Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dexter is Delicious

Want to finish 2011 on a high anticipatory note? I did, and now I can thanks in part to Jimmy Callaway and the fine folks at The Criminal Complex for breaking the news to me that Pete Dexter's The Paperboy is coming to the screen in 2012, directed by Lee Daniels, (whose Shadowboxer is low-grade notorious for its WTF factor, and who produced tough-hearted shit like The Woodsman, Monster's Ball and Precious). It will star Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack and Matthew McConaughey and check this here poster the hell out. Sahweet. 'Course it all starts with Dexter for me. That cat is badass, and if you don't know his work, take this as my enthusi-fucking-astic endorsement of his particular brand of rough/perty prose and hardnard story stuffs. Yeah, color me excited.

Speaking of Dexter-level wordsmiths, I had to include Rick DeMarinis's Mama's Boy on my 2011 favorite novels list at Ransom Notes even though it weren't technically no mystery book. DeMarinis does write crime, but yeah, it was a stretch to put that particular book on a mystery blog. Please avail yerself of DeMarinis through his novels or short stories (he's got like three collections of shorts - fantastic) and tell your friends and neighbors to as well. He deserves a much more prominent place in the reading public's consciousness. That particular list is, I think, a helluva good showing for the last year. Even with penalizing some of my favorite books like Craig McDonald's El Gavilan, John Rector's Already Gone and Scott Phillips' The Adjustment for their authors having appeared on my 2010 list, it's some strong ass shit. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Even more lists to come. Just cause. See you at the end of the world.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pain in Debut

What a sorry cliche. Just made a list of my favorite debuts of 2011 only to realize that they were all penned by men. So, I completely changed my list and made it more PC... Or no, I didn't, but I did make a second list of books that I read in 2011 by lady writers that were my first exposure to them (the odd short story aside). I really hate to ghettoize female writers, and if that's exactly what I've done by adding a second list then... write a kick-ass book and entice me to read it, I dunno what else to say. Anyhow, both lists are up today at Ransom Notes. Go take a look and tell me what a jackass I am. Incidentally, it's not a 'first novel' list or you might've seen names like Donald Ray Pollock or Benjamin Percy up there - it's a first book of fiction list, so collections by Rusty Barnes, Alan Heathcock and Frank Bill are included.

Julian Grant and company have wrapped up the Fuckload of Scotch Tape shoot, and that's damned exciting. I'll be headed to Chicago late in January and hope to catch a WIP screening.

Friggin Keith Rawson man. Been doin those interviews 'n shit. You see his latest one with William Gay? Says we'll finally see The Lost Country in 2012... Hope so.

Watched season two of Justified last week. Dunno if I've ever seen a more dramatic improvement from first to second season of a television show. Liked the first season enough to check out the second, but hot damn I really enjoyed the second. Lot of that had to do with the emmy-worthy performances of Margo Martindale, Jeremy Davies, Brad William Henke and Joseph Lyle Taylor as the Bennett clan. Walton Goggins, Raymond J. Barry, Damon Herriman, Jere Burns, David Meunier and Kevin Rankin are good to watch too, and the more the show leans on them the stronger it is.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Putin on the Ritz

Holy shit, despots of the world beware; 2011 still has teeth. Osama Bin Laden, Moammar Gadhafi, and now Kim Jong Il...  Is it mere coincidence that D*CKED is now on sale for the holidays? Pick it up before another one bites the dust... and rises again, and brings about Armageddon for reals. Suck It, my story from that collection is very... unlike anything I've ever published, reckless and irresponsible speculation leavened with cheap shots at stars of the world stage aside. It features an exclusive blood club formed by the former VP, KJI and Vladimir Putin. Vampiric themes abound in D*CKED, but for more Vlad-the-I'm-Paler fun check out VLAD, Liam Cassidy's official Putin fanzine.

Meanwhile, year-end best-of lists abound and I'm adding to the collective ignorance with giddy enthusiasm. Today at Ransom Notes I posted on my favorite first entries in new series, and last week I had fun with the list My Year in Villains which featured evil little shits from a distinguished list of authors including N@B alum Scott Phillips, Jane Bradley, John Rector, Duane Swierczynski and (honorary N@B dude 'cause Corydon was more or less the N@B road show yeah?), Donald Ray Pollock.

Been reading some horror and sci-fi tinged stuffs lately - Stephen Blackmoore's City of the Lost, Chris F. Holm's Dead Harvest and at the moment, William Gibson's Zero History which, if nothing else, is making me want to revisit Abel Ferrara's New Rose Hotel. I encounter very little affection for that one wherever I see it mentioned, but have a foggy, dreamy fondness for it myself. Also has me wanting to re-experience Olivier Assayas' Boarding Gate which I have a great gushing love for. Hmmm, Asia Argento was in both of those, weren't she? Dunno how much that has to do with my opinions, but how about that Assayas dude? Demonlover, Boarding Gate, Carlos... That's a helluva decade.

Monday, December 12, 2011

FLOST - Pics From the Set

So, Julian Grant and crew are quickly approaching the wrap of shooting Fuckload of Scotch Tape. I'm pleased as hell with the stills I've seen from the location shoots. Thought I'd post some here for your whetting benefit.

The above is from Exit Chicago - the set for my fictional strip club The Beaver Cleaver. I'm told that JG (in the hat) keeps his clothes on.

Louie Lawless as Chuck. Watch out.

 Hannah Phelps as Trish. Poor, poor Trish.

 More Exit atmosphere.

 The titular fuckload of tape.

Graham Jenkins as Benji. Benji, come home.

It's all fun and games till somebody loses a limb.

Graham Jenkins, Ben Nicholson and Julian Grant between takes at Carl's Bad Tavern (Gold Star Bar

Vaughnj The Chameleon brings a Road Warrior vibe to The Beaver Cleaver.

Stay tuned for more progress reports. 

In tangential news, Paul Von Stoetzel has locked in a DP for his short film based on my story Viscosity (Out of the Gutter #6) to begin shooting soon. Can't wait to see this one too. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Borders Closing

Over at Ransom Notes I'm talking border books. Specifically Sebastian Rotella's Triple CrossingTricia FieldsThe Territory and the brand new stand alone from Craig McDonaldEl Gavilan. I think Craig's taken a big ol' step forward with this one. It's not technically a border book as it's set in Ohio, but it revolves around illegal immigration and the sticky spot people from any point in the political spectrum are placed in when the neat and tidy policies they've constructed in the abstract are tested on the ground and they are face to face with the reality of human beings with an instinct to survive. The Hector books are fun, but this one gets down and nasty in a way that's difficult to take too seriously when it's Hemingway, or some other person of historical note doing the dirt.

I swear I was thinking of Ry Cooder while reading El Gavilan long before there's a mention of him near the end of the book. I just heard some of those shimmery guitar sounds echoing around the prose - probably, now that I think about it, has something to do with the fact that he composed the score for the 1982 Tony Richardson film The Border with Jack Nicholson and Harvey Keitel. I watched it again a little over a year ago and it hadn't aged well, but that soundtrack made an impression. Another movie I thought of while reading El Gavilan was John SaylesLonestar. Something about McDonald's salty dog sheriff Able Hawk conjured pictures of Kris Kristofferson in my mind and I thought of his great evil turn in that picture from 1996. Bet I haven't watched it in over ten years, but it's one I think of often and fondly. Oughtta revisit it soon. 

Last week at Ransom Notes I was going on a bit about repo men as protagonists - why they seem such a natural for edgy crime shit - and wondering why the hell I couldn't think of more of them. Yeah, I mentioned Harry Dean Stanton in Alex Cox's Repo Man, Fritz Brown from James Ellroy's Brown's Requiem and even Jude Law and crew from last year's underrated Repo Men (Blade Runner rip-off, Brazil rip-off, cheap gimmicky one-trick-pony? Don't care. I really liked it). The whole thing was sparked off by my reading Rick Gavin's muy fun Ranchero about a Dixie repo man tearing ass through Mississippi after the asswipe who brained him with a shovel on the job (think I compared it to Hap & Leonard crashing a Cannonball Run movie, and maybe that's not doing it any favors, but it was quick, easy reading). Bryon Quertermous brought Joe Gores' Dan Kearney into the conversation and Lynn Kostoff offered up Mike Magnuson's Gunnar and Dewey from The Right Man For the Job, so thanks guys for those. I'll have to give em a looksee. Still... that seems like an awfully low count. 

Anybody see Marilyn Stasio'Notable Crime Books of 2011 list in the New York Times? Some good picks there, including George Pelecanos, James Sallis, Phillip KerrMichael Koryta and her 'favorite noir'? Scott PhillipsThe Adjustment. Fuckin A.

Julian Grant reports cops crashing the set of F*ckload during shooting the other night. The issue? Sound like, uh shooting. Guerilla film makers are no strangers to this kind of thing. Dunno how many times the Mosquito Kingdom sets were struck and stowed, packed or abandoned to avoid the law, but it were more than I cared for. Sounds like they're on track to wrap up production before Christmas. Can't wait.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Give Me More Melbournian Dipshits

You have a good holiday last week? I spent mine in the land of Charles Portis, William Harrison, John Hornor Jacobs and Don Lee - and the personal punching bag of Steve Weddle - Arkansas. Does that do anything to your cockles? You likey the mythological American South? Can you just taste the eminent publication of William Gay's The Lost Country? Y'know what you might be looking for? Fall Line by Joe Samuel Starnes. I'm taking my time with it, 'cause it's not in a hurry, and I'm liking that juuuuuust fine. I'm sure I'll have more to say when I'm through, but yeah, I think I'm way safe recommending it to you. Especially now that it's gettin nippy out. I'm finding more time to read for some reason.

In Fayetteville I availed myself of the ridiculously awesome Dickson Street Bookstore as well as Nightbird Books (also on Dickson) and betwixt the two and a handful of good mails this week, I acquired titles by N@B authors - Sean Doolittle and Jane Bradley as well as Craig McDonald, Daniel Woodrell, Benjamin Percy, James Sallis, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Chris F. Holm, Josh Bazell, Cara Black, Martin Limon, Colin Cotterill and Andre Gelasimov. Also got me mitts on the Versus Anthology edited by Josh Woods and featuring N@B kids like Kyle Minor & the Benedicts P&L.

Over at Ransom Notes I got into Leonard Fritz's book In Nine Kinds of Pain, the latest from Jon Bassoff's New Pulp Press, and it's a wild one. Really some interesting choices coming out of NPP. Can't wait for Jake Hinkson's Hell on Church Street and Jonathan WoodsA Death in Mexico next year.

Ken Russell died... shit. Altered States, The Devils, multiple D.H. Lawrence adaptations... Never cared much for Tommy era Who, so didn't ever see it, but maybe I should now.

Cameron Ashley has a new piece up at Beat to a Pulp. He's quickly become one of my favorite short story writers. His contributions to the two volumes I edited this year certainly helped bring that about - One Fine Bird from Noir at the Bar is a sharply twisty tale of the Eggman who made his debut in the Plots With Guns story Blood & Bone in Bambooland, and Codename: Balladeer from D*CKED is just a painfully funny story of the weaponizing of bad music - something that really gets to the root of all fears musicians like myself harbor. And you know, his N@B appearance and delivery of Dog's Breakfast went just a little ways to helping establish my fandom. Cam's latest, Papercut Pete's Blood-Stained MacGuffin is another Melbournian-dipshits-fucking-around-out-of-their-depth tale set in the same universe as B&BnB, Bird and Breakfast... Come to think of it, these'd make for a nice collection.

Over at Spinetingler you can check out some poster art n shit from Julian Grant's Fuckload of Scotch Tape production. Three weeks left to shoot on that monster and Julian promises to be 'balls deep' in editing when I head to Chicago in January to hold him accountable. Looks boss so far. Eager to hear Kevin Quain put to Julian's images.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Conversation

The following is a transcription of a conference call between Greg Bardsley, Kieran Shea and Jedidiah Ayres – editors of D*CKED: Dark Fiction Inspired by Dick Cheney

Jedidiah Ayres: Hello?

Greg Bardsley: Hey, I’m on.

Kieran Shea: Present.

JA: Uhhh…

GB: Shall we start?

KS: Jed?

JA: Right… Sooooo, D*CKED… Y'know, something that kind of surprised me with this whole project was approaching potential participants who were nervous about the possible fall out of being associated with a project like this? Did you get that much?

GB: Yeah, I heard some of that. But not a lot.

KS: When we first approached writers and agents at Indy's Bouchercon, sure, and often it seemed to play out like this. "That's so cool! I'm in!  Uhh, (pause) you know what? Let me think about it..." which I'm fairly confident we all took for a 'no.'  

GB: What surprised me most were established writers who signed up eagerly, even helped us recruit other authors, and then later excused themselves from writing their own stories. They never said it was because of the possible political fallout; but we did have a lot of bigger names excuse themselves after first demonstrating considerable enthusiasm. Maybe some of that was borne from a developing concern about a fallout. I still think that in most cases, it was because they’d gotten overloaded with deadlines for novels and other stories.

KS: It's weird, people have this illusion of far reaching tentacles which, in and of itself, is a testament to our ravaged national psyche.

GB: End of the day, folks had a right to decline us any and all reasons. One thing we made clear was that we wanted a spectrum of stories, including what some might call “hero” pieces. We gunned hard for a romance piece by an established writer in that field, but struck out. We didn’t want the book to be polarizing for readers. Ultimately, we’re happy that the final product offers a variety of perspectives on Cheney and his influence. We didn’t get Rush Limbaugh to write a story for us, but we were able to publish a real range of pieces.

KS: Perhaps they thought we were playing with matches in a gas-soaked shack, I mean, who were we?  A bunch of scrappers and upstarts? As the former VP has said on more than one occasion, pillorying comes with the territory of public office. 

JA: Scrappers and upstarts... Yeah, what the hell did we think we were doing? Incidentally, do you hear that clicking on the line? Is it just my phone? 

KS: I just finished reading How to Disappear by real life skip tracer Frank M. Ahearn.  Welcome to the 21st Century, dude.  We're all being tracked.

JA: I keep hearing from people who've put together anthologies that they are absolutely finished with them. Never again. What's your temperature on future projects?

KS: There are some noble efforts out there on the anthology front. Good people keeping the crime/mystery and even the beloved western genres alive for the shorter attention spans –  but, God, Jed, we were so lost. Thank goodness we had Bardsley banging the drum on point. 

GB: My temperature on developing future anthologies is probably pretty low. It was rewarding, and I feel great about the final product. That said, developing and producing D*CKED required far more work and time than any one of us ever anticipated, and we all have our real jobs and primary fiction projects. 

JA: Gary Phillips suggested ‘Rove Noir,’ which I’d love to read, but yeah… somebody else is gonna have to put it together.

GB: What do they say? "Fools rush in"? The only thing is, we rushed in for all the right reasons, I think -- the chance to do something pretty cool, with a lot of really cool artists and writers. I'll never regret that. But let's admit it. The three of us -- Jed, Kieran and Greg? We're writers.

KS: Back in Ireland a lot of my relatives on my grandfather's side were and still are shepherds. Let's just say, I'm not one of them...although I do make a mean carré d'agneau.

JA: Why were you so up for D*CKED?

KS: As anthologies go, the concept wasn't like anything else out there. We have the cops and the amateur sleuths, the noirs and the thrillers, the supernatural and the why not take big old stick and stir a new pot?  And the focal inspiration, the character of Cheney himself---just so polarizing and mysterious. Sure I could wade through the chickenhawk hubris, the bitter tide of recent history, and the ruthless, jaw-dropping corporate cronyism but that could take all day, so let me just say this. The man had his property on the Eastern Shore of Maryland scrubbed from Google Earth and he shot a dude in the face. As a writer, how could you not take a crack at that

JA: You can't not. I couldn't.

KS: By the way, did you know Greg makes a terrific latte?

(GB audibly blushes)

JA: Seriously, you don’t hear that clicking?

KS: I stayed with his family for a day or so out during San Francisco's B'con, and when I crawled away from the inflate-a-bed in his office he asked me if I wanted a cup of joe.  I said sure, expecting the usual drip. The dude does the steamed foam and everything.  

GB: ... Thanks?

JA: Right... My favorite part of the whole gig was just hearing people's ideas. They seemed endless and popped immediately into people's minds, Dick was such a great muse. Greg's piece put Cheney in that uniquely Bardsley reality, Kieran’s story’s description just about made me pee my pants, Eric Beetner's piece is a fantastic concept -

GB: Yeah, there were some really good ideas, including the ones that made it to the book.

Hilary Davidson slays
JA: - and Hilary Davidson absolutely killed reading her story during Noir at the Bar... I guess my dream contribution would've been James Ellroy doing one of his 'bad white man' stories... Do you recall any great ideas that never made it to the publication?

KS: No, because it was an egalitarian effort from the start. But I will say it was heartbreaking to push back on some. There were some really gonzo ideas percolating out there. 

GB: I agree regarding Beetner’s concept. There are a few ideas that had great promise, but the authors never turned in the stories. One was to do a Dick vampire story; that would have been a riot, to have him sucking on people’s necks and living  that life. Another idea we received (from a literary agent) was to include a romance piece by a true romance author (you know, Dick between the sheets, between two satin sheets), but we couldn’t recruit anyone from those ranks. Another author had Dick as  a con planning a jailbreak, which I would have loved to read –

KS: I only wish we could have had more. 

GB: I still laugh from the imagery of Dick on the bus from Speed, and of Dick turning into a woodsy survivalist in the Alaskan wilderness, wrestling bears and eating insects. That imagery still cracks me up, and I'm glad those stories are in the book.

KS: I did relish taking an alternate slant on a movie so iconic. If anybody else wants to try assembling a collection like that I'd be interested in contributing for sure. Like, you know, instead of using the jump off point of Speed in my story for D*CKED we see Quint from Jaws brawling in Singapore, all salty New England patois and spittle. Or Lieutenant Frank Bullitt with a flat tire in the Haight and throwing down.  God, can you imagine what one could do with Patrick Swayze's Dalton character from Road House? Or hey!  Cartoons! Quick-Draw McGraw in his vigilante "El Kabong" outfit taking on the Mexican drug cartels and losing horribly...oh, so horribly - 

(Soft 'thnnnk' sound)

GB: K? ....

JA: I think he got disconnected...

(Loud crashing sound on the phone)

GB: What the?

JA: Greg? You okay? Guys? Hello? ……. Guess we got cut off. Weird. Is that somebody on the roof?


D*CKED is available in Print or as an eReader. Buy one if you dare. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just For the Halibut

Scott Phillips and I were interviewed on the KDHX program Literature For the Halibut this week. If you really, really want to you can listen to an archived recording of that hour long interview by following this link and selecting the November 14 option, but it'll be gone in two weeks. Some of the highlights include Scott singing a song he wrote and reading Roger Smith's blurb for Noir at the Bar in a South African accent. He also read from his N@B contribution, The Girl Who Kissed Barnaby Jones and I read my story The Adversary from Surreal South '11 (the most radio-friendly story I've ever written - no edits! I thought it would be fun to read a really foul-mouthed story and lay sound effects over all the swears, but had mercy on Jason Braun - nobody should have to do that much work).

You wanna stream another buncha crimey, drinky blow-hards talking writing, publishing and all that jazz? Right here you got Les Edgerton, Cort McMeel, Eddie Vega, Sandra Ruttan and Brian Lindenmuth doing just that. Speaking of interviews, good gracious The Nerd of Noir just busted his cherry all over Allan Guthrie over at Spinetingler. Go check out the mess. If Pete keeps doing interviews, I can just stop.

Over at Ransom Notes I'm throwing around opinions on Grant Jerkins' new one At the End of the Road - a tasty slice of nasty that you're not likely to forget anytime soon. If you read his debut A Very Simple Crime, you've got some idea of the depraved places he can send you, though this one doesn't feature any first person observations from the monster and thus doesn't have the humorous bent that I really enjoyed in Simple, (wait, you thought it was funny too, right?).

Just got a copy of Pulp Modern vol. 1 the new pulp journal from Alec Cicak and it's chock-fulla-nuts. N@B alum Chris La Tray and Glenn Gray have a piece of this one, as do new best pals Jimmy Callaway, David James Keaton, Thomas Pluck and John Kenyon. Also on board are Edward A. Grainger, Sandra Seamans, Garnett Elliott, Stephen D. Rogers, while Copper Smith, James Duncan, Yarrow Paisley, C.J. Edwards, Melissa Embry, Matthew Pizzoloto and some guy named Lawrence Block. Y'know, I think some of those people are in my copy of Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled too.

Also in the mails this week: new Elmore Leonard, Stephen Blackmoore, Owen Laukkanen and a new collection of early stories by Daphne Du Maurier. And for those of you with an eReading predilection N@B legend Malachi Stone's twisted novels Wicked King Dick, Devil's Toll, Conjuror's Death and Private Showings are now available to make your Kindle whimper. Buncha N@B folks have had eShort Story collections published this year John Hornor Jacobs' Fierce as the Grave, Scott's Rum, Sodomy & False Eyelashes, John Rector's The Walls Around Us and Richard Thomas has published so damn many online this year alone it seems like he has, (three Pushcart noms in a single year?).

A Fuckload of Scotch Tape: My kind of musical
Things are rolling along on the Fuckload of Scotch Tape production, though I hear a title change may be coming. You know what? It's not for why you'd thunk either. Seems legal has some concern over the brand name in the title, so.... we'll see how that shakes out. Regardless, the sickest musical ever (yes, sicker than Meet the Feebles) has a Flickr page now and Julian Grant keeps posting lil' snippets of production. I'm tantalized. How could I not be?

Thanks Glenn Gray and Kieran Shea for the care packages, they gave me a little boost for sure. You guys rock.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friends of Carlotta

How weird is this? Benoit Lelievre asked me to contribute a piece to his blog Dead End Follies regarding the book that sparked my shit whatever that may've been. That was easy - White Jazz by James Ellroy were that fer me - only I was afeared that he'd be gettin a glut of like entries, so I used the opportunity to talk more about me than about the book. S'what I do. Taking the circuitous route to Jazz I digressed just a smidge on Carl Reiner's silly masterpiece (it just gets better every time I see it) Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid starring Steve Martin as hardboiled dick Rigby Reardon interacting in increasingly bizarre ways with clips from classic film noir clips. You can read my contribution to My Dark Pages today. Coincidentally, over at Ransom Notes I'm riffing on the Q.R. Markham plagiarism scandal and invoking the spirit of Reiner and Martin in the process. Sure, I've loved the movie for a long time, and if you happen to have a signed copy of one of my pseudononymously published novel from a decade back there may even be an inked invocation of Rigby Reardon, but I've never written about that film before and now, what do you know, twice in one day! Another coincidence - my Ransom Notes plagiarism piece had me linking to Jonathan Lethem's brilliant essay The Ecstasy of Influence at Harpers and I had no idea, he'd just released another collection of essays (that one being the titular selection no less), which I've simply got to get my hands on. Loved and was inexplicably moved by his first collection The Disappointment Artist.

Speaking of Lethem, two of his books made Thomas Mullen's My Five Favorite Hard-Boiled With a Twist Novels over at the Mulholland Books blog where this week Dennis Tafoya chatted up Cortright McMeel the author of Short and the publisher of Murdaland about his new gig as editor for Noir Nation the exciting new electronic multi-media international noir magazine. It's a good time to have an eReader. If I were inclined toward that kind of thing, I'd be reading All the Young Warriors by Anthony Neil Smith or Dead Money by Ray Banks or one of their other Blasted Heath compatriots right about now. Buuuut, I'm not, so I'm not.

No, I'm still not an eReader. I like, I more than like, the physicality of books, which is why the Noir at the Bar anthology is only available in print. Those of you who've got one, I think you can testify that it's a helluva nice object and that it'd make a helluva good gift for somebody you know who likes our kind of thing. But don't take my word for it, check out what Elizabeth White had to say at her Musings of an All Purpose Monkey blog. Seems she's zeroed in on several of the original stories in the collection as favorites - Deviances by Frank Bill, Vampires Are Pussies by Chris La Tray and Outside Lou's by David Cirillo, (previously published work by Daniel O'Shea and Matthew McBride get nods too). Sound like a gift you'd like to give somebody? Where can you get a copy? Only at Subterranean Books.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lost in Quaid

Over at Ransom Notes I'm all about Hell & Gone, the new Duane Swierczynski prison novel that's part two of his Charlie Hardy trilogy. Trust me, it takes something from every prison novel ever written and is like no prison novel you've ever read. It also features a character named Jed which I don't think happens often enough. However, after Megan Abbott'The End of Everything, maybe it's becoming a thing. Also at Ransom Notes is a list of uh, lists that I've enjoyed of late from folks like Duane, Matthew C. Funk, David James Keaton and Jordan Harper. Hey, Jordan - please tell me you're including Weird Al Yankovic's Good Old Days on your Murder Ballad a Day list - really quite unsettling. Do you remember sweet Michelle?

Fuckload of Scotch Tape is now three days into production! Julian Grant and Co began shooting that beast Friday, and yeah, I'm pretty excited. Check out some production stills and behind the scenes shots (like this one) at the FLOST FaceBook page

Whoa. Did the temperature just drop?

Got my copies of Surreal South '11 in the mail Saturday. Good shit. I'm officially recommending it to you. Did you know I had a contribution to this ghosts & monsters collection? Yup, me and N@B folks like Anthony Neil Smith, John Hornor Jacobs, Pinckney Benedict, Laura Benedict and Sophie Littlefield (she was totally at the last one - you missed it). Hey, it's also got swell writers like Nik Korpon, Josh Woods and J.T. Ellison, so, yeah, what are you waiting for?

Finished season three of Sons of Anarchy over the weekend, a show I'm conflicted over like nothing else. On the one hand I think it's one of the richest set ups on TV, and one of the best opportunities to explore outlaw life in modernity to come along... ever. As much as I love The Sopranos, I'm really not drawn to organized crime with that level of sophistication as much as I am to the cowboy spirit of biker gangs, plus hey, staging Hamlet on bikes is inspired, and I'm willing to go through the soap-opera-ish relational dynamics in support of the heightened reality that that kind of theme implies... but the characters tend to feel inconsistent rather than complex and too often the badassedness comes off comical rather than y'know, badass. While season three saw Jax get thankfully more coldblooded, it also saw Tara kill two people (who didn't even have it coming) and... have no real effect on her mood let alone her life. The finale did what it was supposed to - took a few bold steps that got me interested enough to tune back in for season four, but I still feel it could be a lot more than what it's given me so far. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Anthology Pathology

Check it out. Just look at that poster. Gives me chills, but maybe that's because I know the awfulness that awaits Benji Metcalf the hapless fucktard whose story A Fuckload of Scotch Tape is. I wrote that story trying, just trying to make someone who does something absolutely indefensible and unforgivable in the opening paragraph an object of pity. More than an object of pity. An identifiable and get-behindable protagonist who you want to see succeed... or at least escape unscathed. Did I succeed? I think so. Julian Grant thinks so. But I tell you what - reading a brief description of Benji's transgressions in a short story and watching them take place on screen are two far different experiences. When I read Julian's script, I thought, WTF? Did I write that? This is really awful territory to be hanging around in. Julian's film Fuckload of Scotch Tape is going to be an acid bath for your soul... with singing. Yeah, it's a musical. Yeah, I'm soooo good with that. In fact, thanks Julian for introducing me to the stylings of Kevin Quain and thanks Kevin for consenting to let Julian use your music to tell this pitch black (and hopefully funny) story. And hey, thanks, Graham Jenkins for donning such a terrible mustache (a plot point for my intersecting stories Fuckload and Mahogany & Monogamy). Vanity is not your name. Shooting starts this week! 

Meanwhile, had a great time in Carbondale Friday where I participated in SIUC's annual Lit-festival, The Devil's Kitchen. I was on a panel titled The Anthology Pathology with Pinckney Benedict, Laura Benedict and Josh Woods discussing the anthologies we'd edited. So believe that I pimped Noir at the Bar and D*CKED with a bawm-chicka-wow-wow soundtrack and everything. I'd never met Woods before, but was familiar with him through the Surreal South books that the Benedicts have put together every other year since '07, and I was eager to meet him. Do yourself a favor and turn to his entries early whenever you come across his work. I picked up a copy of the new anthology he edited - The Book of Villains - that's just out from Main Street Rag, while I was there and the first thing I'm doing is finishing the story he read part of at the event about the unsuccessful retirement of Blackbeard the pirate.

Took the Nerd of Noir's advice and watched Paul Andrew Williams'London to Brighton over the weekend. Brilliant film. Talk about grabbing at your tender bits from the opening shot... Fantastic performances from Lorraine Stanley as Kelly, a London prostitute who takes runaway Georgia Groome (in the third excellent portrayal of a teenager by a teenager I've seen lately - the others being Alex Shaffer in Thomas McCarthy's Win Win, and James Frecheville in David Michod's Animal Kingdom, hey writers, guess what? They're teenagers, not frustrated grad students). All we need to know about either character is observable literally on their face and in their actions. Also excellent in that cast is Johnny Harris as Kelly's pimp - sleazy goes without saying, but desperate and human to boot makes him all the more terrifying. The only odd note is Sam Spruell as the heavy hunting them down. He's effectively creepy, holding the screen like a DNA side project of Dylan Baker, Willem Dafoe and David Bowie, but the tone of his character I dunno, maybe belongs to a different movie, (like Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds). Still, with an 86 minute running time (and I do mean running) it's as stripped down and fight-ready as anything I've seen in a long time. Thanks, Nerd. Do yourself a favor and pay attention to the Nerd's crime flick double feature pieces in each issue of Crime Factory.   

At Ransom Notes, I'm talking to John Rector about his latest, Already Gone and... damn. That's three kick ass books in under a year and a half from his Nebraska hidey hole. Guys like him make me feel pathetic. You know somebody else who's getting shit done these days? Nik Korpon. Less than a year since his first book Stay God was released, he's published two novellas, the excellent Old Ghosts last spring and the brand new By the Nails of the Warpriest now-ish... In Print! I'm happy for authors who are getting exposure and making some money with eBooks and I'm pleased as hell that people are reading them, but it's still pretty special to have an object to read. Check out David Cranmer's interview with Nik over at the Gutter Books site.

May get out to see Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene this week (or perhaps Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter) and I'm feeling the need to re-watch Martin McDonagh's In Bruges. Otherwise, getting through Sons of Anarchy's third season which has a pretty laughable trip to Ireland - I just keep thinking of The Brady Bunch on vacation in Hawaii - but still just enough interest to keep going. Enjoyed Stephen King's cameo early in the season and WTF with all the Deadwood cast members? I mean, good for them, but it's a weird reunion, and not the one I'd really like to see them do, but I especially love anytime Robin Weigert is onscreen. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cook Book

Over at Ransom Notes, I had fun last week posting on my favorite crime fiction macguffins including inspired by Simon Logan's terrific Katja From the Punk Band, (think Elmore Leonard'Rum Punch - or Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown if you don't read - and Allan Guthrie'Savage Night set in a vaguely eastern European industrial-atrophy, acid rain-soaked setting and scored by Trent Reznor's skeezy uncle). My number one macguffin? The head from Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. I'm not so un-self-aware that I don't notice the ridiculously lopsided nature of the list - that most of the examples I mention are under twenty years old, but go ahead, leave a comment and edjumicate my ignorance.

Today at Ransom Notes I'm sticking with the urban decay and talking Derek Raymond and the re-release of The Factory novels from Melville House, (featuring new introductions by James Sallis on He Died With His Eyes Open and Will Self on I Was Dora Suarez).

Holy craps, but it's a big week for electronic crime journals with brand new issues of Crime Factory and Plots With Guns. PWG features N@B alum Matthew C. Funk as well as Stephen Graham Jones, Pete Risley, Patricia Abbott, Ryan Jackson, Thomas Pluck M. James Blood, Chris Gordon, Art Taylor and Charles Dodd White, while CF has got pieces by Funk (he's everywhere), Nik Korpon, Seth Harwood, David James Keaton, Heath Lowrance, Doc O'Donnell, Nick Quantrill, Matthew Finn, Julia Madeleine, Andrew Nette, Michael Peck and Addam Duke interviewing Jake Adelstein.

The Nerd of Noir's crime double feature for this issue is Andrew WilliamsLondon to Brighton which I haven't seen, but will very soon, believe it, and Ben Wheatley'Down Terrace which I have and need to see again. Really, really need to watch again. It was a most unusual experience and I'm eager to have another go. Based on the strength of Terrace, Wheatley's next Kill List is way up top of my anticipated films list. Incidentally, I first heard of Terrace from the Ray Banks, who has usually got a keen eye for quality, but take a gander at his counter-brilliance take on Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive over at the always worthwhile Norma Desmond's Monkey. How wrong he is. How wrong. Well, he's backed up his opinions with some words that are worth reading even if they're off the mark. 

Sorry, Ray, your points seem to be too much about what the book might've become onscreen, (and hell yeah, I was excited to hear Neil Marshall was doing it) instead of what the film is as its own entity. I never did read James Sallis's novel, but I've read the original short story that became the novel, (from the sadly out of print Measures of Poison - what a hell of a good book if you ever come across one, do not blink, pick it up) and was still able to leave things like Driver's backstory sketches out of the movie experience... because they're not in the movie, which means they don't exist. As portrayed in the film, Driver may be a PTSD war vet or fucked up suburban kid, who knows, all we've got is what's on screen. 

Driver's experience of the film's events are like the star of his own movie - his posing, his walk, his toothpick, his fuckin scorpion jacket, his dialogue ('shut your mouth or I'll shut it for you'), and of course his driving. I think the movie world he exists in is fairly meta or just seriously delusional (which could account for touches like the strippers' stock-still postures while he assaults Chris with a hammer - like something out of a Robert Palmer video - and his weird fetishy need to don the creepy mask and the soundtrack that must be playing in his own head) and as for the driving not being anything we haven't seen before, I'd love to hear a recording of some executive trying to make him shoot that second chase's climax outside in a wide shot instead of through the back window to the side of Christina Hendricks' face - really a brilliant shot. So, style to burn. 

Sounds like the source material would support several solid takes, but dismissing what we've got for what could've been just wont fly this time, (I reserve the right to do that any time I want to BTW. 'Cause I do, I know. A lot.) Any way, Norma Desmond's Monkey is a helluva good movie blog if you don't follow it you're missing good shit, and meanwhile Ray's got hisself quite a blurb from none other than Lee Child - check that shit out

Speaking of style to burn, Julian Grant looses more style when he blows his nose than McG could ape in a dozen unwanted theatrical adaptations of vintage television shows, and I can't wait to see what the hell he does with FLOST... 10 days till shooting begins. 

And Friday I'll be in Carbondale with Josh Woods, Pinckney and Laura Benedict... and I'll be thirsty.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ketchum If You Can

So I came across the artwork for the Surreal South '11 anthology online the other day. Looks spooky nice. Really excited to be part of it. Could, at this point, launch into a long-winded 'you've come a long way, baby' back pat here, but that would be unseemly. You, on the other hand, are welcome to go on and on about me. Really, just being included in this collection is a big ol' sloppy smooch to my ego. The lineup is great - N@B alum like Laura Benedict, Pinckney Benedict, Anthony Neil Smith and John Hornor Jacobs, plus Sophie Littlefield, Nik Korpon, Brad Green, J.T. Ellison, Sheryl Monks, John McManus and and and... Yeah, a buncha goodness/badness. On October 28, I'll be headed out to Carbondale, Il for the Devil's Kitchen Literary Festival at SIUC where I'll join Laura, Pinckney and Josh Woods on a panel called The Anthology Pathology. Come say 'hi' if you're around.

Over at Ransom Notes I'm getting into some of those seasonally appropriate creepy books that I've enjoyed in the last couple of years. One that landed on my desk recently was the Joe Lansdale edited  Horror Hall of Fame anthology featuring Bram Stoker Award winning short stories from the likes of David Morrell, Harlan Ellison, George R.R. Martin and somebody I've had my eye snagged on for a while now, Jack Ketchum. Dammit, it's time for me to read some of that.

Tom Piccirilli posted this sweet lil' recommendation for Noir at the Bar on his blog. Thanks, Tom. John Kenyon also had some nice things to say about it and D*CKED too over at the web presence for his new baby, Grift Magazine. Hell between Grift and the brand new Criminal Complex online journal, exciting things are happening in publishing, (good shit from Jay Tomio, Jimmy Callaway, Cameron Ashley, Matthew C. Funk, Josh Converse, Johnny-99 and Keith Rawson.) And shit, the latest issue of Needle is live. Steve Weddle - there I said it - and company have put together another great lineup of new fiction including the conclusion to Ray Banks' Wolf Tickets - can't wait. You can buy that shit right here. I wish I had more time to writes, 'cause I'd be terribly pleased to contribute here, there and everywhere.

Just a reminder that Daniel Woodrell will be appearing Friday at COCA in University City for an event hosted by Subterranean Books in support of his terrific new short story collection The Outlaw Album. Tickets must be purchased for this event and will cover the price of the book and secure you a seat for the screening of Winter's Bone. So, yeah, it's a no-brainer to buy a ticket - you're gonna love the book. I gave a little rundown of some of my favorite pieces included over at Ransom Notes last week.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Keeping Up With Jones

Lookie there, the folks over at the Mulholland Books blog are spotlighting the Crime Factory anthology – nice – and they’re even giving away a free sample of what you’ll find inside. S’right, one of the stories from the antho is available to be read for free at the Mulholland site and it’s… mine?

Cool. If you’d like to read my story Amateurs, for goodness sake don’t go buy the book, (unless you wanna show your support for N@B alum like Dennis Tafoya, Jonathan Woods, Hilary Davidson, Frank Bill and Cameron Ashley, or else you dig folks like Roger Smith, Ken Bruen, Charlie Stella, Adrian McKinty, Scott Wolven, Craig McDonald, Dave Zeltserman, Greg Bardsley, Kieran Shea, Keith Rawson, Jimmy Callaway, Andrew Nette, Leigh Redhead, Patricia Abbott, Josh Converse, Liam Jose, Nate Flexer, Chad Eagleton, Steve Weddle, Anonymous-9, Dave White and Chris F. Holm), just head on over to Mulholland.

Those folks from Mulholland are awful busy with the whole publishing thing, and not just brand new titles. They’ve been making some good outta print shit available again and hopefully introducing some worthy and underexposed titles and talent to a new audience. One of my favorites reads of the summer was one of those – A Single Shot by Matthew F. Jones. It’s hardcore, kiddos. Not for the faint. But if it’s something you’re interested in, leave a comment on this here blog post and Friday I’ll choose somebody to send a copy to.

After A Single Shot, I’m looking for more Jones and hell, Brian Lindenmuth had some damn good words for Boot Tracks, so I’ve got my eyes peeled special for that one. And Rusty Barnes said Deepwater was the shit, so I’m on to that one too. Oooh, lookit – Deepwater was made into a movie too directed by David S. Marfield. Damn. I’ve got a lot to be looking for. I get especially excited about these small crime films because at their low-budget level nobody is losing too much money by making them hardcore, bleak, uncompromising or y’know… better.

Watched a great little crime flick this week, Ed Gass-Donnelly's Small Town Murder Songs starring the ever-watchable Peter Stormare as a middle-aged, small-town police chief investigating his first murder, though apparently not the first killing he's had ties to. Its measured pace, stately composition and bracingly spiritual soundtrack help, but it's the performances by the whole cast and especially Stormare, Martha Plimpton, Jill Hennessey and Stephen Eric McIntyre, (he was in Nicolas Winding Refn's Fear X and Scott Frank's The Lookout? Really? Hmm) that really give the picture weight. It's a brooder, but not a plodding one. The central investigation is refreshingly straight-forward and simple while the interpersonal dynamics are the complex main story. I'll have to check out Gass-Donnelly's This Beautiful City soon.

A bit more than three weeks before shooting begins on another micro-budget crime film I'm excited about: Julian Grant's FLOST, a noir musical based on my short story A Fuckload of Scotch Tape. Grant calls the project "a two fisted, no apologies love letter to James Ellroy, Busby Berkley, poverty row cinema and the genius of Edgar Ulmer." You can keep up with FLOST at the production website.

Just so happens that the other story I had published in Out of the Gutter (#6), Viscosity is also being made into a film - though this one's a short where Fuckload's a feature, (nobody wants a feature length adaptation of Viscosity, trust me). Paul von Stoetzel, (yeah, the guy doing the Dennis Tafoya adaptation How to Jail) is shooting this one and I'm really interested to see how it turns out. I hope you laugh. And cry. And don't try anything you learn about, while watching it, at home.

At Ransom Notes I'm listing some upcoming reads to get excited about including a non-fiction book by Christopher Goffard called You Will See Fire. It's untangling the story of a shotgun-toting missionary in Kenya and his death. Sounds awesome, after all Goffard's the dude what wrote Snitch Jacket don't you know? There's a weird convergence of things it's reminding me of: the new Marc Forster flick Machine Gun Preacher, the two forthcoming Kyle Minor books - The Sexual Lives of Missionaries and the true crime-ish A Kidnapping in Haiti, (I can't recall if it has a name, or if I just pulled that outta my posterior) and Elmore Leonard's Pagan Babies. I'm sure I'm doing it a terrible disservice with this sort of reductive exercise, but it amuses me.