Monday, September 26, 2011

All the Funky Possibilities

Have you checked out the Booked Podcast yet? I keep tuning in to hear Robb Olson and Livius Nedin casting out of Chicago reviewing books and interviewing writers. Check out this episode where they review Frank Bill’s Crimes in Southern Indiana and continue to give a recap of Frank’s book release party in Corydon a couple weeks back. Remember that? I do. It was some good shit. 

At the end of that segment they drop the possibility of coming to check out N@B one of these days which I think would be tits. People sure have been swell in their reaction to the Noir at the Bar book, too. I’ve been reading the latest print edition of Mike White’s cinematic rag Cashiers Du Cinemart, (perhaps you’ve read the collection Impossibly Funky, and if you have then you know the kind of smart and smart-ass essays, reviews and interviews go down on these pages) and was just pleased as hell to see the Noir at the Bar ad (page 42 – doubters). Or turn to page 59 of issue 43 of Crimespree magazine and feast your eyes on the full pager those swell Jordanians threw in over there. And I’m starting to see reviews pop up on blogs. Sweet and thanks

Had an odd reading experience this week. Julian Grant (The Defiled, RoboCop: Prime Directives) is getting ready to shoot his next feature based on my short story A Fuckload of Scotch Tape and I’ve just seen the script. Holy shit, it’s gonna be a sick movie. Julian’s a hell of a stylist – a scrappy and innovative artist - whose vision I can’t wait to see. If you’ve read Fuckload (from Out of the Gutter #5) or my story Mahogany & Monogamy (from Blood, Guts & Whiskey), you’ve some idea of what to expect, but that’s all – some idea. It’s gonna be a hallucinatory trip to hell – you think reading that shit hurts? It’s going to a whole other level visually, not to mention audibly. Don’t forget, Scotch Tape the movie is a musical. I’m listening to Kevin Quain, (whose songs will score the film) right now, and telling you – you’ve never seen nothing like this.

Read a killer short story by N@B star Fred Venturini, called Detail, from the Cheryl Mullenax edited 2009 antho The Death Panel, which also includes the cop-killingest slice of pulp fiction since Ice-T recorded his quaint folk ballad - you know, before he began his real career of playing cops in movies and the TeeVees - Nine Cops Killed for a Goldfish Cracker by David James Keaton. Next I'm tackling the pieces by Tom Piccirilli and Randy Chandler. We'll see from there. 

N@B hero Tim Lane has got a graphic feature in the latest issue of the Riverfront Times - Tim Lane's Hopeville Journal - a document of time he spent in a St. Louis homeless camp on the Mississippi river this summer. If you know Tim's work, than you know that this subject matter is right up his alley. Only this time it's true stories of Americans getting by, rather than fictional accounts of similar desperate characters letting dignity slip through their remaining fingers.

Just saw the artwork (almost said 'cover' but that wouldn't be right) for Anthony Neil Smith's latest eBook All the Young Warriors. Damn it. Call this the third ANS book my eHandicap is causing me to miss. I'm assuming it's a backstage document of life on the road with Mott the Hoople.

Taking the Mrs. to see Drive while the kids're at school this morning. It's gonna be a good day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Driver Wanted

Back to the regular grind this week after two weeks of travel and playing host - I think it may've been much easier on my poor wife if I'd actually been out of town the whole time, but I was coming through the door around three in the morning and leaving again five hours later. It's hard to quantify the work to your spouse taking care of two children by herself... honestly, Hon it was hard work hanging around in bars with writers 19 hours a day. But let's attempt a recap, huh?

Wednesday night's N@B event was a marathon cheered on by a tightly-packed crowd of boozy sardines with names similar to many writers I admire, but who surely hadn't ever heard of our tawdry little event. Still, you gotta admit it's a little too coincidental to have a single reading attended by people with names like Sophie Littlefield, Derek Nikitas, Jason Starr, Martyn Waites, John Connolly, Mark Tiedemann, Holly O'Neill West, Josh Stallings, Bryon Quertermos, Johnny Shaw and Bob Truluck, plus names that sounded Twitterish like Janet Rudolf, Sabrina Ogden, Ali Karim and on and on... But, when your lineup is some tight shit like we had that night, maybe it aint too hard to imagine that kind of interest.

Hilary Davidson kicked things off reading her story from D*CKED - which features a mix of violence and sex and dark humor setting the pitch perfectly for the evening. She was followed by Glenn Gray giving us a taste of what he's got in store for Needle readers soon. John Rector read a piece whose rejection letters were apparently closer to hate mail and threats, but that N@B was proud to feature, and Duane Swierczynski followed with the opening of a current work in progress - an infidelity meets baseball bats tale that I'm pissed I gotta wait for. Afterward Laura Benedict read a selection from her contribution to the Noir at the Bar anthology, Matthew C. Funk plunged us up to our elbows into a nasty situation and Matthew McBride encored his upcoming Beat to a Pulp: Round Two piece - Big Darlene the Sex Machine and John McGoran fucked up a whole family in about five minutes.

Over the next few days I spent a lot of, but not enough, time with Benjamin Whitmer, Cameron Ashley, Keith Rawson, Con Lehane, Dan O'Shea, Frank Wheeler, Peter Farris, Jonathan Woods, Jimmy Callaway, Greg Bardsley, Gary Phillips, Dennis Tafoya, Michael Wiley, Thomas Kaufmann, John Lutz, Robert Randisi, Christine Matthews, Chris Holm, Chad Rohrbacher, John Kenyon, Scott Montgomery, Mark Dischinger, Ron Earl, Kent Gowran, Owen Laukkanen, Thomas Pluck, Frank Bill, Aaron Michael Morales, Paul Oliver as well as N@B folks like McBride, Gray, Funk, Shaw, Quertermos and a growing list of blurry faces already receding from consciousness only to be recalled suddenly, jarringly, I'm sure later down the line when I'm on the wrong end of a restraining order, I'm sure.

Monday morning I went to see Nicolas Winding Refn's adaptation of James Sallis's Drive with Ashley and Scott Phillips before taking Crocodile Dundee to the airport. Since then, I've not been able to stop thinking about the film - apparently Refn's version of a 1980's era Michael Mann pic, or perhaps a contemporary version of Jean Pierre Melville's Le Samorai. It's a remarkably tangy slice of pulp fiction, alternately baiting genre fans with subversive aesthetic choices, (costume, music, props) and then delivering diamond-making sequences of tension that pay off bone-shattering moments of violence. Ryan Gosling seems to pose rather than act throughout the film as a future icon of criminal, masculine cool (like Alain Delon under Melville's direction), but that shouldn't be taken as a criticism. It's just one more deliberate choice made by a director in full command of the medium, and the visually haunting sequence where The Driver dons a rubber mask to stalk his prey seems - coupled with the so-on-the-nose-it's-subtle-okay-no-it's-not-it's-on-the-nose refrain of the soundtrack "real human being, and a real hero," - to (ahem) drive that home. You get all that plus Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman as the best cinema baddies in a beat. Think Ima go again.

Couple other quick crime film catch ups. I really enjoyed Daniel Monzon's Cell 211 - adapted from a novel by Francisco Perez Gandul - about a guard trapped inside a deadly prison riot - wasted no time plunging us into the plot. At 20 minutes in, we'd already gone through several twists and it occurred to me that in a typical American movie we probably wouldn't have even been inside the prison by that time - a great argument for the slicing of needless exposition. Also finally got to see Jeffrey Goodman's The Last Lullaby with Tom Sizemore playing Max Allan Collins's go-to hitman. Low-low budget is evident in a few shots and details, but a smart script by Collins and Peter Biegen and a really fantastic performance by Sizemore make this one well worth checking out. Seriously, next time you need to cast a world-weary bad man unable to completely ditch his soul, I nominate Tommy Boy, (I'd put this performance up against George Clooney's in The American or Syriana any day.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Goodness, what a night. Frank Bill threw a helluva party for his Crimes in Southern Indiana book launch last night. The back patio area of Beef O'Brady's in Corydon, IN. was packed with folks who'd come in from miles away to states away - Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky. Arlston's books sold out of Mr. Bill's stash before the event even got underway. Once the damn thing started though, it never let up. Rod Wiethop kicked things off with a brief reading from his afterward to the Noir at the Bar anthology and I read Amateurs from Crime Factory: The First Shift. Kyle Minor read an excerpt from The Sexual Lives of Missionaries and Scott Phillips from The Adjustment. Donald Ray Pollock read this flash piece called Life and Frank tapped into The Need. Matthew McBride read Big Darlene, the Sex Machine from the forthcoming Beat to a Pulp: Round Two, and Aaron Michael Morales closed the evening with Rainbow from Drowning Tucson.

Folks spent another hour or more socializing and I got the opportunity to say catch up with Richard Thomas and Stacia Decker as well as meet some badass folks like Chad Eagleton, Chris Deal, Matthew C. Funk, David James Keaton and Crimespree magazine's Tim Hennessey, (who was subjected to me and Scott as probably the most unruly, unfocused interview subjects ever. I feel bad about that. We're gonna catch up at Waffle Hut in a couple hours to see if we can't make it up to him.) I was also pleased to meet Robb Olson and Livius Nedin of the Booked podcast - go check them the hell out. I've really enjoyed their interviews with folks like Anthony Neil Smith, Nik Korpon, Senor Thomas, Stephen Graham Jones and Craig Clevenger (as well as many contributors to the Warmed & Bound anthology).

The evening was kinda like the biggest, baddest N@B evening yet and has got me primed for Wednesday's event with Duane Swierczynski, Hilary Davidson, John Rector, Glenn Gray and probably a lot more just-arrived literary jackoffs, (Greg Bardsley, DH Dublin, Bryon Quertermous) and previous N@B participants like Cameron Ashley, Laura Benedict, Brickhouse McBride, Josh Stallings and Holly O'Neill West (alright, those last two belong to the L.A. veterans chapter). Who knows, we may even see late arrivals from folks who opted to go to the library event featuring Reed Farrel Coleman, Megan Abbott, Christa Faust, Steve Hamilton, Lisa Lutz, SJ Rozan, Peter Spiegelman, Katie Estill and uh, Daniel Woodrell.

Whew. Taking lotsa vitamins.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where's the Beef?

Soooo groggy. My poor, feeble body-clock has me hung-over, but I am back from the desert. Had a good time in Los Angeles with Scott Phillips - great to hang a bit with Alison Quinn, Sara Gran, Jordan Harper, Eric Beetner and Stephen Blackmoore. I remember thinking that I was sitting at a table with two guys with the best titles ever for short stories - Ten Thousand Gallons of Infected Saliva and Like That Japanese Chick What Broke Up Van Halen, (both incidentally, from the same anthology - Uncage Me edited by Jen Jordan, pick that shit up if ye aint already). Now for three hours of rest and it's back on the road tomorrow to Corydon, IN. Scott and I will be reading along with Kyle Minor, Matthew McBride, Rod Wiethop and some dude called Donald Ray Pollock at Frank Bill's Crimes in Southern Indiana party. Kinda love the name of the place we're at too - Beef O'Brady's. Thinks I'll read my story Amateurs from the brand new Crime Factory antho which will be available at the event!

This morning I'm trying to make a comparison between Dave Zeltserman's A Killer's Essence and the Tom Hanks cop and dog buddy movie Turner & Hooch sound complimentary over at Ransom Notes. Lemme know how I did.

Next week, it's N@B on Wednesday night at 8pm at Meshuggah Cafe. I see crazy times listed on the FaceBook and that's my fault, I suppose. I suck at the FaceBook, but it's 8pm and methinks it'll go late. Duane Swierczynski, Hilary Davidson, John Rector, Glenn Gray and probably a few other folks as they trickle into town. Can not wait.

On the LA trip I finally got a chance to read Roger Smith's fantastic Dust Devils (had no idea Disaster Zondi would be back in this one!) and Simon Logan's gloriously grimy Katja From the Punk Band. Get your international crime flavoring vitamins. They're good for you. Nicolas Winding Refn's James Sallis adaptation, Drive is out next Friday when I'll be hip deep in Bouchercon, but that will be a priority to catch up on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Oky doke, so yesterday I was working one of the day jobs and saw a complete stranger walk through the front door with Frank Bill's Crimes in Southern Indiana under his arm. Said he's just seen it in the window at Subterranean Books and it looked interesting. Weird feeling, that. Why just last week over at Ransom Notes I was bringing that particular books some attention. Perhaps unnecessarily. You’ve been to this here blog once or twice, you’ve probably seen mention of Mr. Bill. In case you aint, he’s good. You should check out his book. (Actually, as good as the collection is, I’m eager for the world to get a taste of Donnybrook his novel due out in 2012 – I love me some Donnybrook and so will you). Anyhow, at said Mystery Blog post I tossed off a reference to another brand new book – Mostly Redneck by Rusty Barnes and though it really deserves a post of its own, I wasn’t going to be able to wrangle it much further into the spotlight on the mystery blog. Which is not to say there aint crime involved, there is – plenty – just not consistently enough to justify o’re there.

But here at the Hardboiled Wonderland we eat that shit up with a wooden spoon. I interviewed Kyle Minor a long while back and he made this observation about crime writing -  Literature is all about our crimes, isn’t it? Sometimes they’re big, like murder, and sometimes they’re smaller, like telling a lie for personal gain. But those are the places where literature is situated – where a wrench is thrown in the progress of social nicety, and social nicety is replaced by the human impulse for retribution, and we get a chance to see what’s beneath the surfaces we’ve all been making out of our pretendings. – Right on, Minor. That’s what I’m talking ‘bout. Barnes writes the kind of economically abused and disenfranchised American characters who's wild passions don't often couple with expansive imaginations that can realistically conjure a life outside the dead-end one they're currently inhabiting. They're dangerous when boxed in and the books is a chronicle of so many ways to trap a human being, I'm not sure what's left. You can visit Rusty's world at Fried Chicken and Coffee.

A couple weeks back Brian Lindenmuth posted his list of the best noirs of the the last ten years or so at the Mulholland Books site. Good list that included some surprises, one of which was Matthew F. Jones's Boot Tracks. Just so happened I was reading Mr. Jones's A Single Shot at the time and ready to put more from him on my reading list. Today, at Ransom Notes I'm talking about A Single Shot as well as Johnny Shaw's debut Dove Season, (looking forward to meeting Shaw at N@B next week at N@B).

Speaking of which. Oh my gawsh, it's gonna be wild. Duane Swierczynski, Hilary Davidson, Glenn Gray and John Rector are ready to put some baaaaad ideas in your minds and I have a feeling the evening will spiral from there and turn into a marathon of human wreckage. Of course, drinks will be available to soothe the tailspin, as will books! I'm gonna make sure more Noir at the Bar anthologies are ordered and I suspect that Crime Factory antho will be floating around. I believe Cameron Ashley will be in attendance that night, so ask the hell him.

This morning, I'm heading out to Los Angeles with Scott Phillips to pitch our wares to the TeeVees and who knows, maybe give those N@B upstarts, Beetner, Blackmoore and Calcagno a kick in the pants. Hmmm, who else do I know in the city of fallen angels? Brace yourself, L.A. When we return at the end of the week it's straight out to Corydon, IN. for Frank's book release party where we'll read along with Kyle, Donald Ray Pollock, Matthew McBride and Rod Wiethop (or Norman if you prefer). I'm wore the fuck out just thinking about the next two weeks. For my plane trips I'm taking Roger Smith's Dust Devils and Simon Logan's Katja From the Punk Band.

See you on the other side.