Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reading Journal: Savages, by Don Winslow (2010)

Already trumpeting its upcoming film adaptation on its front cover, this book came to me by way of my flight attendant girlfriend. (Note to self: start hipster-chic Tumblr called Books People Deliberately Leave On Planes.) So what is it? To take Stephen King's blurb off the cover - one sourced to a reference in the text, which makes it one of those rare worthwhile blurbs - "This is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on autoload": two young pot growers, mild-mannered Ben and hot-headed, ex-military Chon, produce the best stuff in Cali and wile away their off-hours getting stoned and shagging Ophelia, sometimes one at a time, sometimes together. But when the Baja Cartel refuses to let them out of the racket and kidnaps "O" as collateral, our heroes are left to come up with either a ton of money or a much riskier plan for a head-on rescue. The book's written in short bursts - shorter "chapters" than even The Da Vinci Code - and though its machine-gun fire storytelling is a too self-aware and too self-consciously trying to be cool, no given element lasts long enough for you to really get bothered by it, and the pages practically turn themselves. Solid pulp, and a good choice of subject matter; if there's one place we should hear more stories of, it's the war zone the drug trade has created in Mexico, right under its (and the American) government's noses.

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