Headline really says it all but I suppose I need to explain why.
I watched Vice today and it had to be one of the most bleak, cynical movies I’ve ever seen. It was excellent. And it reminded me of why I need Ross Thomas novels in my life, anytime really but especially now…to ward off the creeping nihilism that comes from American politics.
Thomas is a cynic too but he doesn’t let that get in the way of entertainment. His books are fun and none perhaps more so than this. A swashbuckling tale of fomenting and/or preventing revolution in the Philippines, led by an eclectic cast of characters and suffused with great dialogue, Out on the Rim is International Thomas (as opposed to Domestic Thomas) in its purest, giddiest form.
The plot is denser than most Thomas novels and we’re not always the better for it. There is perhaps a character too many and some of the maneuverings were lost on me. But like Elmore Leonard, whom Thomas is often compared to, you just don’t care because the story is so much fun. It jumps from scene to scene, leaving the reader in anticipation of what wackiness is going to happen next. And when it started to run out of gas near the end, the resolution was amusing.
No one writes books like these anymore (or like Leonard’s for that matter). Everyone either tries too hard to be cool or tries to hard to be serious. Ross Thomas proves you can have your cynical cake and eat it too, provided you keep it fun and non-partisan.