Excerpt from The Devil's Wind by Richard Rayner, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Devil's Wind

by Richard Rayner

The Devil's Wind by Richard Rayner
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2005, 338 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2006, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One
September , 1956 / Los Feliz, California

I first met Mallory Walker high in the hills above Silverlake, at one of those parties where Luis Barragan announced his continued existence to the world. It was during the Labor Day weekend, and Luis, such a figure, almost a legend in architecture, was pretty much at his wit's end, in danger of sliding off the map. He was in his late fifties by then, maybe sixty, and it was years since he'd designed a building. He still lived large, considering he was a man for whom so much had gone wrong. But, then, in life, as in architecture, Luis had a reckless disregard for convention and the niceties. And luck never quite left him.

"Good of you to show your face," he said, reeking of gin and sweat and about half a gallon of lemony eau de cologne. He was rumpled, with hair flowing like milk out of his ears and from the open neck of his blue silk shirt. "Come in here," he said, dragging me into the kitchen, where it was quiet and a tray of filled martini glasses stood on the counter, waiting for the help to take them out. Beer dripped from a chubby keg on the breakfast-nook table and a fly buzzed, drowning in the dregs of a tequila sunrise. "I dreamed about you last night, Maurice. You were lying dead in the desert."

"I'm touched, really I am," I said. "But you should worry about yourself."

"Don't I know it," Luis said with a deadpan, almost dazed expression. He was big, a belligerent man with multiple chins, eyes set far apart, and scars on his forehead, and his face puckered as he reached for a glass and saw the fly dying there. He thrust this glass aside and took instead one of the martinis, draining it in three long, slow gulps. He shut his eyes and swayed like a tree about to topple. "Oh, God!" he announced with drama.

"How much do you need? Five grand, ten?"

His eyes popped open again. "Jesus, Maurice! How long is it since we've seen each other?"

"It's been a while."

"More than four years."

"Really? I'd no idea it was so long."

"After all we've been through together ... "

Sometimes Luis had a voice like a phone ringing. He could give you the idea that once he got going he'd never stop. This was one of those times. Righteous indignation warmed him to his task.

"After all the trouble we've known, all the ups and downs, all the water under the bridge, and I finally decide to call you, and you offer me ... money."

With me he couldn't pretend. He was almost beaten and he was afraid. Sure, he'd swallowed his pride and invited me to the party. That meant something, but I enjoyed seeing him on the hook. "I thought you liked money, Luis," I said. "I do."

"I need work," he said. "There -- I've said it. I'll design a fucking toilet if I have to. Anything."

Luis had mentored me in our chosen profession. He'd been my partner, my friend, and, later, the rival I left behind, at least in terms of wealth and the acclaim of the wider world, and I knew no other terms. My wife had turned up her nose when she heard about the party, and my solo attendance more than hinted at condescension. But I liked Luis, and not only because he reminded me of struggles I'd overcome. He was exuberant, alive, and he had a childlike enthusiasm in spite of everything. Though often angry, he was never jaded. Besides, he and I understood one another. People don't know much about the private lives of architects. We're not like actors or politicians, but we have our feuds, our traumas. Believe me. We're in the tough position of trying to be artists and practical men at the same time. This particular juggling act had left Luis with his balls all over the floor. Practical was something he knew about but couldn't quite bring himself to achieve. Once, years before, when I'd started working for him, I'd asked for the single most important advice he thought he could give a young architect. "Marry money," he'd said, maybe meaning it, maybe not. I'd gone ahead, allying myself with several millions of dollars and the daughter of a U.S. senator.

From The Devil's Wind by Richard Raynor. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hillbilly Elegy
    Hillbilly Elegy
    by J.D. Vance
    In this illuminating memoir, Vance recounts his trajectory from growing up a "hillbilly" in ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dark Flood Rises
    The Dark Flood Rises
    by Margaret Drabble
    Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and ...
  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -