Saturday, September 20, 2008

Final Country

Opening lines of James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss:
"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonora, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."

From Crumley's The Final Country:
"It's done. This may not be my final country. I can still taste the bear in the back of my throat, bitter with the blood of the innocent, and somewhere in my old heart I can still remember the taste of love. Perhaps this is just a resting place. A warm place to drink cold beer. But wherever my final country is, my ashes will go back to Montana when I die. Maybe I've stopped looking for love. Maybe not. Maybe I will go to Paris. Who knows? But I'll sure as hell never go back to Texas again."

James Crumley, author of the hard-boiled classic The Last Good Kiss, died on Wednesday afternoon at the age of 68. George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Michael Connelly are among the authors that counted Crumley as a major influence. Crumley was born in Three Rivers, Texas, grew up in south Texas, and spent three years in the U.S. Army. His Vietnam novel One Count to Cadence was his thesis at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Struggling to follow it up, he was introduced to the work of Raymond Chandler and wrote The Wrong Case, a landmark crime novel. With The Last Good Kiss, his third book, Crumley changed the face of contemporary crime fiction. Crumley was also the author of The Mexican Tree Duck, Bordersnakes, Dancing Bear, The Final Country, and The Right Madness. Over the years, he taught at the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Montana. He died in Missoula, Montana.

A 2006 interview with Crumley:
The Right Madness

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