by Dave White
Last week, I saw Pearl Jam in concert 3 times. Once at the new Prudential Center in Newark and then twice. I've seen them about 8 times before this, but in my opinion these three shows were the best stretch of shows.
When I start talking about Pearl Jam concerts, I usually get asked why I go so much. The easy explanation is Pearl Jam is awesome. The longer answer is all the shows end up lasting 2.5 to 3 hours and they play 30 songs per concert. And yet, each show has an extremely varied setlist. For example, it took me four shows to see them play "Jeremy" and 8 shows before I saw "Black." But it only took me one show before I saw "Footsteps," which has grown into one of my favorite songs. Each show, however, has felt epic, huge, and always a more than just a concert.
It's a Pearl Jam concert (*).
(*How epic? The second or third time I saw them, they played two songs of each album in chronological order. Then they broke out "Hunger Strike" for the first time in fifteen years!)
Which brings me to crime fiction. When I read a certain author, I want the equivalent of a literary Pearl Jam concert. I want to be pulled through an adrenaline rush. I want to have to turn the page. I want big stories. They don't have to be about saving the world, but they do have to be about big emotions. I want to get something I haven't seen before.
At the same time, I want to know what I'm getting into. I want an author to be give me a vibe.
For instance, Dennis Lehane's Patrick & Angie series, MYSTIC RIVER, SHUTTER ISLAND, and THE GIVEN DAY can't be more different for each other. But all those books have the same feel. The same rhythm. The same with Duane Swierczynski. All his books are remarkably different, but if you tore the cover and title page off the books, I'd still know it was him.
It's a tricky feet to pull off, which is why I'm often hesitant to try new authors until I see tons of good reviews. I like something that's familiar to me, and then tries something different. It's difficult to explain.
The same goes for my writing. I always want to try something new each time I write something. WHEN ONE MAN DIES was a combination of a police prodedural and PI novel. In THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, I want to play with a timeline. My latest work is a balls out thriller.
What about you? What do you look for in your writers? In your concerts?
BONUS: Years later, I got to see HUNGER STRIKE and BLACK again: