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Playboy Fiction Review: "Extreme (Part I)" by Don Winslow

Issue: May 2014

So my Playboy fiction reviewing is still a fairly new endeavor. This is installment number three, and while I'm not completely convinced it's worth it to keep going, I'm still convinced it's a nice counter-weight to my reading of the New Yorker short fiction because there's far greater chance of a curve-ball.

Last month's story, by crime fictioneer Don Winslow (whose book Savages was made into a movie by Oliver Stone last year)  is about a group of extreme sports enthusiasts who decide to pull a daring caper after one of their friends is killed trying to glide beneath a steel bridge on a base jump. Story starts off a little slow, but it gets better as Winslow gets deeper into the psychology and lifestyle behind extreme sports and the people who do them. And it only truly gets interesting when the friends decide to pull the caper. In fact, up until then it's just a psychological profile of adrenaline junkies.

Winslow's style is refreshing, and perhaps the most remarkable or noteworthy take-away of this story. He writes in this sort of clipped, macho, off-the-cuff style and flaunts the rules of punctuation at will. Overall, a nice change from the more conventional tone and style of the stories that end up in the NYer.

Still, in terms of a theme or a greater meaning....it doesn't strike me to look too deeply here. I am, however, pretty interested to read the next installment. Which, I suppose is the least you can ask for from a crime/adventure story.


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