Skip to main content

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

Issue: July/August 2014

Story: "Extreme (Part III)"

Author: Don Winslow

Rating: Triple Meh

Review: I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating: I wish there were some sort of mystical Bureau of Inane and Meaningless Statistics, so that I could see how many people there are in the world who actually took the time out of their lives to read not one but all three installments of this no-doubt very well-intentioned but mostly un-exciting piece of action fiction published over three consecutive issues of Playboy Magazine this summer. I would bet my left ass-cheek (a sizable wager, I assure you) that number can be counted on one hand. As for how many people have taken the time to blog about this story? I would say: two. Why two? Because there have to be at least a couple whack-o Don Winslow fanatics out there who drool over everything that comes off the guy's pen, and at least ONE of those whackos has to have a blog (hey, it takes one to know one (bloggers, not Don Winslow fans)). All of which is to say: I'm in pretty select company in even attempting to analyze and write about this story and...that and $1.75 will get me a tall Pike at Starbucks.

Anyway...I wrote everything substantial I could think of to write about this story when I covered Parts I & II over the summer. There's really nothing left. There were characters. They did some stuff. A couple of them died. Overall, I've experienced more suspense reading Archie Comics. Was this an attempt to gin up some support for a new screenplay? Just a way to spread out one author contract over three issues and avoid having to scout for new, literary voices? I don't know. But after starting my Playboy Review series with reviews of works by Stuart Dybek and Chris Offutt I expected a bit more quality,.

Only thing I can say that's positive about these stories: I suppose Winslow did generate a sort of sleek, fast-moving, under-cover-of-darkness kind of feeling about this story, not only by what he was writing about but through his style as well: short, clipped sentences, lots of action, no sentiment. If this story makes any claim on a literary achievement, I'd say that's it. Still, I found it a slog at some point and didn't really care if all the characters got hacked up in the rotors of the getaway helicopter or if they got out of the whole mess Scot-free. That's the rub. You heard it here first.


Popular posts from this blog

New Yorker Fiction Review #146: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Issue: May 9, 2016

Story: "Three Short Moments in a Long Life" by John L'Heureux

Rating: $

Review: I feel like this is a somewhat tired technique, straight out of Creative Writing 101: write a story consisting of three or four different snapshots or snippets out of a character's life at different ages, sort of like a series of written photographs. Fun perhaps, but strikes me as a bit amateurish. However, I also think L'Heureux succeeds here by pushing it a bit further, playing with the character's tentative attempts at something close to faith -- in childish, adult, and mature adult ways -- and tying all three "Short Moments" together in a subtle and readily decipherable way.

L'Heureux's prose and his frank humor and his ability to glorify and find the meaning in the mundane events and thoughts of every day life, and thereby turn the life of an ordinary person into a drama with meaning and significance puts me in mind of John Irving. As well a…

New Yorker Fiction Review #151: "The Bog Girl" by Karen Russell

From the June 20 issue...

My loyal readers (if there are still any, which I doubt) will know I'm usually not a fan of Magical Realism, which, as you may also know, is Karen Russell's stock in trade. That said, there's nothing I love more than having my antipathy for magical realism shattered by an awesome story like "The Bog Girl."

Briefly, an Irish teenager discovers the body of a young woman who as been buried in a bog for over 2,000 years and begins to date her. What more do you need, right? If I'd read that one-line description somewhere else, and wasn't on a mission to review every New Yorker short story, I doubt I'd have read "The Bog Girl." But maybe I should start doing a George Costanza and do the opposite of everything I think I should do.

Where Russell succeeds here is in two main areas: 1.) Making us really love Cillian, the teenager who falls in love with the bog girl, and 2.) pulling the unbelievable trick making the characters…

Water Review: San Pellegrino 250ml Bottle

Damn you, tiny little bottle of San Pellegrino. So little. So cute. But what are you really good for other than to make me wish I had a full bottle of Pellegrino? 
Good as a palate cleanser after a nice double espresso, I will give it that. But little else. The suave yet chaotic burst of Pellegrino bubbliness is still there, but with each sip you feel the tragedy of being that much closer to the end of the bottle, that much faster.

This is a bottle of water made specifically for the frustrated, for the meticulous, for the measurers among us with a penchant for the dainty. This water does not love you in the wild, on a sunny porch or with the raucous laughter of friends. No...much the opposite. Whatever that may be.

Best drunk in tiny, tiny sips, while forcing oneself through an unreadable and depressing Russian novel one does not want to read but feels one should, on a cold, wet day in December that promises four months of gloom and depression...or in pairs or threes and poured over …