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Notes on the Lew Griffin Novels
Richard Martin

This page shares the reactions of a single reader as he made his way through these thought-provoking, entertaining, allusive texts. In annotated form, they offer brief summaries of Lew's actions and his interaction with others, as well as comment on other areas of interest and plot points. Initial notes are followed by a brief rumination on the allusion to blues in the novels, which in turn is followed by a selection of themed quotes from the books. This page was last updated in Fall 2001 and includes no comment on the most recent – and, sadly, last – Griffin novel, Ghost of a Flea.


  • Lew a murderer in opening sequence.
  • Lew officially a private investigator, with his own office and a PI's customary drinking habit (cf. the lineage from Chandler's Marlowe to Crumley's Sughrue), in the 1964 section. Will also be a debt collector (1984 section) and novelist (1990 section) in this book.
  • Lew already divorced in the 1964 section.
  • In 1964 section Lew witnesses a scene of violence unrelated to his case (35-36); becomes a platform to leap into cultural allusionism ("You must learn to put your distress signals in code"); another image of violence, unrelated to the cases, occurs (flashing back) in the 1984 section (113).
  • Lew's father, Arthur Griffin suffers a heart attack, then dies in hospital in 1964 section. Note the dissembling: the fictionalized autobiography Lew tells Don on page 70, in which even the parents' names are changed.
  • There is also a (flashback) fictionalized autobiography in the 1984 section (138-40).
  • Motif of dissembling and role-playing taken up by Vicky when she pretends to be French rather than talk to a British tourist (145).
  • 1984 section starts with Lew detoxing in hospital from an alcoholic binge; effects of alcohol on mind, blurring reality and illusion, past and present, captured in a paragraph in middle of page 96. He'll have a major relapse in 1990 (183), corresponding to the Nighttown sequence in Eye of the Cricket. Again the blurring effects of alcohol are recounted.
  • Racial antagonism because Lew and Vicky are a mixed race couple (124-25).
  • Lew begins to work as a debt collector after recovering from the detox in the 1984 section.
  • Lew badly beaten some time between 1984 and 1990 sections.
  • Lew a novelist in 1990 section. Convalescing he writes Skull Meat, featuring a Cajun detective, Boudleaux. The new book he is writing is entitled The Severed Hand (named for a Blaise Cendrars piece). He completes The Old Man (the book he will be working on in Cricket).
  • Lew has also completed a BA by 1990 and does occasional teaching: French and creative writing.
  • Lew harassed by law enforcement officers (FBI?), Bill and Johnny, who want him to "keep an eye on Sansom and his people for us" in 1984 section.
  • Importance of companionship: "And I realized how much of myself, of what I was now, was Vicky, the sound of her voice and those r's, the books she read, her music, thin arms entering white sleeves, the sandals she wore in our hours together, her gentleness and curiosity. Whatever else should happen, all that would remain part of me forever." (147). Cf. Black Hornet , 139, and Renderings, 64-65.
  • Passing: Corene Davis in 1964 section.
  • Search 1: Corene Davis (1964) – Black activist. Disappeared. Passing as white. Prostitution. Mental breakdown.
  • Search 2: Cordelia Clayson (1970) – Pornography. Sanders's suicide. Drugs.
  • Search 3: Cherie Smith, plus mini search for Denny Baker (1984). – Motif of child abuse (Jimmi, LuAnne's uncle, the attendant at the gas station). Jimmi is attacked by a gang and dies. Prostitution.
  • Search 4: David, Lew's son (1990).
  • "I had only to imagine a new life, and lean into it." (45).
  • The Legend of Lew (38, 150).
  • Women: LaVerne; Nancy, the waitress at Joe's (75); Vicky.
  • Home: "half a shotgun house on Dryades" (1964); "a four-room apartment on St. Charles" (1970); Sansom's halfway house then Vicky's apartment (1984); LaVerne's place on and off (between 1984 and 1990); Garden District house with slaves' quarters behind it (1990).
  • Book ends: "It is not midnight. It is not raining." Will be echoed in opening of Moth.
  • Book's title alludes to the poetry of Yeats.

Main characters: Lew Griffin (all periods); LaVerne Adams (1964; 1970; 1984 – now married); Don Walsh (all periods; Sgt. – Lt.); Vicky Herrington (1984; 1990).

Other characters: Lew's parents (1964); "Blackie"/Abdullah Abded/William Sansom (1964, 1984); "Café au Lait" (1964); Corene Davis/Blanche (1964; mentioned 1984); Milt, a photographic specialist (1964, 1970); Long John, a pimp (1964); Thomas and Martha Clayson (1970); Cordelia Clayson (1970); Sgt. Polanski and Sgt. Verrick, Vice (1970); Bud Sanders , film teacher and pornographer (1970); Dr. Ropollo, academic and theatre expert (1970) – a Tony Roppolo (2 P's, 1 L) is mentioned in Moth and Black Hornet is dedicated to Joe Roppolo; Bill Collins, film expert (1970); Francy, Lew's sister (mentioned in 1970 section, 50); Donna, nurse (1984); Thibodeaux (1984; mentioned on page 97); Maria , Don's wife (1984; mentioned on page 97); Jimmi Smith (1984); Cherie Smith (1984; 1990); Bill and Johnny, cops (1984); Carlos, shares room with LG and Jimmi (1984); LuAnneand her uncle (1984); Kirk Woodland (1984); Mr. Baker and Denny (1984); Manny, boss at loan company for whom Lew does collection work (1984); Janie, Lew's former wife (1990; first mention in 1964 section, 45; a reunion-gone-bad alluded to in 1984 section, 96); David, Lew's son (1990); Alison Porter, friend of David (1990); Mr. Jones , David's landlord (1990); Dooley, an NY detective who was in the service with LG (1990); Jack Palangian, university colleague mentioned (1990).


MOTH (1993)

  • 1980s/1990s? (presumably LaVerne was already dead by the 1990 section of Fly).
  • Lew now a university lecturer and writer, but, as suggested (10) he still does the occasionally search for missing persons.
  • LaVerne dead (funeral on page 22). Back history provided (4): "We were both little more than kids when we met; Verne was a hooker then. Years later she married her doctor and I didn't see her for a while. When he cut her loose, she started as a volunteer at a rape-crisis center and went on to a psychology degree and full-time conseling. It was a lonely life, I guess, at both ends. And when finally she met a guy named Chip Landrieu and married him, even as I began to realize what I had lost, I was happy for her. For both of them."
  • Friends and companionship (see comments on page 85 re Don, Vicky, and Verne). Or, his comment after spending the night talking with Teresa and Beth Ann: "I'd begun filling slowly with light myself."
  • First meeting with Verne, etc. (142-44).
  • Lew's own history, possibly fictionalized as in Fly (8-9). Further memories from childhood (80-83). Life memories (95-96, 132-33).
  • Don's wife has left him by this point and taken their daughters with her; here she's referred to as Josie (21), but in Fly it was Maria (97). In Eye of the Cricket he will have a son too, who dies. Wife remarries and new husband adopts the children (72).
  • Don suicidal (69–74).
  • As in Fly, there are moments of violence totally unrelated to main narrative; Lew finds a woman's body on page 35. Severed ear on bar floor on page 45. Robert the suicidal student remembered on pages 152-23. Mugging/rape on page 210. Similarly, as Lew stays in the Clarksville motel, there are on-going observations about the volatile relationship of the couple staying in the neighbouring room. Irrational violence, alienation, breakdown of human interaction – recurrent motifs.
  • Story of Clare's father (55-56): motifs of code-breaking and alcoholism.
  • Alcoholism (98-99). Alcoholic hallucinations (149). Lew on being an alcoholic in the late 1960s (171, 173).
  • Lew begins to write Mole (107-8; composes more in his head, 166). Another book, published before Mole, will be based on the case involving Dean Treadwell's son(183).
  • Assignment 1:Clare asks Lew to investigate threats to Sheryl Silva. Involves brief search for T.C.
  • Assignment 2: Search for LaVerne's daughter, Alouette – Her own baby daughter, a crack addict, is in hospital during much of the book. Involves brief search for Roach, who ends up finding Lew himself.
  • Assignment 3: Find out what problems are troubling Dean Treadwell's son, Marcus; involvement in drugs, criminal activities, etc.
  • Constant refrain for Lew in each assignment (T.C., elements of the Alouette case, and Marcus Treadwell assignment): "This is none of your business, Griffin."
  • Lew gets shot (202).
  • The Legend of Lew (66, 125, 143-44, 163, 194).
  • Alouette story line mainly takes place outside New Orleans in Mississippi, although much time is spent in New Orleans through the flashbacks. Missagoula, Mississippi – 1st motel and Mrs. Adams; Clarksville, Mississippi – hospital and 2nd motel. West Memphis, Arkansas – Alouette found. Memphis, Tennessee – Alouette in hospital.
  • The South: "And my destination, a red umbilicus on the map, was I-55, snaking like a trainer's car alongside the Mississippi up past river towns like Vicksburg and Helena, with their Confederate cemeteries, tar-paper shacks and antebellum mansions, toward Memphis. Pure delta South. Where the blues and I were born. Since leaving at age sixteen, I had been back just twice." (68).
  • Women: Clare Fellman; Teresa (? – see p. 100); LaVerne and Vicky remembered.
  • Home: As in 1990 sequence in Fly, although here the description has changed. In Fly, he moved into Vicky's apartment and, after she had returned to the UK, he and Verne found a home near the Garden District, that largely became his home. Here the description (36) is: "For years now, sequestered in this house, the one Vicky and I lived in together, the one Verne often visited …"
  • Book opens: "It was midnight, it was raining." Echoes the end of Fly.

Main characters: Lew Griffin; Don Walsh (Lt.); LaVerne Adams remembered; Alouette Guidry, LaVerne's daughter from her first marriage; Richard (Juan) Garces , former work colleague of Alouette's and a new friend of LG; Clare Fellman, university colleague and love interest.

Other characters: Baby Girl McTell (dies page 118); Vicky remembered; Teresa Hunt (McKinney), nurse; Chip Landrieu, Verne's 2nd husband; Achille (A. C.) Boudleaux, P.I. based in Metairie and an old acquaintance of Lew's; Josie, Don's wife (mentioned several times); Tony Roppolo, university colleague (a Dr. Ropollo appeared briefly in 1970 section of Fly; Black Hornet is dedicated to a Joe Roppolo); Sheryl Silva, friend of Clare's; T.C., Sheryl's ex-boyfriend and drug dealer; Banghead Terence, LG informant in bar scene with T.C. and himself a Vietnam vet; Roach/Robert McTell, Alouette's former lover and father of baby girl; Norm Marcus, Lew's neighbour and a taxi driver; Raymond Marcus, Norm's son; Lew's father remembered; 2 Mississippi cops who pull LG over with a message from Don; Jimmi(e) Smith remembered; Mrs. Adams, LaVerne's mother; Sgt. Travis, Clarksville PD; Camaro, Clarksville drug dealer; Kristi Scarborough, nurse; Silky/Clutch and Dwarf/Lonnie, Clarksville drug dealers; Beth Ann, Teresa's friend (and lover?; page 121); Mr. Warrant, Bobby Ray, etc. , West Memphis drug dealers; Francy, Lew's sister (mentioned on page 132); Quartet of West Memphis cops; Mickey Francis, hospital social worker; Jane, on hospital ward desk; Robert, university student who committed suicide remembered; Horace Guidry, Verne's 1st doctor husband; Mr. Eason, Haircut, and one other, Guidry's lawyers; Memphis hospital administrator ; Jack Palangian, university colleague mentioned; Miss Mara, one of Lew's students; Dean Treadwell; his wife Laura is also mentioned; Marcus Treadwell; Doo-Wop (186-88); Newman from Missoula, Montana, Doo-Wop's current interlocutor (possible nod to James Lee Burke or James Crumley?); Carlos Salas/The Greek, Puerto Rican bar owner; Tito, The Greek's cousin; Dr. Kowalski.



  • 1960s.
  • Mention of Lew's brief military career in opening pages. Curtailment of that career emphasized on page 123.
  • Racial conflict, discrimination, etc. major motifs (will be echoed in Bluebottle; here it's Black Activism; in Bluebottle it's white supremacism).
  • Passing: Frankie DeNoux (30).
  • The Blues – especially in the figure of Buster Robinson (8-14).
  • Griot: "Any of a class of musician-entertainers of western Africa whose performances included tribal histories and genealogies." The Griot is the name of Hosie's newspaper.
  • "Details run together from incident to incident, year to year" (72).
  • Playful motif of Lew's apparently hidden, anonymous home constantly being found by a series of visitors and people looking for him (Hosie, Don Walsh, members of the Black Hand).
  • Alcoholism: Lew, Don, Hosie, Sloe Eddie, Papa, Doo-Wop, etc.
  • As in the previous novels, there are images of incidental violence, such as that of the plane wreck and body parts in Lake Pontchartrain (86).
  • Search: the rooftop sniper.
  • The Legend of Lew (17-18, 20, 152, 171).
  • Image of Lew Griffin that has entered public consciousness during the 1960s: the African-American, black-gabardine-suited, tie-wearing debt collector who gave advice and occasionally made a gift of his own money to debtors). Lew's attire playfully disparaged by Hosie later in book (75).
  • Lew a debt collector, odd-jobber for Frankie DeNoux, and bodyguard; in the "present" (a point of view the narrator occasionally assumes) he is also a novelist.
  • Lew the man of violence: Cornell in bar (18); two men who try to steal his car (53).
  • Lew's full name: Robert Lewis Griffin (63).
  • Revelation that Lew has done time (116-17).
  • "I thought about Esmé's face falling away from me. Wondered if all my life that's what people would be doing: falling away from me, leaving. I was closer to the truth than I could know." (169).
  • Women: LaVerne.
  • Home: Slave quarters behind a house at Baronne and Washington; in many respects this echoes part of his home (embracing both the house and the slave quarters, where Lew writes) at the end of Fly, and in Moth and Cricket.

Main characters: Lew Griffin; Don Walsh (note in Fly they already were friends in the 1964 section; here they encounter one another for the first time towards the end of the 1960s, with LG saving Don's life, 58; Don's brother, a bus driver, was one of the sniper's victims, 65); LaVerne Adams; Hosie (Arthur) Straughter, journalist, Pulitzer winner, and founder of the weekly The Griot (note how their encounter, after the death of a woman they both know, echoes Lew's first encounter with Chip Landrieu in Moth); Papa, ex-military, mercenary (47-49, 157-64); Carl Joseph , the rooftop sniper (dies, 168).

Other characters: Robert, military colleague; Terence Gully, first rooftop sniper Based on the real-life case of Mark Essex, and African American who opened fire on any white people from the roof of a hotel); Sloe Eddie; Buster Robinson, blues musician; Frankie DeNoux, operator of Boudleaux & Associates; Councilman Fontenot; Cornell, threatens Buster about his relationship with Ellie; Esmé Dupuy, journalist and sniper's victim; Cops who grill LG after Esmé's death; Little Sister , hooker (name is a possible nod to Chandler?); Doo-Wop (47, 79-84, 117, 156-57); Two thieves who try to steal Lew's car; St. John, Verne's neighbour; Jamil Xtian, Yoruba's minister of defense (Yoruba background on pages 81-82); Leo Tate/Blackie and Clifford/Café au lait (members of The Black Hand); Ex-con baker who comes to Lew's house with story about Julio and his story about 'The Sentry' (115-20); Mr. Bergeron, personnel at the security firm, SeCure Corps; Sam Brown, Lew's immediate boss at SeCure Corps; Corene Davis; James, colleague at SeCure Corps; Titus Kyle, Corene Davis's would-be assassin; Bonnie Bitler, executive vice president of SeCure Corps (firm started by her husband Ephraim) – on pages 176-78. She is also the mother of sniper, Carl Joseph; Elroy Weaver, Black Adder leader (148-49); Francy, Lew's sister (mentioned on page 149); Janie, Lew's former wife mentioned (149-150); Louis Creech, SeCure Corps colleague.



  • 1990s.
  • Searches: Shon, Rauch, Lew Griffin2, David.
  • Youth gang muggings.
  • Don's son dies (apparent suicide, 136-41).
  • Lew a university lecturer (at Tulane; quits on page 124) and novelist. Rewriting, or taking as point of departure, the novel, The Old Man, he'd finished writing by the end of Fly. An original copy of the book that Lew had given to his son David reappears in the hands of a John Doe.
  • Recollections of an alcoholic (18-21).
  • Street violence (38-39), this time involving Lew. Followed by commentary on the violence of New Orleans itself (40; also 78). Violence of Armantine Rauch, stabbing a school teacher with a pair of scissors (57). Recounted death of Keith LeRoy's brother (123). Lew takes care of the neighbourhood muggers (150). Simple Suzie's history (168). Nigel's death by train (174).
  • Similar casual references to destruction: the storage facility that burns down and is then bulldozed (62).
  • Motif of signs, signals, images etc. in life: e.g. "Traffic falling off out there now. Three or four cars hurtle past at a time, then the street's empty, a kind of Morse." (71) or "If we must learn to put our distress signals in code, perhaps it's not because that way lies communication, perhaps it's only because the codes seem so much more meaningful, so much more fraught, than are our lives. Because we have somehow to imagine ourselves larger that the sun's footprint. And if we can't have meaning, then at least we'll have the appearance of meaning: its promise, heft, import." (88-89).
  • Motif of masks: e.g. Lew's writing (72) and Deborah's play (89-90). See also page 156.
  • Motif of literary self-reflexivity. See in particular the final paragraphs on page 72. See also, on literary creativity, 88-89.
  • Motifs of Black Rage (39) and White Pride (100).
  • Motif of communication: see passages about silent communication between friends (147) and about the sheepdogs (148).
  • The man in hospital who claims to be Lew Griffin (blurrings, duality) serves up a good description of Lew as novelist: "The man stuck resolutely to his story. He was Lewis Griffin, a novelist who wrote about what it was like on the streets, about the city's real, subterranean life. Self-taught. A primitive. Working on a new one now. He'd done three chapters just that morning." (41).
  • Technological advancements: "Beeper or E-mail. Guy's twenty years old, ran a donut shop for minimum wage, and he's got a beeper? E-mail? The world was getting away from me at an alarming rate. Sometimes I forgot." (54) Technology often appears in the books: hospital equipment and Richard Garces looking up information on bulletin boards in Moth , for example. See also Zeke's reaction to answer machines in Cricket (143).
  • Lew claims, in this book, to now have been in New Orleans in excess of forty years (161).
  • The Legend of Lew (12, 37, 138, 166).
  • Women: Deborah; Clare remembered, and her cat, Bat, featured; LaVerne and Vicky also remembered.
  • Home: As at end of Fly and in Moth. There is reference, though, to having lived temporarily with Clare.
  • "I seemed to keep running into people who were camping out, people living temporary lives. Maybe that's what we all do ultimately. Remembering my own succession of apartments and houses. Thinking how even here, after all these years (neglectfully, I would have argued, though at some deeper level, I knew, wilfully), I'd never filled in the blanks, never installed things in any kind of permanent place. Furniture, personal goods, books and papers remained where they were first put down; from appearance, I might just as well have moved in last week." (61).
  • Book includes the line: "It was midnight, it was raining." On first page. Echoes of Fly and Moth.
  • Note influence of Joyce's Ulysses throughout. Not just the Nighttown sequence, but also the chapter in which Lew and David are reunited (chapter 35, 180–83), in which everything is speech by David presented as a monologue.
  • Book's title alludes to a 1969 short story by Sallis.

Main characters: Lew Griffin; Don Walsh; Richard Garces; David Griffin, Lew's missing son; DeborahO'Neil, florist, playwright, and Lew's latest love interest; Zeke/Exekiel, recently released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, where he edited the prison newspaper, and also managed to get material published by Hosie Straughter in The Griot, having been introduced by Lew with whom he has corresponded since the publication of Mole (about a convict released from Angola and his struggles in the outside world).

Other characters: Craig Parker, medical student at University Hospital; John Doe/Lew Griffin2 (29-33, 41-42, 62-63, 75-76, 86-87, 172-79; on page 174 we learn his real name is Robert Lee); Eugene , Garces's lover; Norm Marcus, taxi driver and neighbour; Raymond Marcus, Norm's son; Cal Marcus, Norm's wife; Mrs Sally Mara, one of Lew's students (she was Miss Mara in Moth ); Kyle Skillman, another of Lew's Students; Sam Delany, university student who asks Lew to look for his brother (note the name echoes that of African-American science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany, about whom Jim Sallis has written and edited the essay collection Ash of Stars ); Shon Delany, missing 15-year-old half-brother; Rachel Lee Baldwin, Shon's mother; Danny, Don's son (back history: 25-26; death: 136); Dr. Bailey, looking after LG # 2; Clare Fellman, Lew's former friend and lover remembered (46-47); Janet and Gene Prue, Lew's neighbours; Kendall Gibbs, donut shop owner; Keith LeRoy, donut shop assistant manager (first appeared, but not named, on page16); Armantine Rauch/Army, Shon's half-brother (whom he refers to as his cousin); Lew's parents remembered; Francy, Lew's sister (mentioned on pages 61 and 152); Dean Treadwell; Dap/Daryl Anthony Payne (his corpse), a model; Dr. Lola Park, Richard Garce's former wife; Hosie remembered; LaVerne remembered; Vicky remembered; Clare remembered; Jimmi and Cherie Smith remembered; Carl Joseph and his mother remembered; Doo-Wop (96-99); Papa/Bill (99-104); Wayne, racist in Tommy T's Tavern; Jack, bar owner; Bobby, a friend of Don's son, Danny; Frankie DeNoux remembered; Janie, Lew's former wife mentioned (127); DeSalle, cop working with Don; Martinez, the cop who was first on the scene of Danny's death; Dr. Sonja Bijur, police pathologist; "Gentlemen's Club" of elderly black men, plus other street people Lew encounters: Ulysses, Sweet William/Bad Boy Bill, James Lee/Professor, Sheldon, Sam the barber, Eugene, Simple Suzie, Ed the Alzheimer's sufferer (157-58; 168-70); Bunkmate at the mission (165-67); Nigel, the homeless Robert Lee's British friend, remembered; Arlene, from the DA's office; Horace Guidry, on telephone (80-82); Alouette Guidry .



  • Early 1970s (roughly following on from, occasionally paralleling events in Black Hornet).
  • Lew is shot. Chronologically, this is the first time he is shot; the second is towards the end of Moth. His shooting offers a parallel/inversion of the shooting of Esmé Dupuy (here Dana Esmay).
  • Lew initially blind (echoes of the Tiresias motif, embodied by Doo-Wop in the other novels). Regains his sight on page 56.
  • Search 1: Dana Esmay (brief, ending with her turning up dead). Lew is looking for her anyway, but Jimmie Marconi then employs him to find her (71); Marconi suspects that she was in cahoots with the now deceased Eddie Bone, whom Lew was supposed to meet before he was shot. See Marconi's comments on Eddie and Dana (125-28). Marconi will later (153) explain that the bullet that hit Lew was intended for Dana.
  • Search 2: Ray Amano.
  • Search 3: Search (flashback) for Duke Heslep (72-74), whom Lew seeks out on behalf of Frankie DeNoux and finds participating in the rape of Jimmie Marconi's daughter, Cathy (Mary Catherine). Note how the flashback evolves into a narration, a story Lew tells to Verne and his mother (74-77).
  • Search 4: The main search – Lew's efforts (the pages we read) as both detective and writer to fill in a year's gap in his life/memory. Neatly summarized on pages 61–62.
  • "Lew picks up strays," Verne said to my mother. "Can't seem to help himself." (75).
  • Amnesia – page 15: "Pieces. Fragments that don't fit together. Images Some of what I do remember seems more like a dream than anything real."
  • Entropy – page 2: "Meanwhile connections between myself and the world were faltering, as though tiny men with hatchets hacked away at cables linking us, cables that carried information, images, energy, power. The world, what I could see of it, had contracted to a round tunnel, through which I sighted. On the ruin, just out of sight, images sparked and fell away into darkness. Beautiful in the way only lost things can be. Then darkness closed its hand."
  • Dissembling (91-92, 147).
  • Alcoholism: Lew, Hosie, Doo-Wop (mentioned only), AA (meeting later in Lew's life mentioned on page 131).
  • White supremacists (possible murder of a black man, Robert Lee, described in Amano's writings on page 114-15).
  • Anti-semitism (directed at Mel Gold and family).
  • Italian mafia.
  • Literary creation and publishing; Lew not yet an author, although reference is made to his future novels Skull Meat (13) and No One Looks for Eddie Bone (43; this is the first mention of the latter in the Griffin books); Lee Gardner in publishing; Ray Amano a writer; Hosie a journalist and newspaper publisher (The Griot).
  • Amano's writings: 98 (manuscript delivered to Lew), 102-3, 108-9, 114-16, 121, 146, 150 (book published).
  • Amano has published a work about Gilles de Rais, who fought alongside Joan of Arc, Bury All Towers; and an earlier out-of-print short novel about a man on death row awaiting execution and another man who comes out of a ten-year coma, which has interested Hollywood; was been working on American Solitude (published on page 150 as Verge).
  • Hosie in financial trouble with The Griot (111-12); he is also ill, throwing up blood. He is later taken to hospital (129).
  • "I'd been a fan of mystery fiction since high school days back in Arkansas" (43).
  • "It looked more an entrapment, a containment, than a thing in itself, as though someone had said, Nice space! And begun building to hold it in place." (117).
  • Verne to Lew: "You weren't here again, Lew. You're never here. All those cases you keep taking on, the Clayson girl, Billy Deacon, that man's new young wife over in Slidell . . . You're the missing person, Lew." (130).
  • "The bodhisattva. Someone who postpones his own salvation in order to help others achieve theirs." (135) – in a way this also applies to Lew throughout the Griffin books.
  • Motif of blurrings; all people as one person, eternal present, etc. (146).
  • Motif of living on borders, suggested by the book title, Verge (150).
  • The Legend of Lew (64).
  • Women: LaVerne (leaves Lew, 131-32; possibly for Horace Guidry?).
  • Home: LaVerne's house.
  • Job: PI.

Main characters: Lew Griffin; LaVerne Adams; Don Walsh

Other characters: Dana Esmay, with Lew when he is shot, and later turns up dead herself (85); Eddie Bone, who is due to meet Lew before he is shot, then himself turns up dead (17); Buster Robinson mentioned; Lee Gardner, book editor from New York; Ray Amano, disappeared writer, used alias of Ray Adams; Hosie (referred to here as Slaughter rather than Straughter on page 31); Achille (A. C.) Boudleaux mentioned; Frankie DeNoux mentioned; Bonnie Bitler mentioned; Sam Brown, formerly of SeCure Corps; Doo-Wop mentioned; Bob Skinner, "the man who loved dead babies" and Korean war vet; Lew's mother (Mildred), stays with Lew and Verne while he convalesces, her departure (90) is the last time Lew sees her alive; Lew's dead father and sister Francy both mentioned; Josie mentioned, Don's wife (the same one as in Moth; in Fly it was Maria); Jimmie Marconi, local mafia don, whose daughter Lew Griffin had helped in the past; Joe Montagna/Joey the Mountain, a Marconi henchman; Cathy (Mary Catherine) Marconi, in flashback; Duke Heslep and co-rapist, in flashback; Bo, bartender; Crazy Jane, bar patron and telephone user; Mel Gold (86-90); Officer Tom Bonner; Group of anti-Semitic youths (105-7); Wardell Lee Sims; Ellis; Bobby; Josie/Jodie, Bobby's wife and friend of Ray Amano.


Blues Lines in the Griffin Novels

An ardent music enthusiast, Jim Sallis has not only written and edited a series of musicological works, concentrating in particular on the guitar, but he has also made frequent references throughout his Lew Griffin novels to jazz and the blues. There follows a number of blues lines that are quoted or alluded to in the Griffin books, frequently unattributed.

Jim's novels, short stories, and poems, of course, are packed with hundreds of references to writers, artists, books, films, and television programs as well, offering an on-going commentary on art, culture, and the creative process. Collectively these fragments and allusions underpin the playfulness and self-referentiality that characterizes Jim's fiction.


"Long John," I said. "Long gone, like a turkey through the corn—if I remember my blues." Fly, 37. Possible reference to Lightnin' Hopkins 'Long Gone Like a Turkey'. Sonny Terry also recorded tracks entitled 'Long John' and 'Long Gone'. There are many other Blues artists who have recorded tracks featuring the words in the title, including Billie Holiday's 'Long Gone Blues' and countless versions of 'Long Gone Lonesome Blues'.

Robert Johnson's hellhound was nipping at my heels. Fly, 73. Similar allusion in the short story 'I Saw Robert Johnson'. Reference to Robert Johnson's 'Hellhound On My Trail'.

Sun goin' down, black night gonna catch me here. Fly, 99. Echoed and/or varied in Moth (117) and Hornet (8–9; lengthier quotation of lyrics). Reference to Robert Johnson's 'Cross Road Blues'.

Stones in my passway, as Robert Johnson said. And my road seem dark as night. Moth, 22. Reference to Robert Johnson's 'Stones In My Passway'.

Sometime I live in de city, / Sometimes I live in town. / Sometime I takes a great notion / To jump into de river an' drown. Hornet, 10 (sung by Buster Robinson). Reference to Leadbelly's 'Goodnight Irene'.

Mmmmmm, mama what's the matter now. Hornet, 19 (sung by Buster Robinson). Reference to Blind Lemon Jefferson's 'Black Snake Moan'.

Buster singing about going back to Florida where you gotta plow or you gotta hoe. Hornet, 19. Reference to Lightnin' Hopkins 'Going Back to Florida'. Also recorded by Bumble Bee Slim.

Behind us Buster complained that his woman had waited until it was nine below zero and put him down for another man. Hornet, 22. Reference to Sonny Boy Williamson's 'Nine Below Zero'. Also recorded by Muddy Waters.

As Buster Robinson would have said: Long after midnight when death comes slipping in your room, you gonna need somebody on your bond. Cricket, 170. Reference to Blind Willie Johnson's 'You Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond'.


Quotes from the Griffin Novels


"It's only a story, of course. Stories help us go on living. Stories can't hurt anyone, can they, Harry?"
Lew to Harry in The Long-Legged Fly, 4.

But something odd was occurring. The more I wrote about Boudleaux, the less I relied on imagination, using experiences and people of my own past, writing ever closer to my life. Now on page ninety-seven a red-haired nurse materialized without warning, tucking in the edges of Boudleaux's sheets (he'd been involved in a traffic accident) as she rolled her r's. I figured Verne would be along soon, maybe even her latest exit scene.
The Long-Legged Fly, 174.

"In your books you never write about anything that's not past, done with, gone."
The Long-Legged Fly, 177.

And so, another book. But not about my Cajun this time. About someone I've named Lew Griffin, a man I know both very well and not at all. And I have only to end it now by writing: I went back into the house and wrote. It is midnight. The rain beats at the windows.

It is not midnight. It is not raining.
The Long-Legged Fly, 184.

The novel's true protagonist, I tell my students, is always time. With the years, it's gotten somewhat easier to say things like that without immediately looking over my shoulder or down at the floor. And then, of course, you go on to talk about the flow of time in Proust, about Faulkner's sequestrations of history, about the abrogation of time and history in Beckett.
Moth, 19.

For years now, sequestered in this house, the one Vicky and I lived in together, the one Verne often visited, I had written book after book about street life, crime, about violence both random and purposeful, about frustration and despair and, occasionally, vengeance. But what I wrote, all those supposed "realistic" scenes, were only a kind of nostalgia, a romantification, sheerest dissembling; I could never portray what it was really like out there.
Moth, 36.

Those ten pages, virtually word for word as I scribbled them in the motel room that night, became the first chapter, and the very heart, of Mole, a book unlike anything else I had written, purely fiction in that every character, every scene was invented, purely true in that it is in purest form the story of all our lives.
Moth, 108.

Naturally, I later used the whole thing in a novel.
Moth, 150.

"Doo-Wop said when I found you you'd likely as not be spouting something you found in a book nobody else'd ever read."
Ex-con baker to Lew in Black Hornet, 117.

Memory, Goytisolo writes at the end of his story, cannot arrest the flow of time. It can only re-create set scenes, encapsulate privileged moments, arrange memories and incidents in some arbitrary manner that, word by word, will form a book. The unbridgeable distance between act and language, the demands of the written text itself, inevitably and insidiously degrade faithfulness to reality into mere artistic exercise, sincerity into mere virtuosity, moral rigor into aesthetics. Endowed with later coherence, bolstered with clever continuities of plot and resonance, our reconstructions of the past will always be a kind of betrayal. Put down your pen, Goytisolo says, break off the narrative, limit the damage: for silence alone can keep intact our illusion of truth.
Black Hornet, 178-79.

… playing novelist even then, picking at pieces of his story, arranging and rearranging them ...
Eye of the Cricket, 20.

I had no idea any longer what it was I might be writing – memoir, essay, biography, fiction. And as the book progressed in the following weeks I grew forever less certain. But I found, as well, that I didn't care.
Eye of the Cricket, 72.

Often before, I'd written close to my life and at the same time from a distance. What was true, what was not true? or true, perhaps, in some sense, having little to do with mimicry, fact, accurate tracings of our lives? There were deeper currents, deeper connections, surely. I fumbled after them.
Eye of the Cricket, 72.

Looking back at what I've written thus far, these many twists and turns of chronology, I wonder if, in some strange way, forgetting may not be what I've been about here as well. Putting things down to discharge them. Working to tuck memories safely away in the folds and trouser cuffs of time.
Eye of the Cricket , 112.

Look through the published books and you'll find much the same.

What I did here, in this extraordinary thing sitting beside me, is this: I quit trying. Quit trying to finesse the failures and forfeitures of my life into fiction. To tuck people I'd loved safely away in the corners of novels. Quit trying to force patterns, however comforting and fetching and artistic these patterns might be, onto the catch-as-catch-can of what I'd actually lived, the rigorous disorder of my days.

This extraordinary thing is my autobiography.
Eye of the Cricket, 188.

"Maybe what people are starting to say, is true. Maybe what those like myself do, everything we believe in – literature, fine music, fine writing, the arts generally – maybe none of that matters anymore. We're digging up ruins. Quaint as archaeologists."
Lee Gardner to Lew in Bluebottle, 20.

Stories never do end, of course. That's their special grace. Lives end, people die or walk away from you forever, lovers depart in moonlight with paper bags of belongings tucked beneath arms, children disappear. Close Ulysses and nothing has ended. Molly's story, Leopold's, Stephen's, Buck Mulligan's – they all go on, alongside yours.
Bluebottle, 44.

It had something to do with capturing voice. All our lives, every day, hour after hour, we're telling ourselves stories, threading events, collisions and recollections on a string to make sense of them, making up the world we live in. Writing's no different, you just do it from inside someone else's head.
Bluebottle, 46.

Bear in mind that much of what I'm telling you here is reconstructed, patched together, shored up. Like many reconstructions, beneath the surface it bears a problematic resemblance to the model.
Bluebottle, 61.

I started taking notes, researching my own biography. Those chinks remaining (and they're considerable) I've filled as best I can with imagination's caulking, till I no longer know what portion of this narrative is actual memory, what part oral history, what part imagination.
Bluebottle, 62.


THE CITY (generally) & NEW ORLEANS (specifically)

It was as though the city's image of itself, and the ways it tried to live up to that image, kept changing. It was Spanish, French, Italian, West Indian, African, Colonial American; it was primarily the city of fun and illusion, or primarily the bastion of culture in a new land; it was a city built on the backs of slaves and simultaneously a city many of whose important citizens were gens de couleur libre; endlessly, it adapted.
The Long-Legged Fly, 86-87.

People have a way of getting stuck in time here in New Orleans.
Moth , 180.

Like many people in this city, he seemed stuck, like a fly in amber, in some prior era.
Black Hornet, 77.

Makes you thinks how the city itself is a kind of sprawling memory.
Black Hornet, 159.

America, and civilization, ended here.

It was the sort of abrupt border that a decade or so later we'd get used to, think nothing of, in our cities.
Bluebottle, 99.



See, especially, passages in Black Hornet, 95-96.

Dissembling had kept us alive and more or less intact for a long time when nothing else could.
The Long-Legged Fly, 23.

Paranoia? You better believe it. My birthright.
Moth, 81.

"You know those Dracula movies you watch every chance you get, Lewis? How he can never see himself in mirrors? Well, that's you, son – that's all of us. We trip across this earth, work and love and raise families and fight for what we think's right, and the whole time we're absolutely invisible. When we're gone, there's no record we were ever even here."
Lew's father to Lew in Moth, 82. [The importance of the passage is brought home in Cricket, 182, when its contents are recalled by David]

The siege had left in its wake a badly shaken city. There had always been a silent accommodation here, a gentlemen's agreement that blacks and whites would go on pursuing their parallel lives. But had the codes now changed?
Black Hornet, 3. [See following paragraphs for New Orleans history and 1960's general US and specific African-American history]

You didn't often find a white man offering to eat after a black one those days, even in New Orleans.
Black Hornet , 12.

I think I emerged from that particular instance of "cooperation" (no record of arrest, of course) with a fractured rib, broken finger, multiple abrasions. All preexisting, of course. You know how them darkies live.
Black Hornet, 72.



"Someday that pride of yours'll kill you, Lew. The pride or the anger, I don't know which'll get you first."
LaVerne to Lew in The Long-Legged Fly, 8.

And myself–what had I turned into? I could feel that wild hatred building up inside me.
The Long-Legged Fly, 30.

You reach down and find the rage, the frustration, defeat and despair, find that black pool just beneath the world's surface that never goes away. You find it, you bring it up, you use it. For a while it takes you over. You become its vehicle. What voodoo practitioners call a horse.
Eye of the Cricket, 39.



It's strange how little is left of our lives once they're rendered down, once they've started becoming history. A handful of facts, movements, conflicts; that's all the observer sees. An uninhabited shell.
The Long-Legged Fly, 25.

I started out again, then came back and sat at the desk, staring out the window. I felt as though I'd lost something, lost it forever, and I didn't even know what it was, had no name for it. Those are the worst losses we ever sustain.
The Long-Legged Fly, 78.

Though I couldn't tell any longer how much of what was left was feeling, how much only memory.
The Long-Legged Fly, 89.

None of that's very close to the truth, I suspect; part of it's what my youthful mind made (and wanted to make) of the scaffolding of facts, the rest of it what memory (forever more poet than reporter) has pushed into place.
The Long-Legged Fly, 139. [See Moth, 133-32, and Eye of the Cricket , 122, for reprises of poet/reporter comment]

I thought how recent days were like older ones, going by in a blur, undistinguished, largely unlived, so many twilights retreating into bleary dawns.
The Long-Legged Fly, 154.

In the darkness things always go away from you. Memory holds you down while regret and sorrow kick hell out of you.

The only help you'll get is a few hard drinks and morning.
The Long-Legged Fly, 178. [Words regarding memory are echoed in Cricket, 78]

Ceaselessly into the past. Kierkegaard was right: we understand our lives (to the extent that we understand them at all) only backwards.
Moth, 65.

Everything comes down to simple economics, however fine-spirited we are.
Moth , 116.

"Ties loosen. Memories get hung on walls or put away in the corners of drawers and life goes on."
Lew to Teresa, Moth, 120.

As I myself grew older, into my early teens, I began to notice that my father was slowly going out of focus, blurring at the edges, color washing out to the dun grayish-green of early Polaroids. I can't be sure this is how I saw it at the time; time's whispers are suspect, memory forever as much poet as reporter; and perhaps this is the only way that, retrospectively, imaginatively, I make sense for now (though a limited sense, true) of what then bewildered me.
Moth, 132-33. [See Fly, 139, and Eye of the Cricket, 122, for reprises of poet/reporter comment]

When you're young, history's not worth much. When you get older, whether you consider it baggage or burden, history's a large part of what you have. So a lot of this I learned, or relearned, later on.

Mostly what you lose with time, in memory, is the specificity of things, their exact sequence. It all runs together, becomes a watery soup. Portmanteau days, imploded years. Like a bad actor, memory always goes for effect, abjuring motivation, consistency, good sense.
Black Hornet, 4.

Details run together from incident to incident, year to year.
Black Hornet, 72.

Walsh and I walked out of the bar into streets suspended timelessly somewhere between dark and light. Everything was either blinding white or dead black, edges leached away by gray – like in old movies. For a moment I didn't know if it was morning or evening. And for another terrifying moment I had no idea where I was.
Black Hornet, 85.

Echoed later: "Things gone gray, beginning to lose edges.
Black Hornet, 170.

The past is no insubstantial, thready thing, sunlight slanting through shutters into cool rooms, pools and standards of mist adrift at roadside, memories that flutter from our hands the instant that we open them. Rather it is all too substantial, bluntly physical, like a boulder or cement block growing ever denser, ever larger, there behind us, displacing and pushing us forward.

And yes: in its mindless, rocklike, unstoppable way, it pursues us.
Eye of the Cricket, 88.

"My man," Doo-Wop said to my reflection in the mirror behind the bar. Silver had worn away in patches, erasing portions of the world. "Been a while."

We'd known each other now for over thirty years. This was his standard greeting. Somethimes I'd be My man, other times Captain. Names weren't a big thing with Doo-Wop. Been a while was equally generic, since Doo-Wop had no conception of time. For him everything happened in the present. Hopi Mean Time, a friend once called it.

"Buy you a drink?"

Part of the ritual. New Orleans is a Catholic city, a pagan, voodoo city. It takes ritual to its heart.
Eye of the Cricket, 97. [Near catalogue of modernist motifs, recalling, say, Eliot's The Wasteland. In this sense, Doo-Wop, in the various novels, serves as a Tiresias-like figure]

All a kind of temporal plaid.

Memory's always more poet than reporter.

Proust at the barricades.
Eye of the Cricket , 112. [See The Long-Legged Fly, 139, and Moth, 133-32, for previous uses of poet/reporter comment]

I'd stepped out of time's circle, gone to Hopi Mean Time like Doo-Wop, give-and-take of light and body's promptings my only calendar or clock.
Eye of the Cricket, 160.

"Most of it's a kind of blur, you understand, what happened when, the order of things."
Robert Lee/Lew Griffin2 to Lew in Eye of the Cricket , 178.

"Marvelous thing, time's elasticity."
Lee Gardner to Lew in Bluebottle, 18.

Days marched in and out much as Hosie had, appearing unannounced, just as suddenly gone, banners bright or damp. Elsewhere in the world, wars were declared or fought undeclared, sons left home, workers tore open fingers and drove steel rods into their eyes, history smoothed its skirt in place over lap and legs.
Bluebottle, 33.

I'd been Doo-Wopped. Every day was today. I was on Hopi Mean Time.
Bluebottle, 38.

For most of a year my life was a kind of Morse code: dots of periods and ellipses, dashes, white space. I'd think I remembered some sequence of events, then, looking back, hours later, a day, a week, I'd be unable to retrieve it, connections were lost. Sidewalks abutted bare brick walls. I'd step off the last stair of LaVerne's midtown apartment onto the levee downtown, Esplanade or Jackson Avenue, the concrete rim of Lake Pontchartrain. Faces changed or vanished before me as I went on speaking the same conversation: like some ultimate, endless compound word that finally managed to include everything.

Holes in my life.

Much of the year, then, for me, is gone. History never so much chronicles the continuities of daily life as it signals the pits opening beneath, upheavals of earth around – the ways in which that life was interrupted. My life became history that year.
Bluebottle, 61-62.



I wondered then: what was it that started a person sinking? Was that long fall in him (or her) from the start, in us all perhaps; or something he put there himself, creating it over time and unwittingly just as he created his face, his life, the stories he lived by, the ones that let him go on living.
The Long-Legged Fly, 33.

Finally, I guess, it wasn't that much different from the way we all make up our lives by bits and pieces, a piece of a book here, a song title or lyric there, scraps of people we've known, clips from movies, imagining ourselves and living into that image, then going on to another and yet another, improvising our way from day to day through the years we call a life.
The Long-Legged Fly, 44-45.

I was remembering all the women I'd loved or thought I would. Thinking how that felt at first, how the feelings declined, how they stayed around for a while like locust husks on a tree and then one day just weren't there anymore.
The Long-Legged Fly, 90.

It was, after all, a kind of rebirth. No home, no work or career, just a lot of loose connection: a whole life to build from scratch. The terms tabula rasa and palimpsest drifted into my mind from courses taken long ago at college. And what was it, that Irish guy who in French, something like: I can't go on . . . I'll go on.
The Long-Legged Fly, 102.

"A visit. That's all you allow, Lew. Whether years or a couple of days, always only a visit to your life."
LaVerne to Lew in The Long-Legged Fly, 176.

We finished in silence, the past, or future, shouldering us quietly apart.
The Long-Legged Fly, 177.

Names are important. Things are what we call them. By naming, we understand.
Moth, 7. [See also page 1, on which the first sentence of the above is first stated]

"That's what life mostly is, all the in-between stuff."
Lew to Clare in Moth, 55.

The country – whatever your special interest: law, liberal politics, magazine sales, white supremacy – was rife with such networks, electronic and otherwise. Often I imagined they might represent this skewed nation's only true intelligence, skein after skein of fragile webs piling one atop another until a rudimentary nervous system came into being.
Moth, 59-60.

But you stand there peering off the edge long enough, whoever you are, things start shifting on you. You start seeing shapes down there that change your life.
Moth, 77.

"That's what socialization is, Clare. Most of the messages – maybe all the most important ones – are silent."
Lew to Clare in Moth, 169.

Some inchoate equation between the masking and forced revelry of Mardi Gras, the expert self-deception Alouette recognized in herself, and my own in this account, suggests itself. Finally there's little enough difference between them.
Moth, 207.

Someone once said that life is all conjunctions, just one damn thing after another. But so much of it's not connected. You're sliding along, hit a bump and come down in a life you don't recognize. Every day you head out a dozen different directions, become a dozen different people; some of them make it back home that night, others don't.
Black Hornet, 109.

It takes a while for us to realize that our lives have no plot. At first we imagine ourselves into great struggles of darkness and light, heroes in our Levi's or pajamas, impervious to the gravity that pulls down all others. Later on we contrive scenes in which the world's events circle like moons about us – like moths about our porch lights. Then at last, painfully, we begin to understand that the world doesn't even acknowledge our existence. We are the things that happen to us, the people we've known, nothing more.
Black Hornet, 139.

Further along we'll know all the answers, further along we'll understand why.
Black Hornet, 150.

Never as invisible as we think. Us or our motives.
Black Hornet, 153.

They were dredging the dark waters for me. I drifted up again, weightless, up toward the light.
Black Hornet , 170.

Individually, collectively, we struggle to rise out of the slough of ourselves, strive upwards (like a man trapped in water beneath ice, swimming up in the air pocket just under, where at least he can breathe) towards something better, something more than we truly are. That's the measure of grace given us. But few of us individually, and seldom does the collective, manage it.
Eye of the Cricket, 5-6.

We live metaphorically, striving always to match our lives to images we've accepted or imagined for them – family man, true believer, gangster – contriving these containers, a succession of them, that preserve us, define us, that keep us from spilling out and give us shape, but rarely fit.
Eye of the Cricket, 53.

I hung up thinking how if you weren't careful life could turn into a long chain of letters, one after another, till one day you looked around and there was nothing left, no trace of all the things you'd waited for, pushed ahead, done without.
Eye of the Cricket, 71.

"Anyway," she said. "Richard says you're trying to find yourself?"

"Aren't we all."

"Frankly, I don't think most of us ever even notice we're missing."
Lola Park and Lew in Eye of the Cricket, 74. [This is really referring to the missing Lew Griffin 2; exchange echoed on page 167]

This time of night, this circle of light with music welling up outside, this solitude–we were all old friends.
Eye of the Cricket, 82.

If we must learn to put our distress signals in code, perhaps it's not because that way lies communication, perhaps it's only because the codes seem so much more meaningful, so much more fraught, than are our lives. Because we have somehow to imagine ourselves larger that the sun's footprint. And if we can't have meaning, then at least we'll have the appearance of meaning: its promise, heft, import.
Eye of the Cricket, 88-89.

"You want the hole to take over, don't you, Lew? It's not enough any more just to stand close and peer over the edge. You want the hole to come after you."
LaVerne to Lew (possibly, or Lew's own imagination) remembered in Eye of the Cricket, 110.

But I never lost sight of how perilous every moment of our life is, how frail and friable the tissue holding self and world together.
Eye of the Cricket, 110.

I thought again how, because of poverty, polarity and crime, we've become a nation without real cities – one, instead, of fenced villages shoved up against one another – and how, because we have no cities, because increasingly we're afraid to venture out and engage the world and have in our playpens toys like TVs and on-line computers that we believe connect us but instead render us more apart, ever more distanced and discrete, we've become a nation without culture.

I suspect, of course, in my liberal heart of hearts, that it's all intimately connected. That losing sense of community and culture irrevocably erodes the soul.
Eye of the Cricket, 116.

He knew what I was asking. That's the thing about old friends. So many of your most important conversations are silent.
Eye of the Cricket, 147.

"Yeah, well. Most of our lives are strictly top-forty. Same songs over and over."
Deborah to Lew in Eye of the Cricket, 149.

As always we go on living our lives forward, attempting to understand them backward.
Eye of the Cricket, 151.

If indeed there's something at our centers, how do we find our way to it? The doors that should lead there open into closets and storage space places, onto dead corridors, back to the outside.

All our lives, every day, we constantly remake ourselves, reinvent ourselves, layer after layer, mask after mask. Maybe when finally we peel off all the masks there's nothing left. Maybe Doo-Wop in his own timeless way is right: we're nothing but the stories we tell ourselves and others.
Eye of the Cricket, 156.

I never found out exactly what it was that had hurt my friend so – something working in him a long time, that finally found purchase. In future years I'd come to recognize similar things scrabbling for footholds within myself. They were there already, of course, even then. Sometimes at night I heard them breathing.
Bluebottle, 33.

Mother was someone who never allowed herself anger, never expressed her bottomless disappointment with life. You asked her, everything was always fine. So the pain and despair had to squeeze its way out, and it did: everywhere.
Bluebottle, 55.

Look at the same thing day after day, you no longer see it, it goes away. To see again, one way or another you have to go away. Then when you come back, for just a while, your eyes work again.

It's a lesson I took to heart, one I'd carry with me the rest of my life.
Bluebottle, 57.

We all know it's out there, just at the edge of our vision, past the circle of light from our campfires. Camus said only one thing is necessary, to come to terms with death, after which all things are possible; but we go on failing to meet its eyes, ever dissembling, dressing it up in period costume, caging it in music or drama, gelding it to murder mysteries: how clever we are.
Bluebottle , 91.

What are any of our lives but the shapes we force them into? Memory doesn't come to us of its own; we go after it, pull it into sunlight and make of it what we need, what we're driven towards, what we imagine, changing the world again and again with each new quarry, each descent, each morning.
Bluebottle, 153.



Those PI's in the novels have it all wrong. You don't have to go out and track people down. You just wait around the house and sooner or later the people come to you.
Black Hornet, 115.

"You ever find any of these folks you show up asking me about?"

"Some of them, sure."
Doo-Wop and Lew in Eye of the Cricket, 98.

I went back through the trees to the outbuilding, where I failed to find the clues any good detective surely would have.
Eye of the Cricket, 107.

Signs and signals everywhere, if you just knew how to read them.
Eye of the Cricket, 118.

It's not something you see too often on TV or in the movies: the detective standing up with grease dribbling down his chin to apprehend a suspect.
Eye of the Cricket, 129.

"I've been telling you for a while now that it was time you actually found someone–one of those people you're forever looking for."
Don to Lew in Eye of the Cricket, 145.

Life stammered on between the time I spoke with Gardner and the time that messenger showed up. One thing that didn't happen was sleep, but I figured bags under my eyes and that glazed look (not to mention liquor on my breath) put me squarely in the PI ballpark. Tradition's important.
Bluebottle, 98.



One of the distinctions of this addiction, because only true alcoholics have them, are blackouts. We go on moving through the physical world, driving cars, carrying on conversations and cooking meals, with whole banks of relays and higher functions closed down, unwitting passengers in our own bodies.
Moth, 98.

I knew the alcoholic's body for some reason doesn't metabolize intoxicants the same way other people's do. That the addiction lodges itself where reality curves gently away from appearance, and thrives there, pushing them ever further apart. That all his life, whatever he does, a physical, psychological, ontological dialogue will be going on inside the alcoholic, and that as long as he continues to drink, however controlled it appears, sooner or later, a day, ten years, or twenty, he'll wake up once again with the world quivering terribly behind the thinnest of membranes, thoughts bending slowly, unstoppably away from one another in the terrible gravity of alcohol's black sun.
Moth, 98.

Somewhere along the way, a lot earlier than I wanted to think about, alcohol's smile had become a grin, then just bared teeth. Whole chunks of my life had fallen into that maw. Friends, intentions, memories, years.
Eye of the Cricket, 2.

All those years, almost every night, I'd wake at two or three in the morning, heart pounding, to the call of sirens across the city. A mass of vines swinging in the wind would make a hunchback, human-shaped shadow on the wall, or rain in the trees would sound like the feet of a thousand small living things coming towards me in the dark outside. Naked and sick, I would stand at the window, promising myself the whole thing wasn't going to start up again, thinking I won't, knowing I would.
Eye of the Cricket, 19-20.


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