Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Saw the Devil All the Time

Finally caught up to Jee-woon Kim's I Saw the Devil this week. Really did like it, but y'know, for once, I probably could've done without a lot of the graphic brutality. Come to think of it, I turned off Steven Kastrissios's The Horseman because I just didn't wanna look at it. I dunno, just wasn't rooted deeply enough in any emotional soil to sustain the weight of the onscreen violence. And while I did finish Devil and think it's certainly one of the best serial-killer movies I've seen, there just came points where I thought, "this feels gratuitous and it's not adding anything worthwhile to the picture." I found myself thinking back to Eli Roth's Hostel, a far less elegant film that matches the onscreen awfulness pound for pound, but where I loved it in Hostel (you read that right - I loved Hostel and don't make me defend my fondness for Hostel II, I'll do it), I merely liked Devil. Apples and Oranges you might say and I'd counter with Oranges and Tangerines. We should talk.

What I loved loved loved though? Donal Ray Pollock's The Devil All the Time. I'll be brief 'cause I'm gonna cover it elsewhere in the blogosphere soon, but if anything is gonna top this one for book of the year, it's not on my radar. You know what is on my radar though? Rusty Barnes' collection of short stories Mostly Redneck. Man, if you likes you some hardcrabble, blue-collar Americana, (and if you don't why the hell are you reading this blog?) you've got to check this one out. It won't be available till summer's end, but I'll remind you then. Just save that name and save some money to purchase it when the time comes. (And yeah, cat's-out Pollock will be at Frank Bill's book release in Corydon, IN. on September 10 along with Scott Phillips, Kyle Minor and lil''ol me, but you can catch him in St. Louis at Subterranean Books July 20.)

I was getting pretty tired of The Nerd of Noir reviewing Ray Banks titles that I couldn't get my hands on in the USofA and wrote The Saturday Boy hisself to bitch about it, ('cause you know, he doesn't want anybody not living on the island to be able to read it - must've been my reasoning) and he suggested The Book Depository, which I checked out. A UK online retailer that charges 0 shipping all the time. So, yeah, I ordered his novellas Gun and California and received em by post Monday and Tuesday. Then Wednesday I received Needle #4 featuring part two of Banks' Wolf Tickets, so thanks, I'm full up for that blendashit for another week or so. Thinkin' I'll hit up the Book Depo for summat Allan Guthrie next.

Oh, and if you've read the latest Needle and taken in Daniel O'Shea's The Bard's Confession and Dog's Breakfast by Cameron Ashley - just think how awesome it'd been to have caught them reading it live at N@B last October, (okay, Dan read a different piece). Man, I wish I had a recording of that sexy, manly growls... fucken woof! Look for Dan and Cam to shine in print together in the N@B antho (coming soon!) So, think of the history you've missed and make the fuck sure you show the hell up at the next N@B event August 6 at Meshuggah Cafe with Jesus Angel Garcia, Jane Bradley, David Cirillo and unconfirmed.

And somebody tell me what the sweet hell is going on here? I saw someplace the Duane Swierczynski is reading at a Noir at the Bar event in July. C'mon, that'd be awesome, but it's not nice to tease folks like that. He's not gonna be anywhere near St. Louis before Bouchercon... oh, my bad. He'll be at that other Noir at the Bar. Y'know, the one in La-la-wood that Eric Beetner and Stephen Blackmoore have cooked up to try and approximate a St. Louis evening. As if. Still, the Swizzler's a pretty good start. What really chaps my balls though, is that former St. Louisan Jordan Harper will almost assuredly participate there before he comes back home to read. Really chaps.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Green Bay Packager

Martin H. Greenberg passed away Saturday. He'd anthologized untold numbers of writers in every genre from Kitty Cat Sleuths to Steampunk. Over a hundred books he compiled and edited. He was 70 when he passed. More at Ransom Notes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whitey, Blackmoore & Rednexploitation!

You hear about Whitey Bulger being caught? Dunno what it might say about me, but as far as I'm concerned, this feels like bigger news than Osama Bin Laden taking the bullet cure. I'm wondering though if this whole thing wasn't orchestrated by Dave Zeltserman to sell more copies or possibly the film rights to his Whitey & Winter Hill Gang inspired Pariah. What? You haven't read it? Brothers and sisters, please rectify that.

Speaking of big Dave, I'm slowly reading through that On Dangerous Ground anthology of western noir that he co-edited with Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, and I really dug the Terry Tanner piece All Good Men about a prisoner at Yuma biding his time bent on killing two other inmates. You get a chance, check that one out. That Greenberg cat edits the hell out of some collections don't he? I just got a couple of the strangest anthologies I've ever seen, also from Cemetery Dance Publications, the other day and one of them had Marin's name on it: Screamplays an anthology of... wait for it... screenplays. Yup, horror screenplays from the likes of Gorman, Joe Lansdale, Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz, Harlan Ellison and Richard Laymon. Martin's co-editor was Richard Chizmar and he had solo editing credit on the second, Smoke and Mirrors which was the same concept and featuring a bunch of the same names plus Stewart O'Nan, Frank Darabont, William Peter Blatty, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Poppy Z. Brite and on and on and on. They're hefty fuckers too. Been flipping through them. I'm always curious how other folks writer screenplays and make 'em readable. Of all the bound screenplays I've read, I think I like The Coen Brothers' the best. These aren't shooting scripts, they're reading scripts and there's a big difference for anybody not actually trying to make the film.

Have you seen the new Noir Nation eMagazine? I love seeing Cortright McMeel's name on there (one of the guys behind Murdaland magazine and the author of Short.) He, Eddie Vega who was also involved with the Murdaland, and Alan Ward Thomas are editing this beast of prose and graphic fiction, poetry and apparently they're gonna put short noir films up there too? Interesting... veddy intelesting. I'm wondering if Paul von Stoetzel has got his eye on that one. You remember Paul, the dude making the short film based on the Dennis Tafoya short story from Crime Factory, How to Jail? Paul's been reading some of my shit recently and apparently digging it which is tremendously gratifying. (I'm looking forward to catching his The Curse of Yig, an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation.) Any way, Noir Nation international journal of crime fiction. They're stressing the international thing. Good. Oh, and look whose popping up in that first line-up, my man in Poland, Paul D. Brazill. My gawd, he gets around.

While we're talking internations and internets, I got an offer for some eReview copies of titles from Melville House publications which look promising. I've got my eyes on More Beer by that German guy Jakob Arjouni. How could you go wrong with a title like that, huh? I mean, if the book sucks, just take the title as a suggestion and your time is bound to improve, yeah? Though, drinking around an eReader or in my case my computer, is probably not a good percentage move.

But if you're somebody who likes to live dangerously and read electronically and would like a free eCopy of Donald Westlake's God Save the Mark? Apparently, if you sign up to The Copia social-e-bookstore you'll get one... looks like they give away more cool titles like John Ball's In the Heat of the Night and W.R. Burnett's Little Caesar. 'Course, if you like to be allowed to spill your drink, or smear your barbeque sauce on your reading material without ruining it, just leave a comment on this piece, and you may win a Westlake or Richard Stark book you could hold in your hands! Selections are limited, but hey, they're free and touchable, so go ahead and leave a comment. I've got, uh three? to give away.

That Westlake. Man, he cranked em out and they're still finding em. Charles Ardai over at the relaunching Hard Case Crime is going to town on these unearthed Westlake and Mickey Spillane titles. If The Comedy is Finished is as good as Memory - the last last unpublished Westlake - then sign me up. And Max Allan Collins has got a new Quarry book - Quarry's Ex as well as the co-authored Hammerless tome The Consummata a few weeks later. Throw in Lawrence Block's Jill Emerson resurrection Getting Off and Christa Faust's second Angel Dare episode Choke Hold and I say, damn, I've missed you Hard Case.

Backtracking a moment to Lovecraft, Derek Nikitas is working on a hugely ambitious novel about H.P., Aleister Crowley and W.B. Yeats. Yikes, that sounds awesome, especially if you've read Derek before. And most especially if you've read The Ballad of Larry Plank, his contribution to the N@B anthology... I'm so excited about putting that one out. It's a great story, (cycle of stories, actually.)

Talky of N@B, our little event seems to be contagious. I mentioned before that Frank Bill is hosting a book release party for Crimes in Southern Indiana in southern Indiana on September 10. He'll read of course, as will me and and Kyle Minor and and and... Frank asked me not to say until he'd made an announcement, but if you follow his Twitter dialogue with Keith Rawson or his Facebooking comments on Steve Weddle's page, then you already know... And your mind is blown by how awesome the event is going to be. Na-na-na-na-na.

But don't pout, start your own franchise. Looks like Los Angeles will finally be put on the map for dark fiction. For those of you who're not familiar, get out a map and check the bottom left corner of the USA for L.A. It's where Paris Hilton lives, right? Anyhow, seems Eric Beetner and Stephen Blackmoore have been giving a little thought as to how they can put their city into the public consciousness. Good luck to them. Once again, I'll let them make an official statement sometime, but methinks something good is in the works.

BTW - have you seen the cover for Blackmoore's City of the Lost? Got a nice picture from Sean Phillips the badass motherfucker who draws that motherfucking badass Criminal comic, y'know, the one Ed Brubaker writes. Score. Over at Ransom Notes, I'm talking up the other Ed, Ed Lynskey's rednexploitation novel Lake Charles. A lot of fun. Check it out. And while I'm on about the funny papers, I just got Jason Starr's new Batman/Doc Savage/Avenger First Wave special. Let's see, can I share this one with the kids?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Severance Package

Gonna be a helluva summer for the ol' pocketbook, friends. Lots of travel - mostly work/pleasure hybrids - books to publish, events to plan and plenty o' books to buy - starting with Fun & Games the first in a trilogy to be released within a year from Duane Swierczynski, (okay, okay, starting with Claire DeWitt & the City of the Dead by Sara Gran - catch up, people.) I've got a review of it up at Ransom Notes and seriously, it's the most fun you've had between the pages since Joan Severance appeared in Playboy... And the most fun you may have till what's-his-nuts Bill shows up in the glossy later this year.

Looks like some of those summer travel plans will be heading back to Corydon and Arlston's Books for a release party for Frank Bill's Crimes in Southern Indiana September 10. Sounds like I'll be joining Scott Phillips and Kyle Minor, maybe more there for that. Hoping we can secure a few copies of the Crime Factory antho for that event, plus Scott's The Adjustment will be shiny and new. I'll most likely be with Scott in Oxford, MS. in July for a release party of Megan Abbott's new one The End of Everything - a real chiller for your muggy summer nights - seriously, Abbott's out-creeped herself with this one. Never quite put myself in the headspace of a thirteen year old girl that way before. Lemme tell you, it's disorienting and kinda yummy... And now I've out-creeped myself. Hope, of course that the whole Oxford crew turns out for that one. I'd love to see Tom Franklin, William Boyle, Chris Offutt, Jack Pendarvis and John Brandon. Who knows, maybe Ace Atkins will take time off from channeling Robert Parker to show up, maybe John Grisham and the spirit of William Faulkner will hover, I'm game. 'Course nobody's got more to look forward to than St. Louis this soggy season, as the eminent arrival of Donald Ray Pollock supporting his first novel - and what a scorcher, I'm reeling - The Devil All the Time is here July 20, Jesus Angel Garcia brings badbadbad and Jane Bradley shows up with You Believers with N@B antho contributor and Matt Kindt collaborator David Cirillo August 6. Jon Jordan and company bring Bouchercon our way in September and rumors leak that Daniel Woodrell may arrive in October with The Outlaw Album.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My First Robot Ham

Ready for the list? The lineup for Surreal South '11 just dropped and who-ee it's strong. Aside from my own contribution, look for stories from N@B vets Anthony Neil Smith, John Hornor Jacobs (and editors) Laura Benedict and Pinckney Benedict as well as HBW friends Brad Green, Sophie Littlefield and Nik Korpon. Back for another round are SS09 folks like Alexander Lumans, Michael Kardos, John McManus, Josh McCall, Josh Woods, J.T. Ellison and Sheryl Monks and from SS07 Susan Woodring. Then make way for A.K. Thompson, Anne Valente, Gregory Wolos, James O'Brien, Jim Walke, Julia Patt, Marilyn Moriarty, Mark Fleming, Reuben Hayslett, Robert Busby, Robert Hill Long, Ron Lands, Rose Bunch and Victor Schultz. Nice.

Over at Ransom Notes I'm talking Michael Robotham's latest The Wreckage. I'd never read one of his before, but he was on my radar, and while it's not the kind of fare I usually pick up - it's long (like over 300 pages - yeah, that's long for me, what the fuck you lookin at?), it's international intrigue and a conspiracy thriller while I tend to like my thrills and chills on a smaller scale - it's a damn fine representation of the genre's potential. I've always wanted to give Nelson DeMille or Tom Clancy a try, but absolutely wilt at the sheer size of their tomes - so, this one is what I'd like to believe theirs can be too, (though, that's probably completely unfair to all three authors.)

While supporting the recovery of my amazing wife from a minor surgery this week, I've been watching a bunch of movies. In one 24 hour period we sat through about ten episodes of Patrick McGoohan in Danger Man, Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, two episodes of Treme Season One, Sofia Coppolla's Somewhere, Nic Cage in Drive Angry, Jason Statham and Ben Foster reprising the roles of Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent in The Mechanic, The Coen Brothers' slice of awesome The Man Who Wasn't There and Christopher Smith's Black Death - after that one and Severence, Smith is on my go-to for off-balance horror films every time list.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hittin the Links

Dan O'Shea & Frank Bill listen to Aaron Michael Morales read at N@B
Some little bit o' catchin' up to do at the HBW. First, over at Ransom Notes I'm still a bit high from the N@B event over the weekend and I'm telling a few stories about book events. Have you one? Please go there and leave it in the comment section. Second, I've not yet linked to my thoughts on two big summer books, so here they are: Jason Starr's rabid moon thriller The Pack (check out Cullen Gallagher's notched toply interview with Jason here) and Marcus Sakey's forget me not The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes. Third, Patti Abbott forced me to take part in her series "How I Came to Write This," so here's a link to the story behind my story Politoburg.

I've been touching up a story about a fallen away preacher at the ass end of Sherman's March this week and still thinking about it as a novel. There's a biblical character he's modeled on, and I think there's a novel's worth of story there without even trying. Perhaps it's my next big project.

You guys see that Spinetingler magazine is going into publishing eBooks? Snubnose Press is debuting with the mini-antho Speedloader soon featuring N@B alumn Richard Thomas and Jonathan Woods as well as HBW friends Nik Korpon, Nigel Bird and Matthew C. Funk. Now, I've got to familiarize meself with W.C. County. eBooks. Here we go with eBooks again. Man, I don't think I'll ever back down about there being something special about print, but I'm just gonna be left out of too much good shit to not read em. So, I just picked up (not literally of course, sigh) Roger Smith's Dust Devils, How Do You Like Your Blue Eyed Boy by Barry Graham and The Adventures of Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles by David Cranmer pseudonym Edward A. Grainger. Of course Anthony Neil Smith's Billy Laffite books Yellow Medicine and Hogdoggin go in there too, but just for objectivity as I've already got reading-friendly physical copies that I've comfortably dog-eared, (actually the new covers by Erik Lundy are worth picking em for - but damn - I'd really like to hold those tattered pulps). Check out Mr. Smith on the Booked Podcast talking ePublishing-n-stuff. My favorite quote from that interview? "Being dragged kicking and screaming to ePublishing is like being dragged kicking and screaming to a blow-job."

N@B is coming backatcha August 6 with Jesus Angel Garcia, Jane Bradley and David Cirillo, so make your travel plans now. July 20, Donald Ray Pollock is here and though it's not technically a N@B event, me and Scott are involved and trying to make it special for as many folks as possible, (think we could twist some arms to show? Maybe Alan Heathcock? Chris Offutt? Pinckney Benedict? Robert OlmsteadKyle Minor? Scott WolvenBenjamin PercyDaniel Woodrell? Tom Franklin? John Brandon? Bueller? Bueller? I dunno, but will keep you posted.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Southern Hostility

Can I take a moment to pat the N@B community on their collective back? Over the years, I’ve been to some very nice literary events, some with absolutely 100%  spell-check approved and correct grammar usage. I’ve been to some dull ones and even a couple that took amazing material and snipped its nuts with atmosphere and culture, but before last night’s N@B event, I had never been to a reading where one author stops mid-paragraph on his story and tells the next reader that he would like to fuck his muscles, much less one where said erotically-muscled-reader’s piece includes a passage about literal muscle-fucking, (tendons maybe, or some such viscera –weird though, yeah?)

I love our event. You should make a point of attending some time.

Glad to see that the change of venue didn’t throw the community into chaos, (or rather turn our pleasantly chaotic little group into a bunch of well-behaved line-standers). In fact I got several politely phrased suggestions  to keep future events at Meshuggah, and as the next one (August 6, with Jesus Angel Garcia, author of badbadbad, David Cirillo and Jane Bradley, author of You Believers) also takes place on a Saturday, we just may have it there again.

The evening got off to a righteous start with John Hornor Jacobs reading a tale of Pentecostalism run amok somewhere beneath the Mason Dixon line and was followed by Aaron Michael Morales’ tale of a young boy’s first pubes , cage fighting and y’know, arrow wounds. Fred Venturini read two pieces, a marriage tale with a side of serial-killer fascination/fandom and an excerpt from his novel The Samaritan, featuring inanimate-object violation of a human being, murder and suicide, (I kept thinking about the Stephen Graham Jones blurb on his book claiming that reading it, “was like finding an autobiography I forgot I’d written,” hmmm… Steve, I’m sorry about your life, dude.)  Not to be out-transgressed, Frank Bill read a lovely piece about a family’s final breaking point, which is apparently when incest turns to pimpdom and handguns are suddenly remembered beneath pillows or beside oxygen tanks – the things we do for health care.

In attendance I was amazed to see former N@B star Daniel O’Shea had hauled his lovely wife all the way from Chicagoland, but not so much that Matthew McBride had the Mrs. in tow from about a hundred miles out. Rod Norman and his better half Judy led the last century mark of miles in the caravan that included Misters Bill and Morales, and local past and future N@B inductees Matt Kindt, David Cirillo, Mark Tiedemann and Erik Smetana lent the proceedings  a veneer of classiness just shiny enough to lure other wives, friends and passersby into our whimsically debauched company. For that we are thankful. Now, if they can do it again we’ll really be doing something special.

Thanks of course to Kelly and Subterranean Books who’ve just announced that indeed they will be remaining open, (though they might be moving from their current location on The Delmar Loop). With events like last month’s Steve Earle read, N@B, Tim Lane’s monthly Whirling Gypsy Cabaret, BYOB and of course July 20th’s Donald Ray Pollock signing making a pattern of #winning, I hope to keep shopping there for a long time to come.

And y’know what I’m looking forward to purchasing there?

Yup, the N@B antho, which should be available at our next event. Alright, I’m putting it out there. And lemme tell you, I’ve read the collection of stories and they are all over the map, tone, subject and story-wise, from hardboiled to kinda runny and on to rotten and nearly hatched, but the single thing that binds them all together is the history and seat space they share on the literary-short-bus  we call Noir at the Bar.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Totally Meshuggah

N@B is tonight!!!! Come see Fred Venturini and his extra limbs! Come hear John Hornor Jacobs and his ridiculous accent! Come smell Frank Bill's favorite passtimes! Come touch Aaron Michael Morales's big hard Tuscon streets! Come taste the beer! Rub elbows with other N@B folks like Scott Phillips, Matt Kindt, Matthew McBride? Malachi Stone? Tim Lane? Daniel O'Shea? Come hang with Rod, Judy, Kelly, Elli, Pearl, Stuart and the gang! Come tip Liam! Come sing happy birthday to Patrick!

Meshuggah Cafe is where to be tonight (6269 Delmar in the U-City Loop) at 7 for all the rowdy that is St. Louis's most dangerous literary event!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gran Ol' Time

At Ransom Notes I'm talking about Sara Gran's brave new direction for the American PI novel, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead. Man, if you haven't read a Gran book yet, fix that shit. I have yet to read Saturn's Return to New York, but if it's half as good as her others, it'll be the best book I read all month... unless that month is my next. Holy crap, I've got some good shit ahead including Megan Abbott's The End of Everything and Donald Ray Pollock's The Devil All the Time. But go ahead, I vouch for Dope and the recently reprinted Come Closer. I was thinking that the new cover for Come Closer looked awfully familiar and it took about ten seconds to place it... what do you think?

Going out of town this weekend. Hope to have some time to read and write. First time I'll have been back to Colorado in hmmm 17 or 18 years. I used to live there though and I definitely still miss the weather. I had some drinks and fatty foods with previous N@B participant Richard Thomas the other day. He used to live in St. Louis and over the Memorial Day weekend return visit he was so moved by the awful humidity he wrote a flash crime piece called Gateway inspired by it and it was immediately published at Doc O'Donnell's new fiction site Dirty Noir.

We talked about books - we're swapping care packages - including anthologies we're excited to be taking part in. Of course, Richard is included in the N@B antho which ought to be available sometime over the summer (Matt Kindt just turned in some really fantastic artwork for it btw) and he's also involved with The Velvet anthology Warmed and Bound (which sounds like a really dirty cookbook to me) alongside names like Paul Tremblay, Nik Korpon, Christopher J. Dwyer, Kyle Minor, Caleb J. Ross, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger and Chris Deal (plus too many more to name). I've never gotten involved with online writing communities in any official way, but The Velvet seems like a pretty good place to hang out if you're looking for a home.

Of course when I return home next week I'll be gearing up for N@B with Frank Bill, Fred Venturini, John Hornor Jacobs and Aaron Michael Morales. Damn, that's a solid lineup and gonna be hard to beat. We've just added some names to the August 6 N@B event though. Joining Jesus Angel Garcia will be David Cirillo and Jane Bradley whose book You Believers I spent this Ransom Notes piece gushing over.

It's been a busy week for N@B people - The Concord ePress went live this week with titles by our people Scott Phillips (2 from my man - Rut and his first collection of short fiction Rum, Sodomy and False Eyelashes) and the debut novel Frank Sinatra in a Blender by Matthew McBride. ANS has had the e-version of Hogdoggin' released featuring more seriously badass work by future (I'm counting on it) N@B performer, Erik Lundy. Damn. The Lund delivers on those, (he also retooled the Yellow Medicine e-cover). Also, Sean Doolittle alerted me to his next book's December release - Lake Country is due in December and I can't wait. Matt Kindt has a brand new book he illustrated, The Tooth - which looks plenty bizzarre. Pinckney & Laura Benedict are putting together Surreal South '11 and Dennis Tafoya's short story How to Jail (from Crime Factory 3) is being made as a short film by director Paul Von Stoetzel (Snuff). You can be a part of this uber cool film's odyssey by supporting it right here and following the Brute Force Films blog. My lil' ol' film update is that Julian Grant (The Defiled, Fall Away, RoboCop Prime Directives) is gearing up to begin shooting A Fuckload of Scotch Tape near the end of the summer and I'm stoked about that. And has anybody not seen Adam Wangler's short doc Pitch Black Noir shot in part at N@B? It focuses on Malachi Stone and Scott and features a snippet of Anthony Neil Smith reading Crotch Rockets (from Kung-Fu Factory).

Finally, I'm watching the first season of David Simon's Treme on DVD and really enjoying it. The music is of course fuckin ridiculously infectious and the cast is stellar (Wendell Pierce is stealing it though). Each episode so far has featured a large number of cameos - mostly uncredited -  and last night I just about choked on my Schlafly beverage when Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly had about two seconds of screen time. I backed up the disc and made my wife watch it over and over - I know that guy, sweetie, we're like this (makes twisted finger sign), you (pointing to her) went to school with them at the University of Arkansas, don't you remember? She was so impressed, lemme tell you. I had to go dig up this picture of me and Scott and Tom and John H. Jacobs being entirely sober to really make it sink in.

At the risk of sounding like Chris Farley, do you remember when we all met up in Arkansas at that guy's house? That was awesome.