August 19, 2009

The Ax

I was going to write an insightful post reminiscing about Westlake's dark and hilarious 1998 satirical crime novel, The Ax and goading some cable network like HBO to make a film of it--it's perfect timing for our economic times.

Then I come across this over at IMDB! The French beat us to it!

That's ok, we can kill off the distributors and make our own from scratch...

Just kidding!

But check out the timeliness of this story. A fifty-something middle manager at a paper mill is downsized and it's been months and months without possibility for another job. Finally he finds out that a new mill will be opening nearby and he desperately wants the position. He knows the competition will be fierce, so he hatches a wonderfully terrible plan. He places an ad for someone with his qualifications in a trade magazine and gives a post office box address.

He lays out all the resumes on the floor of his den and begins comparing them to his own. He makes a large stack of those he could confidently beat. He makes a smaller pile of seven resumes he is pretty sure that are better than his.

Something in him clicks, and he decides that his only way out of this hole is to murder those seven men, thereby locking in his chance for the dream job.

Problem is, he's a middle-manager at a paper-mill type and he's not a very good killer. Things obviously spiral downward for this shlub.

It's dark and funny. But dark. Don't read it if you don't like the dark satire. It would be a great HBO film, with someone like Jeff Daniels, Kelsey Grammer or Robin Williams, one of those good comedy/drama actors that can be sympathetic but go either way on the crazy. Just like all of us, I suppose...