Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Long Con Week 4 - The Godwulf Manuscript

"The mob, the cops, the university had all told me to mind my own business.  Not a bad trio; I was waiting for a threat from organized religion."

A recent conversation held with a friend, whose musical tastes might not always mesh with my own, forced me to realize a rather unthinkable truth.

Aerosmith has not always sucked.

I'll be the first to admit, I fell under the sway of their album Pump.  I even bought "Love in an elevator" on cassette single.  But that decision can always be rationalized away.  I was young, impressionable, and damn, I wanted to be cool.  It certainly impressed itself upon my teenage libido.  The song was all about sex, and boy could Steven Tyler work a double entendre.

The romance quickly faded.  The song was overplayed, and Aerosmith soon started getting stale with each sucessive album.  To this day, I can still not tell Crazy/Crying/Amazing apart.  (The videos were quite nice though.)  By that time, I had relegated them to Rolling Stone status; bands that should have hung it up while they were young enough to not seem creepy.

Back to the conversation.  Much like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith were actually quite bad ass in their younger days.  I had forgotten what an amazing record Toys in the Attic was.  So I gave it another play.  Dynamite.  That led me to do some internet searching, and before long I had found a concert from Cincinnati, circa 1973.

It blew my mind.  The crowd was obviously small, and Aerosmith rocked like I had never heard before.  There was an energy.  These guys were playing balls out (possibly literally) and giving it all to impress this crowd which was probably filled with people who hadn't really heard of them.

The Bad Boys from Boston were making their name.

Which leads me to another bad boy from Boston, Robert B. Parker.

When he passed away last week, it shamed me to admit I had never read one of his novels.  I remember watching Spenser for Hire on television when I was younger, but his books always sat on the bookstore shelf.  Everytime I considered picking one up, something else grabbed me instead.

I couldn't have that anymore.

I picked up a copy of The Godwulf Manuscript, his first Spenser novel, and devoured it.  (An amazing coincidence, this book was published in 1973, same year as that Aerosmith concert.  Is the universe trying to tell me something.)

I read somewhere, perhaps Wikipedia (so I'm not sure if it's to be trusted) that he wrote this book in only three weeks.  Let me tell you, it reads like it.  It's filled with such a sense of urgency, that I can almost picture Parker, fueled by coffee and ideas, slaving over a typewriter, banging the pages out long into the night.

The book is a wonderful read, filled with all the bullet points of private eye fiction.  The tough as nails leading man, quick with his fists and his mouth;  The ladies who fall for his charms and find a moments peace in his bed; the cops who alternately hate his guts and respect him; and most importantly, the crooks and criminals who underestimate him.  At 204 pages, it was a perfect little story.

And how many PI novels use a stolen illuminated medieval manuscript as the MacGuffin?

Add reading the Spenser series to my "to do" list. 

Discussion point:  Any albums that you remember hearing and feeling almost connected to band, and how they were living at the time it was recorded?  For me, it was Guns & Roses Appetite for Destruction.  I could practically smell the streets of Los Angeles in their music.  Still not sure if that was a good thing.  But it's always been a goal of mine to write a novel that gives me the same feeling they gave me as I listened to Mr. Brownstone, My Michelle, and Nightrain.

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