Calling Raymond Carver

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Today's book was chosen first for its title. I thought it might be some kind of coming-of-age novel set at summer camp or an East Coast boarding school.

Upon close inspection of the cover, I see it's a collection of short stories. Dead Boys (Little, Brown, 256 pages, $21.99) is Richard Lange's debut, and it has garnered an impressive list of cover blurbs. Here are but a few ...

Dead Boys

George Pelicanos says, "Funny, tough, and tragic, with earned humanity, street style, and a shooter's eye for detail."

Michael Connelly: "Richard Lange breathes new life into the mythology of Los Angeles."

Alice Sebold: "Lange's stories are knockouts."

T.C. Boyle says, "Richard Lang'e stories combine the truth-telling and immediacy of Raymond Carver with the casual hip of Denis Johnson."

I have to agree with Boyle. I skipped around the book reading a few of the stories and the first thing that came to mind when I began reading "Blind-Made Products" was, "This guy could be a Raymond Carver character." The narrator is roped into helping his friend move his girlfriend to a new apartment and all the while he's preoccupied with thoughts of a blind woman he used to date. "She was the most beautiful girl I'd ever been with, but since she couldn't see me, I wasn't sure if it counted."

The stale stagnation that lingers on in many of Carver's stories permeates Lange's stories as well. And the lingering sense of regret casts a pall as wide as a layer of smog over Los Angeles, where Lange's stories (and many of Carver's) take place.

Not for everyone, but definitely good stuff.

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This one sounds like some of the Philip Marlowe books (without the mystery), where looks had no meaning but you could almost smell the smog of Los Angeles as it sweated in the dark. While I never sensed "stale stagnation" in Carver's work, I see how it could apply. Sounds like a good read.

This entry of the Book Room brings to mind a question about cover blurbs from other authours -- How does the author of a book go about collecting these? Unlike movie ads where they take phrases out of context from a review to make it seem like a good movie, I've always assumed such comments from other authors are more genuine in nature. Any ideas or insights into this process? I've been influenced in buying books based on the positive comments of other authors I enjoy.

P.S. Love the Book Room -- I've already put several books on my to-read or to-give as a gift list.

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