Alcoholics write books, too.
Sometimes they write crime fiction. Sometimes they write literary works. No matter what form the novel takes, the real dark star is the bottle.
Think of Dr. Strangelove riding the bomb out of the bomb hatch and into oblivion. Substitute a bottle for a bomb and you find a metaphor that unites a number of books in this genre: The drunken hero/anti-hero. Drinking is not just a life style; it form, shapes, distorts the human condition. Like a moth to flame, we can’t take our eyes off the flutter of wings as they close in on the fire. What is not terribly surprising about these books is their semi-autographical nature. Where the drinking takes place the strip joints, bars, nightclubs, and back alleys also transports the reader into the environment where the drinking takes place. Not every writer who creates a drunk for a hero is an alcoholic. Though looking at the record, it would seem that such a writer is rare.
I’ve been reading James Crumley’s Dancing Bear. His private investigator, Milodragovitch or Milo, moves between a snort of coke and gulping down shots of schnapps. He battles his addiction to booze and drugs as he solves crimes. Sometimes a case of drugs falls into his lap and he struggles between the desire to consume the whole lot and selling the cache. Milo also uses the magic dust with women in the books. Crumley captures the utter despair, loneliness and ennui of a private investigator. As one Amazon reviewer put it, this series is beyond noir, and enters a new level where the darkness of the void emits no light. His turf is the Pacific Northwest. Think Montana and Washington States, the back roads, the small towns, petty jealous over women and money.
I've blogged about a number of books that fit into this category: blog: http://www.cgmoore.com/blog/index.asp
It is surprising the number that have been made into films.
Has anyone else read Crumley's private eye books?