Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lawrence Block's "I Know How to Pick 'Em"

Well, if Wrestling Jesus had some bad language and bad manners, I Know How to Pick 'Em takes it up several notches in the uncomfortable department. Rather daring in a way, the author gives the reader some rather explicit scenes that I'm not sure I really needed to have spelled out for me so bluntly. The author did successfully twist my perception, though - all along I thought the woman who is the main character is the dangerous woman in the story, turns out - after some thinking, because this story did require some thought to piece it together - it turns out that the truly dangerous woman was the mother of the point of view character (I hesitate to call him the main character because, even though he really is, the focus is mostly on the femme fatale who grabs his attention as well as body parts). It was confusing, and at times somewhat disgusting (I'm not offended - it was just eeew at times) so my first impression after reading it was something like "this was the least interesting story so far". But lo! The story kept churning in my mind because I couldn't make sense of it in a way (I am trying to avoid spoiling stuff here, so bear with my vague ways), and then it dawned on me and I realized it was rather cunningly crafted and that perhaps the naughty bits kind of overshadowed too much the plot, it distracted more than added to the experience in a way. But there's a psychological look at a character at play here, that really demands a re-read of "I Know How to Pick 'Em". It's not a favorite, but I do respect what the author accomplished with this tale. And I suppose it's a bit brave too, this text.

I've started the next story already and the first pages surprised me totally. You see, the next story is a Brandon Sanderson story and all I can think of when I see his name is "sloooo-ooo-oooow" due to The Way of Kings (though I admit it could be just me being slow, what with having that massive slab of book on my nightstand for more than three years), and then this story kicks off and goes straight into great, quick characterization and a nice atmosphere that made me go back to see if I actually had read the author's name wrong. The best part so far is the great names the characters in this story have. I would like to read more about this world where people can have such cool names. Maybe Sanderson has written novels in this setting for all I know. I need to check it out.

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