Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Grind

Over at Ransom Notes, it may seem I'm giving Ken Bruen a hard time about his latest Jack Taylor book The Devil. Maybe I am. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy reading it - the same way I enjoy reading everything he writes, but let's face it, there's major Bruen (the first two or three Taylors, American Skin, I'd put most of his standalones in there, like the Hackman Blues - just reissued from Busted Flush Press err now Tyrus - Dispatching Baudelaire, Rilke on Black) and you've got your minor Bruen, (the Brant books, Taylor from at least Priest on, the Max and Angela series). Major Bruen has a tendency toward devastation while minor is just fun to read, and the Taylor books have become minor Bruen reaching for major and there's a problem there. The devastation I used to feel right along with Jack has piled up to the point that it's simply not effective any more. There're still great lines and passages - my favorite from this one involves Jack finally resolving to deal with a problem individual and when he goes to confront and most likely kill him, the guy's got cocaine and hookers waiting with him. Does Jack do what he came to? Let's just say, he takes his time getting to it - but the latter Taylor titles just don't stand up to the first few.

Craig McDonald is giving us some hints as to what to expect from his next Hector Lassiter book, One True Sentence. Though, at this point, I think it would be fair to start calling it the Hec and Hem books, 'cause Ernest Hemingway plays a very close second fiddle to Lassiter in the last two and it looks like the next couple of titles as well. But where the first three books have jumped around in time liberally, Craig says: ONE TRUE SENTENCE is set in exactly one week of February 1924...just seven fast-moving days in Paris. The cast of characters for this one includes Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Sylvia Beach, Ford Maddox Ford, William Carlos Williams and Jean Paul Fargue, among others. Can't wait.

Keith Rawson interviews Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike for Spinetingler, and "the beef" grills itself at Nigel Bird's site Sea Minor. Look closely there, I think somebody's got a man crush on yours truly. Thanks, Keith, Pre-shate it very much. Always could use feedback and especially the super flattering type you just dished out. Nigel's hosting a series of these self-interviews and most likely I'll find some time to go dancing with myself over there soon. I'll letcha know.

Finally, it's been a good week for me. Passed a milestone, felt like a kidneystone, on a writing project. I also read three good books, Lethal Injection by Jim Nisbet, The Gnawing, (part 6 of Jason Aaron's Scalped saga) and John Rector's The Grove. I finally got to see Nash Edgerton's fantastic noir The Square (think Blood Simple), and if you haven't seen a trailer for A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Soup, a Chinese language, period piece based on the Coen Brother's startling debut, go check it out and tell me whatcha think. You excited? Puzzled? Outraged?

Also, for my fellow St. Louisans I'd like to take the opportunity to promote an event I was only tangentally aware of before, but The Hi Pointe theater, no longer a Landmark chain, but a real true locally owned and operated independent house who promotes big movies - Inception, The Expendables last week and the little ones like Get Low this week alike. They hold a midnight movie event called Late Night Grindhouse and they do it up proper with a host and old trailer reels, (and it's only $6). I saw Cannibal Holocaust and it was a great experience. I know recently they'vs shown Evil Dead and Rec 2, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for more. Tonight, I've got passes to Robert Rodriguez's Machete - a possible future feature there. Gotta love it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Byrne After Reading

Charlie Byrne is dead. Put away anyhow. For now. I take this retirement announcement a bit more seriously than Ozzy Osbourne's. That's right, Kieran Shea's hapless former life-guard has saved the last wrong person, been bit by his last dog, pissed off his last client and can hopefully find a little peace in the inky blackness of his creator's subconscious. Shea, another contributor to Beat to a Pulp: Round One, (that'll be the fifth time I've been honored to share story space with him), is putting away his go-to character. Takes guts. K's invested a lot into Charlie, but I'm hoping he can find a new muse/kick in the pants to serve up some more righteous crime fictions. Kieran let me share his hotel room at Bouchercon last year and I got to spend several very special hours with him, (that would make him Demi Moore to my Robert Redford and would consequently make Greg Bardsley Woody Harrelson). On top of being a writer I really enjoy, he's a big-hearted, generous dude and I expect great things from his post-Byrne output. Sorry, Charlie.

And how about that Night of the Hunter poster, huh? N@B graduate, Matt Kindt did that one for a Criterion film festival or somethin. Bad Ass. Bad Ass movie. Bad Ass poster. Bad Ass talent, sir. Apparently his choice was between that one and Roman Polanski's Repulsion. I'd love to see his vision of the other, but I think he made the right choice. Jon, Ruth & David, y'all Bouchercon 2011 planners might wanna look into St. Louis talent like Kindt and Tim Lane or Brian Hurtt for that matter if'n ya need graphic work done. I'm just sayin.

And speaking of David Thompson, have you heard the news about Tyrus Books absorbing Busted Flush Press? Holy crap. That means two of the most kick ass small publishers of crime fiction have combined. Speaking of Tyrus, I'm reviewing Lynn Kostoff's Late Rain at Ransom Notes. Go check that out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Special F.X.

Still looking forward to Beat to a Pulp: Round One and I find that this will be the fifth time I’ve been published alongside Glenn Gray. Have you read this dude? Muscle heads, homoerotic paranoia and penis envy abound in dark corners of the body-building culture. Guy also knows his drugs too, but then he moonlights as a doctor, go figure. We’ve shared space in Plots With Guns, Blood, Guts & Whiskey and Out of the Gutter issues 5&6, (Revenge and Sexploitation). Glenn’s got a perverse streak a mile wide, so I’m looking forward to his contribution to BTAP Cannulation.

I'm gonna give somebody a copy of Out of the Gutter 6, (Sexploitation), this week. This one is rough. Brutal. But it's got some great highlights including Mike Sheeter's NF piece Thinking Pink With Larry Flynt, Glenn Gray's Marvin K. Stein's Monster Penis and Chris Pimental's Vig Train. My own piece in this one is called Viscosity and it's a little different than anything else I've ever published. Just lemme know you want a copy to get you in the drawing. Leave a comment on this post, e-mail me, send me a tweet, whatever. No effort involved with this one. I'll draw a name Friday.

Over at Ransom Notes, I’m talking fight fiction: Eddie Muller, Ian Vasquez, F.X. Toole, Christa Faust and James Ellroy. Came about from watching Robert Wise’s The Set-Up the other night. Liked that flick. I really wanted to include Eric Beetner and J.B. Kohl’s One Too Many Blows to the Head in that conversation, but alas, their book is not available through B&N, but please include it in our little dialogue here.

Keith Rawson video talks to John Rector at Spinetingler. Rod Norman talks to Matthew McBride at Signs & Wonders. Keith Rawson answers David Cranmer's questions at Gutter Books.

Nash Edgerton’s The Square is on DVD today and I’m pissed that Animal Kingdom still hasn’t found its way to St. Louis. How pissed? Er, peeved anyhow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sheeter Git Off the Pot

One of my favorite things about getting pieces published in anthologies, magazines and online journals are all the virtual shoulders I rub up against, some are my heroes, some are my evil nemesis and many are complete strangers. As the pile of publications grows, some of the names become familiar. With the publication of Beat to a Pulp: Round One, I find some of those names turning up again.

BTAP will be the fourth time I’ve been published alongside Mike Sheeter. I know he publishes online, but frankly I don’t get to do a lot of reading on line, certainly not casual browsing type reading, so last night, I sat down and re-read his previous three contributions to print publications we’ve shared space in.

First was his story Unstable from Out of the Gutter, the Revenge issue, (#5). It’s a quick story about the disasterous breakdown of a love triangle between a man, a woman and a horse. One cold MuthaFlicka.

Second was his story Violated from Sex, Thugs and Rock & Roll, about a parole officer dealing with a paroled pedophile. This one was great. Straight forward tone and treatment of the subject matter, with some genuine tension running right through the heart of it. Would love to see a novel like this.

Third was his non-fiction piece Thinking Pink With Larry Flynt from OOTG’s Sexploitation issue (#6), chronicling his time as an editor at Flynt’s flagship publication, Hustler magazine in the late 70s. It’s more anecdotal than biographical with Flynt and his antics in the foreground. My favorite piece from that issue, for sheer entertainment value, worth more than Milos Foreman’s movie.

So, I haven’t locked down Sheeter’s voice from these three pieces, each was quite a departure from the others, but based on their strength, I ‘m really anticipating his The All-Weather Phantom in BTAP.


At Ransom NotesI’m confessing my geeky anticipation of artistic mash-ups – like William Faulkner adapting Raymond Chandler, (it happened, you know?). The current one I’ve got my eye on is Peter Craig adapting Chuck Hogan. Low stakes? Maybe, but I like looking at that kind of thing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Horse Power Giveaway

Can I cop to loving James Lee Burke and Dave Robicheaux here? An alcoholic detective plagued by Catholic guilt and tragedy, doggedly limping to the finish? All that set up is great, but c'mon, Burke is a prose-master who deserves to be mentioned alongside the likes of Woodrell/ Gay/ McCarthy/ Franklin. His writing is muscular and lush and keeps me coming back to the well, but... can we knock it off with the Robicheaux books please? Can he just be retired or die? 'Cause every time he's trotted out for another round of dangerous games it dilutes the pleasure I take in his tales. I go, c'mon are you kidding? Again? It just discredits the otherwise believable fictional universe he inhabits. This is what I'm moaning about at Ransom Notes.

Speaking of those particular prose masters, anybody out there read Robert Olmstead before? His Civil War set novel Coal Black Horse is the only thing I have, but damn strooooong shit. Cross-dressing-lice-infected bandits, raping preachers, Homer and acres-wide gore pools like the Bender's basement wrapped up in pertified speechy biblical-tones and applied with chicken fat to the mythic American nineteenth century.

I enjoyed this book so much, I'm going to give you a copy.

S'right, I'm putting my bucks where my blog is and all you gotta do is let somebody else know about it. Send me a link to your own blog, Twitter, Facebook feed or full page ad in your local paper telling people that I'm giving away books at the Hardboiled Wonderland and you'll be entered. And folks, if you don't win this one, I've got a bunch more coming up as we get closer to NoirCon in November. I'll draw a winner Friday.

Speaking of NoirCon, have you seen the lineup for that beast? Can't wait. And regarding N@B, prepare and alibi for Thursday, October 21. Just added Johnathan Woods to the event which casts a decidedly weird cast to the evening. It's gonna be nuts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

For Shamus

The Shamus Award nominees have been announced and I was happy to see names like Dave Zeltserman, Gary Phillips, Russel Mclean and Michael Koryta getting some attention. Not sure what the criteria is for being eligible for consideration from organizations like the PWA or MWA who give out these types of awards, but I would love love love to see the hardworking folks at places like Crimefactory and Needle get some nominations under their collective belts, 'cause they're creating some great new places to find crime fiction. Needle's second issue dropped this week, featuring the likes of Ray Banks, Frank Bill, Stephen Blackmoore, Nolan Knight, Sarah Weinman, Nigel Bird, Julie Summerell, Mike Sheeter, Chris F. Holm, John Stickney and Allan Leverone. What's that? I missed one? Oh, yeah, Mr. Beat To a Pulp, his own self, David Cranmer is in there too. Cranmer deserves what I may start calling the Keith Rawson Junior Achiever Award for his service in creating extra mud for our shallow and murky waters we call a literary scene. He's bringing his own monster anthology out superfast BTAP Round One which he and Elaine Ash have edited and independently funded, (what was in his bank account actually paid the writers). So I'll be ordering that one plus the new Needle and throw-down copies of issue one (to take Lulu up on that free shipping on orders over $20) as soon as it's available.

One guy who could certainly explain all the eligibility rites would be (a BTAP Round One contributor) Robert J. Randisi, the founder and former president of the PWA, (as well as last year's recipient of The Eye, the PWA's lifetime achievement award). Randisi has just edited a two volume collection of Shamus winning short stories which I dip into at Ransom Notes.

In other publishing news this week, Dorchester Publishing has announced the end of their producing the mass market paperback form in favor of electronic, (though they will continue trade sized paperbacks). The most immediate effect this has on me is that Charles Ardai's Hard Case Crime line will be changing... publishing house and possibly format, (going to trade size - not going primarily to digital). I got no idea the business advantages of one format over the other, but if it does change to the larger size book, it'll be a bummer for me. Obviously, they're producing new literature, but the throw-back vibe of the packaging has always been key to their appeal, and I'm sure I'm not alone there. Regardless, I'm sure the quality level we've come to expect from Mr. Ardai, (a Shamus winner and BTAP Round One contributor - how's those for tie-ins?) and his line will stay up, we're just going to have to wait a little longer for the new Max Allan Collins and Christa Faust.

Finally, I re-watched The Border the other night and came away sorely disappointed. I'd seen it before and remembered it as a gritty morality drama with great turns from a cast you'd expect them from, (Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel and Warren Oates especially). Unfortunately, it was an ungraceful mess, full of unintentional laughs and awkward juxtapositions of drama, humor and action. Not a terrible movie, still had some really nice moments and the setting is fertile and the story solid, but not at all the classic I was anticipating. Not even close. Put me in the mood to revisit some better border movies though. I'd like to check out The Three Burials of Melquiada Estrada and Sin Nombre and oh hell, I've been jonsing to watch No Country For Old Men again, so maybe I'll do just that. I've got a bunch of early eighties Nicholson pics in the que - stuff I saw a long time ago or never at all and I'm hoping they deliver more than this one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Devil, y'know?

Did I not officially update last week's N@B event? How did that happen? Lemme just briefly say that I want to do another graphic novel N@B, 'cause everybody's presentations were so creative and cool. Scott Phillips kicked off reading straight off the projected images courtesy of Roger Peterson from The Paradise and Matt Kindt did a read along style, sound-effect aided treatment of his book Revolver. Tim Lane showed his short - The Passenger - which really brought expectations for multi media N@B to a ridiculous high and closed out the night reading two prose excerpts from upcoming works. Afterward, I drank. A lot. I needed it folks, I've been so fried the past month or so, and that was sorta the last hurdle for me. I'm charging my batteries now and preparing to dive into three new projects. Plus my kids are starting school next week which means Noircon 2010 is just around the corner. I'm registered now, so count on me bothering you all weekend if you're attending.

I'm looking toward October for the next N@B event. We're going international with Mr. Crimefactory, Aussie Cameron Ashley. Sure he publishes good shit, but can he write? I'll just submit Blood & Bone in Bambooland from Plots With Guns for your discerning eye, (the answer btw is o-my-golly-yes). Who will be joining Ash? It's in the works, I'll get back to you soon.

Over the weekend, I read Ken Bruen's new one, The Devil and I'll talk more about it later, but I'd like to think there was a hat tip to your friend and mine Pete The Nerd of Noir Dragovich in there, dear reader. Could be wrong, but that's how it struck me. Pete if you have read it, lemme know. BBC's Jack Taylor based on Ken's The Guards debuted recently and... I haven't heard anything. Anybody see it? Anyone? Bueller? Ah well, I'm just counting the days till Boardwalk Empire is unveiled.

Meanwhile, over at Ransom Notes, I'm encouraging you to nominate two (or more) mystery or literary characters you'd like to see a mash-up of, for example, Hanibal Lector & Dexter Morgan, or 007 & Jessica Fletcher. Stupid ideas perhaps, but somebody's going to strike gold, methinks. Also at Ransom Notes, last week I got anticipation notes from N@B alumn like Derek Nikitas, Theresa Schwegel and Dennis Tafoya, plus Craig McDonald.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Paradise Unveiled

Been up since four a.m. It's like trying to sleep on the night before Christmas - it's N@B tonight. 8pm at The Delmar Lounge in the University City Loop and it's no money to get in, which means you can spend it on books 'n beers - which last forever. Tim Lane! Matt Kindt! Scott Phillips! Can't wait to hear these guys and see the artwork. I checked out Matt's show at Starclipper comics in the Loop - the pages from Revolver look amazing up there, (as does Brian Hurtt's 6th Gun art), Tim's film, The Passenger ought to cause a stir and Scott's work (with Roger Peterson) on The Paradise is gonna be worth the price of admission alone. Here's hoping the burgeoning St. Louis crime-writing scene turns out and extends the hand of friendship to the graphic novel guys still high on that ComiCon buzz. I for one am sending in my registration for NoirCon this morning. You hear me, Lou Boxer, the check's in the mail.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Your Friends & Neighbors

It's tomorrow! It's the very first multi-media N@B! We's showin' movies, we's lookin' at perty perty pictures. Get the fuck out. I'm serious. Be there to get your graphic literature on with Tim Lane, Matt Kindt & Scott Phillips (8pm @ the Delmar Lounge). It's free. Get the fuck out. It is, I tell ya. A helluva value.

Also, today Big Daddy Thug, Todd Robinson publishes the final issue of Thuglit... for the foreseeable future, anyway. That's right, after five years of peddling wolf tickets to you the great unwashed, the sweet family Robinson, is locking us out. Will they ever open their doors again? Who knows, but check out all 38 fantastic issues at Thuglit.com while they're still up. And if you've got a story up there, you might wanna go ahead and print that shit up so's you've got a hard copy, 'cause you're gonna forget about it and after a while, it may disappear. The final(?) issue features new, but not fresh, stories from Garnett Elliott, David Swain, Joe Clifford Dermot Owens, Joe Deir, Mike Wilkerson, Matt Mok and Sigmund Werndorf.

Finally, do you really wanna know what the neighbors are up to? At some point in my life, I decided that I did. At Ransom Notes I'm wondering whether it was early exposure to The Hardy Boys that made me interested or whether they simply helped me contextualize what was already going on inside. Regardless, I found out what they were up to and now I'm me more or less. So, there's that... Yeah there were a few screwed up people in my neighborhoods...