Knocked out two books this past weekend, one fiction, the other non-fiction, both somewhat relating to the supernatural.
Forever 3 stars
Considered by no less than Lawrence Block to be the great New York City novel, I knew I had to grit my teeth through Forever after failing twice before, especially considering the recent death of its author, Pete Hamill. And while I don’t like it nearly as much as Block, I’m glad I did. Hamill is a good writer; I’ve already added another of his books to my TBR pile. The first third of this one, from the time in Ireland to the end of the Revolutionary War, was compelling.
However, everything after that felt scattered and unfinished, like Hamill had a great idea but eventually got bored with it. Also, the way in which our protagonist is made immortal…oh, the racism. Which is a shame because I appreciated how in depth the first part of the book was with New York City’s racist history, especially its involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.
Anyway, the back half was weak by an uninspiring story, the Boss Tweed stuff should’ve definitely merited a few more hundred pages, there are few reflections on what life is like as a geographically-restricted Methuselah and the last sections devoted to 9/11 left a lot to be desired. It didn’t help that I unintentionally finished this on 9/11.
Devil’s Knot 4 stars
This is the kind of true crime book I can appreciate: well-reported, detailed but not larded, lacking in sensationalism and buttressed by facts. Mara Leveritt trusts the reader to be outraged and oh, boy, was I. The whole Satanist panic thing, which inspired season three of True Detective, was a Civil Rights violating horror and a sad reminder of how close our country is to becoming a full blown theocracy. It’s also a good reminder that while our criminal justice system is founded on anti-black racism, white people can still be caught up in it, especially poor, neurodiverse white people. I’m so glad these men are free but it took way too long.