Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jack Reacher: Kicking the Crap out of People so We Don't Have To

I have drunk the Kool-Aid. Everything everyone says about Lee Child is true. He is simply the best in the biz--the Jimi Hendrix of thriller writers.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook of Bad Luck and Trouble, the 11th novel in the Reacher series. The book begins with a man named Franz getting hurled out of a helicopter at the behest of another man who keeps compulsively tamping down his necktie so it won't blow around in the wind. What a genius way to start off; I can't imagine any reader with a pulse not wanting to see things through to the end after that. It quickly comes to light that Franz was very close with Jack Reacher, Childs' modern take on the masterless samurai archetype and one of the toughest characters to ever make his home on the printed page. We, the readers (or in my case, listeners) spend the rest of the story feverishly contemplating the nature and scope of whup-ass that is to be unleashed upon the ignorant fools who dared mess with Reacher's crew. This is pure, unadulterated revenge porn; bloodlust between two book covers; so, so wrong; so debased and unenlightened; so visceral. And so absolutely fantastic. It's a testament to Childs' considerable literary talent that, despite the fact that Reacher is described as a big, brutal giant with few redeeming social graces, the character draws as many female readers as male ones. I urge anyone and everyone to gobble these books up before the imminent Tom Cruise movie destroys this glorious world Lee Child has so brilliantly imagined for us.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Continuing Odyssey of Luke the Drifter

It seems fitting to blog on this Father's Day about my dad: the enigmatic Luke the Drifter. The man who once read The Sea Wolf to me aloud by the side of a crackling fire still walks among us and still looms large in my personal mythos. He's an intensely private man whose Christian name I dare not divulge in this public forum. But it's just as well: he requested a few years back that the world simply refer to him as "Luke." So that's what we call him now.

All my life I've been drawn to forceful, larger-than-life personalities such as Steve Kilbey and Ray Fisher. My grandfather was such a character, and I think being near people like that makes me feel alive. Yet in personal demeanor I aspire to emulate Luke: understated, grounded, attentive and serene. I've got a long way to go, but the perfect role model hovers near. God bless you, Luke. Long may you drift. You are my hero above all heroes.

For those readers jonesing for their very own Luke the Drifter fix--a portable dose of self-renewing, ever-glorious Lukeness--today's your lucky day! You can get a sample of Luke's vocal prowess on this 2007 version of Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty," which the three Lurie men recorded at The Grande Olde Country Pile on Bainbridge Island, WA. Luke is the one who comes in at the halfway point channeling Merle Haggard to my brother's Willie Nelson.