Friday, December 2, 2016

A Note On George V. Higgins


Listen, I love George V. Higgins, and I must've read 90% of his 26/27/25 whatever books.

And what I love most is his story telling and world creating through dialogue, and not just dialogue, but through the way guys talk, and I use "guys" advisedly, as in street guys, guys who live on the ground not in the air, lawyers, judges, cops, bar tenders, fixers, crooks, killers, dope dealers, scum bags, politicians, bag men, doormen, and like others, and some women, a few, who fit into these categories, guys who see the world as it is, see human nature for by and large the grubby thing it is, guys who are practical and reason practically by real world consequences according to the rules and logic of their worlds. 

It's unique in American fiction and I love it.

To me, it's strongest in Higgins's first novels, and he came flying out of the gate brilliantly with his first, The Friends Of Eddie Coyle, made into a strong movie too with a great performance by Robert Mitchum. That novel is as good as anything he wrote, I'd argue. He was a Federal prosecutor. Norman Mailer said of him,"Who knew the fuzz could write like this." 

So I'm reading what I think is his second last novel, The Agent, and it's got some, a lot, to be sure, of Higgins's great writing strength.

But 2/3ds through it, I've got this nagging feeling, and I'm trying to resist it, hoping it'll all make sense: there's too much talk, too much extraneous talk for its own sake; it imparts a lot of information, sure; but it seems slack somehow, as, the way David Simon has a tendency to do even more so, characters speechify and make points for the author through dialogue that's ostensibly authentic but is at bottom serving some polemical, in the case of Simon, or some informational, in the case of Higgins, purpose at the expense of the story.

I'm hoping out of my love for Higgins that by story's end, it'll all make sense and that my nagging feeling is a false positive.

No comments:

Post a Comment