This type of book is not usually my cuppa tea or joe or whatever cuppa I'm into while reading. (Scotch is nice.) It's kind of a thriller, kind of a crime caper book. Ben and his ex-military buddy Chon are running an elite marijuana operation, but running it as nicely as possible--Ben launders money by funding all kinds of nonprofit endeavors, they're all very civilized. But when the Baja cartel takes note of their work and demands to take over, the proverbial shit hits the fan, starting with the kidnapping of Ben and Chon's friend O (for Ophelia, but also for other, ahem, bodily responses).
This is a crazy wild ride of a book. Once I started, it grabbed me, and I couldn't put it down. I think I'll even seek out some of Winslow's other, better-reviewed books--hey, we all need a change of pace once in a while, right?
That said, I can't really cheer this one on for the ToB. Winslow's using a very stylized kind of writing that at times felt forced and sometimes grating. O's character isn't very well fleshed out; she's more of a story mechanism than a person.
On the other hand, this seemed like a good companion piece for Super Sad True Love Story in that it's almost a prequel--this is what's happening in our world now, and if it keeps going like this, Shteyngart's world will come even sooner. If Savages were to come up in a bracket against the Shteyngart, I'd give it the win. In Winslow's words:
"We went to the beach, rode the waves, and poured our waste into the water we said we loved.
We reinvented ourselves every day, remade our culture, locked ourselves in gated communities, we ate healthy food, we gave up smoking, we lifted our faces while avoiding the sun, we had our skin peeled, our lines removed, our fat sucked away like our unwanted babies, we defied aging and death.
We made gods of wealth and health.
A religion of narcissisim.
In the end, we worshipped only ourselves.
In the end, it wasn't enough."