I read many books annually, so that means I don't reread all that much. But for Don Winslow's SAVAGES, I couldn't help but make an exception. The book was, at least for me, the literary equivalent of narcotic stimulants* which I wanted to indulge in several times over. So I know I spent much of the year to date urging people to read it, feeling pleased when others loved the book and engaging in debate with those who weren't so wowed.
How, then, to elucidate what's essentially a visceral HFS** reaction in 800 words? The answer, or at least an attempt at an answer, ran over the weekend in the print edition of the Los Angeles Times. Here's how the piece opens:
I'm of two minds about whether "Savages," Don Winslow's marvelous, adrenaline-juiced roller coaster of a novel, is a rookie reader's best introduction to his work. There's a delicious sense of satisfaction in seeing how Winslow has chiseled his increasingly lean prose to diamond-like precision over the course of 12 novels and fused the themes of "The Power of the Dog" (2005), his epic account of the country's never-ending war on drugs, with the razzmatazz syntax of his surf-detective novel "The Dawn Patrol" (2008) to produce something heady and new. "Savages" is both a departure and a culmination, pyrotechnic braggadocio and deep meditation on contemporary American culture.
All those reasons, however, justify foisting "Savages" into the hands of Winslow unfamiliars. The rationale — mine, anyway — is that if newcomers are sucked in by the fierce narrative velocity and perpetual peppering of aphorism upon biting aphorism, each will realize what Winslow fans have long known and will reach for the writer's back catalog.
Read on for the rest about one of my favorite books of the year, bar none. And you'd better believe I'm having a hard time holding off on reading SATORI, the prequel to Trevanian's SHIBUMI that Winslow wrote and Grand Central is publishing in February, resisting only because, well, February is still a while away.
*which, by the way, I don't indulge in, unless coffee counts as a narcotic.
**I think you can guess the particular profanity-laced acronym in question.