Monday, August 5, 2019
Black Cow, by Linda Joffe Hull
All the stories in this book are inspired by Steely Dan songs. I must confess I am not a huge fan of the band, having their greatest hits album and no more. Had never heard "Black Cow" as far as I know. But the story is good.
In French black is noir, and this story certainly qualifies. To review: in essence noir is the American Dream curdled and spoiled. A person of no importance tries to Make Something of Himself (could be a herself, but it usually isn't), but his plan is inherently flawed, since it involves robbing a bank, or killing his girlfriend's husband, or... Bad things happen.
So, this story is classic noir. It is also in second person singular, which I find annoying. As I have said before, first versus third is a choice. Second is always a gimmick. But it didn't bother me this time.
Our protagonist, "You," meets Debra in a bar. She is an attractive woman, and very upset because she just discovered her husband Kenny is cheating on her.
You should be asking yourself why you're willing to exploit a woman in such a fragile state, but instead find yourself wondering how Cheatin' Kenny makes bank.
So, You are in the market for a little adulterous fun and it turns out Debra is too. It would be wise if You left it at that but noir doesn't work like that. Instead You become obsessed and arrange to meet Debra again. And again...
If you have read much noir you can already list a few ways this story can turn out. If any of the classic angles had been used this story would probably not be my pick of the week. Hull has found a new and original hole to drop her protagonist into and I liked it a lot.