12-17-2008 06:49 PM
HCC has put out it's new book of the month and I have to say that when I saw Lawrence Block's Name come up in the Queue months ago I was looking forward to it. After watching Charles' interview with block on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXsVKD6zvRQ I was a little concerned because Block was not too high on the book but since neither HCC or Lawrence Block hardly ever let me down I still got my hopes up.
So on monday when my copy of Killing Castro Showed up in my mailbox I jumped right in. What I got was a fast paced gritty crime novel. Block may have been concerned because this was a book for hire and certainly not as polished as his later works but that does not detract from the read at all. In the 200+change pages you get a pretty good character study of 4 criminals and a young man out for revenge. Block gives us varying faces of criminal in this book; a rapist goon, a one passion crime double murderer, an older mercenary dying of cancer, a young man looking for vengeance, and a smart assassin who plans out a hit and that changes his mind over personal reasons (mmm ...Lawrence Block.....assassin......smart.. sounds like someone?....) Block also recounts the history of Fidel Castro's life leading up to the moment which I found extremely informative as a back story.
This book is also gritty so gritty the pages crunch when you turn them. It is reminiscent Diet of Treacle and Grifter's Game, dark and Nihilistic. The book moves fast and really has no slow spots that I can remember... a page flipper. My only gripe is that the end seems somewhat abrupt.
I really enjoyed the book I ran out today and bought a bunch of Block novels from my local used book seller because I craved more. I definately recommend it it may be the perfect escape if you are trapped at home next week and want to leave your family to do a hit job in Cuba.
One last note..
It amazes me that more films have not been done with Block's work I find them to have the perfect temperment for film... I would love to shoot one of his short stories as a short film.
12-17-2008 07:45 PM
Thanks -- I'm glad you liked it. And I agree that this book, like a lot of Block's, would make a terrific film. I've been discussing it with a couple of producers, so who knows? Maybe something will come of it at last.
As for the ending, you may be interested to know that in the course of editing the book Block revised it -- originally it was even more abrupt! But to some extent the abruptness is the point: We're leaving the characters in a very difficult situation (won't spoil it by giving away any of the details), and providing too much closure would be pat and unrealistic.
I do hope people will give this one a chance. It's one heck of a fun book, with lots of characteristic Block touches and delicious Block writing. I'm glad I got to read it, and it's fun to be able to bring it out for all of you...
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12-24-2008 06:01 PM
Just finished "Killing Castro" and agree with the earlier writer that the book was a great read! I also liked the nonfiction back-story elements which added to my enjoyment of the novel.
There was a detail near the conclusion which doesn't exactly mesh with history as we know it---
Any ideas why Block chose this detail?
But wow, I really recommend this book!
12-26-2008 07:15 AM
I believe that detail -- which we can't discuss explicitly without giving away the ending, but I'll try to discuss it obliquely -- was the germ of the idea that Block's publisher presented him with back in 1960. That is, Block didn't come to a publisher with the idea for this book -- a publisher came to him and said, "How would you like to write a book for us that's about a group of Americans going to Cuba to kill Fidel Castro, and what if it ended like this: ___?" Given that starting point, I think he did an outstanding job of telling an interesting and emotionally affecting story that packs a real punch when you get to the end.
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