Book Review of:
‘DILLINGER: BOOK ONE & TWO’
by TODD MOORE
(1977, Primal Publishing, 107 Brighton Ave,
Allston, MA 02134, USA - $8.95 each
ISBN-0-941215-08-3 & ISBN0-941215-09-1)
This is a part of the American romance of the guiltless outlaw that runs through William Burroughs’ ‘Last Words Of Dutch Schultz’ (1970) and Bob Dylan’s ‘John Wesley Harding’ (1967). Unholy sagas of dishonourable social deviants treated with white mythopoetic contact lenses. For Todd Moore it’s been an ongoing project since at least 1974, with excerpts and tasters strewn like bank-raids here and there along the way – but now assembled like faces in an identity parade line-up within two identically mug-shot book jackets for volumes one and two. Moving in largely short stark stabs it switches through sections variously titled ‘The Name Is Dillinger’, ‘The Taste Of Blood’, or ‘Robbing A Bank’. A (largely) first-person self-historification self-consciously concerned with James Cagney, Lucky Luciano, movie stills and dark brutal celebrity, its concerns are money, pain, crime, and the exact rearrangements of the face caused by a point-forty-five slug passing through the cheek.
‘Dillinger’ is a verse-novel with subtexts, recurrent themes that touch rage and adrenalin, analysis and character deconstruction. Sections read like bloodied and hypnotic mantras to his untender mercies, with rapid cinematic flash-cuts and long landscape shots of night and cities and highways and violence. Dillinger is a slouch-hat, a gun in his pocket, and a vacuity of self-delusion, arrogance and brutality inside his skull.
Todd Moore snares it all. Exactly.