Savages by Don Winslow – review

savages don winslow

…for it’s important that writers with some commercial clout should take the odd chance, that they should try to introduce a little edge to the mainstream and foster an environment conducive to a little experimentation.

For if they don’t, then who will?

You’re going to hear a lot about Savages by Don Winslow. I’m not too sure that I have a whole lot to add to the mix so I’m just going to riff for a bit.

Savages puts me in mind of and makes good on the above quote from a piece called “On Experimentation” that Michael Connelly wrote a couple of years back. Stylistically it’s a bold and jagged mark on a genre canvas that often strives for transparency. Tapping into the zeitgeist Savages is told in a way that represents communication today in all of its fractured and varied glory. If I want to communicate with someone I can talk to them, call them, text them, email them, Skype them, chat with them or hit them up on Twitter and Facebook. To name just a few of the options. Hell you can bring someone into a conversation just by invoking their user name. Savages features transmissions from the heart of the new millennium.

Much like David Simon Don Winslow understands how important story is to a group of people and that one of the keys to cracking the code of a group is to understand its stories. The unwritten and passed down lore and anecdotes are the backbone of a group and tap into the older tradition of spoken and oral history. Winslow’s world is built on language and stories.

I have very mixed feelings about the character O. At times she feels thin and still others she feels more multi-faceted. Still, I think it’s you can look at O as a possibly unintended commentary on changing societal gender roles, especially in light of the other commentaries we see in Savages on changing gender roles. Over the last half century or so the roles of men and women in society have changed, sometimes drastically. With these changes in mind I find O’s desire to have two men who are polar opposites in a relationship interesting. On a more superficial level it’s a modern and more sexual updated version of the Butch, Sundance and Etta dynamic. I think that this is a rich vein to mine and so I toss it out there for possible future exploration and /or discussion now.

The bottom line is that Savages is largely brilliant, mostly worth the hype and a definite must read.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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About Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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