Don Winslow has announced his retirement from writing novels. From now on he intends to fight the far right and their insidious influence.

Just what the world needs. Another writer of fiction lecturing us on politics.

It's not like I disagree with Winslow. I hate Trumpies and Proud Boys. I'm not exactly in love with the woke set either. I'm sick of hearing everyone spouting off about current events.

They used to say that everyone has two jobs. Whatever they do for a living, and movie critic. Now it seems like it's their day job and political analyst.

I get it everywhere. At work. From the neighbors. Social Media is enough to make a rational person sick.

Don Winslow can do what he likes. He should follow his heart and conscience, and damn anyone who doesn't like it. On the other hand, I'm not applauding him for this decision either.

A lot of people don't realize how much fiction can influence people. Lecture them and they will tune you out. Tell a compelling story and it's possible to sneak inside their defenses.

Take Winslow's The Force. It's a novel about a corrupt cop. Winslow's brilliant prose takes readers inside the head of his protagonist/antagonist. I believe the novel has the power to change the way people think about police brutality. And not just the bad old right. The Force compellingly demonstrates how a decent man turns corrupt.

Or Hairspray. Instead of beating viewers over the head, John Waters makes you smile at the absurdity of racial stereotypes.

I watched a couple of Don Winslow interviews. He talked about his love of the water and how it influenced his writing. He spoke of his gratitude to Elmore Leonard and Charles Willeford. Winslow seemed like a little kid when he spoke of these things. When he started on Donald Trump and his followers, he became angry and arrogant.

I get it. Someone has to fight these people. I just wish it didn't have to be one of the greatest living novelists.

City on Fire is a stunning tour de force. It's the story of Danny Ryan, a low-level member of an Irish mob family in 1980s Rhode Island. He finds himself rising up the ranks as a series of cataclysmic events shatter the family and they city in which they live.

The plot of City on Fire is nothing extraordinary, but Winslow's prose, his precise characters, and the moral dilemmas Ryan faces put this novel ahead of most of the competition. Ryan knows he is a bad man, one who breaks the laws of society, yet he attempts to hold on to a sense of ethics.

I like everything I've read from Don Winslow, with the exception of Savages, but City on Fire is by far my favorite. It's the first of three books with the Danny Ryan character.

It's funny to see the user comments at Amazon. I'm pretty sure the right-wingers give it one star, while others rate City on Fire much higher. If the reports are to be believed, Winslow has received threats from extremists for his vitriolic online comments. I have no reason to doubt the validity of his claims.

The next two books in this series will come in 2023 and 2024. I hope Winslow changes his mind and continues to give new books to his millions of fans. It isn't just the politics. He says he has run out of steam and doesn't wish to keep writing for the sake of it, or to keep money coming in. That's something I do understand.

Written by Mark Sieber

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