Thursday, January 31, 2013

Straight Insider

Been a big week for friends of HBW and N@B. First NBC ordered a pilot for a possible television incarnation of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt's kick-ass supernatural western comic The Sixth Gun. Carlton Cuse's role as executive producer is also exciting news considering that his previous credits include both The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Lost - there's a happy blend of sensibilities to shepherd this adaptation.

In more comic book adaptation news, Matt Kindt's psychic espionage mindfuck - Mind MGMT has been optioned for feature film adaptation by none other than Ridley Scott (as producer). So, go get out your copy of Noir at the Bar Vol. 1 and rub his Spinetingler Award-Winning cover art and say a prayer for a good movie. And if you wanna congratulate him in person... Stay tuned, N@B is not through with his ass. Not by a long shot.

But you know what you can get right the hell now? Anthony Neil Smith's contribution to Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin's Dead Man series, Colder Than Hell was just released this week. And it looks like there'll be brannew Ray Banks soon, only don't let the title fool you, Inside Straight is not actually the Ted Haggard story, but it ought to be pretty twisted anyhow (are you caught up on Matador?). John Hornor Jacobs' YA debut The Twelve-Fingered Boy is also available now and I'm innersted in wrapping a tentacle about that one.

You wants an early peek at Fierce Bitches? You're in luck. It's not available until the end of February, but Pela Via and those brainiacs over at ManArchy Magazine published an excerpt for to whet your appetites and make me fabulously wealthy. Go the hell read now... And leave insightful comments on the use of 2nd-person POV prose. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Killing Them Coldly... Not Particularly Softly

Holy crap, it's N@B time again, kids. And this time around, I'm a pleased little promoter to have a brand new local talent to tout. Clayton Lindemuth's debut novel Cold Quiet Country knocked me sideways, down and nearly knocked me up. It's a nasty slice of rural Wyoming noir in the vein of Tom Franklin and William Gay, and I don't know how it stayed under my radar as long as it did. Radar fucking reprimanded (if you like to eRead 'em it's only 99cents at the moment). Clay will be reading something brutal and beauti - brutiful - at Noir at the Bar, Saturday, March 23...

You're gonna wanna make some room in your social calendar, 'cause not only is Clay going to knock your socks off, but Frank Wheeler Jr. will leave a you a surprise inside (so, careful putting those socks back on). Frank's debut The Wowzer was one of my favorite books of 2012, and if you've not yet made the acquaintance of Deputy Jerry, you damn well oughtta (you'll know him by his trail of dead, and perhaps recognize some of his spiritual ancestors - Jim Thompson's Lou Ford, Nick Corey or hell, Sheriff Bittersmith of Cold Quiet Country).

Couple more readers pending confirmation, but this is going to be a helluva hi-quality event. Get you ass the hell here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dear 2013, Start Already

See what awaits from...

Nicolas Winding Refn - Only God Forgives

Jeff Nichols - Mud

Ariel Vromen - The Iceman

Harmony Korine - Spring Breakers

David M. Rosenthal - A Single Shot (based on the novel by Matthew F. Jones)

Walter Hill - Bullet to the Head

Derek Clanfrance - The Place Beyond the Pines

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Biblical Fury

Oky-doke folks, Crime Factory Books has just posted a link for pre-orders of my new book Fierce Bitches. It's the first in their Single Shot line of novellas, and I'm really honored to be kicking things off. 

Had folks say some really kind things about the book, so far. 

“Powerful stuff. Somewhere between Blood Meridian and Neil Smith’s Hogdoggin’.” — Allan Guthrie
“One of the most beautiful and ambitious pieces of noir I’ve read in a helluva long time.” —
"Some of the bravest fiction I've read in the last ten years." - Kieran Shea
Raw, relentless, and yet somehow redemptive, Fierce Bitches is like a holy rolling apocryphal, apocalyptic Old Testament text set in an unregenerately degenerate Mexico. Nietsche was right: When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back—and Jedidiah Ayres miraculously manages to write about it.  It’s fierce, bitches” — J.I. Baker
“Righteous, phantasmagoric and funny, FIERCE BITCHES delivers a fuckload of biblical fury.” — David Whish-Wilson
“Jedidiah Ayres proves with FIERCE BITCHES that noir has a new prince…” — @OzNoir

So fire up the ol' Paypal account and pre-order yours today... or face a fuckload of biblical fury (I love that line).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Live & Let Die

Something undeniably cool about a great theme song for a spy movie, and while they rarely produce great songs, the James Bond franchise films have given me enough glimpses of the genre's potential (the spy flick theme song genre) to wish somebody would really knock that shit out of the park. Outside of instrumental classics like Peter Gunn and Mission Impossible and the James Bond theme, I can't think of any that have quite nailed it - though yeah, that Jack White/Alicia Keys Another Way to Die song... yeah, that was pretty good.

So, here are a few songs that have officially piqued my interest in generating a spy flick theme song from these particular artists... Until they (never) come, consider this my fake spy flick soundtrack... very wah-wah heavy, I see.

Spoon - The Beast & Dragon, Adored

Portishead - Sour Times - Clearly, the band was going for this vibe anyway. Doesn't matter. I still want to see them matched up to a proper movie.

Radiohead - Punch-Up at a Wedding - This live clip helps me hear the simplicity and drive of the riff that grounds this song. Helpful for listening to a band whose studio efforts can be drowned in layers of production.

The Charlatans UK - Feel Flows

Neko Case - Red Tide

Faith No More - Stripsearch

Also while we're here in Mike Patton territory...

Tomahawk - God Hates a Coward

Grinderman - Mickey Mouse & the Goodbye Man

Elvis Costello - When I Was Cruel - Dunno if E's going for spy-flick vibe or just a Portishead vibe, but I dig it.

Off the top of my head - that's what I got.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild

As if the good people of New Orleans haven't been through enough, Jason Stuart brings N@B to the Crescent City tonight. With him will be Peter Farris, Bill Loehfelm, Kent Westmoreland, Ted O'Brien and Greg Herren. If you're about - N@B-NOLA is here. Punch and pie.

Then, in one week on January 20, N@B-LA is back with Jordan Harper, Anonymous-9, Nolan Knight, Paul Bishop and Tyler Dilts. Go, the fuck, get your mitts on a copy of American Death Songs - I hear that attendees may get a first-look at Midnight Rider - the short film based on Harper's story of the same name - starring Lump from The Lady Killers! Ought to be badass.

One week after that, two nights after he's the cracked belle of the ball at The Mysterious Bookshop for The Hard Bounce release party, Todd Robinson and Glenn Gray bring N@B-NY with... I dunno, but Hilary Davidson has promised that it's gonna rock. BTW - I have it on good authority that the good Dr. Gray has his very own short story collection coming soon. That's gonna be one disgusting motherfucking book. I can't wait.

And while it's not going by the handle Noir at the Bar, GQ & FSG's rhyme-free "Drinking & Entertainment" event featuring  N@B stalwart Frank Bill couldn't be a bad option for your Wednesday night... if you're in New York... And have a ticket.

And if you happen to be down So-Cal way and didn't get your fill in L.A., San Diego gets on board January 31 with Eric Beetner, Aaron Philip Clark, Ed LaValle, Steve Willard and Justin Robinson at Players Sports Bar in cooperation with Mysterious Galaxy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Favorite Crime Flicks of 2012

Here then are my favorite crime flicks (seen) in 2012 - slots 1-10, in alphabetical order.

Headhunters - Morten Tyldum (2011). Expectations (or lack of) working in its favor, exhibit A. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have given it a chance if I wasn't hoping to like it and feeling there was a decent chance I would, but holy crap... I really liked it. Relentless pursuit thriller about an art thief who makes the wrong mark. Really, just poor, poor decision there, pal. Literally goes places you'll not explore in safey-safe, big-budget U.S. productions, and scores major points along the way. Adapted from the novel by Jo Nesbo (whose Fart Powder books, my kids enjoy, btw).

Kill List - Ben Wheatley (2011) The structure and pace of this slow-burner may challenge the average action junky's attention span, but I was riveted from frame one (probably partially due to being primed by Wheatley's previous Down Terrace). Begins as a domestic drama, progresses to a workaday hit man procedural and festers into a horrifying personal investigation and retribution. Imagine starting Faces and finishing Rosemary's Baby (if John Cassavetes illustrations help you).

Killer Joe - William Friedkin (2012) I think we want everybody to get what's coming equally in this skid-mark-row murder comedy. Ah, the half-baked plans of low-rent criminals. I feel like the anti-George Peppard here - I love it when a quick money plan goes to shit. God bless playwright Tracy Letts for delivering the director of some of my all-time favorite flicks a new, provocative muse - Joe is the second Letts/Friedkin collaborative after 2006's Bug.

Killing Them Softly - Andrew Dominik (2012) Forget the allegory, forget the unfortunate title change (WTF was wrong with Cogan's Trade?), forget the accusations of overly-stylized violence - when you do this much right, you can not lose. Has the feel of a George V. Higgins book - long scenes of hypnotically good dialogue, a behind the curtains, de-glamorized peek at the machinations of organized crime (or government - as an AUSA Higgins knew both, after all), and a collection of poor mopes with the fingers of fate up their asses, trying to, just once, make the system work for them. Can't decide what my favorite scene is - Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy sticking up the card game (or any of the scenes of the two of them talking), Ray Liotta paying for it, Mendelsohn and Slaine getting rid of evidence, James Gandolfini giving advice to a hooker, Richard Jenkins pussying out on behalf of the business interests he represents... Fuck it, I love this movie start to finish and can't wait to go again. Dominik is three for three and whatever he does next, count me in.

Looper - Rian Johnson (2012) The year of come-at-you-sideways time travel flicks (also see Safety Not Guaranteed and The Sound of My Voice - which would absolutely have made this list... but just wasn't crimey enough... great flick though, check it out) has a champ here. Straightforward enough for a first-time viewing, generously layered and nuanced for repeat pleasures. In the same blog post that I'm praising Headhunters for going places that big US films won't/can't I give you A-number-one box office star and action movie icon of steely righteousness Bruce Willis murdering children. Holy mother of fuck, I believe I now have an emotional point of reference to appreciate what early viewers of Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time in the West felt when Henry Fonda blew away that kid at the beginning - anything is possible now - we are not safe. Its virtues are legion, but chief among them may be that I just never knew where it was heading - a precious rare experience for somebody who consumes stories at the rate that I do. 

Miss Bala - Gerardo Naranjo (2011) Where Savages exploited the gringo's fear of foreign organized criminal influence and corruption seeping across the pristine border of our lily-white nation of complicit innocents, Miss Bala deals with tragedy and true innocence in the eye of the storm. Putting the casual in casualties, the cold indifference with which a young woman's life is hijacked, exploited and discarded by the forces of ultra-violent commerce and extreme capitalism was inspired by (and liberally expounded upon) the true story of beauty queen Laura Zuniga. The clear eyed straightforward film making approach employed here only heightens this nightmare scenario - surreal and nearly incomprehensible in its dispassionate logic, (even the typically hot-blooded crimes of murder and rape are mechanically and thrill-lessly committed). The heroine is playing for her own survival and that of her family members held hostage while she takes her place as a pawn in a pan-national game of power. Um. Downer. Um. Great though.

Rampart - Oren Moverman (2011) Adapted from a James Ellroy script about an Ellroy-ian cop in L.A. - read bigoted (or, more accurately, acting out of contempt for the notions of corporate politically correct knee-jerk policy), sexually and familially fucked up, corrupt, un-willing, able or inclined to harness his worst impulses, this one seems most poised to be the flick attacked as doddering ride upon an allegorical high horse, but... nope. The true strength of Rampart is its refusal to take at face value the inflammatory antics and claims of Officer Dave 'Date-Rape' Brown, and instead focus on the self-sustained fall-out of his actions. Never an indictment of institutional corruption, fascism, nor a love him/hate him violent cop tale, it's a simply a riveting character study of uncommon resonance. 

The Skin I Live In - Pedro Almodovar (2011) Let us speak clearly. Almodovar is a film maker of vision and talent to rival anyone else working today. His control is absolute and his aim is true. He always makes exactly the picture he intends to. He just rarely makes one that I'm terribly attracted to. But watch out, when his sensibilities align with my own tastes and preferences, it's a mind-blowing experience. Dear Human Centipede, fuck off. This is the picture you never could be, this is The Count of Monte Cristo as medical horror. It gets beneath the er, skin of the thing and violates countless boundaries of good taste with such an exquisite sense of decorum and sumptuous visuals that a repeat viewing would blur the line between hedonist and masochist for me - a line I'll gladly cross for the sheer sensual fuckery going on. Based on the novel Tarantula by Thierry Jonquet

Thin Ice - Jill Sprecher (2011) Expectations (or lack of) working in its favor exhibit B. This one took me completely by surprise, but it's a terrific little noir (even though the ending doesn't deliver the promised goods - the way say Fargo had the sack to). An everyman fucks up a little bit and keeps on going, just swabbing out the whole bowl before he's flushed permanently down the toilet. It's pathetic, loserville shenanigans with a nastily believable edge. The grasping, the dodging, the desperation are all pulled off with the simpering nice guy smile of Greg Kinnear and it makes me wish we'd gotten Dick Van Dyke's seedy side on celluloid - lord knows Fred MacMurray's was worth it - and Billy Crudup gives us a nicely unbalanced menace. This was a damn good picture that has the element of surprise going for it in my case. You? Now you've been hyped. You'll probably hate it.

The Yellow Sea - Hong-jin Na (2010) Not ranking any of the others, but this one was easily my favorite crime flick I saw in 2012. Brutal, beautiful, devastating and dashing (as in heads against rocks), this story of collecting on debts no honest man could pay, will leave you equally pumped and drained. It's got it all - balls to the wall action, desperation so thick and longing so dense you could just about watch it without subtitles. If Ben Gazzara'd had to actually travel to China to kill a bookie, and if he'd had to pack a hatchet instead of a gun... I don't want to give away any more plot than that, just take my word that the story keeps coming and the picture keeps leaping sideways, and you just are not going to be prepared for it.

That's it, that's my rhyme. Take it to the street, beeyaatch. A few notable omissions that I've yet to catch up with: Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths, David Ayer's End of Watch, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty... From what I hear, Nicholas Jarecki's Arbitrage will be uncomfortably up my alley and after Surveillance, I'm certainly interested in giving Jennifer Lynch's Chained a looksee (I'm psyched for A Fall From Grace too... as every St. Louis crime nut ought to be).

Slots 11-20 are listed here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Know Best Sew Fears

You like crime cinema like you should? You'd do well to check out William Boyle and Anthony Moretta's new 70's crime film blog Goodbye Like a Bullet. They've started off strong with examinations of John CassavetesThe Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Ulu Grosbard's Straight Time - adapted from Edward Bunker's No Beast So Fierce. Gooooooood shit.

Though going for more of a grindhouse feel, Julian Grant's latest feature Sweet Leaf has a late-seventies/early-eighties vibe to it. Check out the trailer at Vimeo... I can dig it. If you wanna check out his previous fucked up little low-budget crime flick F*ckload of Scotch Tape as five-minute webisodes, JG is making that available for free at Blip.

Julian's latest short film - That Pale Light in the West - is an adaptation of Nik Korpon's short story (which you can read in his collection Bar Scars... hint, hint), and Nik's waxing magnanimous about me & Jules & F*ckload of Scotch Tape at Spinetingler:

"If you're reading this list and don't know about FLOST and Jed Ayres, you shouldn't be reading this list. You should be buying F*ckload of Shorts and watchig FLOST. If you do know both of them, you know why it's on this list."

Thanks, Nik... and a whole lot of other people too. It's been a good week to be me. My upcoming (February) novella, Fierce Bitches has been getting a few nice notices from: The Nerd of Noir at Spinetingler Magazine, Josh at Just a Guy That Likes To Read and Kieran Shea at Black Irish Blarney. I've also collected some sweet-ass blurbs from the likes of J.I. Baker and David Whish-Wilson (whom Liam Jose got me all hot for - I've just gotta read Line of Sight quick-like).

But, big, fat, sweaty thanks to Keith Rawson who, at LitReactor, put A F*ckload of Shorts alongside Megan Abbott's Dare Me, Jake Hinkson's Hell on Church Street, Grant Jerkins' The Ninth Step and Tom Piccirilli's The Last Kind Words in his Best of the Best: The Genre Edition year-end listiness. That's insanely good company to be keeping, and gotta admit, I feel a bit like the turd in the punch bowl there... still, huge thanks to Keith, a real honor, sir. Mr. K. also included A F*ckload of Shorts on his Spinetingler list, which feels good, but Brian Lindenmuth added my unpublished novel Peckerwood on his. So... thanks, Brian, but sorry, kids.... no chance to read that one anytime soon.

But, hey, go check out that Spinetingler piece, you'll find some damn good crime shit lovingly selected by Brian, Keith, Nerd and R. Thomas Brown. Probably some chunka surprise waiting for you there. I like finding tomorrow's favorites through these typa things. Some N@B folks getting love there too - Kevin Lynn Helmick's Driving Alone, Gordon Highland's Flashover, John Hornor Jacobs' This Dark Earth, Sean Doolittle's Lake Country and N@B-butthole-cousin Kirby Gann's Ghosting also picked up honors.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

American Death Trip Fiction

If you read this blog much then you're most likely already familiar with Jordan Harper's name, and I really don't need to evangelize your ass, but on the off-chance you've not got your brainpan snagged on his particularly jagged brand of badass criminal fiction, here's a tip from the center of my hemorrhaging heart: buy this here story book. American Death Songs will make yur pecker hard.

I first knew Jordan's name as a music critic at a St. Louis Alt-Weekly where I sometimes contributed calendar pieces, but it wasn't until a couple years afterward, when I discovered Thuglit - and the familiarity of his handle led me to read some of his fiction, that it came to mean to me what it does today. Now, when I tell people that Harper is one of my favorite writers working today, I'll have the weight of this book to back me up. And it, the hell, will.

Of course, if you know Jordan's name already, chances are you found it through of great online crime fiction sites like PWG or Thuglit, who both have brand new issues out now. How cool is that for starting off the new year? Time to dust off the revolution, and here's an astonishing development: Thuglit has been revamped and published their third issue in six months the same week Plots With Guns gave us their second in a year. Now, I know it's a pain in the balls getting all that put together, so I'm not further bustin anybodies nuts - I'd simply like to say that it's a helluva nice thing to have Thuglit back.