Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review of "The Holy Terror" by Wayne Allen Sallee, 1992

     What I like -- what I've always liked -- about Wayne Allen Sallee's writing is that he is a quintessentially Chicago writer, in the way I have always seen Nelson Algren. He writes stories like "In the Shank of the Night", from the collection "Fiends by Torchlight", with Chicago policeman Frank St. Cyr, that, to me at least, capture the sound and feel of the city, along with being just a great and brutal story. And the peak of this arc of story-telling is "The Holy Terror", Wayne Allen Sallee's debut novel. How can I describe the impact "The Holy Terror" had on me when I first read it? How's this: Many years ago, Wayne was hit by a car and got knocked half a football field through the air before hitting the earth again. He's described it, and its aftermath, in a book called "Proactive Contrition". You want to see a little of what's it's like to get hit by a book and get knocked half a football field by it? Read "The Holy Terror". I can't speak for your aftermath, but I still think about Francis Haid and The American Dream and Wayne Allen Sallee's dark Chicago alleyways almost 20 years after I first read this book. I think that's a literary aftermath and a half.

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