Thursday, April 6, 2017

Man Out of Prison: William Boyle

Counting down to the Netflix release of Evan Katz's adaptation of Dave Zeltserman's Small Crimes I'm looking at some of my favorite in the man-out-of-prison subgenre. Today I asked William Boyle, author of the man out of prison novel Gravesend for some of his favorite man out of prison fare.

Some of my influences/favorites in the man-out-of-prison genre:

Father and Son by Larry Brown – One of my favorite books period. Glen Davis, man. Jesus. What a brutal, perfect character.

The Crossing Guard – In a lot of ways, I’m not sure there’s a bigger influence on Gravesend. I saw this when it came out in ‘95—I was 17—and I immediately loved how it subverted my expectations. Really lived in my imagination and informed what I wanted to do in my book. David Morse’s John Booth is complicated as hell. Just rewatched it for the first time in a while and it really held up.

The Yards – Probably wouldn’t be too hard to guess that James Gray is one of my two or three favorite directors. A classic story of a kid who gets out of jail, wants to do right, and gets in trouble again. Ambiguous. No simple moral structure.

Buffalo ’66 – The movie I quote the most in my daily life. Funny, fucked up, weird. Vincent Gallo’s Billy Brown is one of the most memorable characters I’ve ever come across. He’s desperate and stupid and capable of love. I’d say this movie influences everything I write in some significant way.

Straight Time + No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker + Bruce Springsteen’s Straight Time  – Ulu Grosbard’s film is perfect (I wrote about it here). Eddie Bunker’s novel rules. Springsteen riffs on the same themes in his killer second track from The Ghost of Tom Joad.

Bird in a Cage by Frédéric Dard – I just read this one. Terrific. Really plays on the paranoia of being out and being drawn to trouble.

Rectify – Daniel Holden is released from Death Row after nineteen years when DNA evidence calls his conviction into question. Such a haunted and haunting character. Aden Young’s performance is a goddamn knockout. Ray McKinnon’s a true genius. Rectify is a great Southern poem (disguised as a TV drama) about despair and doubt and damage and depravity and, ultimately, healing.

Carlito’s Way – Epic. One of De Palma’s two or three best movies. Saw this movie early and it shaped me. A meditation on hope and regret. Ridiculous and beautiful in all the best De Palma ways.
Drama City by George Pelecanos – Been a while since I read this one, but I always remember it as one of my favorite Pelecanos books. Lorenzo Brown is a character I still can’t shake.

William Boyle is the author of Gravesend and Death Don't Have No Mercy. Check in at at his website and follow him on Twitter @wmboyle4

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