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BROWSE BOOK REVIEWS:

"East of Lincoln" by Harlin Hailey

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, September 21, 2019 Under: Book Reviews

This bleakly unsettling, yet triumphantly entertaining L.A.-dream-turned-sour tale, laced with sharp, very black – and sometimes side-splitting – comedy, is a real welcome interjection to the noir genre.  Addressing a subject which is vastly overlooked in our society: the scrapheap of middle-age – an age which takes everything from you, one piece at a time, it is very coarse and sour, and very, very good.

Set in the early-current decade – the post-recession Obama years – East of Lincoln tells the slice-of-life story of the woes and misery of a group of those who have been arguably hit with the most impact by age discrimination: the fifty-something middle-earners – apparently things aren’t so different on either side of the Atlantic.  It predominantly revolves around three formerly well-earning professionals, who now find themselves surplus to requirements in a younger, more tech-driven society.  The impact on each of them, and every aspect of their lives, is profound and frightening: they find themselves bachelors with no money or work, living in a run-down part of a city which simultaneously yells out its fantasy of opportunities, whilst simultaneously, parasitically sucking its residents dry before discarding their empty shells.  This book focuses on those who haven’t realized – or at least managed to keep hold of – that dream.

Harlin tells his tale with pure, sardonic venom, dissecting their lives and tawdry hometown with acute insight.  His writing is tremendously vicious, and his love/hate relationship with a bogus, dream-weaving city is a feeling many of us relate to well.  His characters are warped mirrors to middle-aged, disillusioned men and women – their lives no longer providing any apparent worth, either to themselves or anybody else.  Together, they are just clinging on by their fingernails, sweeping up any scraps of wealth and quality they can from their former lives – or, just scraping a living, full-stop.  As they plummet into hardship, despair and finally madness, the inevitably imminent tragedy is palpable, and increasingly so throughout.  This satire on the American dream and the Obama administration is wretched to read – yet at the same time, utterly irresistible.

Harlin is a fantastic author, this book engaging in every way, with a colourful use of language, providing perfect metaphorical and comic phrasing, and I would love to read more from him.  Every line, every response is sardonic, sour perfection, in this slick, dialogue-driven work.  Even though you know what’s coming, right from the start, it is a profound, enjoyable journey to get there.  And, when the poignancy hits, it hits hard, and hurts; crushing and brilliantly written.

In : Book Reviews 


Tags: harlin-hailey  la-noir  noir  comedy  black-comedy  humour  bittersweet  drama  slice-of-life 
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