Snitch Jacket

Snitch Jacket

4.5 2
by Christopher Goffard
     
 

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Combining elements of classic noir, dark comedy, and a misfit's memoir reminiscent of Notes from the Underground, Christopher Goffard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, brings life to the darker side of west coast counter-culture in a literary crime n
“Everyone knows that California sunshine is the world’s loneliest light,” says Benny, who

Overview

Combining elements of classic noir, dark comedy, and a misfit's memoir reminiscent of Notes from the Underground, Christopher Goffard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, brings life to the darker side of west coast counter-culture in a literary crime n
“Everyone knows that California sunshine is the world’s loneliest light,” says Benny, who inhabits an underworld of desperados and grotesques and spends much of his free time at the Greasy Tuesday, a squalid, southern California neighborhood dive teeming with local legends. One night, one of these legends walks through the door: Gus “Mad Dog” Miller, a huge, tattoo-laden Vietnam vet who sports a necklace of severed ears and whose job at the Greasy Tuesday is “to keep the riffraff out.” “But everyone's riffraff here,” Benny protests. But Benny, our morally ambiguous hero, soon finds himself transfixed by this twisted Falstaffian personality, and six months later Benny is arrested on suspicion of double murder.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In Goffard's impressive debut, a darkly comic romp through the Southern California underworld, Benny Bunt, a 41-year-old dishwasher, finds his main escape in the Greasy Tuesday, a blue-collar bar in Costa Mesa. Among the recidivist misfits, his is a harmless familiar face. What they don't know is that Benny is a snitch who earns pocket money by ratting out his buddies to the cops. Enter one Gus "Mad Dog" Miller, a massive, bearded Vietnam vet, covered with prison tattoos; Gus holds court at the bar with outrageous tales of his exploits, military and criminal. Gus soon becomes Benny's best friend, and seeks his assistance in a contract killing. Only problem is, the police "botch" their surveillance and Benny ends up taking the fall for a double homicide committed at the Howling Head festival in the Mojave desert. Goffard's prose shimmers with intelligence and humor, and he has a keen ear for telling detail. Fans of such cultish neo-noir scribes such as Charlie Huston and Duane Swierczynski will be richly rewarded. (Oct.)

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Kirkus Reviews
A few twists and turns fail to lift this unimaginative novel out of boredom and turgidity. A predictable assortment of lowlifes inhabits the book. The narrator is Benny Bunt, the "snitch" of the title, a denizen of the Greasy Tuesday, a dive housing a collection of other lowlifes. Benny is a fount of arcane and useless information, mainly owing to his having memorized all the cards from Trivial Pursuit (which edition is uncertain). Because his marriage to Donna has become a "loveless cage," he finds social (certainly not intellectual or sexual) fulfillment at the Tuesday. There he comes under the spell of Gus "Mad Dog" Miller, nominally a Vietnam vet and self-described badass. What brings them together as metaphorical brothers is "nothing more complicated than [Gus's] desire to tell stories and my desire to hear them." Problem is, Gus is both more and less complicated than he seems. After getting Benny deeply involved in a bizarre hit scheme-with appropriate but predictable allusions to The Sopranos-Gus is eventually revealed to be Gerry Finkel, a drifter and Vietnam vet manque, who had taken over Gus's identity in a distorted admiration to be someone who'd actually had some Real Life Experiences. To his credit, Benny retrospectively realizes that if someone says "a thing with enough fire and conviction [and adds] a few fistfuls of Svengali charisma . . . just about anything sounds true." Benny bewilderingly finds himself accused of a double murder, and Walter Goins, his public defender who wears Looney Tunes and Three Stooges ties, doesn't inspire confidence. Goffard mixes up narrative structures by including "transcripts" from Benny's trial and a sensationalized account called Murder onthe Edge!, the result of a prison interview Benny gave. This is the kind of novel with dialogue like "You've really lived life. I love your tats, man. You've done time?"More painful than funny.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585679546
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
09/01/2007
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.57(w) x 8.78(h) x 0.99(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Snitch Jacket 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great seedy murder mystery with obscure references of a culture from long ago 'Adamantium' plus 'A Boy and His Dog', the references play out like a perfectly sampled rap album. The whole story is a colorful L.A. playground full of dirty characters with low morals and even less standards of where they will sleep at night. It just goes to show you, some people never learn till the bar- bells ring!
edofarrell More than 1 year ago
This novel is populated by the most unsympathetic and pathetic crew of characters to grace a novel since A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES. The writing is superb, the characters well-developed and it is, all in all, a fine romp through America's underworld of thieves, drunks and assorted losers. Well worth the price of admission