Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Like Father, Like Son, Like Hell


The Hardboiled Wonderland Film Series at the Maplewood Library in St. Louis is all crime all the time and convening May 4 for a look at James Foley's devastating 1986 crime-family drama At Close Range starring Christopher Walken and Sean Penn as a father and son in fictional roles based on the real father and son antagonists Bruce Johnston Sr. and Jr. respectively.
Penn
Johnston Jr.
Bruce Johnston Jr.'s 1978 testimony helped put his father and uncles in prison for the rest of their lives, but in 2013 was arrested on drug charges that may keep him incarcerated a significant portion of the remainder of his life.
The film is fiction, but after you've seen it take a look at the true story - pretty fuckin close and pretty fuckin awful. Great film though. I hope you'll join me or play along at home.

Here's the schedule for the summer:
MAY 25, 7pm - THIEF (1981) 122 min. James Caan is a successful thief taking down scores in Chicago, and resisting the encroachment of organized crime into his life. The first in a long series of Michael Mann films to explore professionalism in criminality.

JUNE 22, 7pm - TO LIVE & DIE IN L.A. (1985) 116 min. William Petersen is a Secret Service agent hunting murderous counterfeiter Willem Dafoe through the urban jungle of Los Angeles in William Friedkin's kinetic crime thriller based on the novel by Gerald Petievich. Friedkin's west coast companion to The French Connection.
July 13 GET CARTER (1971) - Mike Hodges's adaptation of Ted Lewis's novel Jack's Return Home starring Michael Caine as a mob-enforcer on a personal revenge mission. Iconic gangster tragedy.
August 3 MONA LISA (1986) - Bob Hoskins plays George, a hard man just out of prison trying to get back on his feet and driving for Cathy Tyson, a high class call girl. The two recognize in each other and come to terms with their own status as property of a local gangster (Michael Caine). Directed by Neil Jordan.
August 31 LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS (1998) Guy Ritchie's directorial debut about small time hustlers in over their heads trying to pay off a debt to a ruthless crime boss by moving stolen merchandise announced made waves across the Atlantic and announced the arrival of an exciting new voice in film.
September 14 DIRTY PRETTY THINGS (2002) An undocumented worker (Audrey Tautou) makes a shocking and dangerous discovery while working at a hotel in London's immigrant underground. Vulnerable on every side, she partners with another illegal (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to escape the crosshairs of their employers, the government and a lucrative black market organ trade.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

My Thug Life

Founding editor and publisher Todd Robinson just announced the end of Thuglit for the second time. The first was a year after the release of the third Thuglit print anthology from Kensington Books, Blood, Guts & Whiskey. Before that trio of books the magazine had been 100% digital and equally free of charge, publishing monthly issues of the hardest, nastiest, tastiest tasteless crime fiction I'd ever seen. I discovered TL at the same time as Anthony Neil Smith's (at that point no-longer-publishing, but still web-archived) Plots With Guns, Bryon Querteromous's Demolition and Matthew Louis's Out of the Gutter through the guidance of Michael Langnas at Murdaland magazine as a potential home for the first short story I wrote (as I'd obnoxiously continued to re-submit it to his journal after initial rejections - yeah, plural).

Man oh man oh man did I find some hot new heats. I selected Thuglit as the publication to pursue because of the announcement of the print anthologies coming up. I desperately wanted to be in print and it seemed like my best shot at getting there as PWG had no plans to follow up their print anthology (one of most gorgeous books I've ever held, mind you, impeccably published by Dennis McMillan) with a second.

When my story Politoburg was accepted for the webzine it was a huge boost and when it was selected for the print antho Sex, Thugs and Rock & Roll I felt a stupid level of personal validation.

I don't know where I'd be without Todd and Thuglit. Honestly, no idea if I'd be writing today without the validation he gave me first. Thanks for all that, brother.

Here's a quick overview of my history with Thuglit.

Politoburg was published in issue 17 (July 2007) alongside Hilary Davidson (also making her crime fiction debut in that issue), Nathan Cain, Hugh Lessig, Lyman Feero and fucking William Boyle.

Hilary's story Anniversary was selected for A Prisoner of Memory and 24 of the Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, Boyle's story, Death Don't Have No Mercy is the titular tale of his collected stories and his first novel Gravesend was published on the same damn day by the same damn publisher as my first novel Peckerwood. Huh.

My story caught the eye of a weirdo named Greg Bardsley who was about to have his first fiction publication in Thuglit's next issue. Greg wrote an enthusiastic blog piece about that and mentioned Politoburg - the first time I'd heard anybody make an unsolicited comment about my work. I reached out to Greg to thank him and ended up making my first internet friend. A few years later Greg's debut novel Cash Out contains a conversation betwixt us chums at the back of the book. Greg's one of my favorite people and also happens to be one of my favorite writers. Look for his new novel The Bob Watson later this year.

After that first appearance in Thuglit, I had a story in the recently re-birthed Plots With Guns and another titled A Fuckload of Scotch Tape was forthcoming in an issue of Out of the Gutter.

My story Mahogany & Monogamy appeared in Thuglit issue 25 (April/May 2008) alongside Randy Chandler, Nolan Knight, Ben Nadler, Brian Murphy, Leslie Budewitz, Michael Colangelo and a certain motherfucker named Kieran Shea who teamed up with me and Bardsley to publish the Dick Cheney-inspired short fiction anthology D*CKED and who went on to name a character after me in his debut novel Koko Takes a Holiday (of which I am a huge and humbled fan).

Mahogany & Monogamy is the flipside of my story A Fuckload of Scotch Tape. Folks who've got nothing better to do may have picked up on the thread that both stories are tied through a character referred to as 'Metcalf' in M&M and 'Benji' in FLOST and as 'Benji Metcalf' in Politoburg. Director Julian Grant drew from all three stories when writing his musical feature film adaptation A F**kload of Scotch Tape. It's wild.

Julian read FLOST in Out of the Gutter number 5 which was my first print publication (fall 2008), but the first I'd had accepted was the Politoburg in Thuglit's second print anthology Sex, Thugs and Rock & Roll. If OOTG's inclusion of my stuff with folks like Charlie Stella, Vicky Hendricks and Sophie Littlefield swole my head a bit ST&R&R damn near made it burst. Joe R. Lansdale, Scott Wolven, Allan Guthrie, Anthony Neil Smith, Jason Starr, Marcus Sakey plus Bardsley, Jordan Harper, Mike Sheeter and my very issue17 compatriots Feero and Lessig. If I'm being honest I'd probably have to say it was ego-stroking on this level that prompted me to continue writing more than any insatiable drive to create stories.

Politoburg now exists as the first chapter of my book Fierce Bitches.

My story 1998 Was a Bad Year appeared in TL issue 30 (March/April 2009) where I was honored to be seen again with Davidson and Littlefield as well as Eric Beetner, Jason Duke, Robert Spotted Pony Lee, Myra Sherman and Patrick Cobbs.

1998 was the second story published featuring a character named Terry Hickerson. The first, titled The Morning After, had appeared in PWG and was set in 1985. 1998 is from a chapter in my novel, Peckerwood.

M&M appeared in print in my final Thuglit appearance, the third print anthology Blood, Guts & Whiskey with yet more heroes and pals like Tom Piccirilli, Sean Doolittle, Dave Zeltserman, Derek Nikitas, Stuart Neville, Craig McDonald, Pearce Hanson, John Kenyon, Dana King, Justin Porter and getting to be a habit folk like Harper, Shea, Gray, Davidson and Murphy, plus no-holy-shit - Eddie Bunker.

Todd shuttered Thuglit a while after that third book, but restarted the magazine as a Kindle-only and later (and retro-actively available) in a print option for another 22 issues (the forthcoming issue 23 will be the final one) continuing to publish only the best of the worst of my favorite kind of contemporary crime fiction.

Thuglit will be missed, but its impact is still only beginning to be felt. It was a vital part of the indy-crime scene which has given a platform to some dangerous motherfuckers whose voices will be heard and feared for many years.

Thanks for everything, Todd. And huge thanks to the TL crew including Allison Glasgow, Rob Hart and Justin Porter. Y'all made something special. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

Now... who's gonna do the next thing?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Underseen Crime Flicks Now Streaming on Netflix


I'm going to see Jeremy Saulnier's Green Room this weekend (and looking for J. David Osborne on screen), but if you're home-bound and looking for crime flicks now streaming on Netflix, here's a list of some of the best and, in my opinion, underseen stuffs now available.

The Bank Job - Roger Donaldson - Before he was Mr.-all-badass-action, Jason Statham made this odd-duck of a heist picture that managed to be many things at once and none of them at the same time. Here's what I said long ago... Far more than the sum of it's parts. Not really sure why it worked as well as it did. Not a show-stopping heist flick, not a particularly street-wise gangster epic, not a kick-ass action spectacular and not a richly-detailed dramatic period piece either. Smarter and funnier too than I had any expectations for - a marketing snafu or puzzle, I suspect. Somehow, less than the top of any of it's respective genres, it managed to be competent at each and fill an unlikely void in the flavor spectrum. Not a hard way to spend an afternoon at all.

Drug War - Johnnie To - To is a little hit or miss for me, but this one succeeds on every level. Great set up, style, tension and the release when it comes leaves everything on the floor. Here's what I said earlier... When an industrial scale methamphetamine manufacturer and distributor is apprehended in China, he agrees to help the cops take down a cartel in order to avoid the death penalty. As he works alongside the policeman who busted him, an interesting evolution occurs in their dynamic. They go from mortal enemies to uneasy allies and by the time they've each saved the other's bacon more than once the viewer isn't sure where their loyalty lies. And that's great. The end of the film is pretty fantastic and I don't want to let on anything about it or how we get there, but it was great. Best moment: a Mission Impossible-style double sting operation that requires the stone-faced cop to shift gears hard to play the role of a flamboyant and gregarious smuggler. It's a jolt.


A Hijacking - Tobias Lindholm - Looking for an intense, human, characters-put-through-the-wringer drama? Hooo-boy. This one'll do it. And I don't want to suggest that it'll ruin your weekend - it's a legit thriller, but it's gonna hammer on your nerves pretty mercilessly. Here's what I had to say earlier... A Danish cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates and this film follows the lives of the hostage crew as well as the head of the company that employs them and owns the boat as they negotiate a resolution over the course of many weeks. It's pretty tense. Just a bunch of real people in a terrible, no-win situation. Am I selling you on this? It's quite good, but I dunno what else to say... It's a bit hard to watch at times, but not overdone, not a big manipulative climax orchestrated to wring a lotta tears or make you wanna break stuff, just steady, assured, observational film making that puts the viewer through some awfully effective tension. Best moment: everybody sings 'happy birthday'.


Mean Creek - Jacob Aaron Estes - You like adventure flicks about groups of kids forced to deal with death or crime, but wish Stand By Me had gone full dark, no stars? Well friends this one might be just your cuppa. It's gonna play rough with your feels, but I think you're gonna be glad you went through it. I'm a fan of killer kids stuff like Larry Clark's Bully, Gus Van Sant's Elephant and Nick Cassavete's Alpha Dog, but this one is special to me for its use of even younger children, and its ability to make them believable and sympathetic (as opposed to aloof, idiotic, spoiled or simply assholes like the previously mentioned fare) so when the hammer drops at the end we aren't spared an ounce of hurt.

Metro Manila - Sean Ellis - Like idyllic exotic locale and urban squalor? Do you want armored car heist and family drama? This is your jam. From an earlier episode... Oscar (Jake Macapagal) is a rice farmer who moves his family to the big city when he is no longer able to support them working the fields. The urban jungle is no kinder to them, but both parents are desperate enough to work dangerous and demeaning jobs to support themselves and their family, she as a topless dancer in a sleazy club where prostitution is pretty much a job requirement and he as a driver in an armored car service where he'll be a target for criminals with nothing left to lose and who don't mind shooting it out for a chance at the cash and valuables he's moving them from point-a to point-b (and if you've ever seen another movie, it'll come as no surprise that he faces just as much or more danger from his co-workers who want that money just as much as anybody else). After digging the Filipino export On the Job (also streaming now) so hard earlier this year, I was ready to dive into another crime flick from the hard heart of the city and this one delivers, even if it swerves a little hard into the innocents forced to do bad things genre at times. Beautiful and gritty and emotionally engaging - highly recommended.

Monument Ave. - Ted Demme - A neighborhood film that owes the same debt to Mean Streets they all do, the strength of this one is in the cast lead by Denis Leary. Essentially a hang-out picture that slowly escalates to tragedy, it's certainly not an edge of your seat, fast-paced white-knuckler, but there's plenty of room and time given for the characters to get you invested so that yeah, it hurts at the end. Neat trick. I wish Ted had stuck around longer and given us more pictures.

New World - Hoon-jung Park - You like classic-structure gangster flicks or undercover cop stuffs? This is the one for you. Straight ahead, but unsparing and willing to go there with some elements and (crucially) unwilling to stop with others. Here's what I said earlier... An undercover cop working for years inside a Korean crime syndicate sees the end of his mission approach with the the filling of the power vacuum after the death of the syndicate's head. His mission is to influence the 'election' of the new head. So, the setup is kind of a mash up of gangster pictures from The Godfather to The Departed, but remember, this is contemporary Korean crime cinema - so kindly take your expectations and stick em in your ear. It's no non-stop thriller like The Chaser or The Yellow Sea and it's not the twisty-De Palma-esque fare of Oldboy or Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, but it is distinctly other from its Hollywood counterparts. It is solid. It is brutal. It is - holy shit, did you see that? - remember what I'd said about the uniqueness of Korean crime flicks and the general absence of guns? Well, that absence pays off beautifully, amazingly, stunningly, in the climactic confrontation. It is the Best moment: The hit sequence. Holee shit. The elevator fight at the end of said hit sequence. Amazeballs.

Paris By Night - Philippe Lefebvre - One shift on the beat of a Parisian vice cop Weiss (Roschdy Zem) and his driver/partner for the night Deray (Sara Forestier). Over the course of the night Weiss deals with an encroaching internal affairs corruption investigation, tying his loose ends up and putting ducks in a row while keeping up his underworld overlord status by rattling cages and jerking chains as needed. It's a tour of seedy clubs and neighborhoods lit entirely by neon and strobe - it's one of the best looking films I've seen in a long while and I could have enjoyed the running time's worth of simply following Weiss through the bowels of Paris, but low, a satisfying story emerges - a mystery if you will - and whaddyaknow it doesn't suck.

Point Blank - Fred Cavaye - Need a slightly faster-paced tour of Paris? This one is a chase flick that just moooooves from jump street. Nothing going on here except first-rate thriller film-making. Doesn't waste a minute, and wrings every ounce of potential tension out of the unraveling plot. A great just-go-with-it chase flick that could teach its high-budget competition a lot about celluloid excitement-making.

The Sweeney - Nick Love - For those of you who need your crime flicks to have a healthy dose of action and an unhealthy attitude toward fascism, well this one is for you. Seriously, this one's about a brutal cop in filthy Harry mode and if you're not on board for summadat, go ahead and skip it, but I can absolutely get on board for this type of fare sometimes - here's what I had to say earlier... Never having seen the TV show it was based on, I can't comment on its faithfulness or lack there of. But having seen my share of hard-cop fare, I can say with confidence I've seen much better and much worse. But, shit, this is probably the closest we're ever going to get to Ray Winstone as Ken Bruen's Sgt. Brant, and thinking of it that way probably colored my experience more than it should have. Jack Regan isn't just hard, he's unreasonably hard. He's cartoonishly hard. He beats suspects with blunt objects. He shoots off their extra fingers. He headbutts a lot of people. He disregards direct orders. Not only does he choke his boss (with one hand, no less), he fucks the boss's wife. He's... he's a lot of fun to watch, especially when he and Ben Drew's Carter get into one of their mumbling and dead-eyed scowling competitions (every fucking time they're on screen together... which is often.) By the end, I really was enjoying their schtick, especially since the momentum behind the second half was strong enough to sweep aside all objections to reason, due process and good taste. And, The Sweeney is a terrific-looking picture. The London skyline is striking and the police station is so slick and state of the art it looks like an Apple commercial. Solid action picture with a bit of grit and plenty of indiscriminately brutal police. Best moment: The bank-robbery shootout.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bloody Bookends

Blood Father - d: Jean-Francois Richet w: Peter Craig, Andrea Berloff

Goldstone - w/d: Ivan Sen

War Dogs - d: Todd Phillips w: Stephen Chin, Jason Smilovic, Todd Phillips

Bloodline season 2 - c: Todd Kessler, Glenn Kessler

Thursday, April 21, 2016

2016 in Crime Flicks: Do You Tube?

Hell Drivers - C. Raker Endfield (Cyril Endfield) - Tight little thriller about desperate men doing dangerous work and selling their lives cheap. Make a swell triple feature with Jules Dassin's Thieves' Highway and William Friedkin's Sorcerer in my opinion. The driving sequences filmed sixty years ago still look dangerous and made me queasy. Stanley Baker carries the day and Patrick McGoohan is a particularly nasty delight. Watch it right here.

Hickey & Boggs - Robert Culp - I rewatched Terriers on Netflix this week (again - I've seen it in its entirety thrice now) and it reminded me (again) what pleasures the private eye genre is best at delivering and made me want more. Take a script by buddy crime flick hall-of-famer Walter Hill, add the already seasoned chemistry between Robert Culp and Bill Cosby (I Spy), remember that you're in the seventies and you've got a recipe for curing what ails you. The humor is plentiful, but downplayed, the action is abundant, but downbeat, the tone is fun and bleak at the same time. I know this isn't an ideal time to promote a Cosby project, but I can't understand why this one hasn't had a wider release in the last forty years. Catch up with it right here.

L.A. Takedown - Michael Mann - Mann is a film maker of obsessions and I don't hold it against him when he revisits themes, scenes or characters. When he has something to say, he'll say it again and again until satisfied he's said it right. There's a reason many people consider Heat his masterpiece - in it you'll find material he'd used previously in projects like Thief, Miami Vice and Crime Story, but he 'borrows' biggest from this little-seen made for television film. In fact, Heat is a straight-up remake of Takedown. Take away a couple of subplots and Heat's A-list cast and you've got this flick. I love Heat, but hey, check this one out and tell me it doesn't just move. Not an ounce of fat on this bastard. Give it a look right here.

Mikey & Nicky - Elaine May - Peter Falk and John Cassavetes are the titular duo, small time criminals, close friends and bitter rivals whom we follow through the course of a single night while they traverse New York visiting neighborhood spots as Nicky tries to keep himself a moving target for the gangster he's mostly convinced wants him dead. For his part Mikey tries to convince his paranoid and pal to calm down or leave town. Cassavetes and Falk have a bristling, seething, energy that makes this one pop and sputter as it lurches toward doom and dawn. I'd watch it in a lineup with Cassavetes' own Husbands and maybe even Jon Favreau's Made. Click right here.

The Nickel Ride - Robert Mulligan - Speaking of small-time gangsters who think their overlords might want them dead, Jason Miller holds the center of this terrifying slow burn of a a thriller about the hell of middle management. Miller's Cooper is a warehouse manager negotiating on behalf of organized criminal interests for some primo storage space and when the deal starts to fall apart he feels the pressure from above and below. The interactions between Miller and Bo Hopkins's clownish killer are especially wonderful. Do yourself a favor right here.

Night of the Juggler - Robert Butler - The big bad city genre is probably best served by way-out fare like The Warriors, Escape From New York or more recently The Purge: Anarchy, while pictures that go for a more realistic vibe tend to smack of exploitation or even overt racism with just a few years' remove (I haven't had the heart to revisit teenaged favorites like Trespass or Judgement Night, but I suspect they're going to induce some serious wincing when/if I do). Stuck somewhere in the middle is Night of the Juggler, a wildly uneven ticking clock kidnapping thriller about an ex-cop played by James Brolin whose daughter has been abducted by a crazed predator. It's silly, full of holes and you might even find it insulting to your intelligence, but it gamely attempts (and often succeeds) to make up for its shortcomings with energy, pace and atmosphere. Brolin breathlessly pursues his daughter through an urban jungle of trash-strewn streets, crumbling buildings and sleazy peep-show joints, aided by short term allies like Mandy Patinkin's animated immigrant cabbie and hunted himself by foe like dirty cop Dan Hedya in flatout bugshit mode (the man's eyebrows deserve their own drama school). For a good time click right here.

The Punisher - Mark Goldblatt - In anticipation of Jon Bernthal's turn as Frank Castle in the second season of Daredevil I was curious to find out what I'd missed in Dolph Lundgren's turn back in 1989. Not as fully-formed as Bernthal's season-long character build, not as gleefully over the top as Punisher: War Zone with Ray Stevens, nor as funny as the Thomas Jane 2004 picture, there were never the less enjoyable low-rent, low-brow, low-bar pleasures exceeding my low-expectations from this low-budget fare. Perhaps hoping to ride RoboCop's mudflaps to late night cable immortality Lundgren's Castle is as stiff a humanoid automaton set on kill as you could ask for and if you just step back and let him perform he'll put on a show. I especially dug the climactic sequence that kicks off with Castle teaming up temporarily with Jeroen Krabbe's gangster against the yakuza. They step off an elevator and gun down a room full of samurai without putting a single bullet through the paper walls. It's actually surprisingly stylish and satisfying. See what I mean right here.

Trick Baby - Larry Yust - Based on the novel by Iceberg Slim, Kiel Martin and Mel Stewart play a couple of con men using Martin's white skin (he is the titular child of a white john and a black prostitute) as an in to hustle a group of wealthy and casually corrupt businessmen. Meanwhile they're pressed on all sides by racial tensions, bent cops, greedy gangsters and vengeful marks. It's the biggest score of their lives if they can stay alive long enough to pull it off. Catch it right here.

Zulu - Jerome Salle - After closing the Cannes Film Festival in 2013, this Capetown-set crime and corruption film based on the novel by Caryl Ferey disappeared seemingly forever. WTF? Swell source material, western movie stars, nicely shot violence and sex and... How the hell has this not had a theatrical or at least DVD release in the US? It's not the incendiary picture it was hoped to be, but it's far from a waste. It's solid, not skimping on the crowd-pleasing elements nor the ugly social histories of South AfricaThe link I used to finally watch this one on ewetoob has disappeared, but there are a few others popping up now and then.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

N@B-ATL: Unprintable

You been listening to The Crime Scene With Eryk Pruitt podcast? Last week I was on there talking with senor P about N@B (also on the episode Eric Arneson, Ed Brock and James R. Tuck). During the segment Eryk mentioned that N@B-PDX host Johnny Shaw had said something nice about one of my short stories on the Unprintable: LitReactor podcast episode about book tours and live reading events, I didn't believe him, but I tuned in to check it out and on said episode Johnny discusses strategies for authors on live readings with hosts Rob Hart and Brandon Tietz and it's worth a listen in my humblest opinion - just ignore the false if flattering claims made about my story.

And speaking of false claims... limey author Adam Howe is giving me the digital finger over at canuck Benoit Lelievre's site Dead End Follies in a piece meant to shame me (and you) into revising my position on the Steven Seagal flick gamely helmed by John Flynn, Out For Justice. Anybody who's read Adam's fiction or his guest contributions to this site will entertained by the piece, but I doubt persuaded. It's all good, kids. I've been fingered by worse.

St. Louis and Chicago weren't the only cities hosting N@B events last week. Eyrk sent this blow by blow of N@B-ATL's inaugural rumpus. Read it. Weep.

NOIR AT THE BAR – ATLANTA
by Eryk Pruitt

You never forget your first.

Hopefully that’s the way Atlanta feels after Sunday, April 3rd, after finally hosting a Noir at the Bar. McCray’s Tavern, located across the street from the Gwinnett County Courthouse in Lawrenceville (famous for the site of the Larry Flynt shooting) put on the affair and did not disappoint. The room was spacious, the sound was perfect, and the service staff was nice and friendly.

You’d think all this would make for a lovely Sunday evening, wouldn’t you?

You’d think wrong.

Things got dirty quick.

Ashley Erwin flew all the way from Los Angeles to stare down a hometown crowd with her hilarious, chicken-fried story Mayhem and Motherfuckery, a piece she’d written specifically for the event. The tale reads like an episode of Mama’s Family, if the show starred Dewey Crowe. Ashley is no stranger to Noir at the Bar and she definitely showed her chops, raising the bar for anyone and everyone unfortunate to read after her.

Speaking of Ed Brock…All this was his big idea. The Pale in Death author had been putting out feelers for an event in the Big Peach for months and when given the opportunity, he didn’t blink. He scouted venues, printed posters, sent press releases. Without him, the entire thing would have been but a dream, so a hearty back-slapping was due for the man in charge and when it came time to read, he treated the audience to the first chapter of his debut novel.

Next up came James R. Tuck, another hometown boy made good. The author of the Deacon Chalk series recently compiled stories for an anthology titled Mama Tried, featuring fiction inspired by outlaw country music. James rocked a little ditty titled Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand, a love story made all the more romantic when read by the sweet, sultry tones of Tuck’s baritone voice.

Filmmaker, author, and short fiction impresario Alec Cizak, perhaps singlehandedly responsible for repping some of the best short fiction in history through both All Due Respect and Pulp Modern, surprisingly has never read in a Noir at the Bar. Luckily, we remedied that in Georgia. He made the trip from Florida to read Katy Too from his chilling short story collection Crooked Roads, as well as contribute a copy of the out-of-circulation collection Uncle B’s Drive-In Fiction for the giveaways.

Folks in Georgia won’t soon be forgetting Warren Moore’s Just-So Story, which was published in Out of the Gutter in 2013. Warren’s delivery was sneaky-Southern and perhaps got the best mix of reactions from the audience, from laughter to gasps. A perfect reading.

This was my second time to listen to the smooth, soothing sounds of Grant Jerkins and once again he did not disappoint. Folks in Durham still talk about his reading of EBT at the Bull City’s inaugural N@TB, and I imagine those in Lawrenceville will long remember his rendition of NSFW, published last year in Shotgun Honey. Nearly everyone in attendance had a copy of A Very Simple Crime for him to autograph, which goes further to show that Grant Jerkins makes creepy look cool.

I tried to follow that act with my short story Knacker, but after an ill-timed joke about the Braves being swept in the ’99 World Series, I’m pretty sure folks just wanted me to get on with it and get off the stage. I obliged, handing the mic over to…

Peter Farris began his reading after dropping a nugget of wisdom he’d learned from his dad. “A writer reading his own work,” Farris quoted, “is like a dog licking its own asshole.” Either Dad never heard Peter read at a Noir at the Bar or dogs assholes taste like sweet, delicious whiskey because Peter fired through the first chapter of his unpublished novel Ghost in the Fields. He treated the audience like junkies, giving them a first taste for free, then pulling away the pipe when all we wanted was another chapter, and another, and another…

Folks stuck around for a good bit after to talk with readers, writers, and the cute bartender, all of whom were wondering when was the next Noir at the Bar in Georgia.

I can’t fucking wait.

Special thanks to McCray’s Tavern, Ben Carr (photos courtesy of) and everybody who came out! It was a blast popping that cherry on the Big Peach.