Saturday, February 19, 2011
New Books: LONG PIG by James L. Ross
LONG PIG. James L. Ross
318 pages. Perfect Crime Books. ISBN: 978-1-935797-10-4
Publication date: February 24, 2011.
My favorite line in LONG PIG comes near the end: “If he couldn’t help anybody, at least he could fuck someone up once in a while.”
Hayes has served his prison time over a Pentagon billing scandal. Now he’s done with the D.C. crowd. His daughter has hired him as an off-the-books investigator at her P.I. firm in Hollywood. He’s got a scriptwriter lady friend who’s twenty years younger than him. He knows he’s an anachronism, knows all his points of reference are out of date, takes small comfort in the scriptwriter’s occasional reference to him as “Studkins”—suspecting she’s joking. This is the kind of character I like, because I’ve known people a little like him: over the hill, doubting that the past meant much. Hayes knows he can’t reform the Washington system. He knows he bought into a lot of b.s. as an army helicopter pilot. He had an epiphany in prison that his old beliefs were like water going down the shower stall drain. So then the complication: a political fixer back in D.C. thinks Hayes is leaking a damaging story about the war-hero President. Since it’s a story Hayes may have picked up from a gay sergeant who served with the Prez in Nam, this could be a little worse than a Swiftboat tale. The sergeant is conveniently deceased. Now the political fixer sets out to shut Hayes up.
What I liked to imagine was: How would a guy like Hayes, at this stage in his life, deal with people who believe he’s a pushover?
I knew a guy more than twenty years ago who had been at the U.S. compound during Tet, and some of his background made its way into Hayes’s. Hollywood and D.C. people might be a little recognizable. I didn’t want to write a roman a clef, but I like stories that have at least shallow roots in things I’ve known. So they have life beyond the immediate needs of the plot.
JAMES L. ROSS February 19, 2011