I finished Dennis Lehane’s MOONLIGHT MILE recently. It’s disheartening to say, but I felt he didn’t bring his A-game on this one. It was as if he tried so hard to be relevant, to cover every iota of modern day society, from adoption to Twitter to unemployment, that he lost sight of the razor sharp characterizations that made Patrick and Angie novels so enticing.
I can’t say I’m the foremost expert on Dennis’s writings, though I’d like to think I’m in a pretty good position to comment on his work — at least in the top 5 percentile of “critics who should keep their opinions to themselves but can’t help sharing anyway.”
Having read LIVE BY NIGHT, THE GIVEN DAY, DARKNESS TAKE MY HAND, and A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR, I’m slowly working through his body of work in the novel form.
But I’ve read his short story, ANIMAL RESCUE. The film adaptation which recently wrapped production in Brooklyn, starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace. I’ve also read every draft of the screenplay.
THE CONSUMERS, another Lehane short, I’ve read. I also read the treatment that Dennis allowed a young, up-and-coming writer to write. I read another person’s script adaptation of another short story, RUNNING OUT OF DOG.
I’ve read the spec pilot for MOONLIGHT MILE, which he co-wrote. I’ve read his proposals, when his ideas are still raw and incubating, and watched them not so much as grow into treatments and scripts, but explode off the page like a hormonal teenager on the brink of puberty. I’ve read Dennis at every stage, which is why I can respectfully say, this wasn’t his best.
So what’s the takeaway?
That LIVE BY NIGHT, which is probably one of his best works, he wrote after MOONLIGHT MILE. The point is it doesn’t matter what you created yesterday, what you create today is how you’re be measured. Every new project is your opportunity to find your A-game.
My notes on the book below after the hashtags, which mostly consist of choice language that Dennis used, but first, a quick plug for piece of audio I’ve been listening to, Bryan Elliott’s interview with Seth Godin and their discussion of Seth’s new book, ICARUS DECEPTION. As with most of Seth’s material, if you’re an artist, you should check it out:
“Hey, Patrick.” The breeze was sharper up top and she dealt with it by burrowing into a flimsy jean jacket, the collar pulled up to her earlobes.
“You look good,” she said.
“It’s nice of you to lie,” she said.
“I wasn’t,” I lied.
The lines in her face were deep enough to hide gravel in. She had the air of someone clinging to a wall of soap.
Monument High was the kind of school where kids studied math by counting their shell casings.
Beatrice watched them go and their happiness shrank her. She looked light enough for the breeze to toss her down the stairs.
I exited South Station and shook my arms and legs… I walked over to Two Interantional place, a skyscraper as sleek and heartless as an ice pick. Here, on the twenty-eighth floor, sat the officesof Duhamel-Standiford Global.
DS didn’t’ tweet. They didn’t have a blog or pop up on the right side of a Google screen when someone typed in “private investigation greater Boston.” Not to be found in the Yellow Pages, on the back of Security and You magazine, or begging for your business at two AM between commercials for Thighmaster 6000 and 888-GalPals. Most of the city had never heard of them. Their advertising budget amounted to the same number every quarter: 0.
And they’d been in business for 170 years.
They occupied half of the 28th floor of Two International. The windos facing east overlooked the harbor. Those facing north peered down on the city.
After I was buzzed through that door, I entered a wide anteroom with ice-white walls. The only things hanging… frost glass… it made you want to put on your coat.
Behind the sole desk in the vast anteroom sat a man who’d outlived everyone who could remember at time he hadn’t sat there.
He buzzed me through the next set of doors. Dove-gray carpet.
Dent carried whatever had chased him out of the service like a nail in the back of his neck.
“I’ll kill you just for being short,” Bubba said.
While I’d slept, someone had seeded the folds of my brain with red pepper and glass.
She nodded. It was barely a question, really. Angie could tell Bubba she needed him yesterday in Kathmandu and he’d remind her that he was already there.
I flicked the dead cigarette butt from the center of my palm as Violeta Borzakov said, “Kirill, you’re blocking the TV.”