Gates Of Eden – Ethan Coen

I didn’t know that one of my favourite filmmakers ever had written a book until I came across this. It’s a collection of short pieces, a few reading like radio scripts, and it has all the strengths of his screenwriting: striking characters, perfectly pitched dialogue, weirdness and lots of funny stuff. My favourites were the ones dealing with small time criminals, which were mostly hilarious – the hapless boxer getting beaten up time and again in the ring and by petty crooks, the private eye who goes deaf, the A&R man listing people who might have something against him to the cops, a dazzlingly funny telephone call from a mobster instructing a hitman, the title story featuring a would-be hardboiled weights and measures inspector. These are among the most enjoyable and funniest stories I’ve read in years.

The more serious ones, those with a rather elegaic air, work well too – Ethan Coen has a successful career in prose if he wants it, though I don’t suppose the film work will dry up, so I don’t suppose there will be that many books coming our way.