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R.I.P. Newton Thornburg

I just learned of the passing in early May of author Newton Thornburg, probably known best for his novel CUTTER AND BONE.  There is a longer article about him here at The Guardian.  When I was soliciting authors for blurbs, I found him in the phone book and wrote him a fan letter not knowing that his health was in decline. I hope that he knew that he had readers that were incredibly thankful for his contribution.

CUTTER AND BONE is one of the finest examples of California crime fiction that the last century had to offer.  I wrote this review for Goodreads, which does little to do the book justice:

A powerful book that needs to be rediscovered. The depth and originality of the characters is truly remarkable.

While often categorized as a crime novel (which it is), that is a far too simplistic classification for the book. Crime drives the story in a number of different ways, but that is true with plenty of “literature” that isn’t grouped in the slums of genre work.

The moral questions and gray areas of life that give the crime novel its greatest thematic potential (and so often fall short in execution) are explored to their fullest in this often jarring novel.

Never predictable, always interesting, and never pandering. To successfully tell a story filled with amoral characters and bad choices, and still pull off empathy and intrigue is a hell of an achievement.

I just reread my review and it sounds a little hyperbolic (probably all the adjectives, but it deserves the praise). Short version: This is a great read.

Mr. Thornburg’s death is a great loss.  I encourage anyone reading this to find a copy of one of his books.  They deserve continued attention.