Book Report: The Pork Choppers by Ross Thomas (1972)

Book coverWow, this is one cynical little book.

I bought this book in April with a bunch of Ross Thomas’s other titles, and I put them in chronological order in case they’re a series. This book is the first of the ones I got.

The book deals with a labor election, where the longtime president is standing for reelection and the secretary-treasurer is challenging him. The president regrets not having gone to LA when he was offered the opportunity for a screen test when he was a young man. Now, he’s a raging alcoholic who’s bored with the job but wants to keep it. His wife is thirty years younger and is hungry for sex that her husband can’t provide when he’s particularly alcohol-consumptive, as in the stress of the election. The man’s handler provides booze for the husband and sex for the wife, thinking she’s going to divorce the labor leader for him. The secretary-treasurer is an ugly man and a bully with the tendency to break into violent childish tantrums. Then there are the campaign workers, the power brokers, and the influencers who machinate in their ways to get their man elected. And the hitman hired for a couple bills to kill the labor president.

As I said, cynical. There’s really not one unflawed character amongst them. You feel a little sympathy for some, but I couldn’t relate to any, really, except perhaps the labor president’s son, a former policeman fired for being too compassionate, who returns to help his father.

The book moves really well as it shifts between characters and scenes. Each has a good deal of background thrown in fairly expositorially, but it’s not so much as to bog the novel down. The author reminds me a bit of John D. MacDonald for some reason, perhaps the pace and topic matter, but without the main character that the audience should sympathize with.

Another thing: the book dates itself mostly not because of the technologies used and whatnot, but it talks about salaries, and they’re low. Wealthy fatcats make $90,000 a year, and a lot of middle class types make under $10,000. Each one jars you a bit.

Then the book ends, kind of abruptly. But it’s a pretty good book and I enjoyed it. Which is a good thing, since I bought three other books by this author up in Bolivar.

Books mentioned in this review: