Monday, December 01, 2003

Hard Revolution: The CD 

Earlier this year, people who bought copies of Michael Connelly's latest Harry Bosch novel LOST LIGHT got a complimentary gift: a CD compilation of classic jazz tracks by the likes of John Coltrane, Art Pepper, and Clifford Brown. The idea originated with the author, and with the help of his webmaster (and sister) Jane Davis, the CD was made available through Connelly's publisher and was certainly one of the most interesting book promotional materials I've come across.

Said publisher, Little, Brown & co., is repeating the same promo with another of their authors, George Pelecanos, in conjunction with the publication of his next novel, HARD REVOLUTION. It'll be in stores in March, but the advance copies have been out there since the end of May, and so most of those "in the know" have already snagged their copies. Personally, I think this is Pelecanos's best book in several years; although the Strange/Quinn trilogy (which ended with 2003's SOUL CIRCUS) ranged from excellent to very good, I found that there was some sense of spark lacking that had been present in his previous books, most notably the "DC Quartet" novels chronicling Washington from the 1940s to the present day. HARD REVOLUTION is set in the time period leading up to the race riots in the late 60s (1959-68) and once again, Pelecanos captured the essence of the period, the simmering tensions and problems endemic to the poor neighborhoods of the Washington, D.C. the majority of us will never know and never be exposed to. All these with characters who are never less than three-dimensional and storytelling at its finest. If you've never read Pelecanos, this would be a good book to start with, but if you can't wait, I highly recommend the DC Quartet's first book, THE BIG BLOWDOWN (1996).

The CD that will accompany copies of HARD REVOLUTION is made up of 8 cuts from the soul era chosen by Pelecanos himself. As evident from his comments, it's obvious that he's a huge fan of this kind of music, something that surprises no one who reads his novels. He's well known for filling the prose with music cuts which truly give insight into the time period and the characters' thoughts at the time. In THE SWEET FOREVER (1998), for example, which is set in the mid-1980s, a woman not quite on the wrong side of thirty has a "Susannah Hoffs" haircut and swears by Echo and the Bunnymen. That says more about her than pages and pages of description ever could.

The CD will have liner notes from Peter Guralnick, the author of popular music history books such as FEEL LIKE GOING HOME and LOST HIGHWAY. I can't wait to see what he has to say, and to own the CD for my very own.

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