Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review-Tempted By Trouble by Eric Jerome Dickey

 The bad thing about reading a new Eric Jerome Dickey novel is that you know you will have to wait a year for the next o51DwdieclaL._SL160_ne.

  How far will you go for love? What compromises will you  make to keep it? Dmytryk Knight has to answer these questions in Tempted By Trouble, The soon to be Best Seller from Eric Jerome Dickey and Dotton/Penguin Group. Dmytryk must live with those answers. Dmytryk is a respectable man, a man who has seemingly fulfilled the American dream. He is college educated and has earned a white collar job in Detroit's Auto Industry. Dmytryk is a conservative man who wears Johnston & Murphy wing tip shoes, wears conservative dark tailored suits even for dinner at home with a ghost.

He carries his fathers pocket watch and wears his fathers classical black fedora. He measures his accomplishments against the lessons he learned from his hard working parents. Until the crippling recession of the first decade of the 21st century comes along and puts his values to a test a lot of us are currently taking ourselves. Dmytryk is down sized from his comfortable six figure job, but recovers and puts on a blue collar, working the production line in the same auto plant. It's a step back, but Dymtryk is a noble man. "It's a birth defect," he says of that nobility. He meets Cora Mature who works on the line too. They fall in love and marry and between them they can still maintain that American Dream. Until the economy spirals into even darker times. Out of work for two years, having lost two fancy new cars, their town house in a "nice" neighborhood, run out of unemployment and spent their savings, they are forced to move into the small house that Dmytryk grew up in. The new cars are gone, but they have Dmytryk's fathers classic ' 69 Buick Wildcat which he meticulously maintains, dreaming of those shiny European status symbols. They work part time jobs. Many part time jobs, Dmytryk even delivers pizzas, a far cry from the boardrooms of GM. They maintain the dream as best as two decent people can in trying times until one day Cora gives into desperation-she'd grown up poor, and wasn't going back without a fight. Behind Dmytryk's back, she takes a job as an exotic dancer at a "gentlemen's club" that had no gentlemen as patrons. She take's the stage name of Trouble, then she becomes Trouble.

Cora is an erotic and exotic beauty. Brooklyn born and Detroit raised. She is the perfect mix of Dominican, Canadian, Jamaican, Chinese and "a few other dark exotic lands combined." A stunning beauty with an erotic face that "reminds Dmytryk of Maria de Medeiros Esteves Vitorino de Almeida." Child like and seductive all at once. Her metamorphous throughout the story is more physical, where Dmytryk's is more a transformation of the soul. Cora transforms from a woman of conservative and expensive dress and tastes into a woman that looked like she stepped off the cover of a magazine that featured stories penned by Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammet, maybe pulp stories about a mysterious buxom woman who carried a gun, a woman who had sex for fun and shot people for the same reason. Trouble meets a very dangerous man, a man that goes by the name of Eddie Coyle. Eddie Coyle steals from the rich and gives to the disenfranchised. Eddie Coyle seduces Trouble one night, with money, expensive meals and night spots, and a $5,000 fur coat because she is cold. Delivers her 24 hours later back to her husband and lures her into his world of bank robbery and deceit with a chance to live the high life once again. Dmytryk will do almost anything to honor his vows to love and protect Cora and seeing that he has failed at that duty, he agrees to work for Eddie Coyle.

While casually killing and dumping the body of his previous getaway driver and his wife, Eddie lays it all out for Dmytrk. First rule in this ruthless world. No witnesses. Eddie rants, "Capitalism is all about big fish devouring little fish and never stopping to masticate their prey. It's a good thing when you are winning. When you're losing, you see it's faults. The country is devolving. The Tea Party is out there expressing their outrage over health care. If this is the outrage that comes from health care, it's going to be crazy when immigration is brought to the table. Bad economy and racism, the fear of a new labor pool coming from beyond these shores to do jobs in an already jobless country-it will be a Molotov cocktail. It will be the Detroit race riots in '43 and the Detroit race riots in '67 and the Watts riots and the '67 Newark riots and the Oklahoma race riots in every state, city, and town in America." Dmytryk listens. Eddie had just murdered two people and was engaging in casual conversation about politics. Dmytryk goes from driving decisions in GM boardrooms to driving battered Chevy's as a bank robbing teams getaway driver. Sixty to zero in no time.

From there, Dmytryk is almost all in. He doesn't so much as sell his soul, as he sells his values and compromises his beliefs at the alter of love for his wife. He never gambled his honor or that birth defect, nobility, for if there was ever an honorable thief, Dmytryk Knight is him. He develops a brotherly affection for his "teammates", the inside guys, Sammy Sanchez and Rick Bielshowsky. He asks with concern after their wives and children. He is even taken into their confidence about a possible big job in the near future that could leave them all flush and able to retire. He even deals honestly with the psychopath Eddie Coyle and his thug brother, Bishop.

This team pull many robberies following the plans of Eddie Coyle and though the money is quick and the actual jobs take 2 minutes for $20,000 profit, Dmytryk finds that Cora spends it just like he had that regular six figure salary coming in. Their life is back to normal until the money starts to run low. Then Cora grows cold and distant, disappearing for days at a time with no explanation until he goes on another job for Eddie Coyle. After one such job he comes home and Cora is gone, no forwarding address.

He even comes to understand Sammy's mistress, and Dmytryk's secondary getaway driver Jackie Brown and her motivations even though she is an "alcoholic who sleeps with married men, has sex with the bedroom door open wide for everyone to see, kills people for fun and shoots innocent televisions to make a point." Even though she has a filthy, arrogant and dark demeanor, her dirtiness appeals to Dmytryk's resentment after Cora's disappearance.  Jackie is an ex soldier who lost her children in a custody battle while serving her country in a combat zone. Dmytryk see's her resentment and feelings of being betrayed by the same system she was fighting to protect. The same system that betrayed him and cost him his dignity and his wife.

After a job in The City of Lost Angles goes terribly wrong, and Sammy is killed and Rick is left behind as  Dmytryk has to flee one dead, the other badly wounded. Dmytrk and Jackie have to cooperate to make their getaway and wind their way across the country, Dmytryk battered and bruised after having rammed the getaway car into an innocent woman who slowed down to read a text message from her fiance. Her fiance was breaking it off in that 21st century way; texting. She ends up a hostage confused and damning her luck as she is forced to deliver Dmytryk to a meeting with Jackie. Jackie reminds Dmytrk of the First Rule: No witnesses.

From there, Jackie and Eddie Coyle lures Dmytryk into one final job. The big job.Eddie informs him, "By the way, Rick didn't make it. Dmytryk asks, "Does his wife know?" Eddie answers, "She knows and she knows to keep her mouth closed. If we have to visit her, it won't be to bring flowers." Eddie also tells Dmytryk that the secirity gaurd at the bank died, meaning that Dmytryk would face a capital musder charge if anybody talks.The big job is all that matters to Eddie Coyle and Jackie Brown . The job that will allow her to kidnapp her own children and flee to South America. Maybe Dmytryk will come with her. He hasn't Cora to go back to. She seduces Dymtryk, because he is a necessary piece of the plan, the meal ticket out of town. So, they make their way to Georgia where Eddie Coyle is waiting with the plan for their retirement. A plan that will leave Dmytryk living in a suburb of Detroit not far from downtown madness and near the corner of redemption.

Mr. Dickey has written a winner that is bound to top all the Best Seller lists. It is a dark work on canvass painted from many pallets. Noir, but not really Noir because in  Noir stories the characters are losers and are doomed. They may not die, but they probably should. And Tempted is filled with many characters that the reader wants to have win. You'll want them to redeem themselves, with the possible exception of Eddie Coyle. It's got a daub of Thriller written in there, but it is not strictly a thriller. It does have plenty of action that will keep you on the edge of your seat and licking your fingers to turn pages as fast as possible, but a good deal of the "thrill factor" is in what will the characters do next. How will they react under morally challenging pressure. It's certainly a bit of a crime novel, but their are cops only peripherally involved and you need cops chasing bad guys for a "crime novel". It also is a bit of a "Road Story" but not purely so since the geographic destinations are secondary to the destinations of the heart and soul. What Mr. Dickey has done here is transcend genre. He has written a tale that is  all of those things mentioned above and a moral tale at the same time. A tale with contemporary themes, readily empathized with by a large portion of the planets populace at this point in history. A tale that could almost be told about any number of people real or fictitious in these times of political and economic upheaval that you, the reader, may be dealing with right now. Mr. Dickey has once again proven that he isn't just the best African American novelist working today, but indeed among the absolute best American Authors. In the end-it's a story of how we struggle and how we overcome, a great tale of survival and a love that....let's call it a great love story...that's what we do.

(I'd like to thank Eric Jerome Dickey and Ava Kavyani, Mr. Dickey's Publicist at Dutton/Penguin for providing the early release copy of Tempted By Trouble-Available August 17th in bookstores everywhere. Preorder it now from Amazon by clicking the book covers above.)

The Dirty Lowdown

Robert Carraher

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tempted By Trouble-Eric Jerome Dickey's Newest Novel Available August 17th

Tempted by Trouble


I am about half way through Tempted By Trouble and will be posting a review here and at Amazon, I anticipate Monday the 9th (I am taking extensive notes as I read), but I am so pleased with the book, I thought I'd put the link to Amazon up here so that you guys can preorder it. Tempted By Trouble Preorder now. Once again, Eric has escaped the tag "genre". The story has some nice noir elements, and I am loving it! Preorder now you guys and girls, I guarantee you will love this book.


The Dirty Lowdown

Friday, August 6, 2010

Get out the vote

Usually I post political opinions, here, and maybe some analysis from a historical point of view or at least an opinion formed by the lessons of history. But today, I received this open letter John Lewis at and I think that if we wish our President to continue to be successful, that it is very important that we express that in the November elections. The way we do that is to rally around him like we did two years ago. Anyway, here is John Lewis' letter. Don't get lazy y'all and talk to everyone you know about voting come November.


Friend --
On March 7th, 1965, 600 of us lined up to walk from Selma to Montgomery, to march for voting rights.
When we tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, we were met by state troopers. They attacked us with tear gas, bullwhips, and nightsticks.
It became known as Bloody Sunday, and the national outcry over the brutality that day led to the enactment, exactly 45 years ago today, of the Voting Rights Act.
The progress we've made since then is remarkable.
But the expansion of voting rights for millions did not happen overnight. It was the product of a continued struggle, by many people, over many years.
And just as change did not come easily then, it does not come easily now.
Discrimination still exists in America -- its effects can be as harmful as they were decades ago. And we can always become a better, more just society.
Two years ago, this movement -- led by Barack Obama -- brought millions of people into the political process for the first time.
I'm told that many of you are working hard now to get as many as possible of those folks -- and others from across the country who are with us in these fights -- to the polls this year.
It's an important effort, and the legacy of the fight for the Voting Rights Act is that it is not only our right to vote, and to help others do so -- it is our duty.
Can I count on you to help out between now and the elections in November?
When I was a child, I tasted the bitter fruits of racial discrimination -- and I did not like it.
That was what spurred me to act. In those early days, we sacrificed our very selves for our rights as Americans. But we never gave up.
And now barriers that kept an entire people from full participation in this country have been removed.
No longer are people who look like me met with violence when we register to vote.
No longer is the idea that an African American could become president just a dream.
We live in a better world, a better country.
But our work is not complete. We cannot wait for someone else to make change.
We must all do it. You must do it. I must do it.
Please sign up to help millions more vote:
Thank you,
Representative John Lewis



And that's the...

Dirty Lowdown

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The debate over 'birthright citizenship'

My response or ideas on this subject were prompted by the following Article on First Read. The interesting thing to analyze when this subject comes up is the motivation behind it. The so called "Birthers" would have it that by simply being born here, you are not entitled to citizenship, a law that was first enacted to settle the citizenship status of "freed slaves" after the Civil War. But the Birthers would have it that you are not entitled to citizenship unless your parents were both legal citizens of the country when you are born (neither could be even a legal immigrant who hadn't taken the oath of citizenship by the time of your birth). Some would go further and deny citizenship to those whose grandparents didn't fit this criteria.

Now to be fair, there are at least two recognizable ways to write a law defining citizenship. Those are referred to by the "mouth pieces" as jus soli and jus sanguinis. Or "Law of Ground" and "Law of Blood" . There are also two lesser schools of law more or less defined as the German conception of an "objective nationality", based on blood, race or language (as in Fichte's classical definition of a nation), opposing themselves to republican Ernest Renan's "subjective nationality", based on an every-day plebiscite of one's appartenance to hisFatherland. Most nation-states decided their definitions at or before the turn of the 19th century and have tweaked those law only to accommodate immigration.

Now on the surface, what the Birthers put forth this may seem to solve the problem of "border hoppers" who come here just to get citizenship for their children, but lets take a look at the effects such a law would have if enacted in the US today.

It would remove citizenship from all Hawaiians born before August 1959 since their parents weren't US citizens before Hawaii became a state-same would apply for Alaska. I won't even go back to states admitted before Hawaii as chances are there aren't many people born in, for instance, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma (1906-1912) before they were admitted as states, still alive. Chances are that even their parents were born after those places became states.

Nor will we consider the citizenship status of US territories and Common Wealth's such as Puerto Rico, Samoa, US Virgin Islands and Guam whose citizens are granted US Citizenship even though none of those places are US States. This is where the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” comes into play.

Now it is possible that the Birthers could reform and tailor make such a  law and write it in such a way that it would grant citizenship to those people. Maybe they could get that same lawyer who wrote Arizona's SB1070, he seems to pride himself in writing laws to get around the spirit of current law in much the same way that banks bragged that they didn't mind not being allowed to continue usurious credit card charges because they could find other ways to charge their customers the money without providing a service. But that would almost defeat the nature of the Birther movement which is to question the legality of President Obama (by the nature of his father having not been a citizen, even if they finally have to admit he was born in Hawaii). But they would have to go even further, because no matter how they would customize this law to exclude the current President, it would by it's nature also exclude Hawaiians, one of which is Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii who it is a known fact neither of his parents were even Hawaiian citizens (they were Japanese immigrants) when he was born. Now to put this in perspective, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii is now the President pro tempore of the senate. This makes Sen Inouye third in line to the office of President behind the VP. So, would we reform this law to exclude the possibility of people like Sen. Inouye becoming president? If so, how far "down the line of seccession" would we go? No matter how remote the chances of him becoming President would seem to be? Where do we draw the line? Should he even be denied the right to be a senator to avoid the uncomfortable situation of rising to the position of being in the line of succession for an office that by law he couldn't hold? In other words, denied to participate in the governance of the country even after he has become a citizen.

When you start looking at how such a law would have to be "nipped and tucked & tailored" it becomes clear what the motivation behind even considering such change to our citizenship laws would have to be.

The only motive for rewriting the citizenship laws at this late point in our history can only be xenophobia at it's best, and blatant racism at it's worst and the only question to ask yourself is do we wish to be a xenophobic country and can you fit that "square peg" into the "round hole" of democracy?


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