Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Richard Marinick - Ex-Con As Literary Dude

Make no mistake, Richard Marinick is a real writer - maybe too much so for crime fiction. The only book I've read of his so far is Boyos, but it took me forever to get through it. It was a "fine novel", as such works are generally called. Dead-on physical description, numerous intimate tableaux of criminal culture, but so much of this "slice of life" stuff that it kind of interfered with the plot. I mean, he has his bad guys hanging around, sitting in cars, shootin' the bull endlessly about lots of different shit before they ever get down to business. I accept the likelihood that Marinick's novel is true to life. After all, Marinick was himself once a criminal. He's one of these guys who, despite his obvious talent, probably got into print based on his startling back story. A big hunk of a dude, and a smart guy too, he found his way into the elite of the Massachusetts State Police. Then something went haywire, and he ended up robbing armored trucks for a living, and then - worse yet - spending all the proceeds on cocaine. It was only after he got caught, and served time, that his writing gifts began to flower. That, along with treating the Massachusetts prison system almost like his own private gym, it seems, running laps, doing astronomical quantities of crunches. I mean, the guy is a masterpiece as a concept - "hunky ex-criminal crime writer". If only he weren't so damn literary. Nonetheless, despite these caveats, I would recommend Boyos. It's the sort of book that reminds you that the crime world is first and foremost a social world, in which people relate to one another in many different ways, of which committing crimes is only one of many. In fact, for a lot of these guys, they only do the crime so they can fart around with their buddies with all that free time their lifestyle allows. Doing drugs or shooting pool or twiddling their thumbs or wolfing down sausage heroes or whatnot. Marinick is a good writer, definitely, but not an especially commercial one. Think of him less as a crime writer than as an ex-criminal who writes. He once claimed that he doesn't earn through his novels even a fraction of what he used to rake in from his crimes. Hopefully that has changed. He has also said that he used to aspire to be a writer of books for children before he turned his pen to pointillistic little punch-ups of the tough-guy universe. He can always revisit that aspiration. God knows there's a booming market for anything that will make those little devils literate and keep them off the streets.

Interview with Identity Theory
Interview with Boston Magazine

No comments:

Post a Comment