Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stark by Edward Bunker

Stark is the long-lost first novel of Edward Bunker, who died in 2005. Bunker was an author, with four other novels, a memoir, and three screenplays (two based on his own works) to his credit. He was also an actor with over 20 screen credits (including the role of "Mr. Blue" in Reservoir Dogs).

But Bunker was also a criminal. He was the youngest inmate at San Quentin at 17, and continued with the life into his 40s. Most all of his work is based on his time and experiences on the wrong side of the law.

Stark is the story of Eddie stark, a con man, a heroin addict, and a snitch (though not a very good one, at first) for Detective Lieutenant Patrick Crowley. A good portion of the story consists of Crowley's continued threats of incarceration and Stark's continued inability to find where his dealer, Momo Mendoza, gets his supplies.

But the fun is in how Stark is continually sidetracked — by whores, horse, and heat just to name three. Bunker tackles it all with the experience and directness of one who has lived it. His six-page rundown of three junkies geezing is only shocking after the fact; Bunker writes it just like any other scene in any other book.

But Stark is ever hopeful, and Stark is a hopeful kind of story, despite chronicling the lives of the hopeless. It is also a really solid novel, belying its trunk origins. It doesn't have any of the signs of most first novels, with an ease and confidence missing in works by many more experienced writers.

Having not read his other books, I don't know how Stark compares with Bunker's other work, but fans of 1960s-era crime (and of Hard Case Crime, in particular) should really dig it.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails