The profanity is an allusion to the equally earthy thanks Phillips and Jedidiah Ayres sent my way in their Noir at the Bar anthology, and the repetition of the names is typical Phillips: He writes things funny rather than merely writing funny things. And that's why his new novel, The Adjustment, an increasingly dark tale of a Wichita man's involvement in addiction, infidelity, blackmail and killing, is laugh-out-loud funny even when the action is not particularly so:"To Peter `Fuck Peter Rozovsky' Rozovsky — the real father of NOIR@ the BARfrom your pal,Scott Phillips"
"`Shut your noisemaker,' Red said. `You don't determine what gets discussed.' He gestured to her. `Wayne, this here's my wife, Betty.'"Sorry, but I horselaughed when I read that, just as I did at:
"I had made a nice illicit bundle off of Uncle Sam. In the little safe in the basement that contained among other things my discharge papers and my Purple Heart — probably the only one ever awarded for getting stabbed by a rival pimp — was a whole lot of illicit cash I'd managed to smuggle back from Europe."The book reminds me a bit of Charles Willeford's The Shark-Infested Custard. Each is the story of an everyday working man, or men, who get involved in criminal matters, and each uses its characters to create a vivid sense of place, Florida in Willeford's book, post-World War II Wichita, Kansas, in Phillips'. But The Adjustment is darker and funnier and maybe sadder, and I like it better.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011