Among the best things I've read last Spring was this gorgeous novel. It will be everything but a surprise to some, since most noir readers consider it a contemporary classic of the genre. The tragedy here is that most of you will read the premise or the back blurb and think KISS ME, JUDAS is probably a piece of garbage. Please don't let it stop you from opening the book. Do this instead, open it up and read the first page or two, in order to make yourself an opinion. If you're not convinced by, let's say, end of page five, this might just not be the right novel for you. My pinkie tells me though that more than ninety-five percent of you will be charmed about two paragraphs in. That's why I made KISS ME, JUDAS a book club selection for the summer.
Author Will Christopher Baer is a fascinating cat, also. Well, I don't really know the man, but his career is the fascinating aspect about him. He wrote a trilogy about KISS ME, JUDAS' protagonist Phineas Poe, which got him great praise. But then, he had a novel slated for release called GODSPEED, which Baer's web site announced as "forthcoming November 2006". Amazon has it listed as "Out of Print", but there's no way of knowing anything about the damn book. Baer also faded from the public scene and has been radio-silent ever since. Weird. I tried to get information on whether of not he was alive and well and the only thing I was told is that he was "laying low". Anyway, let's celebrate Baer's success instead of turning him into a new episode of Unsolved Mysteries and get started on the third selection of this summer's Dead End Follies Book Club.
THREE REASONS TO READ: KISS ME, JUDAS
1) The prose is actually beautiful. Many crime/noir/dark or whatever, novels have the plot, the characters, but the prose is the literary equivalent of Brett Ratner. It's competent, but it doesn't have any identity. It serves an aesthetic purpose and makes the novel stand out from its counterparts
2) The otherworldly-ness. I know this sounds strange, but bear with me. The novel starts right in the middle of an urban legend and evolves into something very realistic (abusive relationships) and it does it well, seamlessly. At times, it gets so eerie, you'll wonder if Poe is in hell.
3) It stands up to whatever you have to read right now. You're not a noir fan? Fine, but what are you reading, right now? KISS ME, JUDAS is probably better than that. In fact, I'm sure it is. It's not just a good noir, it's a great novel, period.
THREE TOPICS ABOUT: KISS ME, JUDAS
1) Do you think Phineas' love stories were linked? Did Lucy inevitably lead to Jude? If so, explain how Jude is linked to Lucy.
2) Do you think the language has affected the story? Could KISS ME, JUDAS have been written with a flat, linear prose?
3) In what aspects do you think Jude is a classic femme fatale and is what aspects do you think she stands out from being one?