See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Hard Feelings

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2002 at 12:00 AM

When’s the last time you totally lost it — not under the sway of drink or drugs, but just pure rage flowing right up out of the old unconscious — and wailed on someone uncontrollably? Well for your sake, bud, let’s hope never.

Anyone who thinks that violence is “cool” or just part of the game (hockey, football, name your poison) should pick up Jason Starr’s latest noir novel, Hard Feelings, for a freak-out of extra-queasy proportions. Young Starr gets the privilege of seeing this, his fourth book, come out from Vintage’s Black Lizard as a paperback original — a first for the 10-year series that has made its reputation publishing the masters of the crime genre: Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Jim Thompson et al. But two pages into Starr’s nightmare and you’ll know why junior gets to join the list.

For starters, there’s the un-put-down-ability of the tale itself, in which an everyday corporate Joe (actually Richard, a computer network salesman in Manhattan), with a sexy wife, a cute dog named Otis and a lifestyle that a lot of people would die for, slides ever so surely toward self-destruction. The writing that serves it all up is spare (almost innocently so) and boiled down to the essential a la Hammett or Thompson. And the endgame unfolding provokes that hard gut-sinking feeling that makes the title ambiguously perfect: hard feelings? — as in “no hard feelings” — or feelings that are hard to control, hard to forget?

Well, anyone who sweats through to the end of Starr’s little psychodrama will find it hard to forget, that’s for sure. There are echoes of Thompson’s first-person narrator in The Killer Inside Me, particularly since we never stop hoping things will work out for Richard, a likable guy just like you and me (the best hook of all). And a finale worthy of Edgar Allan Poe’s masterpiece “The Black Cat.”

Of course, you don’t have to be fascinated by violence to enjoy Hard Feelings — you just have to start reading on page one, then look up and wonder where the afternoon went, and your emotional complacency with it. Starr has created an obsessive read quite beyond “entertainment” and “enjoyment,” somewhere this side of pure holy hell.

George Tysh is Metro Times arts editor. E-mail him at gtysh@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by George Tysh

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 25, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2020 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation