Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
on March 23, 2001
I picked up Rilke on Black in a remainder lot somewhere and read it months later on a whim. For it's faults, this is a first novel of tremendous intensity by a writer whose works I now intend to hunt down. It's certainly energised me to track him and end up dashing this off.
Stylistically, Bruen throws so many punches so rapidly in this first novel that it's hard to track down influences. Certainly he's read and studied the classics, from Hammett to Ross Macdonald. For California, tho, substitute working class London. And the story is told by a guy Lew Archer didn't get to when he was a troubled adolescent.
Having mentioned faults, I should say that the rythmn of this book seems a bit off to me at times. The sheer impact of the narrative, however, tends to obscure the problem.
I've come away feeling Bruin's peers are more along the lines of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop than any literary school, and this is certainly no slur. Rilke on Black is a short slam dance of a book that casts a rather long shadow, a small canvas with details that emerge long after you've finished the book.
Certainly this isn't mass market stuff. If you appreciate precise, focused prose in a deceptively tight plot with disturbing undertones left and right, however, give Rilke on Black a shot. I feel this is something of a find.