Sunday, July 13, 2008

BIG MONEY by Jack Getze

My grandfather, bless his dear departed heart, came to fiction late in life. He was kind of a thinky person's Archie Bunker-- Old school New England and Irish-- and although he married an English major, fiction struck him as a frivolous waste of time until he was hospitalized for an extended period for heart problems and he realized that nothing was as frivolous a waste of time as daytime TV.


G-pa was a tough nut to crack, and it wasn't until, as a pre-teen, I placed in the top ten of the Boston Globe's stock picking challenge for kids that we ever had anything to talk about. For years after, each time I'd visit (before I moved across the street from him), he'd take me out for a banana split and we'd talk stocks until the shared split was gone.


(While I picked those stocks like I now pick football teams-- Dolphins are preeetty-- this one sucess led to a good decade and a half of wandering around miles away from my path. G-pa shipped me off to Business Summer Camp. When I applied to college, five of my eight schools were business schools. Even though I switched my major from Econ to English within a year, I still went almost straight to the business world after college.)


(Sorry kids, Mama's been laid up for a whle. The mind is the first to go. I ramble.)


Point being, when G-pa did "find" fiction, the man hit a formula he liked, began to devour nearly a book a day, and did so til he died.


"Sex and violence, Miss," he'd tell me. "I won't read it unless it's got a heavy helping of sex and violence."


If only my grandfather had lived long enough to meet Austin Carr. The old coot's big blue eyes would have teared up from joy. Sex and violence AND finance? It would have been almost too good to be true. AND Getze's books would have given G-Pa and me one more thing to talk about. Because Getze is a good writer-- a seriously good writer-- and with BIG MONEY one gets the sense that, despite having been a writer for most of his life, he's really just getting cooking.

BIG MONEY is the opposite of a sophomore slump. I dug BIG NUMBERS and gave it a very positive review last June, but Getze's second book features a far more nuanced and and charming Carr and an attention to detail in the prose that kicks the book into a deeper level of richly enjoyable zippy reading. Every metaphor and similie clicks neatly into place. The English teacher in me wanted to write "Great Verbs!" in the margins of nearly every page.

Sure, as a woman, I get a bit tired of the fact that Austin is always thinking with his little Carr, but how do you not love a man who, when all the cards are stacked against him and he's forced to stare into the dark abyss of life, he cries out like Streetcar's Stanley to the symbol of all that is right and good with the world, the holiest of holies-- Shania Twain?

Fun Fact: True Getze fans will recognize yet another alter-ego of the author making a cameo about midway through the book.

As with BIG NUMBERS, Getze will surely be cheated out of readers due to production value of the book. Both Carr and Getze deserve much better. An Amazon reviewer compared Getze to Evanovich, and as I just finished ONE FOR THE MONEY right before I picked up Getze (as with Block, I'm late to the Evanovich game too), I find the comparison apt indeed.

BIG MONEY, no whammies indeed.

7 comments:

Jack said...

What a lovely review, Lou. Thanks.
In comparing the two books, I think you stumbled on something I'd forgotten: Big chunks of the first one were written twenty years ago, before I found WRW.

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