Pike: Best Book of the Year


By Charlie Stella
Temporary Knucksline

November 1, 2010

TK Special Review: The best book of the year … Pike, Benjamin Whitmer (PM Press)

It is rare, but there are times when a writer comes along who is so good one has to take special notice of him and his work. Recently I came across a few mentions about a book titled Pike by Benjamin Whitmer. Then I saw his Dancing with Myself interview over at Nigel’s joint, Sea Minor and thought he was interesting. I Googled for reviews of his book, Pike, and found this one in Spinetingler magazine.

Intrigued enough to make a purchase, I was fortunate to find the book on Kindle (although the formatting here wasn’t great—some run-in words, missing words, etc.). I had been reading Lermontov’s A Hero For Our Time (one of the kindle cheapies), but wasn’t enjoying it the way I had hoped. First chance I had, I gave Pike a look-see and found myself so engrossed with the story AND THE WRITING I hadn’t moved from where I was sitting (on the bench at the gym) and my legs went numb.

When I could focus on Pike again, I did so straight through to the end. Most of yous know how I feel about writing awards (across the board). While I’m glad for friends when they’re nominated and/or win, I don’t believe in any writing award (mostly because the sheer volume of books published in any given year precludes genuine vetting, but add the politics of the business to the scenario and what you’re left with is … well, it isn’t legit). I’m afraid Pike will prove my point (since I seriously doubt the powers that be behind the politics of writing awards will give this wonderful book a fair shake). While Temporary Knucksline is no literary review or committee or anything other than a dopey blog (like all the other dopey blogs out there), it is going to award this novel the following: The best book of 2010 … hands fucking down.

Pike is more than a dark story about dark characters; it is the most impressive writing to come along in quite a while. Work like this belongs in English literature classes (certainly as required reading in any MFA coursework). For anyone into the darker slices of life, Pike will serve as a future template for crime writers exploring the real world.

Certain writers should be required reading in schools the way certain movies should be required viewing in schools (American History X, etc.). Pike is one of those books … the way Cormac McCarthy’s works have etched their way into our literary Americana, so does Whitmer’s Pike belong there. This is superb writing, start to finish. Absolutely mesmerizing. This morning I reread Pike during my commute because it is really that good.

I’ll probably reread it again before the end of the week.

I never heard of PM Press or Benjamin Whitmer or Pike before bouncing around these dopey blogs we all write. If there was ever a good reason for them (these dopey blogs) books like Pike are it. This is more than highly recommended reading, amci. Reading this book is a Temporary Knucksline demand.

Hands down the best book I’ve read this year … I shit yous not.

Back to Benjamin Whitmer’s Author Page