Book Reviews: April 1992
Wild Wives reads like an old, familiar noir movie. It would be easy to imagine Bogart in the lead role of Private Dick, Jacob C. Blake; a no-nonsense, hard-hitting, heavy drinking, macho guy.
Willeford moves beyond the typical for this time and genre through throwing in topics like homosexuality, sexual perversion and criminal insanity. While these topics are commonplace for the ‘90s, their introduction into literature of the ‘50s is quite bold and was probably considered pornographic. All this subtext, adding interest and excitement to a story of murder, mystery and betrayal, where Willeford explores the question: “How dumb could men get and still go on living?”
Wild Wives is a fast-moving story set amidst the Queen Anne’s and money of San Francisco. Willeford’s text portrays the darker side of the city, where characters move in shadows, revealing hidden faces and motivations when seen in full light.
Blake finds himself unwittingly entangled in the deceit of one Florence Weintraub, a rich woman with a deadly secret that formed the basis for the plot of the story. As Blake and Weintraub become more apparent that she has something to hide and she is manipulating the detective for her own purposes.
Willeford keeps up the action and suspense throughout the entire story. This is a novel that refuses to be put down until the final sentence is read. Full of twists and turns, Wild Wives is a literary roller-coaster ride brought to light again from ReSearch Publications.
The Adventures of Tintin: Breaking Free
For those unfamiliar with the character, Tintin is one of the most beloved characters in the world, created by the deservedly renowned Hergé . Tintin’s adventures have taken him around the world and even to outer space.
Now, thanks to an “unauthorized” book by J. Daniels and Attack International, Tintin has come face-to-face with the treadmill of human existence in Breaking Free.
Daniels has managed to capture Hergé’s style admirably and weaves a tale of a down and out Tintin being forced to go work at a construction site and coaching off his uncle, the Captain. But, things soon progress to make the situation intolerable. It seems a fellow worker is killed at the site because of awful safety standards and the Captain (a union man) is soon calling for a strike to correct the safety problems, provide for the slain worker’s family and get a bigger piece of the pier for the other laborers.
There is more to the story than this, mostly centered around the escalation of the strike movement. But along with the working class sentiment, effort is spent detailing the plights of women, gay people, and others who typically get a lousy representation in labor movements. Housing, unemployment, and the unfortunately common practice of unions selling out their members are also given attention.
As stated earlier, Daniels, (probably a pseudonym) shows remarkable talent in emulating Hergé’s technique, which works well with this material. Unfortunately, characterization gets a bit short shifts, as the majority of the material is basically propaganda. Frankly, I would have liked even an appearance by Tintin’ dog, Snowy, especially chewing on a policeman or two…
But, the biggest problem with Breaking Free is that it’s so unrealistic in its postulations and expectations. While revolution may be what is needed to solve the problems engendered with politics and economics, the populace is unprepared for just such a move and shows a decided unwillingness stoward attitudes that are needed to make the world a better place, especially love, caring and understanding.
Nevertheless, the book is still interesting and it is fun to imagine what would happen if people were ready to enact the changes needed. Anything that rips apart the charade that is capitalism can’t be all bad. Besides, at 170 pages for $6.95, this book is a bargain. Those interested in purchasing a copy should pester Brad at Raunch or write to Attack International, Box BM6577, London WC1N 3XX England.
For more from the SLUG Archives:
Paganism in Utah: April 1992
Book Reviews: January 1992
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