What a tough year for American letters, eh? First William Gay and now at Ransom Notes, I'm touching on what the passing of Harry Crews means to me. In the piece I mention criteria I'm looking for to fill the voids left by those two and I mention some upcoming books that I'll be leaning on harder while trying to scratch a phantom itch. However... I should clarify, I don't expect Peter Farris's Last Call For the Living, Frank Wheeler Jr.'s The Wowzer or Sean Doolittle's Lake Country to read like a Crews novel. Newwww new new... Simply that I think they could fill the criteria described as darkly comic, bitingly satirical, grotesquely populated and almost preternaturally violent (thanks Margalit Fox) or emotionally honest (not omniscient, not necessarily correct) encounters with crime and human transgression, consequence and redemption told with a reckless enthusiasm for language, coupled with an amputee's respect for the power of the written word. They could. They might. They'd better.
Hey, here's another link to Paul von Stoetzel's coming of age biopic of yours truly, Viscosity. Previous working titles included Awesomsauce, The Mother of Invention, The Winner's Circle and Slather, Wince, Repeat. My mother in law has now seen this... I'm soooo outta the will. Did anybody out there actually read the story the film was based on? Anybody besides Benoit Lelievre, that is? No. Well, that dude took the time to read three of my stories - A Fuckload of Scotch Tape, Viscosity and Down, Down, Down, Burns, Burns, Burns and then write about them so's you don't have to read 'em yourself. That's very helpful. And very appreciated. Thanks, Benoit. Head on over to his Spinetingler award nominated bloggy blog Dead End Follies to read all about me.
Speaking of Spinetingler award nominations, look who got one for best cover - Owen Smith for D*CKED as well as Matt Kindt for Noir at the Bar! Other N@B cats nominated include Les Edgerton for The Bitch (he's reading from this one on April 28, yo), All the Young Warriors by Anthony Neil Smith, Already Gone by John Rector, Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill, David James Keaton's story Either Way it Ends With a Shovel from Crimefactory, Matthew C. Funk's Silas' Good Run from Beat to a Pulp, Cort McMeel's Noir Nation, and a best opening line nom for Duane Swierczynski's Hell & Gone. It's been a year since I read Fun & Games... what the hell? Where's my fuckin Point & Shoot? I feel so raw and needy.
So you know that Edgerton will be joined by Keaton, McMeel and Erik Lundy on the 28th for N@B, but knew you that Misters Bill and Swierczynski will be in St. Louis on April 18th with Reed Farrel Coleman and Sara J. Henry for Suspense Night at the library? And what's this? Decent lineup for the library's spring and summer including C.J. Box, Ridley Pearson, Philip Kerr and Craig Johnson. Not bad.
Watched Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing titled, um, The Thing the other night, and damn if I didn't get my rocks off big time. So very nearly a remake (Carpenter's was also a remake of Christian Nyby's The Thing From Another World based on the short story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.), but not quite. This one deals with the demise of the Norwegian outpost whose ruins we're teased with in the 1982 version and yeah they take evvvvvery detail onscreen in Carpenter's and recreate them in this one, but pretty damn organically so we're not going 'Ooh, I bet I know where that axe ends up' the whole time, and even the end credits gave me the lead into Carpenter's opening credit sequence without triggering an eyeroll. Nice. The prequel does recreate a lot of the suspense and tension from the exact recipe Carpenter baked with, buuuut this one is quicker to the bloody mayhem and plenny disgusting with the special effects, and for that reason, takes on a tone different enough to the not exactly original to please me. Actually, I thought Joel Edgerton was playing the Kurt Russell role at first - never really thought about it, but he bares some resemblance.
While we're talking 'bout resemblances in the 2011 The Thing to other films - I'll say that the disgusting alien effects look like creatures evolved from David Cronenberg's The Naked Lunch or hell, any Cronenberg monster. Loved 'em. I also thought of my favorite Canadian David watching Pedro Almodovar's sick-ass The Skin I Live In last week. Not often I really enjoy one of his films, but this one was awfully fucked up and watchable. Thematically, this one is a relative of Cronenberg's and that's a real good thing. All transgression and horror. Almodovar does a crime film once in a while too, I mean he adapted Ruth Rendell's Live Flesh for Peter's sake, so I'm thinking maybe I oughtta go back and give Volver a chance.
Another Rendell adaptation I ain't thought on in a decade or so is Claude Miller's Alias Betty, which I think I liked alright. Think I caught it around the same time as Lynne Ramsay's adaptation of Alan Warner's novel Morvern Callar, which was another weird crime-through-the-side-door bit that featured one of the most memorable bathtub dismemberment scenes ever. And I will always think of that picture when listening to that Mamas and Papas song. Callar was good and icky-squishy enough to nudge Ramsay's adaptation of Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin onto my Netflix que. But hey, back to Miller - I see here he's directed two Emmanuel Carrere adaptations?!? How the hell did I not know this? I've got to get my hands on The Class Trip and I'm Glad My Mother is Alive. Carrere writes reaaaal unsettling stuff about obsession and insanity all subtle and classy-like. You ever get the chance to read his true crime book The Adversary, I urge you to give it a go and then not call me when you can't sleep. Man, I hope the fact that I hadn't heard of either of these films doesn't mean they suck like Carrere's adaptation of his own novella The Mustache did. Seems there was an English language omnibus of The Mustache and The Class Trip available a couple years back. See if you can grab one of those while you're at it. Great short novels. Novellas. Whatever.