I had the good fortune of reading a draft of Beautiful Piece four years ago, and like the Hemingway I devoured in high school and the Thomas McGuane I read in my restless youth, Joseph G. Peterson's story stuck in my psyche and along with the powerful prose of his literary companions his first novel continues to congole me down the rutted road of contemporary American life.
If you've ever spent a lonely summer in a strange city hanging out with the wrong crowd you will love Beautiful Piece by Joseph G. Peterson as much as I did.
Read Beautiful Piece with a beer ... after Sports Center ... while listening to Tom Petty or the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Wilco... late into the evening.
Beautiful Piece is a gritty, urban mystery novel and the author clearly writes about a neighborhood he knows well. It is a place of loners and knuckleheads and the women who love them ... to death. There is no doubt the guy has tended bar, worked the late shift and loved some of the wrong women. What I want to know is, with a resume like that how did he come to write such a cool novel?
But the funny thing is, Beautiful Piece is actually beautful, like poetry. The paragraphs could fit inside a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song as one of Petty's tragic lyrics of love and lust gone bad.
Crack another beer and the lines rush by, the Vet is talking to you from the next lounge chair over, and the impending sense of doom will make you draw the shades, check the lock, tighten the knob on the oven.
Suddenly, you've had one beer too many and the language is like music playing TOO LOUD so you can't think and now YOU ARE JUST TOO HAPPY to do something REALLY STUPID.
Fortunately, reality sets in and you shuffle the IPOD while the lovers suffocate on their own mistakes in the heat. Crack another beer and lament the fact that you no longer smoke while they get to smoke their lives away. Unfair!
A good novel should educate the reader in some way and Beautful Piece will make you reconsider some mistakes you are about to make:
If you own a gun, lock it away. Install a programmable thermostat so you can control the temperature. And stop fantasizing about your ex-lover, neighbor next door or cute office mate. Why?
An interesting book that matches the mood of America's Great Recession circa 2009. The reader is provided an inside perspective on postmodern human relationships. It's not always a beautiful place, but it strikes a chord.
I saw someone on the train with this book and I found the quote on the back intriguing "A Gritty Noir Novel Set During A Chicago Heatwave"...and being a lifelong Chicagoan, a lover of most things Chicago and a HUGE fan of noir, I took the leap.
The story is a well written noir type story. No doubt. The characters deep and complex. I must admit though, the style of writing, the intentional repetition, was maddening. If I never hear the word fetid or claptrap again I'll breathe a sigh of relief. Actually I'll probably wish I had a glock if I hear those words again (read the book - inside joke).
Also, there is nothing in the book about Chicago, technically. I mean if a bartender named Addison is as Chicago as it could get. It could have been Anytown U.S.A. as the backdrop, Anytown U.S.A. with a heat index.
With that said, it is an interesting story and I do know I am harsh when it comes to books with Chicago as a character. Perhaps the repetition would work better (for me) in a movie format...and even then I will "walk, not run" to see the movie...but yes, I'd still see it.