Triptych Blog Pt 1: From BANG! to bullets… (A Review of Richard Lange’s “Angel Baby”)

BOOK ONE: ANGEL BABY by Richard Lange
LENGTH: 288 Pages
COMPLETION TIME: 18 hours

On my second blog, I talked about my annoyance with the transition over to the digital age with books. As it turns out, someone who read that blog liked it so much that they sent me that book. As I said earlier, the book is part of six books that Esquire Magazine recommends for the summer or “by the beach” to be more specific. Though this was not an article in the magazine in its physical form, nor an article in the photodigital magazine, but an excerpt from a weekly digital edition, I took it as a personal challenge. As if Esquire showed the excerpts to young men and said, “This is what we read because we’re better than you. Read this chapter and tell your friends you read the whole thing and it’ll be our little secret.” Whether this was the incantation that my schizophrenia mustered up or the actual intention of the magazine, it worked.

I began with the first book and had it finished in less than 24 hours (take that bitches.) Reading that book, watching “A Good Day to Die Hard” and listening to NPR’s “This American Life” two episode special on gun violence at a school in Chicago have all forced my hand to write a special blog triptych. They are related enough to be considered a loose trilogy, kinda like Inarritu’s trilogy of Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. They tie together, but the ties aren’t in your face, they’re just negligible and possibly construed by myself alone.  This first part will be a review on the first book of my 6 book review (and yes, I will review the other 5 to see if Esquire wasn’t full of shit,) then the next two will be about gun violence in various iterations. Hopefully it’s new enough that you won’t be sickened as the country has been inundated with gun/anti-gun/2nd amendment bullshit for the last year or so.

So, the book I had the absolute pleasure of reading was called “Angel Baby” by Richard Lange. Very much reminiscent of Inarritu’s trilogy, the book intertwines a few stories and a cat(s) and mouse(ice) game. I don’t like giving too much away, but here’s some of the plot:

So, Luz is tired of her husband, sick and mother fucking tired to be exact. He had literally stolen her from another gangster a few years back and has kept her under his watchful eye for years since. What her husband, referred to as El Principe (the prince) for his large affiliation with the drug cartel in Tijuana, doesn’t know is that Luz had a little girl before she met him, and she would very much like to get back to her. So, it surprises him a tad when she steals his money, his gun, and mows down some of his help to escape; so begins a two day trip Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 4.08.08 PMdirectly into hell.

She teams up with an unlikely sort of hero, a worn out dreary alcoholic turned coyote named Malone. The two are then pursued by another unlikely duo consisting of a man hired by El Principe to get the girl and a gambling addicted debt riddled border patrol agent after the money.

The irony is that the title “Angel Baby” comes from a nickname Luz has for her daughter, who ends up living up to that title, more than anyone else in the novel. Every character has their own demons and every character is a little bit of a devil in one perspective or another.

It really boils down to themes about parents and children and the decisions we make in this life that drive us toward them or away from them. It begs what is worth a life having in this world. The book is not unilateral, nor is it merciful to any specific character. Each person is real, their problems stinging, their burdens are our burdens; they’ve all just managed to break the chasm between problems and life threatening situations, and they’re all willing to give up any part of their souls to seek retribution.

If there is a God, I’d like to think that he has plans for us to intermingle with humans like we do in this book. Maybe that’s just a hopeful opportunistic look at literature, maybe it’s another rationalization I think we should hold tight so we have a reason to live (kind of like religion.)

So, Esquire got the first one right. This book will be read and reread into oblivion by me. Give it a chapter, five chapters later and it’s BANG! to bullets. You won’t be able to put it down, just try to keep yourself in the process, ok?

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