Long Black Coffin by Tim Curran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Review of Long Black Coffin by Tim Curran
Writing a first-person narrative, and making it work properly and flow smoothly, is not an easy task. Not every writer can do it. Tim Curran does, immensely well. There wasn’t a dropped stitch in this complex, multiply-motivated novel, which is completely viewed through the perspective of twenty-three-year-old Johnny (or as some friends call him, “Johnny Breed”). Johnny is a young man with a sad past, a sorry present, and not much concern about the future; until the death of his best friend for life, Kurt Tamberlyn. His world spirals downward, and yes, “spiral” is the operative word, because it is not a straight, down to the bottom of the barrel, leap; rather, it is curse upon fault upon death upon pain and suffering, piled up and running over.
Central to the story is the problem of the beauteous, gorgeous, desirable, muscle car beloved of Kurt’s abuser father Vic: the ’67 GTO, black outside and black-hearted within. Vic ended his life in the GTO seven years ago; now Kurt’s ended inside it also. Kurt’s mother Stella won’t have anything to do with it, and wants it sold. Johnny thinks, “it’s just a car-a death car, granted; but no more.” How wrong he is he will soon discover; and in the process of that discovery, will upend secrets carried for fifteen years and even farther back into the past. “Long Black Coffin” is a novel I shall not soon forget, if ever.
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