Saturday, November 30, 2013

Peckerwood Has Arrived

Hey, Peckerwood is out now. Lemme introduce you to my novel. Here's the jacket copy...

Assault, armed robbery, and the occasional blackmail: life is pretty damn good for Terry Hickerson. He's got a dog, a best friend, enough cash to get him drunk, and a teenaged son to carry him home. Sure he's a constant pain in the local law's ass, but Sheriff Jimmy Mondale's got enough to worry about, what with his estranged daughter on a tear, and the District Attorney being onto his partnership with local ex-biker, meth kingpin, and tackle shop owner Chowder Thompson. When tragedy hits their small town of Spruce, Missouri, Terry's peckerwood bullshit will push the three of them into a volatile whirlwind complete with bullets, bodies, and broken bones.


“Peckerwood is intensely original and harrowing country noir. Ayres delivers sharp-edged prose that lands like a knife under the ribs.” – Dennis Tafoya

“A masterpiece of dirty, down-low rural noir. Read it and sink a little further into the muck.” – Scott Phillips

“Some people find comfort in religion, booze, sex, drugs. I don’t judge. But I find comfort in Jedidiah Ayres.” – Benjamin Whitmer

“Jedidiah Ayres combines a crooked world view and a dark turn of mind with a genuine, increasingly rare pulse of hu- manity to create stories that stand apart.” – Sean Doolittle

“One of the most innovative crime fiction writers currently on the scene.” – LitReactor

Buy it, if you're inclined to, from...

Subterranean Books (or your favorite indy store)


Barnes & Noble

Good, now buy it again.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

17 Shades of Gray

I knew I really liked the work of Glenn Gray. I was introduced to his stuff as it was published alongside my own pieces going back about five years, and I found his to be an exciting and disgusting voice in crimey/horrory fiction. I'd read most of the stories included in his collection The Little Boy Inside before the book came out, but nothing, not reading any one or three or five of them spread out over time, not meeting him in person or having a few close encounters of GGG kind, could prepare me for the impact of reading his collected work. I didn't realize just how sharp and precise a thing it is that he's got going for him until it was in front of me bound as a singular work.

Every story informs and bolsters the others and the swings from horrific to hilarious and heartbreaking are astonishing. Thematically, they resonate clearly and in spooky harmony. Dude's scope goes way past crime fiction, horror or shock. It's got heart. It's got brains. It's got balls.

And it's got shit. Lots of shit and bile and blood and about fifty shades of mucous. I once heard Glenn call his stuff 'medical thrillers' when asked by a publisher what he wrote. Don't worry, I slapped him hard right there and jumped in. I told that fucking middle of the road publisher that he couldn't handle Glenn, that what he was picturing when Glenn (hopefully fucking with him, right buddy?) told him he wrote 'medical thrillers' was not going to be anywhere near the reality of the delivered goods. The guy seemed intrigued, but I told him to go back to his Robin Cook and Michael Palmer stuff and call back if he digs Josh Bazell and David Cronenberg, but otherwise, hit the road.

So, I like to think that I single-handedly kept Glenn from a lucrative publishing deal with McBland & Dull. You're welcome, man.

But hey, that's where Stona Fitch and The Concord ePress stepped in. If you read this blog and you've never read Glenn Gray, you're depriving yourself of a memorable and unique reading experience. And even if you've read the good doctor in pieces, you owe it to yourself to read them collected and in stereo. Even long-time fans will be surprised at where this book takes them (there are several brand new stories included here - just wait). It'll blow your mind. Not just your chunks.

Which it will, definitely.

It's gross, but it's so much more than that. It's ornately gross. It's deliciously disturbing. There's a special skill set that Gray possesses to bring the most awful experiences of the human body to life in a way that goes beneath the flesh to the psyche and flicks your primal-fear bean like nothing. Extremes, yes, but with sleights of phrasing and a keen intuition which he applies for maximum wallop and lingering after-tastes that are sweet, sour and melancholic.

Did I mention that this edition is also illustrated? Beautifully, eerily, hauntingly illustrated by artist Stephen Fredette who has framed each story with images that suggest and tease and draw out the connections contained therein. The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone.

(Check out this episode of Booked where they discuss The Little Boy Inside)

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Epic 3-Week(end) Promotional Tour For Peckerwood, the Book You Can Not Yet Buy!

Sheesh, what a fucking blast the last three weeks have been. You may think me foolish to embark on a book tour without a book, but that's how I roll. Though my novel Peckerwood was not yet available to purchase, it sure as shit was okay to talk about, which, come to think of it, may have been a good idea. I probably mentioned it once or twice on my journeys, but, truth be told, I was mostly having too good a time to exercise my considerable self-promotion muscles. So now let the self-serving begin.

First stop on the Noirvember to Remember tour was Minneapolis for N@B-TC where I finally touched hairy palms with Viscosity director Paul von Stoetzel. The event on Saturday night was a special unveiling of the teaser trailer Paul shot for his upcoming feature adaptation of Anthony Neil Smith's Hogdoggin' (and here is said trailer) and I was pleased to be introduced to producers Bridget Cronin and Chris Bueckers (who popped up as a character in Dennis Tafoya's new one, The Poor Boy's Game - yeah, I read it, yeah, kiss my ass, world) as well as the stars (wrestlers!) Scott Brault and Rob Ivy, N@B-TC community members (the lovely) Kristi Belcamino, (the robust) Dan Malmon and my hero (the handsome) Peter Dragovich, aka The Nerd of Noir.

John Kenyon kicked off the evening with his friggin frig-fest of a fracked-up story Cut (the titular uh, cut from his collection The First Cut and previously published in Blood, Guts & Whiskey). Paul turned to me later that evening and said, 'I love that story. I've read it before.' Yes, Paul's literacy was a surprise to me too, but not his taste, or lack of, friends, he likes the good/bad shit. (Perhaps the fact that I'm deducing literacy from 'reading' Thuglit is an event worth pondering - now, if the rag determining literacy's threshold was say... Grift, I'd be a little more comfortable.)

I followed Kenyon with my first public reading of my short story Hoosier Daddy. Have you, perhaps, read this story yourself? It's a tad... gross. How gross, exactly? Well, I'm pleased to report that it (or me) warranted walkouts from some in the crowd. This, this is a badge of honor, kids. I've been trying like hell for nearly five years of N@B events to do this, and it's finally happened. Thank you, Minnesota Nice for acknowledging my Missouri Norm.

Next up Anthony Neil Smith read the scene from Hogdoggin' that the teaser trailer focuses on. Billy Lafitte waking up in considerable discomfort in a dirty room while his captors argue over what to do with him now that one really went too far. A bit of an overreaction the fallout in flesh Billy discovers while they converse. You know the one. If you don't, you should. In fact, you should read all the Lafitte books pronto.
Neil Smith and Big Petey D.

More notable events of my time in Minneapolis - I met the inspirations for several of my, um, fictions on the set of a locally produced film. First up, my earliest and arguably deepest celebrity crush Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert whom I had the opportunity to discuss crime fiction with briefly and inadvertently insult one of her good friends, and whom apparently doesn't wear pig tails any more... sigh. Still mighty purty, though.

Add a, less eventful than I always imagined it would be, brief encounter with Jeannie herself, Barbara Eden, from I Dream of Jeannie, and you've taken a big step toward fulfilling my life goals. Next up on my wish list of dream encounters: Erin Gray, Lynda Carter, Ann-Margret and (I understand you'll have to work up some serious time-travel mojo here, but it's my fantasy, okay?) Elizabeth Montgomery.

Minneapolis tales do not end there though. Sunday night Paul took me to the Twin Cities Horror Festival where a one act play he directed was debuting. Trust and Obey, written by Tim Uren and inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's The Temple, and Stephen King-Hall's Diary of a U-Boat-Commander. Good shit, that. Minimal sets and maximal actoring from the cast (which included Shad Cooper of Viscosity infamy) cast a haunty atmosphere that would surely agitate even your below-average claustrophobe.

The next day I sat in the airport for several hours after being bumped from my flight home in the company of some damn good books. In fact, my extended layover gave me the opportunity to read Dennis Tafoya's The Poor Boy's Game off my computer machine - a rare feat, tho one I was all too happy to attempt (and accomplish!) for this book. Hot damn, more on this book in later posts.
With Tim Hennessy, Frank Bill and Frank Wheeler Jr.
Noir Trek continued the next weekend at Murder & Mayhem in Muskego just outside of Milwaukee, where I joined twenty-some authors of criminal fictions in a weekend of copious consumptions, ego-polishing and general jackassery in the name of the Crimespree family and Jon and Ruth Jordan in particular.

My first trip to Castle Crimespree commenced with the chauffeur stylings of (Dreamy-Eyes) Tim Hennessy and an amazing Milwaukee lunch with Tim and Harry Hunsicker where we discussed, among other things, the advisability of funding your fetish-purposed amputation by robbing liquor stores. Afterward I got the castle tour and imbibed more of Milwaukee's best (not Milwaukee's Best) and an introduction to more swell people as well caught up with N@B pals Dan O'Shea, Sean Doolittle, Frank Bill, Frank Wheeler Jr., Duane Swierczynski and Hilary Davidson.

Saturday I took part (a small part) in a panel Tim ruled over and got my name said in the company of Frank & Frank, Megan Abbott, Reed Farrel Coleman and Hilary. It was fun. I spent the rest of the daytime hours chatting with great folks and signing books (when I was pretending to be Marcus Sakey or Greg Hurwitz - hahahahaha good luck selling THOSE on eBay, ladies!), and that evening doing more of the same.
Good times and conversations especially with Kieran Shea, Chris F. Holm, Frank and Marie, Frank and Jenn, Tim and Carrie, Rod and Judy, Dan and Kate, Mike and Tess, Alex Segura, Jen Jordan, Dave Wahlman, Jeremy Lynch as well as a special quick chat with Benjamin LeRoy.

And keeping with the Minneapolis streak of random celebrity encounters, I shared an awkward moment with Danny Trejo in a Milwaukee bar. Put a fork in me.

See, I'm not done.

Next up on the Noir is Hell tour was Indianapolis for the inaugural N@B-Indy at Fountain Square Brewing Company - and man, did I have some awesome beers there. This one was a blast. Clayton Lindemuth kicked off the evening with a reading from Cold, Quiet Country. You need to read this book, kids. Pick it up now so you'll be ready for his next novel The Eyes of the Wicked Shall Fail next year.

Next up, James Ward Kirk sidestepped straight-up crime fiction with the horror-tinged selection from his considerable catalog of scary shit. Robb Olson and Livius Nedin from Booked were onhand clandestinely recording all this shit and have just put the first of four episodes chronicling the event on the web. Episode one is here featuring Clayton and James.

Next up, I ripped the microphone straight out of the stand and read an excerpt from Peckerwood previously published in Thuglit as 1998 Was a Bad Year and currently available in my collection A F*ckload of Shorts. Sean Leonard, who was in attendance, told me that he was reading Peckerwood currently and I cut out a couple of spoilers just for him, though, I think he was plenty pissed at me anyway. Sorry, man, characters die.

Immediately afterward I got to introduce our host for the evening, and the guy who made it all happen, CJ Edwards. He read his story in English even though its first publication was in Russian (in a Ukrainian issue of Esquire magazine, no less). I understand that it'll finally be published in English in the next issue of Plots With Guns, and of course you'll be able to hear it on Booked sometime this week, but let me just say that the description of the K-9 unit chomping into the dude in the bathtub... made an impression.

As is wont to happen every time these guys share a bill, David James Keaton followed Officer Edwards with a cop-baiting selection from his collection Fish Bites Cop. Did I brag yet about having written the introduction to this book? Well, I did and you can't take that away from me. If you've never read Nine Cops Killed For a Goldfish Cracker, do so now - it'd make Ice-T blush.

After Keaton, because we made Keaton follow him in St. Louis, Les Edgerton brought some serious weight to the proceedings with his story The Mockingbird Cafe from his collection Monday's Meal. I see that New Pulp Press is releasing Edgerton's The Bitch in paperback early next year. You, my friends, should put your hands all over that one as soon as you can.

And closing out the evening, mopping up all the spilled class and toasting crass with a goblet of fire, Scott Phillips brought it all down with a tasty, tasteless passage from Rake - reminding us all that nobody crosses lines like our hero.

Afterward I grabbed fish tacos and black beans (not metaphors) with Robb, Livius and Scott before driving home with the spectral image of Caleb J. Ross leering at me from the passenger seat like Lawrence Tierney in The Devil Thumbs a Ride (don't ask me, ask him how he got there). I drove through some pretty severe weather, pulled over around one in the morning to nap in the parking lot of a Best Western, and arrived home just after four in the morning. Kind of a blast. I want to go again.

So that's my story. I will let you know when Peckerwood is available and get you stoked for N@B-STL on December 7th with William Boyle, Jake Hinkson, J. David Osborne, Ande Parks, senor Phillips and myself. It's gonna be huge.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Other Apolis

See you in Indianapolis Saturday, right? You're going to be there to hear me'n Les Edgerton, CJ Edwards, David James Keaton, James Ward Kirk, Clayton Lindemuth, Dan O'Shea, Scott Phillips and maybe even more read you some really unsettling bedtime stories, right? Don't worry, there'll be a selection of great alcoholic beverages available at Fountain Square Brewing Co. for which to forget all the awful we're going to plant in your brainpan.

Here's hoping we disturb the eternal rest of John Dillinger and Kurt Vonnegut!

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 in Flicks: October

Boardwalk Empire Season 3 - Terence Winter - The body count in the third season of Boardwalk Empire is staggering. If your favorite characters survived the second season, I offer you zero guarantee they'll still be around at the beginning of the fourth (which, no, I haven't seen, so don't spoil it for me). Let 'em talk about Game of Thrones for it's violence and willingness to dispose of cast (for which, I mean, God bless George R.R. Martin), for my money it's the prohibition gangster drama that's hitting me harder, and without Breaking Bad around any longer, it's not got any serious challengers for the title 'my favorite crime show'. First - it's gorgeous, just cry-making beautifully designed and shot with sweeping cinematic style. Every fucking time somebody walks down the boardwalk, I have to conceal a raging hard-on that comes on so fast, I get light-headed. Second, it's great writing, acting and story-telling. I loved the addition of Stephen Root's fox-sly, silver-tounged Gaston Means and Bobby Cannavale's super-touchy psycho Gyp Rosetti to the volatile mix of egos, already crowding the gates of hell with fistfuls of money and balls inflated with ambition. I dug the development of characters like Richard Harrow (I'd put my money on Jack Huston in a badass-off against any cast member of Sons of Anarchy), Gillian Darmody and Eli Thompson. The arc of Nelson Van Alden grew even stranger and I expect great things from his pre-destined path. On the other hand, there was a Chalky-sized hole in my experience. I greatly missed Michael K. Williams' presence for a good deal of the season, but it looks like the fourth is set to be mighty White. Now, if Paz de la Huerta and William Forsythe could do a project together while we wait for Michael Pitt's performance as Jack Black in the Robinson Devor directed, Barry Gifford (partially) scripted adaptation of You Can't Win, I'd be pleased. So fucking many standout moments in this season - Bugsy Siegel's hit on the Rosetti crew, Nucky and Eddie's hotel standoff and escape, Chalky and Dunn shake down Eddie Cantor, Gillian picks up a soldier, Michael Shannon loses his shit, Nucky's late-nite special delivery, Richie Harrow's rampage... it goes on, but the Best Moment: Nucky and Owen finally catch up to the tough and resourceful kid who's been ripping them off and before they can kill him, the three of them have to hide from an army of bloodthirsty pro-hees raiding the house.

The Counselor - Ridley Scott - The fuck? Been seeing a lotta shit flung at this flick based on an original screen play by Cormac McCarthy, and it confounds me if it doesn't exactly surprise me. This is easily the best thing Scott has made since... Blade Runner? But I get it - it's not a typical slick action thriller. Nope, it's a morality tale spun of bloody thread spooling from the pit of iniquity the United States has dug along its southern border and enjoys a staggering general ignorance of. But it's neither our collective, complicit innocence nor the horror of the ultimate free-market capitalism that are the real focus of the flick. Michael Fassbender plays the titular Texas lawyer looking to invest a considerable sum of money in an illegal, but highly profitable enterprise - just once. The first half of the film consists more or less of a series of characters trying to talk him out of his decision, and the second half concerns the fallout from his folly. Fassbender's counselor knows his way around, in and out of national legalities, but he's completely unprepared for the taint and infection of moral rot. It's not structured like a thriller, but it's far more thrilling than even good, slick, action fare like The Raid as far as I'm concerned. It's talky. Sure, but so the hell is everything Quentin Tarantino's ever made (or David Mamet or adaptations of George V. Higgins or uh, Shakespeare or friggin Richard Linklater) - when the talking is this well done, we sit back and appreciate it, right? Similar in plot to McCarthy's No Country For Old Men, it's closer to Traffic in feel and despite (or probably because of the) explicitness of the foreshadowing, the downward spiral of the characters is riveting and just fucking electrically sad. Plus, everything's a metaphor! There's the one between your legs, the one between our countries.... Diamonds! Sex! Sin! um, Cheetahs! Which is not to say it's a flawless film. I'm not going to throw any stones at Cameron Diaz, but her scene in the confessional seemed indulgent and unnecessary (not to mention its greater sin - completely wasting Edgar Ramirez's presence in this film), Fassbender's on and off again accent is a bit forced and it'd be nice to have a transcript of all of Javier Bardem's lines 'cause I'm sure they're biutiful. That said, the action sequences we do get employ Scott's considerable talents to high purpose. I'd like to take a moment to consider the emergent path of Brad Pitt too. This dude is quietly stacking up a Bounty-strong portfolio of serious-minded, sincerely thrilling crime pictures (add to this one The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Killing Them Softly - neither one of those particularly critically adored either). Alongside Casey Affleck, Ryan Gosling and Matthew McConaughey (gulp) I'm finding myself surprised to be anticipating their forthcoming choice of projects. WTF? Best Moment: The final hit of the movie is as precisely staged, dreadfully anticipated and horrifically paid off as any damn thing The Godfather gave us.

Joint Body - Brian Jun - Netflix recommended this one to me because I watched Coastlines and The Missing Person, and because, yeah, I had, and um, really liked both, I gave it a shot and found myself immediately drawn in to this unassuming, melancholy crime-inflected drama. A pitch-perfect Mark Pellegrino plays Nick, a parolee trying to make a new life for himself when he's cut off from his wife and child. He's working a menial job and living in a shitty apartment (or hotel?) where he's just reached out to a possible kindred soul - a woman (Alicia Witt) stringing her life along night to night dancing in a sleazy joint and trying to retain her own soul by taking care of her infirm neighbors. One night she's attacked by an unstable and fixated former acquaintance and Nick intervenes with tragic results. He wakes up in the hospital wounded and most likely heading back to prison unless she'll stick her neck out for him. The rest of the film is these two very damaged people circling each other warily deciding exactly how much weight they can lean on the other. Two people crossing a frozen lake metaphor together, gingerly, sometimes aggressively, obviously in need of the other, but heartbreakingly and convincingly unwilling to completely trust the other. It's like a Tom Waits song on screen or maybe a Charles Bukowski story from the sweeter pole of his work. Not perfect - the tone warbles a bit and a scene or two wander out onto flimsy limbs - but, like Coastlines and The Missing Person, an under-exposed crime flick deserving of a much larger audience. This is exactly the kind of adult fare I wish were more prevalent today. Best Moment: Nick and Michelle show up unexpectedly at his brother's home.

Molly Maguires - Martin Ritt - Sean Connery and Richard Harris in a good old fashioned mustache-off is all the pitch needed to sell me on watching this terrific period flick about an undercover cop infiltrating an un-sanctioned arm of a labor union working the coal mines of Pennsylvania and given to blowing shit up. Told with the laconic assuredness of a film-maker holding the goods, it's a pleasure to sit and absorb the rich details and dreamy eyes of the whole damn cast while a proper scaffold is built and enough rope doled out to hang us all. By the time the narrative plays out we've earned our heartbreak and anger alike and can sink into a bottle, a melancholia or a rousing ballad or bar song with satisfactory conviction. Best Moment: the gorgeous, languid, all-encompassing tracking shots of work in the mine tell a hundred smaller stories, but the final scene between Harris and Connery was a true emotional climax.

Redemption - Steven Knight - How big a fan am I of Knight's previous work in London's immigrant-underground and crime world, Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises? Huge fan, if you haven't been reading this blog long. Huge. So, when news of Knight's directorial debut set in that familiar milieu arrived, I near crapped myself in anticipation. When news of Jason Statham's casting in said project arrived, I cooled slightly - not because I don't like Statham, but because he's one of those actors whose gravity tends to dominate a film and could easily overwhelm the spin of a delicate solar system, not necessarily designed for his typical flavor of pic (see Blitz, see Parker). Did that happen here or was Knight able to employ some kinda judo move to use the considerable propulsion of Statham's asteroid to his own ends? Both and neither. Those attracted to this flick by trailers featuring Statham beating the crap out of some dudes in the street will probably be disappointed by the relative flash-less violence of this drama and those looking for the quiet moral gravity of Chiwetel Ejiofor or Viggo Mortensen to anchor the story will probably find it slight and actiony. The result is both the least successful of Knight's crime trio and the most successful side-step from action hero status of Statham's post-Transporter career. Statham plays Joey, a psychologically damaged soldier hiding out on the streets of London, abusing his body with substances in order to numb the abuse his mind is heaping on his soul with guilt, regret and fear. As must happen in these types of the hero's potential/nobility is awakened by the plight of the downtrodden and he dishes out some brief brutality in support of the wretched he's been living among. Then, anonymity blown, he runs for his life until he literally stumbles into someone else's. He hides out in the flat of a high-end and in-demand photographer out of the country for a few months (a fact conveniently revealed by a fairly irresponsible answering machine message). He cleans himself up, dresses sharp, and gets a job in a kitchen. One night when the mob-run restaurant has some rowdy guests, his soldier's training kicks in and he brutalizes the troublemakers. Duly impressed, the gangster/restaurateur puts his skills to use as an enforcer and collector and Joey begins to make some good money. Money that he immediately begins shoveling toward the homeless he lived among before in the form of better food in the soup-lines and financial aid for Cristina, the nun (Agata Buzek) who ministers to them. The violence in his bones producing mercy on the street is a bit heavily-handled, and the not-quite romance and important conversations between Joey and Cristina is awkward, but these elements don't quite outweigh the reservoir of good-will the film is drawing from. Statham, for his part, seems eager to and capable of moving into weightier fare and sends his macho image to deflation taking on the disguise of gay-lover of the photographer - he walks around the apartment surrounded by photos of nude photos of muscular men and even attends an art opening of masculine-erotic material with the nun and apologizes "I'm sorry, I didn't realize there would be so many penises" - a line he manages to find humor in (and reveal character with) without becoming the rim-shot at the end of a crass joke (though, he doesn't quite dodge a similar pratfall required by the script when an attractive woman inquires whether he's quite sure he's not bi-sexual, "I think I might have a thing for nuns" or something along those lines). And there are some moments of righteous violence. That's a good thing. Best Moment: people in a box.

Reykjavik-Rotterdam - Oskar Jonasson - Kristofer (Baltasar Kromakur - the director of this year's 2 Guns btw) is an honest man finally. A little stretch in the cooler'll do that for a guy with family aspirations. He used to be a damn good smuggler, but got his ass caught and now that he's out is just concentrating on paying the bills like any old square in order to keep his wife and kids fed and with him. But when his deadbeat brother in law gets in over his head with some dangerous gangsters, Kristofer must once again join the crew of a ship and smuggle drugs! The captain of the ship doesn't want him on board, the crew are excited as hell, his wife doesn't know what's going on and his best friend is trying to steal his family from him while he's away. He's fucked. Or is he? Don't forget kids, just because he's been retired doesn't mean he's not a wiley pro. Of course, shit doesn't go smooth at all and he's going to need a helluva lotta things to go right to balance out everything that goes wrong. About twenty minutes into this one, I had the feeling I'd seen it before, but I hadn't. What I had watched was the English-language remake, Contraband from 2012 (one of the annual January crime flicks featuring Mark Wahlberg). "Oh, good," I thought, "the original is going to fix the problems the Hollywood remake had." Only... nope. It's still got sky-high willing suspension of disbelief issues and some logic shit near the end that bugs me. Buuuut, it's got... something. I dunno. I dig the soggy, Icelandic vibe. I love the hell out of the shipping setting and the cast has got appeal. Still, you gotta hand it to Hollywood when making just-go-with-it kinetic, escapist fare and Contraband prolly has the edge here - it felt like the best elements of 24 on the big screen (even though it blew its chance at being really memorable in the third act - as does the original version, though, not quite as annoyingly as the American version). Best Moment: Iris locks the door.
Shadow Dancer - James Marsh - Collette (Andrea Riseborough), a young woman in Ireland whose family has suffered the ravages of the troubles, plants a bomb in a London subway station and is immediately arrested by MI5. Mac (Clive Owen) is the intelligence agent who uses her young son as leverage to turn her into an informant (chiefly against her radicalized brothers Aiden Gillen and Domhnall Gleeson - yeah, from that lineage). After helming heavy-hitting shit like The King and Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 you think there was any chance I was going to pass up this offering from director Marsh? Well, I wasn't. And tho, not as devastating as either the other pictures, it is a nice exercise in tension and pacing, even if slight in comparison. Best Moment: Connor gets questioned.

Sons of Anarchy season 5 - Kurt Sutter - Soooo, I see that my earlier prediction/prescription for the terminus of this series will definitely not be coming to pass. That said, season five continues season four's upward trajectory for the quality of the show. These guys are shitty, shitty human beings and it feels like that elephant has finally been addressed. Now, if we're all done pulling punches to artificially extend the life of this show, let the pure nastiness begin, please. Great start with the vengeance Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) levels on Tig and the Sons for the death of his daughter in season 4. Go on to the willingness to sacrifice crucial characters' lives for the sake of upping the ante... oh wait. Kinda pulled a punch, there didn't you? Aaaand, you did it again. Well, shit. Ah hell, there's still enough wild ass stuff going on to keep me tuning in, and each season they seem to add guest stars to the cast mix that add a lot. Season five's newbies include Jimmy Smits and Donal Logue - who's been set up to be the chief antagonist of season six (which gives me hope - though, I have the feeling I'm going to be rooting for him against SAMCRO). Best Moment: Walton Goggins makes a memorable cameo as a tranny hooker.

Steel City - Brian Jun - Even less a traditional crime flick than writer/director Jun's Joint Body, but still in the sweet spot of punishment and crime that I'm sensitive to, Steel City is another moody drama about a family with its share of guilt and dysfunction and a young son (Thomas Guiry - yeah, that kid from The Sandlot) at a critical juncture of his life. His father is on the verge of being sent to prison for several years for a drunk driving incident that took a woman's life. He can't seem to hold down even the shittiest of service jobs. His girlfriend is not only heavier than he'd like her to be, she's also Mexican. The house he shared with his father is being repossessed. His brother is flushing his family down the toilet. His mother's new husband won't lend him money, but just might be able to help him get onto the police force. And his uncle is a real piece of work. Watching Guiry at the center of the picture being tossed about by the forces of life, it's clear that he has not decided who he wants to be, and our investment in his precarious position is largely up to the supporting cast to color him in and help us see him the way that they do. Which is good, because the supporting cast is particularly strong. John Heard, America Ferrera, Clayne Crawford, Laurie Metcalf and especially Raymond J. Barry all give form to the formless and color to the canvas left desperate but empty in the middle. Best Moment: Vic puts PJ in his place.

Wake in Fright - Ted Kotcheff - Gary Bond plays John Grant, a public school teacher held hostage by his government to a post way the hell out in the middle of nowhere is taking a much needed holiday and stays overnight in a small town that seems to be populated entirely by miners and assorted roughnecks looking to blow off steam... forever. At first he feels a little disgust at their lifestyle and after a few drinks decides they're rather amusing and after a few more that they're really possibly onto something and then... Each day dawns harsher than the last as he loses all of his money, his senses and his soul to the hellish hedonism of the place and the skid row philosophizing of an educated man Doc Tydon (Donald Pleasence) who's spell he is increasingly under. A harrowing trip to the edge of the planet and sanity. Self discovery... ain't all it's cracked up to be. Best Moment: the kangaroo slaughter.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Dear Wisconsin,

Thank you for inviting me over for the weekend. Since we've never met before, I thought I'd give you a quick overview of me - my expectations and peccadilloes - to better equip you for making my time amazing.

- I will lunge for your cheese. Don't let me have it. You will feel cheap and used and I'll feel nauseous and not respect you in the morning.

- I will lunge for your beer. Slake away. This may distract me from your smelly, ripe cheese, and will eventually incapacitate my cheese-lunging abilities.

- I only eat yellow M&Ms. I'm assuming this will not be a problem with all the extra Ms flying at M&M in M, but please don't offend me by offering other colors. I will go full-diva.

- I am appearing on a panel with Megan Abbott, Frank Bill, Reed Farrel Coleman, Hilary Davidson and Frank Wheeler Jr. These cats love to answer questions and you should definitely ask away. If you need a ready question to ask, here are a few that I'm confident my compatriots would provide insightful answers to:
"Where do your ideas come from?"
"Do you write in the morning or at night?"
"How many words do you write every day?"
"Do you think genre-writing is real literature?"
"What do you think about kids and these computer books?"
I have nothing to say about any of these topics. Instead, please ask me questions about being tall and handsome. I can answer these. I will be qualified among this company.

- I will have a few books available to purchase. You should buy them all. They make excellent gifts for friends and family members who you wish would not invite you over any more. There are many more friends to be made in the world. Give out my books and cut loose those that are weighing you down.

That's all for now,

Jedidiah Ayres

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Might Be Good... Please Be Good

Four picks that miiiiight be really good. Might not quite belong on this blog's radar (may not be sure-footed on crimey ground - but may tease the genre artfully). Might suck. Please, please... please be good.

Charlie Countryman - d: Frederik Bond, w: Matt Drake

Labor Day - d: Jason Reitman, w: Jason Reitman, Joyce Maynard

All is Bright - d: Phil Morrison w: Melissa James Gibson

Nebraska - d: Alexander Payne w: Bob Nelson

Saturday, November 2, 2013


If you're in or around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area tonight, I will see you at the New Hope Cinema Grill at 8:30 with Anthony Neil Smith, John Kenyon and I will entertain you with live readings and Paul von Stoetzel will unveil the trailer for his adaptation of Neil's novel Hogdoggin'.

Next week: Muskego.
In two weeks: Indianapolis.