Derrick Ferguson Has A Martini At EL MOROCCO

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Having read four of his books now and one of them twice I think it’s safe to say that I’ve become a fan of Raymond Embrack. It’s always such a pleasant surprise to discover a writer who really makes me sit up and pay attention to what he’s doing and Raymond Embrack certainly does that. Why do I like his writing so much? I think it’s because he has that Swing For The Fences quality I always enjoy reading. Each and every one of his books I’ve read so far reads as if he’s afraid he’ll never write another one again and so they’re stuffed with off the wall characters, wild ideas and wilder concepts.  Add to that playful dialog married to descriptive passages and labyrinthine plot twists that I do think he gets carried away with at times.  But we’ll get into that later on. Right now let’s get into the plot of EL MOROCCO.

It’s the swingin’ hepcat 1960’s and Guy Roman is a hot up-and-coming comic working Atlantic City. He’s not quite big time yet but he’s on his way. Until he gets derailed by New Jersey wiseguy wannabe Jackie Rockafero who blatantly hijacks Guy’s comedy routine as he thinks it would be fun to trade leg-breaking and loan sharking to be a stand-up comic. Naturally Guy takes exception to this. Jackie offers Guy gold or lead. Guy takes lead and winds up left for dead in a filthy A.C. alley alongside the ridiculously gorgeous showgirl Tess Revere who has also pissed off Jackie in a way I would not dare dream of revealing here.

Once he recovers, Guy, along with the brain damaged but still recovering Tess heads to Los Angeles where Jackie has become a comedic megastar. Guy’s intention is to not only take back his act but to make Jackie Rockafero sorry he was ever born. The conflict between them escalates into a major war that before it’s over involves the Hollywood film industry, celebrity gangster Mickey Cohen, crooked gossip columnists, high powered agents who are little more than scam artists and the West Coast Mafia a.k.a. The L.A. Set.

One of the things that makes EL MOROCCO so much fun to read is Raymond Embrack’s affinity for the language, attitudes and feel for the 1960’s. His characters all have a wonderfully smart-ass way of talking and yet he manages to not have them all sound the same. Everybody’s a smart-ass in their own way, if you know what I mean. And the characters and tone of the book are totally authentic to the time period. So those of you who are actively PC should be warned. The people in EL MOROCCO talk, act and think like people who lived in the 1960’s talked, acted and thought and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m actually more comfortable with that than with books that are supposed to be set in the 1930’s, 40’s, ‘50’s or ‘60’s but are peopled with characters from the ‘00’s.

What else can I say to recommend the book? Raymond’s way of writing is one where he’s clearly having fun with language and with words. He obviously enjoys the way he’s telling the story in the language and style and rhythm of the dialog and description. It’s really enjoyable to read his prose as it sings and swings with the patois of 1960’s hipster jive talk.

What’s my only quibble with the book? Remember earlier when I mentioned that Raymond gets carried away with plot twists? The plot twists at the conclusion of EL MOROCCO come so fast and there are so many of them that I felt he was pushing it and I was wondering if he was deliberately trying to see how many plot twists he could throw in there before they collapsed under their own weight. But that’s okay. Above all, I like and admire Raymond Embrack for his sheer audacity and willingness to take the chance of going too far with his bizarre plots and outrageous characters. It’s always more fun to read a writer who isn’t afraid to Go There instead of one that offers up easily digestible prose that is no more exciting to read than recycled oatmeal is fun to eat. He’s an extremely entertaining writer and if you’re going to start reading him, EL MOROCCO is a great place to start.

Raymond Embrack’s Amazon Page

Want To Check Out Raymond’s Unique Take On Movies? Then Go On Over To: “I’m Serious How? Like I’m A Film Critic?”

Lines I Wish I’d Written

#1: “Those motherfuckers had a Gatling gun and more bullets than China had rice.”

#2: “Peace! Freedom! And a few less fat bastards eating all the pie!”

#3: “Would it be all right if I show the children the whoring bed?”

#4: “Now listen to me you benighted muckers. We’re going to teach you soldiering. The world’s noblest profession. When we’re done with you, you’ll be able to slaughter your enemies like civilized men.”

#5: “You can push them out of a plane, you can march them off a cliff, you can send them off to die on some God-forsaken rock, but for some reason, you can’t slap them. Now apologize to that boy immediately.”

#6: “She wasn’t just tall. She was great big. She was honey blonde with the mark of The Valkyrie and her mouth was curved in a moist, lush grin because my eyes swept over her so fast. Her body seemed to want to explode and only the tailored suit kept it confined.”

#7: “You couldn’t fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life even if you had an electrified fooling machine.”

#8: “You’re a funny guy Sully, I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.”

#9: “I don’t think I’d like to be God. Not that I’m turning down any offers, mind you. But there are six billion people on this planet and I still feel alone. Imagine being One God.”

#10: “Even if he does have a little bacon on the side, that doesn’t make him Eggs Benedict Arnold.”

#11: “You can blow the seminal prisoner class infrastructure out your ass! I’m not knockin’ down my goddamn distribution charges!”

#12: “Ackroyd had the look of a man hang-gliding over Hell.”

#13: “A good love scene should be about something else besides love. For instance, this one. Me fixing grapefruit. You sitting over there, dopey, half-asleep. Anyone looking at us could tell we’re in love.”

#14: “JASMINE! FIX MY JAMMIES! FIX. MY. JAMMIES!”

#15: “My friend, Thomas Jefferson is an American saint because he wrote the words ‘All men are created equal’, words he clearly didn’t believe since he allowed his own children to live in slavery. He’s a rich white snob who’s sick of paying taxes to the Brits. So, yeah, he writes some lovely words and aroused the rabble and they went and died for those words while he sat back and drank his wine and fucked his slave girl. This guy wants to tell me we’re living in a community? Don’t make me laugh. I’m living in America, and in America you’re on your own. America’s not a country. It’s just a business. Now fuckin’ pay me.”

#16: “Less noise, you daft bitch! And that goes for you as well, dog!”

#17: “How’s your mother?”

“Oh…I’m afraid she’s on her way out”

“We all are. Act accordingly.”

#18: “Back then Times Square was part of the real NYC. Musk remembered peep shows and porno theatres, the rotting orifice of a decaying city. NYC had never been more NYC than in the ’70s when the sunlight was a category of polymers, when the snow fell on the Crown Vics staking out Italian social clubs, when 39th Street teemed with garment districts trucks, the sidewalks with rack pushers back when America made garments, when the city was a playground for lowlifes in Pierre Cardin suits.”

#19: “First thing we’re going to do is we’re gonna acknowledge that this guy’s awesome. I mean, he shoots Theo Tonin, fakes his own death in a spectacular fashion, pushes a guy out of an airplane while he’s flying it, parachutes into Harlan County with enough coke and cash to jump-start the economy of a small country, and then he has the balls to get a job in law enforcement, not once but two times! He spends a couple of days riding around with you while you’re looking for him, and now he’s run off with a hooker that’s half his age. That’s some bad-ass shit.”

#20: “When you raid a cathouse, you take the piano player too.”

#21: “What always gets me in trouble,” Mr. Monster says, keeping his eyes forward, “is that I go and say something like that, and there’s a part of me that just has to know if it’s possible to literally knock someone’s nose down through their asshole.”

#22: “We live in a terrible place and time. Everything that’s not you wants to kill you.”

#23: “In all wars, whether marked by luck or by The Lord there were the saved and the unsaved and nothing else.”

#24: “Well, we hit a little snag when the universe sort of collapsed on itself. But Dad seemed cautiously optimistic.”

#25: “What is the face of a coward? The back of his head as he runs from the battle.”

#26: “Imagination is its own form of courage.”

#27: “A million bucks has changed stupider minds than yours.”

#28: “All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.”

#29: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

#30: “As you can see, I have memorized this utterly useless piece of information long enough to pass a test question. I now intend to forget it forever. You’ve taught me nothing except how to cynically manipulate the system. Congratulations.”

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