Friday, June 29, 2012

The Radio Star Chuckles In His Grave

Over at Black Coffee & Cyanide Kent Gowran is chiming in with some reflections on F*ckload of Scotch Tape. He says it recalls, for him, the compilations of odd short films that could be found in more awesomer video stores before the internets and DVDs killed the video star. St. Louis had some kick ass video stores that I loved to dig around in, my favorite being Bijou Movies - which closed back in 1998 or there abouts, and Fayetteville, Arkansas (where I lived before St. Louis) had an amazing video store that I practically lived at. It's really not the same thing trolling around online for interesting stuff (not better, or worse, but definitely not the same thing) and I miss it. Anyway, Kent, I agree. F*ckload of Scotch Tape is exactly the kind of thing that I'd have found while going deep at Bijou or Movie Set or another cinephile I-V spot. I'd have picked it up after circling it for a while and then I'd have eaten up a looooot of Julian Grant's other titles - The Defiled, RoboCop: Prime Directives or even a collection of his short films like Screw the Pepperoni, Maidenhead and The Watchmaker's Apprentice. He'd have become one of my favorite little voices to listen for.

Kick ass writer, film maker, editor and graphic design fucker Eric Beetner has submitted this design for the cover of my story collection A F*ckload of Shorts. I think it kindly rocks. Have you an opinion?

In other what-the-hell-is-Jed-spending-his-time-on news, I am really close (I mean it) to finishing up a novella - Fierce Bitches - for Cameron Ashley and Crime Factory books. I'm also nipple-deep into Noir at the Bar Volume 2 and this one is going to be a beast. Just a handful of errant pieces to collect, but holeeshit it's a biggun. And hey, I'm looking the hell forward to catching Paul von Stoetzel's Viscosity at the St. Louis Film Maker's Showcase on July 11. Will you be there? Come say 'hi' if you aren't entirely disgusted afterward. The original short story Viscosity will be included in A F*ckload of Shorts (as will another dialogue-only piece called Nolte that you've never read before).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Courtesy, Sympathy & Taste

Big thanks to Brian Lindenmuth and the crew at Snubnose Press for agreeing to publish a collection of my short stories tentatively titled F*ckload of Shorts. The book and eBook ought to be available by the end of the summer and will include the stories A Fuckload of Scotch Tape and Mahogany & Monogamy on which Julian Grant based his flick F*ckload of Scotch Tape as well as Viscosity - the basis for Paul von Stoetzel's short film of the same name.

So... pleased to meet you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Onan the Barbarian

Robb Olson has reviewed F*ckload of Scotch Tape over at ManArchy Magazine - check it out. There's also a new trailer for it right over this way. Julian Grant is working on a graphic novel version of the movie which I'm looking forward to seeing, and he's casting now for his next feature - another crime flick - to be shot in Chicago in the fall. This one's called Sweet Leaf and it's about some small-time losers in big time trouble putting together a heist in order to pay off some drug debt. Things don't go well. Julian's calling it a cross between Drugstore Cowboy and a Spaghetti Western. Apparently nobody sings. But hey, if I were a hard-working actor in the Chicago area, I'd be trying to get on board.

If you're in St. Louis this summer, you can check out Paul von Stoetzel's terrific short film Viscosity at the St. Louis Film Maker's Showcase on July 11. I hear the author of the short story may be in attendance. Actually, I can assure you he will be. I'm really looking forward to being able to experience this one with an audience.

Shit ton of Ransom Notes links to feed you now. S.G. Browne's comic crime novel Lucky Bastard about a PI who's hired to find a politician's stolen luck inspired a quick list of books and films revolving around luck. Read the piece. Sad that the David Milch/Michael Mann show Luck didn't make the list. Not having seen it, I can't comment on its cancellation, but damn that one sounded like a winner. One film that did make the list is Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's Intacto, which if you ain't checked out yet, you can consider these your marching orders - go see that shit.

No, wait. Come back. Consider these your marching orders - go get Tom Piccirilli's The Last Kind Words. It's a tough-headed, wounded-hearted crime novel that's gonna mess you up. Did you read last year's Every Shallow Cut or hell, James Ellroy's My Dark Places? You know that weirdly confessional tone - that one that makes you think you're getting waaaay too much personal information from (or insight into) the author. This one? Same kind thing. Just... devastating. But manages to be kick-ass too. Neat trick. Read the review.

Y'know what? Just finish reading here before you march off anywhere, 'cause Don Winslow's The Kings of Cool - his prequel to Savages is going down easy at a bookstore near you. Hell, it would go well with any kind of drink you'd care to mix it with. It was late and I was a bit loopy when I wrote this piece, but I think you'll get the basic point - read the shit out of this book before or after Oliver Stone's Savages fux up a multiplex near you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Into the Gutter

Henry Hill may have died, but Thuglit and Out of the Gutter have been resurrected! I'm pretty essited by what I hear coming from the Gutter camp - namely more platforms (print and digital), more content, fresh staff and, hey Gutter Books is releasing the one-two combo of W.R. Burnett's classics The Asphalt Jungle and High Sierra. I hope they continue to put out high-quality low-life originals like The Wrong Man by William Ingsley and Joe McKinney's Dodging Bullets, but the Burnett titles are a great step to brand recognition (along with their previous re-print of John D. MacDonald's On the Make). 

 Raoul Walsh and John Huston (sort of) did it, so now you can agree whole-heartedly with Viscosity director Paul von Stoetzel and Fuckload of Scotch Tape director Julian Grant that OOTG is one of the best places to go for original film content. Speaking of the dirty duo, it sounds like Julian and Paul are starting a mutual admiration society, which I will definitely be a due-paying member of, as I admire both those nutjobs. Sounds like Viscosity will be included on the DVD release of Fuckload of Scotch Tape as bonus material, which has me reaching for a hankie - of joy.

So, Gutter Books have got Burnett, New Pulp Press have got Gil Brewer, Mulholland is digitizing Jim Thompson and Open Road Media is dishing out Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, but y'know who continues to unearth some of the best unjustly forgotten crime fiction from the age of pulps? Stark House Press. And they do that shit omnibus style which adds a level to the pulpy essperience. Love you guys for that and for delivering it in print - that still means something to this old fart. Of course, Stark House know their current crime fiction too and they're the ones doing the hell something about getting new Charlie Stella into your hands. Johnny Porno was their very first PBO and this summer they're pushing out a big steaming number two - Rough Riders. Fighting the good fight. Snubnose is proceeding with their mostly e-book press with forays into print which are good lookin (got myself Keith Rawson's Laughing at Dead Men and R. Thomas Brown's Hill Country). How good lookin and what could have been? Check out this gallery of cover images.

Barry Graham knows his shit. He recites it.
Scott Montgomery (legendary taste-maker and host and driving force behind N@B-Austin interviewed me and Peter Rozovsky 'bout the history of the event in this piece, and I took the opportunity to name-drop some really excellent  writers and readers we've hosted in our series - but, jeez, I was reading recaps of the Austin event by Peter FarrisBarry Graham and Jesse Sublett - damn, wish I coulda been there. Sounds like they had a blast.

This week Byron Kerman interviewed me and Scott Phillips separately for an upcoming article about N@B. Byron asked me about the forthcoming second volume of the Noir at the Bar anthology and any standout offerings I might want to draw attention to. Absolutely, hey Byron you gotta read Caleb J. Ross's  The Lipidopterist or Erik Lundy's Shootout at the K-Y Corral or Jane Bradley'The One Good Thing. I mean, I can't wait for folks to get a gander at the fuckin' scope of this thing. But as the interview went on, more and more stories came to mind and I'd interject them - just fling them at Byron, go read this now - until I'd damn near mentioned every piece I've thus far received. One of them that I know I forced upon him was Cooking With Rachael Ray by John Rector. What a fucked up piece that one is. Hmmm. Maybe that's one to open the book with. Got to start thinking of an order for this beast.

Get ready for the blurbedy on Vol. 2, too. Big thanks to folks like Vicki Hendricks, Tom Franklin, Josh Bazell, Jason Starr, Victor Gischler and John Connolly for responding so quickly and enthusiastically to our humble requests to be berated and belittled. You guys rock.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ace is Aces

Someday there will be a time-lapse montage of N@B spreading across the country like mold on fruit and it will seem like it all happened so fast, but I'd like to take a moment and contemplate that in the space of three weeks, there have (or will have) been three N@B events gone down that I haven't attended. N@B-LA is robust and healthy and hosted Brett Battles, Eric Stone, Fingers Murphy, Lisa Brackmann, (Aldo?) The Mystery Dawg and even a short film by co-host Eric Beetner. Tonight Austin holds another of their N@B events hosted by Scott Montgomery (and Harry Hunsicker? - maybe? Harry, you still involved?) and check out this line-up: Jonathan Woods, Barry Graham and Peter Farris. Shitsnacks, that's strong. And Sunday N@B-NYC burst its cherry all over the Big Apple with a dozen hardcore hardboiled stylists: Jason Starr, Wallace Stroby, Johnny Shaw, Richie Narvaez, Justin Porter, Thomas Pluck, Jen Conley, Jonathan Hayes, Cindy Rosmus, Matthew Melina and Todd Robbins (not to be confused with the similarly monikered -) co-hosts Todd Robinson and Glenn Gray. Mr. Robinson also had a big announcement he saved for the event - the re-opening of Thuglit. There's been a bullet-sized hole in my heart since they've been away. Welcome back, Thugs.

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending the very first screening of the film Fuckload of Scotch Tape in Chicago. Man, what a blast. I got to hang with folks like Kent Gowran, Daniel O'Shea, Kevin Lynn Helmick and Robb Olson & Livius Nedin. Them twos also dedicated an episode of their Booked Podcast to my stories A Fuckload of Scotch Tape and Mahogany & Monogamy, and Julian Grant's film adaptation of them. Big thanks to R&L for shining a kindly spotlight on those works. Go forth and check out the episode - both Julian and I are interviewed.

Tonight I'm gonna catch Ace Atkins on his St. Louis stop and today at Ransom Notes, I'm prepping anybody unfamiliar with his work for the event, while earlier in the week I gave a list of my most anticipated books of the summer. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's a Shame About Ray

About two years ago, a letter arrived from a solemn young Vassar lady telling me how much she enjoyed reading my experiment in spacey mythology, The Martian Chronicles.

But, she added, wouldn’t it be a good idea, this late in time, to rewrite the book inserting more women’s characters and roles?

A few years before that I got a certain amount of mail concerning the same Martian book complaining that the blacks in the book were Uncle Toms and why didn’t I “do them over”?

Along about then came a note from a Southern white suggesting that I was prejudiced in favor of the blacks and the entire story should be dropped.

Two weeks ago my mountain of mail delivered forth a pipsqueak mouse of a letter from a well-known publishing house that wanted to reprint my story “The Fog Horn” in a high school reader.

In my story, I had described a lighthouse as having, late at night, an illumination coming from it that was a “God-Light.” Looking up at it from the viewpoint of any sea-creature one would have felt that one was in “the Presence.”

The editors had deleted “God-Light” and “in the Presence.”

Some five years back, the editors of yet another anthology for school readers put together a volume with some 400 (count ‘em) short stories in it. How do you cram 400 short stories by Twain, Irving, Poe, Maupassant and Bierce into one book?

Simplicity itself. Skin, debone, demarrow, scarcify, melt, render down and destroy. Every adjective that counted, every verb that moved, every metaphor that weighed more than a mosquito--out! Every simile that would have made a sub-moron’s mouth twitch--gone! Any aside that explained the two-bit philosophy of a first-rate witer-lost!

Every story, slenderized, starved, bluepenciled, leeched and bled white, resembled every other story. Twain read like Poe read like Shakespeare read like Dostoevsky read like –in the finale- Edgar Guest. Every word of more than three syllables had been razored. Every image that demanded so much as one instant’s attention—shot dead.

Do you begin to get the damned and incredible picture?

How did I react to all of the above?

By “firing” the whole lot.

Be sending rejection slips to each and every one.

By ticketing the assembly of idiots to the far reaches of hell.

The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Italian/Octogenarian/Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women’s Lib/Republican, Mattachine/Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of an author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.

Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the libraries closed forever.

“Shut the door, they’re coming through the window, shut the window, they’re coming through the door,” are the words to an aold song. They fit my life-style with newly arriving butcher/censors every month. Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubbyhole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn Del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.

A final test for old Job II here: I sent a play, Leviathan 99, off to a university theater a month ago. My play is based on the “Moby Dick” mythology, deicated to Melville, and concerns a rocket crew and a blind space captain who venture forth to encounter a Great White Comet and destroy the destroyer. My drama premieres as an opera in Paris this autumn. But, for now, the university wrote back that they hardly dared do my play—it had no women in it! And the ERA ladies on campus would descend with ballbats if the drama department even tried!

Grinding my bicuspids into powder, I suggested that would mean, from now on, no more productions of Boys in the Band (no women), or The Women (no men). Or, counting heads, male and female, a good lot of Shakespeare that would never be seen again, especially if you count lines and find that all the good stuff went to the males!

I wrote back maybe they should do my play one week, and The Women the next. They probably thought I was joking, and I’m not sure that I wasn’t.

For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-convervationist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my “Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” so it shapes “Zoot,” may the belt unravel and the pants fall.

For, let’s face it, digression is the soul of wit. Take philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton or Hamlet’s father’s ghost and what stays is dry bones. Laurence Sterne said it once: Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold eternal winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the writer—he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the appetite to fail.

In sum, do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung-deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.

All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It’s my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset I’ve won or lost. At sunrise, I’m out again, giving it the old try.

And no one can help me. Not even you.

- Ray Bradbury 1979