Friday, January 21, 2011

Forgotten Books: Cases --Joe Gores

When Joe Gores passed away, I looked on my shelves to see what unread books I had by him, and there was Cases. It's the story of Pierce Duncan, called Dunc, who graduates from Notre Dame in the early '50s. He wants to be a writer, so he sets out to get some experiences to write about. And he certainly haves them. A Georgia chain gang, fixed boxing in Las Vegas, a southern California religious cult, and finally a job working for Drinker Cope, a San Francisco private-eye whose morals are his own. All along the way, Dunc, who wants to be a writer, is putting things into his notebooks.

The book is obviously based to a certain extent on Gores' own life. He says in the preface, "In Cases I have tried to mix fact and fiction so thoroughly that nobody -- not even myself -- can now untangle them." I think it's pretty easy to untangle them in some instances, but if I say too much about that it might spoil some of the fun of the book, which is a wonderful depiction of the time and the places (especially San Francisco) that Dunc describes.

This is a fix-up book, and a lot of it was published as separate stories in various places, but don't let that fool you. Everything is connected, even a lot of things you might not expect, and it all pays off with a series of little explosions in the final chapters that are hardboiled to the core. Great stuff, and it proves again, as if any proof were needed, how much we lost when Joe Gores died.

7 comments:

  1. I really do need to read one of his books. Where to start?

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  2. Spade & Archer is easily available, and it's good.

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  3. I have yet to read my copy of S&A...but HAMMETT is great (and serious) fun, and I'm tempted to send you a copy of SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, Patti...32 CADILLACS was the first DKA novel I read (and apparently a popular choice for DKAs), though COME MORNING isn't too shabby a place to start, either.

    So, Bill, why did your APA-mate so resist the notion of reading Gores?

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  4. Ooo. Hammett. Got to find that sucker and read it again. Then Spade and Archer.

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  5. This sounds like a lot of fun; when I was younger, I thought I needed to live experiences in order to have something to write. Glad I survived it, but I don't think I've written about any of that idiocy except tangentially.

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  6. Only a week late on this, but I'd start with the DKA stuff first.

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