Absolute Rage by Robert Tanenbaum::Nick Sullivan

“Karp leaned back in his chair, swivelled to face the window, chewed on a pencil. Murrow, seeing this, left quietly, closing the door behind him. He knew these were the signs that Karp was entering Karpland . . .” as are we, God bless us, until Tanenbaum decides to make gefilte fish or Marlene (MarLEEYENE!) stops getting into trouble. Here is I LOVE LUCY, 2002, with a Jewish husband and twins. “Giancarlo burst in, grabbed two chocolate covered donuts, . . .snatched up a table knife and stabbed it into Karp’s breakfast cereal, while laughing maniacally. “Guess what I am, Dad.” “An idiot?” stated Karp. ‘No. A CEREAL KILLER!’ …the boy departed, hooting.” (paraphrased) Another typical morning at the Karp feudal ‘menage’ — before Lucy’s boyfriend’s mother and labor leader father get murdered, before Marlene decides to find out who did it, before Karp gets appointed to clean up West Virginia, before Giancarlo gets shot and Marlene calls in the VietCong to exterminate the bad guys. “Kill them. Kill them all.” Yep. Marlene always makes a mess. Can Karp clean this one up? Read and laugh and see.

SUZANNE’S DIARY FOR NICHOLAS by James Patterson::Becky Ann Baker

The tired old technique of a text within a text popped in the microwave with a 2K twist: a mothers diary to her one year old son. The kid dies. Instant tear jerker, instant Oprah Book of the Year, instant Right to Life siege technology. Use it to dummify your life-story, infantilise your reader and seduce your next girlfriend. Where can we find it better brighter and gut-wrenching? Andrew Greeley, Younger Than Springtime; a father’s account of falling in love with his wife, given to his son; Ian Rankin , The Black Book, a beautiful reckless dead man’s confession to an old crime in a diary rocked out of the past by an even older Edinburgh cop; Bernard Shlink, The Reader; lawyer reads last letter of his ex-girlfriend-ex-Nazi concentration camp guard, 20 years too late. Forget Suzanne.

ROUGH TREATMENT by JOHN HARVEY::JOHN WILKINSON

The voice is everything. Instead of the typical pomposity of a haughty OBE accent, spouting that mixture of bad faith, betrayal, and malice so characteristic of the displaced British upper class, we have a whisper, a tempered, middle brow tone telling a tale about a slightly fat slightly alcoholic Nottingham housewife who falls in love with the burglar who robs her house. The robbery is problematic. Gone is the stash of Coke her failed director-husband was holding for a slightly murderous slightly psychopathic drug thug. The housewife and the thief meet, fuck, and renegotiate the stolen goods. Inspector Charles Resnick, divorced, badly dressed, with bad table manners, figures it out — kind of — but still somehow does the wrong thing. BRILLIANT.

“Grabianski didn’t know…He felt about music what his partners felt about birds. Large ones and small ones. With music it was small ones and fast ones.”

Re-hearing: Vincent Patrick read by Richard Ferrone: Smokescreen

In his thuggy Italian voice, Ferrone rasps the staggeringly funny stretched-out Goombah logic of an ex con from Mulberry Street as he helps an ex-cop burgle a ritzy old-world Hotel and save Democracy.

The two Italians stumble into the sub counter plot of a fanatic Cuban terrorist-doctor with a bad liver, sent by Castro to destroy capitalist Yankee life in upstate New York. Or maybe not. His mad, running commentary on property and land and personality is a war of principalities, which he loses.

“…he marvelled most at the size of the mens room. As he stood in the center of one of the several long lines of urinals, he wondered: Did Yankees have weak bladders? Could there be a real need to accommodate so many men at one time or was there some terrible overproduction of things like urinals, quietly absorbed by the government?”

And then there are the internal ghettos of Capitalism represented by your friendly neighborhood constitutional criminal, Franky Belmonty, who also has difficulty believing in Property.

“I did one course at the New School for Social Research up on 12th Street. The Urban Deviant as Middle America’s Scapegoat, it was called. Taught by a middle American would faint if he ever came within 3 feet of a serious deviant — even a rural one.”

TROPIC OF NIGHT by Michael Gruber

Performed by Margaret Whitton. Published by Recorded books. Pub Date 2002.
Brilliant. Haunting. Unforgettable tale of lost rich girl-anthropologist hiding in Miami; fatherless, beautiful, Cuban American police detective; his cook-restauranteur-witch mother, and a smart and nutty shaman murderer. (Who is this author and why hasn’t he published more?)

Mourning Glory by Warren Adler::

A distressing picture of the unhappy situation of the losing class within a classless society. Grace is a 37 year old female loser within this losing class. She lives at the edge of a self-consciously wealthy Palm Beach ghetto of sectional wealth. She has a teenage bitch-daughter with a whine. She has an old dildo.

We meet her behind the cosmetics counter telling a very important hag that no product on earth will fix her face. She is summarily fired from this last of a series of pink collar jobs, after an earful of wise advice. Go to funerals. Find a very rich very lonely very old man. She does.

There are women who stalk Jewish funerals, offering to dispose of the dead wife’s clothes. Grace imitates them. She is good at it.

She finds a vital, vulnerable, well groomed well off Jew. She models the old clothes on her young shikse body. The rest is elementary.

The Enemy Within by Larry Bond read by Michael Russotto

Your average everyday Mohammedan maniac, trained
by your friendly neighbourhood terrorist,
puts on a baseball cap,whistles
‘Freebird’ and disintegrates the 14th street bridge, the Dallas-Ft Worth
Airport, and suburban D.C. before his Tourist Visa even expires. Welcome
to America, stay as long as you want, come back anytime.

The Burglar Who Liked To Quote Kipling by Lawrence Block read by Richard Ferrone

Very rye, very laid-back, low-brow, funny in a way only a Goombah from
NJ reading words with more than one syllable can do funny. Ferrone does
dumb Goombah so well you laugh twice at each joke: once at the reading,
once at the punchline. Burglar Bernie Roudhenbarr is trying to quit burgling.
Now he is selling used books, eating lunch with his lesbian dog-cleaner
friend, and thinking about what he read in jail. All of which would be
fine, and would in fact keep him out of jail, if only people stopped dropping
by and asking him to steal…

Mean High Tide by James Hall read by Frank Muller

I know girls who listen to Frank doing the girl-punk-slut Sylvie just to see how its done. How a girl talks when shes talking with her pussy. How to tease an ear with a tongue, at a distance. There’s nobody like Frank doing pussy.

Listen:

“What do you like, Thorn? What do you like to
DO? You know, in the green grass….Outside… Or, inside…”

Or, “Wanna take the afternoon off? Put your mind on hold for a while? Take the stairway to heaven?”

With that low, raspy, throaty voice that is a man’s voice pretending to be a woman’s mouth, this reading is an infinite, indeclinable invitation.