Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reading Journal: Coronado, by Dennis Lehane (2006)

For a mystery/thriller writer, Lehane's chops pass for seriously literary in Coronado, and though he stays close to the subject matter we expect, he also strays into new settings and - perhaps more importantly - new styles. His clipped rhythms are even more successful when it comes to writing the somewhat elliptical short story, as in "Mushrooms," a postcard from some small-time crooks that offers no resolution: what you see is what you get. The collection's two money makers, I would say, are the first two stories, particularly the opener, "Running Out of Dog," in which a man tasked with controlling a small-town's pet population creeps ever closer to the edge. In "ICU," we join a particularly chilling chase in which a mysterious figure keeps turning up on our hero's tail - it made me think of A History of Violence, and because so little is explained, Kafka. The book's rounded out by "Until Gwen" and its adaptation for the stage, "Coronado," in which a son gets out of jail and has to face his father, who is obsessed with finding the proceeds of the son's last crime. The story was elliptical, almost too much so, and though the play left some things to be desired - the staging seemed almost too minimalist for the increased number of characters - I found that I liked the theatrical ending better, perhaps because a dramatic adaptation has to show you more, more obviously, and thus the final action's significance was much clearer. In all, for a paltry five stories and one play, Coronado provides a great introduction to one of today's more prolific bestsellers while also being a surprisingly literary accomplishment.

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