William Boyle will be discussing his most recent book Death Don’t Have No Mercy tomorrow, June 11th, at noon!
If you haven’t read Death Don’t Have No Mercy and/ or are not familiar with William Boyle, here’s some background info and thoughts on his work:
Boyle grew up in Brooklyn, NY and currently lives and writes here in Oxford. Southern literature and music strongly influence his writing. Though both Gravesend, his first novel published in 2013, and Death Don’t Have no Mercy are set in NYC, they have a mixture of southern gothic and gritty atmospheres.
Death Don’t is a collection of eight stories in the vein of crime fiction. Each story revolves around a criminal male character, a whole bunch of music, and the New York City area.
A great review of the book by Jamie May has been published on the New Orleans Review website. She argues that these stories break with the conventions of crime fiction when their plots unexpectedly become entirely character driven to shocking consequences:
Boyle defies the convolutions of plot and counter-plot that crime and suspense stories often rely on. The action begins with concealed motives, threatened betrayals, entrapment—all hallmarks of the crime plot—but ends with unmoored violence that responds less to those things than to the characters’ own insanity or paranoia. Once again, we’re presented with one version of crime—call it crime-as-compelling-chain-of-events—only to have it snatched away and replaced with another version—call it crime-as-eruption-of-…-character.
If the these stories are character driven, then it can be said these stories are also driven by music. Strange as it sounds, the songs in these stories seem to decide each character’s fate. For example, the opening story is about a man who lifts a Walkman from a city park bench after a kid he’s been trailing sets it down. He wanders around listening and loving the songs, songs like Memphis Minnie’s “Killer Diller Blues” and Hank William’s “Lost Highway”. He drinks a good bit, shares the music with a few apathetic souls, and then is murdered on the spot he had taken the Walkman from. The following seven stories then revolve not only around particular characters, but also the songs they are connected to at that moment. If a story is absent of music, like the second, the main character has an eerie silence to him and ends up a killer without remorse. These are only speculations; it might be interesting to here what Boyle has to say about music in his writing…
Since playlists are a matter of life and death in Death Don’t Have No Mercy, you might listen to Boyle’s own playlist for the book: http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2015/03/book_notes_will_21.html
Check out the author’s blog: https://wmboyle.wordpress.com/page/2//
Come for Taco Salad, stay for William Boyle – #booksandlunch