Thursday, May 28, 2009

downsized and just down

Sarah Weinmann reflects on the prescience of the great Donald Westlake's novel The Ax in these recessionary times.
Published in 1997, the Ax is essentially a no holds barred satire of corporate downsizing.
A mill worker named Burke Devore is laid off. Our guy places phantom ads in trade journals, then stalks and kills the interviewees in increasingly reckless and public ways.
The novel is classic Westlake, sleek, surefooted and crisp.
Naturally, it's largely out of print.
The links in her articles take positions on whether or not the Ax is a political thriller insofar as Westlake meant to indict the Reagan-Bush years (relatively benign compared to now) or if the Ax was a cultural marker around the decline of the white working class.
Both angles have merit, but it's largely beside the point.
Burke Devore wasn't a political animal and I don't think the late Donald Westlake was either.
Both of them just knew in their guts what the lay of the land was, and only Westlake or his various pseudonyms could make it pay.
Burke Devore was an anachronism and proactive.

Speaking of odious practices, how come a bunch of Donald Westlake books are out of print and
this gets a green light.
From the Reuters article:

"Rapper Kanye West does not read books or respect them but nevertheless he has written one that he would like you to buy and read.
The Grammy Award winner, known for his No. 1 albums and outspoken statements on everything from racism in America to the banality of Twitter, is the co-author of "Thank You And You're Welcome."
His book is 52 pages -- some blank, others with just a few words -- and offers his optimistic philosophy on life. One two-page section reads, "Life is 5% what happens and 95% how you react!" Another page reads "I hate the word hate!""

He should have left all the pages blank.

Posted by Dave

1 comment:

BCCC said...


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