15 September, 2012

A surprise success

Thuggin in Miami; The Family is Made
R.A. Robinson
I do not remember how i was given the e-copy of this book to read and review; i shall have to make more careful records if that is to continue happening.

While i was reading Thuggin in Miami there was no way that i could stop myself from comparing it to the other book i was reading on my kindle at the time, also for review, and this one benefited from that comparison, which in some ways is surprising. I say it is surprising because there are a number of things about this novel which would have lead me to expect myself not to like it: It is written in dialect, which i almost never enjoy; not only that, but the dialect used it a variety of African-American English, which i cannot help but read as poor grammar, spelling, and usage in general, no matter how much i accept intellectually that it is a legitimate means of communication; as well, the subject matter, gang life, murders, drug use, jail experience, all in southern Florida, is not really something that i am drawn to ~ to be sure, i've read it before, in Elmore Leonard in particular, though i read him more for style than content ~ but it isn't a subject i'd naturally turn to; then the style is rather more explicit than i am used to or generally comfortable with, at least in casual reading, with plenty of “penises” and “pussies” (why is it that, no matter what word people use for the male generative organ almost no one feels it appropriate to use the correct word for the female, in almost any genre or context?) as well as interaction between them to a level i'm not sure i've come across previously in work not intended to fall within the erotic genre. And yet...yet i found the book oddly compelling.

Almost from the first i was involved, though i wasn't attracted by them ~ any of them ~ interested in what was happening to the characters, and what the plot action would be. Let me be clear: None of the characters are attractive people; in fact, they are gangsters, drug dealers, criminals of the worst sort, so that even the one prison officer we know anything about is entirely corrupted. Nor is the plot, as may be expected from the characters, uplifting, as drugs are sourced, bought, and sold, and Richard Gale, the protagonist, has at least two separate revenges he has to research and prepare for.

And yet, as i said above, though almost every element of this review is negative, the book itself, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. I have struggled to understand this, and one conclusion i can come to is that the author, R.A. Robinson, is a product of the environments he writes of, that these are his experiences, and the truth in what he writes may be what pulls me in. Also, the ease of the writing ~ despite the awkwardness of reading the dialect ~ meant that in reading i was able to continue quickly, other than sometimes having to puzzle out who the heck was being talked about, as all the characters have multiple nicknames and see themselves as one big family, using incorrect relationship terms for each other, continue quickly, i say, and feel that at the end of each chapter it wouldn't take long to read another, so it was probably going to be worth starting it. In the end, despite the negative points i made, i found that this book fit my terms of success ~ i would read another by the same author based solely on his name and mine experience here. I cannot fully explain this success but, for me, it exists.

No comments: