seemingly individual events. Dunc starts out as the sole protagonist, but when the hard-boiled PI Edward “Drinker” Cope comes onto the scene and hires Dunc as an apprentice, the story gets very cluttered and is continually switching points of view, describing what’s going on with the bad guys as well as Drinker, etc. and Dunc changes from a sole protagonist to one member of a confusing ensemble and it really slows the pacing in the second half…until the last 50 pages. While the book is far too long at 354 pages, many of which could have easily been trimmed or cut, the ending was surprising and shocking, and elevated the whole experience of reading the book.
Gores became a respected writer and this is the first of his books I’ve read. While “Cases” proves to be worthwhile in the end, I’m sure it’s not Gores’s best work.
|eBook format||Paperback, (torrent)|
|File size||3.4 Mb|
|Book rating||4.28 (38 votes)