Saturday, October 3, 2015

Review: El Paso Twilight

Illegal immigration and drug smuggling, corporate polluters and tragic affairs of the heart. On the border country between Mexico and the United States, literature can barely keep up with the bad news. An exception is the new novel from Rick DeMarinis, "El Paso Twilight." A study of political manners and debauchery masquerading as pulp fiction, DeMarinis shows us a world inhabited by the likes of Luther Penrose, a 290-pound, drug-dependent novelist with marital fidelity problems, and Luther's old army buddy, J.P. Morgan, an insurance fraud investigator who has reluctantly agreed to lend his friend a hand. Given the tumultuous, bloody, and unpredictable events that follow, it's a decision that Morgan will come to ruefully regret. With wry humor and scalpel-sharp sensibilities, "El Paso Twilight" marks a splendid return to form from one of most applauded authors in the American West.

Buy on Amazon

My Review: 

I picked up this book for the same reason you would expect anyone to pick up a book with a city name in the title: I'm from El Paso. Author starts the book with an engaging character study that is simultaneously intellectual and entertaining, smoothly bypassing the popular risk of sounding dry and boring when focussing on one person too long or using too much empirical language in the first few pages. From the first chapter alone I knew I had stumbled on a Great Writer. There were a couple instances of random changes in point of view, but as my copy was an e-arc and not finished, I assume they'll be fixed by publication. I had to wonder if the author had ever actually been to El Paso when he mentioned glass and steel buildings and people in expensive suits. But it was when the main character described El Paso as inherently unambitious that I took major offense. As if we didn't have an image problem in the first place. Maybe the poor city description disillusioned me, but by the time I hit 20 percent into the book, I was bored. Luther had gone from a fascinating character study to a stereotypical fat, stupid El Pasoan. The side characters had no depth, playing on more cut and paste barrio tropes. The story was uneventful in my opinion, but I know some readers appreciate a tale that starts out as spying on your wife and ends in drug dealing, action packed shenanigans.

1 comment:

  1. The title really caught my attention, I would've picked this up too because I also live in El Paso. It does sound like the author has never been to the city. I also would've taken offense to the stereotypical image they portrayed.