Monday, August 26, 2019

"The Hard Stuff"

David Gordon holds an MA in English and Comparative Literature and an MFA in Writing, both from Columbia University, and has worked in film, fashion, publishing and pornography. He is the author of The Serialist, which won the VCU/Cabell First Novel Award and was a finalist for an Edgar Award, and Mystery Girl, as well as a short story collection, White Tiger on Snow Mountain.

His books in the Joe the Bouncer Series are The Bouncer (2018) and the newly released The Hard Stuff.

Gordon applied the Page 69 Test to The Hard Stuff and reported the following:
The Hard Stuff is the second in a series about Joe Brody, an ex-Special Forces operative who now works as a bouncer in a Mafia-owned strip club in Queens. Kicked out of Harvard, then the military, he lives with his grandmother, reads a lot, minds the door at his childhood friend Gio’s club, and seems to live a pretty simple life. However, when the most powerful crime bosses in New York need help, he is the person they call on - a “sheriff” for those who can’t call the police. In The Bouncer, he was asked to catch a band of terrorists about to launch a biological attack. In this scene, from page 69 which opens chapter 11, Joe is being driven to a secret meeting by Gio. A group of the highest ranking members of the underworld - including Italian, Russian, Latin, African-American, Chinese and even Hasidic-Jewish gangsters – are gathering, and need a place where they will be safe from prying eyes and ears. So they meet at the top of a tower under construction to offer Joe a new mission: someone is smuggling pure heroin into New York from Afghanistan and using it to fund terror overseas. Here is the text of page 69:
They drove to Long Island City, a onetime industrial wasteland, first transformed into an art colony and then recolonized by the new corporate towers that now populated the riverfront of this westernmost bit of Queens. They rode down a potholed road, to be repaved no doubt when the half-built skyscraper it led to was complete. It stood now exposed in its raw form, sheathed in glass from the waist down, its upper half a skeleton of steel. On the jagged top, a crane perched, like a gigantic beak or robotic claw. Standing in the barren construction site, it dominated the landscape like a fortress dropped here from space. The western sun lit the glass in a blaze of red and gold and orange. It glittered like a half-hatched dragon climbing from its shell. A guy in a yellow hard hat and orange vest opened the gate as they arrived, then chained it behind them. Gio’s family owned the trucking and concrete companies working on the site and also controlled the union electricians and ironworkers and, through a shell corporation, held a sizable stake in the real estate on which it stood, which they’d bought up as polluted badlands. But work here had ceased for the day, and….
I do think this represents the book well, though perhaps in an odd way. With The Bouncer, I actually had to cheat a bit, and not use the whole page, since page 69 contained a spoiler. Here it is setting the scene, so there’s not a lot of action or dialogue, but this mixture of realistic detail with strange and mysterious events is very much the mood I hope to establish in these books: a New York that feels true to me - working-class, outer-borough, full of diverse street-life – but that also contains a darker, weirder and wilder world in its depths. The chained fence you pass might just contain a boring construction site, or it might hide a meeting of criminal masterminds - who knows?
Visit David Gordon's blog.

Writers Read: David Gordon.

--Marshal Zeringue