Saturday, May 28, 2005

Manuel Ramos, Part I

Here’s the deal: I met Manuel Ramos in Las Vegas for Bouchercon a couple of years ago. We didn’t get to talk, and I didn’t know then who he was. Now I’ve read a couple of his novels and had some email correspondence with him. I’m supposed to eventually put together an article about him (Suggestions on what angle to take would be welcome). This will be delayed because I read very slowly, sometimes taking a month between beginning and ending a novel (and I don’t mean War and Peace).

The books I’ve read are The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz and Mooney’s Road to Hell. Excellent books, the both of them. Here is what surprises me most about his books: his graceful writing style. He either cares a great deal about each sentence or he’s a natural poet. Or both. I don’t say this because I expected bad prose. I don’t think mystery writers are less artistic than literary writers – there are plenty of so-called literary writers who couldn’t turn a nice phrase to save themselves from eternal damnation. But I had heard Ramos’s books were noiry and hard-boiled – I expected the sentences to be staccato or in some way hard-edged. I didn’t expect lyricism. Surprise!

Anyway, were I a more organized man, I'd have examples of his lyricism. Instead, let me just say that the quality perfumes his books. I've just gotten The Ballad of Gato Guerrero from the Black Orchid Bookshop in NYC, and can't wait to get to it. It's third on my list of TBR.


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