A book review this Saturday, the new Gene Wolfe. It's often hard to summarize Wolfe briefly. On the other hand, I've read a lot of Wolfe. The narrator, a mobbed-up Jersey kid in post-Communist Cuba, is sent back in time to pirate days. Mayhem ensues. The narrator is now a Catholic priest in our time. He's got a plan.
It's smooth, fast, and almost perfectly in control of narrative tone. Doug had a theory Wolfe lost it in The Knight and The Wizard. I disagreed, but neither of us could figure out why the shifts in register were happening when they did. Pirate Freedom favors my side of the question.
Also, after several books with some rather idealized images of the Catholic Church -- nothing wrong with that, but it's not all Bing Crosby and Bernanos -- Wolfe explores a little of J.F. Powers' territory. (Yes, I know the link is to Derbyshire. Blind pigs and acorns.) Doug, you'd like Powers.
A brief excerpt below.
In a minute I'm going to tell about pirates, but there is not any real difference between pirates and wiseguys. One is at sea and the other is in cities. A big part of it is money, and money is just another way of saying freedom. If you have money, you can do pretty much whatever you want to do. (If you do not believe me, look at the people who have it.) You eat what you want to eat and you drink what you want to drink. Can have two or three women at the same time, if that is what you want. You can sleep late if you want to, and you do not have to work. If you want fifteen suits, you can have fifteen suits, and you can travel if that's what you want. If you like a certain kind of work, you can do it. But nobody can make you.
That is not exactly how it is for pirates or wiseguys either, but it is close. And that is why they do it.