|I give you Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, people. A future president, presuming the U.S. survives Trump.|
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Monday, May 27, 2019
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Forty-one percent of Trump’s supporters want to bomb a fictional city from “Aladdin." If I were a Democratic presidential candidate, I wouldn't worry about appealing to their “common sense.”
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
|We've reached an odd stage in which the super villains in movies are portrayed sympathetically so they will seem "realistic," even though the super villains in real life aren't sympathetic at all.|
Thursday, May 9, 2019
You glimpse some dead-faced, vacant-eyed guy in a mug shot and you think, “Now, which is that? The mad gunman? The mad bomber? Is he the one who shot those people in the supermarket today or in the cinema yesterday? Or is he the one who crushed that protester with a car, or the one who slaughtered all those schoolchildren in that place, where was it again? In America somewhere. Yes, certainly in America. Only in America.”
|The ill-informed Americans have been eager to be conned by Fox News, which scratches the itch of their ugliest fears and prejudices until they bleed. And Fox News is eager to oblige them.|
By Dan Hagen
When we meet Nick Lutz, he has stumbled on a black root that’s “harder than marriage” — and, more generally, in life.
He’s the protagonist of Patrick Hasburgh’s second suspense novel Pirata, a former car salesman living in Mexico on disability payments because a carjacker shot him in the face.
A cascade of events, none of them really his fault, cost Nick his job, his wife and his son, and left him suffering from seizures which he self-medicates with drugs.
He even lost an eye and wears a patch, hence “Pirata.” The nickname, pronounced “Pee-rah-tah,” also suggests criminality — not inappropriately, as things turn out. Even Nick’s good deeds won’t go unpunished.
Hasburgh’s first-person literary voice is again assured, and has the cheeky West Coast vibe of a latter-day Raymond Chandler or Ross Macdonald. It’s a voice the reader can easily settle in with.
For example, Nick’s dinged-up, waterlogged surfboard “…still paddles straight and true, even if it rides a little lower in the water than I’d like it to — like we all do.”
The realistic thriller soaked in local color is territory that was mapped by Eric Ambler, and Hasburgh is now a sure-footed traveler there. His descriptions of Mexico and surfing carry a kind of easy, indisputable verisimilitude.
“I paddled hard to make the set wave and then pivoted just under its peak — my board began to rise and I charged down the face to make my get-up — and then, like it was nothing, I carved a lazy bottom turn and claimed the wave with a nod.”
Nick lives in a thousand-square-foot two-bedroom casita where he can watch the waves from his porch. “It was the kind of place that surfers dream about when they’re working nine-to-five el norte. I’d bought it six years ago for 58,000 U.S. dollars — furnished. I hadn’t changed a thing except for adding internet and replacing the fridge.”
Nick’s ironic observations are sharp and sure, and make the pages turn themselves.
“The drug wars and cartel violence are pretty overrated if the only information you get is from the U.S. press. A lot of those stories are all about trying to make Mexicans look like bloodthirsty lunatics so Americans don’t feel guilty about paying immigrants shit wages to cut their lawns and make their beds. But still. Nobody’s head looks good on a stake…”
“Despite her claims to fame, there was still a sad mystery to her, and I could relate. Very few foreigners move to Mexico to escape success.”
Nick bobs along, buoyed by good intentions amid waves of violence, stumbling into a murder and finally finding himself caught between the FBI and the sadistic policia secret. You’re kept in suspense never knowing where or how or in what condition he’s going to wash ashore.
But Nick’s never short of a wry observation and a fresh eye patch (he has a white one with a sequined peace sign, a red one with a hammer and sickle and a few blacks and grays for more formal occasions).
Amid the dark confusion of crime, Nick has a chance to find a family like the one he lost. Much of the novel’s tension hangs on that long shot. And his journey eventually involves a brief return to America, permitting the novel to veer into social satire and skewer a few 21st century pretensions.
The title is ironic, finally, because Nick Lutz is no thief, but rather one from whom much has been stolen. He’s a regular American guy in highly irregular circumstances south of the border. It’s Nick’s engaging character — breeziness as a brave front for pain — that really sustains the story.