cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
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I finally finished reading a book for grownups! Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey. The cover blurb from William Gibson really sold it for me: "An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece." I love this scene where the hero, Stark, boosts a Ducati:
 
Rule one when you get back from Hell and haven't ridden a high-performance in eleven years is not to get on the bike after three or five Jack Daniel's. Rule two is not to try a stoppie...When you're drunker than you think you are, which is pretty much always, you're going to lean too far forward and pull the rear end of the bike up and over onto your dumb ass...

Off to my left, the bike is pinwheeling down the empty street, kicking up, sparking, and shredding its plastic and chrome skin as it flies apart. It's kind of beautiful, turning from a machine into an ever-expanding shrapnel flower.

Then I hit the street...
 
 
But what I lovedlovedloved about the book, what had me all heart-eyed as I read, was what Kadrey did with a secondary (tertiary?) character, Carlos. He's the owner/bartender of the punk-tiki bar Bamboo House of Dolls (where no "dolls" ever appear). Despite being an ex-con and big bruiser type that Stark sizes up as ex-football player or boxer, Carlos is nonviolent and not associated with any gangs. Which is why he asks Stark to fend off the skinhead assholes who are trying to extort "protection" money from him. Later, Stark tries to hand Carlos a gun, and Carlos refuses it twice: "I don't like guns," he says, simple. And as his part of the deal with Stark, Carlos provides nummy Mexican food and drink for free, for life. Stark says, "It's like God left his lunch in the microwave and you get to finish it."

I am just so grateful for a smart, funny, strong Mexican character who defies stereotype and doesn't get offed the minute the shit hits the fan, ya know?

I will definitely read the next in the series, Kill the Dead, due out October 2010.

~

Date: 2010-07-13 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charmingbillie.livejournal.com
Funny. I just happened to see that cover today and liked it--I hadn't even gone back and read the blurb yet. Maybe I'll have to check it out.

Date: 2010-07-13 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cafenowhere.livejournal.com
It's a clean, classy cover--a nice juxtaposition to the balls-out supernatural noir inside. :D

Kadrey does shrewd things with the formula. I'd be curious to hear what you thought if you get around to it.

Date: 2010-07-13 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dawtheminstrel.livejournal.com
Punk-tiki bar? Something tells me I'm unlikely to find on of those where I live.

Date: 2010-07-13 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cafenowhere.livejournal.com
The story takes place in LA, but even so, I think the motif is just a joke Kadrey has fun with. An Esquivel CD is playing in the bar the night Stark steals the Ducati; Stark says the music is what he imagines James Bond's dentist plays in the waiting room. :)

Date: 2010-07-13 06:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] christophereast.livejournal.com
I've loved Kadrey's SF work in the past - Metrophage & Kamikaze L'Amour in particular. More recently, Butcher Bird didn't do much for me, though. Maybe I'll take another look at this one...

Date: 2010-07-13 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cafenowhere.livejournal.com
Yeah, the blurb for Butcher Bird didn't really draw me, even though that book clearly shares elements with Sandman Slim. I'll keep an eye out for Kamikaze L'Amour.

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