Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I could see the ending of Ken Bruen's Priest coming.

This is the first of the Jack Taylor books which seemed predicable.

Also, I found myself wondering if, in actual life, things are always quite so bleak. I know Jack Taylor is depressive. He spends much of his time in an alcoholic rage. That is the most real thing about the book. As he swears off his addictions, his rage emerges.

Rage is at the heart of addiction, at least of Jack Taylor's addiction. That was the brilliant insight this book brought me.

But does everything always turn out tragic? In actual life, do good things never happen? Or when they do, do they always turn sour?

There is much believable about this book. I can believe that traditional Irish society is crumbling. I can believe priests abuse altar boys. I can believe nuns cover up the abuse. I can believe that, among the best priests, there might be alcoholics who no longer institute the sacrament. Instead, they sit endlessly at bar tables. I can believe that abuse, any kind of abuse, twists and distorts most human lives.

But I find it hard to believe that Jack Taylor's friends never escape the awful murder. They are always destroyed. They never do anything good for him which life somehow doesn't turn around and make into a tragedy.

Maybe that's the problem with pure noir. It twists the world into its mold. Things become so negatively predictable.

I love these books. So far, I have never read one without some new insight. I lived a good part of my early life with a father who treated alcoholics. I watched him struggle to get them to make little changes. I heard him talking at two in the morning on the phone to self-destructive people who refused to listen. But I never understood the rage which underlies addiction to the extent I do now, after having read this book.

Jack Taylor's story is compelling. It just seems too predictable to me. It seems too bleak. Sometimes those who try to help us do survive. Fate makes that happen. Even in our negativity, we can't destroy everything. We aren't that powerful, at least as individuals. That's not the way life works.

I look forward to the day when something good happens to Jack Taylor and the goodness survives. In the real world, it sometimes happens that way.


Corey Wilde said...

Hang in there. Priest isn't my favorite of the Jack Taylor series either and I think the next one, Cross, has some of the same problems you noted in Priest. After those two I was concerned for the future of the series. But Sanctuary, to me at least, feels like a corner being turned in Jack's life. But I've been wrong before.

Joe Barone said...

I will hang in there. I still like the books. I never read one of them without getting some insight into human nature.

Cathy said...

I started having the same problems with Jack in Priest, too. It was good to see Corey's comment!

Joe Barone said...

Cathy, Sometimes I think one of the hardest things a writer can try to do is to write a series and keep it fresh.