Friday, March 13, 2020
Peter Rozovsky on Scott Phillips
"To Peter `Fuck Peter Rozovsky' Rozovsky — the real father of NOIR@ the BAR
from your pal,
"`Shut your noisemaker,' Red said. `You don't determine what gets discussed.' He gestured to her. `Wayne, this here's my wife, Betty.'"
Sorry, but I horselaughed when I read that, just as I did at:
Telling jokes is relatively easy, but only the best crime writers can make a reader laugh in the middle of serious action, and to do so without letting on that the narrator or the author know they are being funny. Jim Thompson did it in Pop. 1280. Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) did it whenever he had Parker say, "Shut up, Grofield." And Scott Phillips is up there with those guys.
..............................Out of the Past...........................
"And what would you say is the worst part of [California], Mister? South or north?"
"I'll tell you, I've never encountered a worse or baser bunch than those in San Francisco. Debauchery and vice, and all in the name of mammon. It was gold that cursed that town, sir, and the more gold they brought up from the ground, the more Satan smiled."
"I nodded and thanked him ... and as I boarded the train I found the idea growing in me: William Sadlaw, Photographic Gallery, San Francisco, Cal., Sittings by Appointment Only."
That's where the great historian of California, Kevin Starr, comes in. Phillips writes fiction so rich and detailed that it could be history; Starr writes histories of California so vivid that they could be fiction, and he singles out San Francisco for its blend of frontier lawlessness and the hastily imported cosmopolitan sophistication of an Atlantic trading port. It's the perfect destination for Ogden (who here calls himself Bill Sadlaw, in an effort to escape the law's attention).
Ogden/Sadlaw knows the real killer of a pressman for the local newspaper (It wasn't the Chinese residents of Hop Alley, attacked by angry mobs.) He saves an innocent victim from lynching, but he moves on rather than going to the law and trying to set things right. Hop Alley is no conventional crime novel, after all, but if you're looking for a richly detailed picaresque crime Western of America, you won't go wrong with Scott Phillips.
your favorite local bookstore through Indie Bound or from
Subterranean Books (they'll have signed editions)
Barnes & Noble
Detectives Beyond Borders, and is an editor/proofreader for hire. He is patient zero of the Noir at the Bar virus. Fuck Peter Rozovsky.