"There is something about the desert that pisses everything off."
Thus begins Johnny Shaw’s by turns hilarious, suspenseful, whacked out, and surprisingly moving novel, Dove Season. Dove Season was a finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and it got a rave review by Tana French (In the Woods) whose books I like. I found an advance reading copy at the Amazon Encore booth at this year’s Book Expo America. The book is due out this September.
Being from Arizona (although I’ve lived in NY for many, many - too many - years now) I was intrigued by the title and description. It’s set in Southern California and some smallish Mexican border towns, and is mainly about a man and his relationship with his dying father, whose last wish is for his son to go to Mexicali and bring him back a prostitute named Yolanda. I haven’t actually finished the book and don’t want this blog to become ridiculously over-wordy (like my other one), so I’m not writing a review. But suffice it to say Shaw is excellent at creating a setting that brings you so fully into his world you feel like you are right there with his characters, who manage to be both endearing and flawed. The crazy, and at points frightening, situations they get themselves into along with the suspense of their finding this woman and finding out why the dying man so badly needs her drive the book. As a writer I’m pretty mad with jealousy! Everyone should create settings this vivid and intriguing, and characters this engaging.
And the drink! Dove Season is here paired with a Cadillac Margarita (Grand Marnier - has to be Grand Marnier, no other orange liquer will do! - tequila, and a splash of fresh lime juice) and mini chimichangas carnitas at El Cantinero, a totally laid back Mexican place in the west Village, which I frequent because it happens to be near the Writers Room, of which I am a member.