Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book: Short

The bold caption at the bottom of the front cover to Short reads 'Wall Street Meets The Office,' which boils this debut novel down to the most convenient line for the agent trying to sell a film adaptation. I thought it read more like a Harry Crews/Hunter Thompson combo taking on energy trading. There's a devious plot (or two) (or three) to make the rich richer, but what makes the book most engaging are the characters, each distinct and boldly drawn.

Short is hilarious, seamless, and features one of my favorite characters I've encountered in recent memory, Milt Harkrader. I'd follow him anywhere.

"Milt, like many other ten-gallon-hat-toting brokers in Manhattan, heralded from New Jersey. He needed the hat more than most because his hairline now began behind his ears. Milt had always been a loudmouth. Sometime after his divorce he had to have his jaw wired shut, the outcome of a late-night brawl that had occurred at a 7-Eleven in Rahway. This helped Milt develop a new respect for strangers but didn't stop him from talking so loud in bars, especially around his coworkers and other people he suspected wouldn't take the time to kick his ass."

Milt's on-point when teaching his son the value of confronting a man who calls you a 'bankrupt' behind your back, passing out in the pool of the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, passing out in a snowbank in Vail, being thrown overboard on a deepsea fishing trip after he unclips his harness because he doesn't like the way the 'life jacket straps tug his gut,' and then using the story to later at the bar to get himself laid.

As Milt would say, 'Taste it.'

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