Monday, November 2, 2009

Fistful of Feet

So, you either like Jordan Krall or you don't, just like you either like Nora Roberts or you don't. Jordan Krall is not Nora Roberts. And, it's a real shame that he's not topping the bestseller's list because he's an outstanding writer. Outstanding. What I love the most, though, is the dedication, the homages, Jordan Krall pays towards certain genres. Squid Pulp Blues was for noir; Fistful of Feet is Krall's spaghetti western. Just like the spaghetti westerns we all know and love, there are good guys and bad guys (and often times good bad guys and bad good guys). All the characters are black and white; the violence is gritty; the whorehouse is hot; and everybody seems out to get everyone else. Now take that western landscape and twist it with Lovecraftian imagery and you've got a great landscape for this western to play out. Screwhouse, Nevada is as gritty as "Deadwood", where they'll shoot you for conning men out of poker, and blow your legs out with dynamite. Known for it's legendary brothel (which is easily a sampling of every "Real Sex" episode HBO has ever shown...if it's a twisted fetish, you can get it here), the working ladies are just as tough as the cowboys who visit them. The Eastwood-like stranger appears as one Calamaro from New Jersey. He's exactly what you'd expect in your "hero". And once he arrives in town, all the characters come out of the woodwork - a local gang dead set on making life tough for the stranger, bizarro whores, a prissy con man, a determined-to-get-to-California whore, the sheriff, a drug-peddling general store man, a gang looking for Confederate gold, and the very randy mayor. And if that wasn't enough, there's a serial killer on the loose, carving up local girls. And, of course, there's Indians. Confused? That's the book's one major flaw. There are so many characters introduced and so many plotlines going at once, it tends to get a little confusing. With any other writer this would be a problem. With Jordan Krall, it's not. Jordan knows where the action's going...he knows he's taking the reader on a wild trip...we're confused, but he's going to wrap it up in the end with a nice bow. I've read Piecemeal June and Squid Pulp Blues. Fistful of Feet is, in my opinion, his best. Congrats, Jordan Krall, you've done it again.

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