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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.


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