Review—Hating Olivia, by Mark SaFranko

Every book I read these days is an opportunity for me to evaluate writing styles. And when I think back on all the crime thrillers, suspense novels, and noir fiction that I’ve enjoyed over the years, it’s the punchy dialog, the brevity of words, and “the short declarative sentences,” as in reference to Hemingway, that I liked. This was often coupled with poetic prose that gave these books a contrasting feel—where one can get a sense of the author’s soul.

I’ve only recently been introduced to authors John Fante and Charles Bukowski, and although their subjects are depressing, they’re style is somewhat similar. It’s unfair to say that Mark SaFranko’s Hating Olivia is exactly like them, but as Dan Fante, son of John Fante, said in the introduction, “Hating Olivia is fresh meat, a gift tied together with a bloodstained bow.”

There’s another thing: Mr. SaFanko has written a “hundred short stories, fifty of them already in print. A box full of poetry and essays. And ten complete novels, eight of them yet to hit the bookshelves. A dozen plays, some produced in New York and others staged in Ireland. SaFranko writes songs too, a hundred and fifty so far.” So, unpublished old guy that I am, I’m intimidated before I’ve finished the introduction!

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Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)

Alfred Hitchock died April 29, 1980. A comprehensive look at the director—”destined to make sublime film thrillers”— by Ken Mogg, author of The Alfred Hitchcock Story, can be found at senses of cinema.

Hitchcock supposedly coined, or at least popularized the idea of the “MacGuffin,” a plot element in fiction or films that drives the action. In 1939 Hitchcock said, “[We] have a name in the studio, and we call it the ‘MacGuffin’. It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers.” Check out a list of the Top 10 MacGiffins in films.

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