Wednesday, March 28, 2012

And The Fourth One Ducks

So Paul von Stoetzel's short flick Viscosity based on my short story played the Z-Fest in Minneapolis a week or so back. Took home some honors which is saying something 'bout Paul and his crew as I'm sure that loooooots of people in the audience reallllllly hated it. Why? It's vulgar. Perhaps hits uncomfortably close to home. Maybe you were that theater douche, maybe you've got scars on yur weiner, maybe you slathered Prep-H on your own nethers in a desperate attempt to escape permanent disfigurement on a regular basis (this one's for you, kid - solidarity, yo). So, yeah, to take home any honors at all when I'm sure there were plenny o' films essplorin nobler themes and virtues that may actually be found in wisdom literature and have nothing to do with err... cantaloupe handles at all, that's saying something. Anyhow, congratulations and thanks to Paul, Killing Joke Films and Brute Force Films. Click this link to see Viscosity yourself.

Didja like that? You want more? Well you need to get your ass to N@B April 28th when Les Edgerton, Cortright McMeel, David James Keaton and Erik Lundy will be bringing the hardcore lingo to those with ears to hear. Yeah, I dunno what Lundy's reading, but I gotta say I'm awful fond of his story Shootout at the K-Y Corral from Plots With Guns. And Keaton? Check out this audio record of his performance in Chicago at The Wrong Kind of Reading as presented by the Booked Podcast (somebody get that man some breakfast!). Stay tuned to Booked for more recorded live events - including Anthony Neil Smith, Kyle Minor, Pinckney Benedict and Seth Harwood. Earlier this week they featured Nikki Dolson and John Weagly. Sounds like they'll be moving on to another Chicago event that I missed after this one, and it'll feature Keaton swearing at people and Jason Stuart dowsing those flames with napalm. Can't wait to get my ears on those.

Still a couple days left to get yur eMitts on Lynn Kostoff's The Long Fall and N@B alum Laura Benedict's necromantic Appalachian tale The Devil's Oven... oooh, and how about the Cheryl Mullenax edited The Death Panel anthology featuring more Keaton madness, Tom Piccirilli and a kick-ass entry by N@B kid Fred Venturini? So much free for your digital highness. Long live the new flesh.

Super stoked that Cort and Les are coming out from Denver, and I'm hoping they'll shanghai fellow mile-high scribe Nick Arvin whose latest novel The Reconstructionist took me for a damn fine ride. I wrote a bit about it at Ransom Notes where it inspired a list of books stolen by supporting characters. I also dug Hallgrimur Helgason's The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning recently and I'm curious to hear somebody else's thoughts on that one. But maybe my nicest out-of-left-field surprise of the year to date is Mark Allen Smith's The Inquisitor which I'll be going on a bit about at Ransom Notes tomorrow. Going in to 2012, there were several books I was eager to read (debuts from Jake Hinkson, Owen Laukkanen, Frank Wheeler Jr., Peter Farris, Chris Holm and Stephen Blackmoore had my attention early) but The Inquisitor came without the support of a trusted source recommending it. Nah, it just kinda put me on my ass 'cause I never saw it coming.


Exactly how badass does this look?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Battle Royale With Cheese

Did you go see that movie about teenagers sent to a remote destination to slaughter each other for entertainments over the weekend? Still hungry? Time to put the trickle-down theory of economics to the test. If Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale don't get a good steady drip delivered by The Hunger Games' success, I guess we can just call bullshit. Been a long time since I watched the movie, but I just viewed the trailer again and remembered that the reason I came to see it in the first place was because of Takeshi Kitano's cameo... I think Outrage is on DVD now, guess I know what I'll be doing tonight.

At Ransom Notes, I'm throwing out a few recommendations for what to choose for your next read, but I'm gonna jump the gun and letcha know that Lynn Kostoff's The Long Fall is on that list. Jumping the gun because there's a time-sensitive element to his pick as the otherwise out of print The Long Fall is available as an eBook for free this week only. If you read them eThings I strongly suggest you avail yourself of this opportunity to become familiar with Kostoff. Thankfully, I've got my own paper copy of The Long Fall and Adrian McKinty's latest The Cold, Cold Ground (which also makes tomorrow's list) though it's an Australian edition and only available in the states as an audio book so far... I'm confident this will change. It's too good not to be published in print here. I suspect that as McKinty's proposed trilogy continues, some US publisher will get tired of the view from inside their corporate rectal cavity and put this book in reader's hands. 

I guess I missed a helluva party in LA last night. Sounds like Scott Phillips represented St. Louis N@B to the coastal upstarts who snagged talent like Gar Anthony Haywood, Hilary Davidson, Gary Phillips and Jordan Harper to read at their event. Can't leave out the publisher of Blood and Tacos and the author of Dove Season, Johnny Shaw, from that line-up and I hear that tonight Shaw'll join Joe Lansdale and Keith Rawson at The Poisoned Pen where Rawson will sign actual print copies of his latest Laughing at Dead Men from Snubnose Press. Glad to hear Snubnose aint snubbin their uh noses at print readers anymore.

You know who else aint? Down and Out Books. They've just released their very first print title, Scoundrels, an anthology of greed, murder and financial crimes edited by Gary Phillips and featuring badass mutherfuckery like David Corbett, Bob Truluck, Seth Harwood, SJ Rozan and Reed Farrel Coleman. Flood of interviews with Phillips popping up to raise awareness for this one, including one by me. I posted this interview with Gary at Ransom Notes last week. Here's a snippet from that conversation that didn't make the posted bit:

What was the origin of the Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail project?

This would have been, I think, 2008 and Ramsey Kanaan, PM Press’ publisher and Andrea Gibbons, an editor for the press until recently and I were at the American Library Association conference out here in Anaheim in Orange County.  For those not from the Southland, that’s where Disneyland is located.  Anyway, we’re having lunch and talking about launching the then new Switchblade imprint for the press, a way to re-issue crime novels (in my case my football noir novel The Jook) as well as do new works like Ben Whitmer’s Pike and Barry Graham’s The Wrong Thing

We’re chatting away and the idea for an anthology doing stories revolving around crime, riots and rebellion came up – bearing in mind that three of us have backgrounds in community activism and organizing, and PM is a lefty outfit.  Ramsey,  who once was also a member of a punk band, mentioned this song by a UK punk band called the Flys, “Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail.”  We laughed and after that, we knew we had the hook for the book. 

Have you achieved a balance you're pleased with between, what I take to be, your serious-mindedness and the pulp fiction that you express yourself through?

Good question.  Pulp versus noir versus a crime novel and so on require not only attention to structural differences, but does require that balance as you say in terms of dialogue and narrative.  For instance if you’re not careful, a hardboiled story can become a parody quite easily as you try to out-tough Hammett and Chandler, or Elmore Leonard for that matter, in your descriptions and terse dialogue, the fancy patter and so forth.  You can do a little of that but not too much.  Reading what you’ve wrote aloud really helps.

Pulp as we know from the ‘30s had a lot of cheesy, cornball qualities to it.  “He was the most sinister and vile of villains…she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen…”

Big thrill for me to go back and forth with the formidable Mr. Phillips.

You ever wonder why you don't see blurbs from Lawrence Block more often? Well, Block posted this piece over the weekend regarding the issue. So, if you really needed another reason to get yur mitts on your own copy of Noir at the Bar - the book - now you've got one. Block's blurb "I've told you repeatedly that I do not give blurbs and in any event, I wouldn't dream of giving one for this piece of crap. Don't even think of using my name or any words of mine to promote this drivel.pretty much makes this thing an invaluable collector's item - hell you prolly need at least two copies. Speaking of two... I'm wondering how great the demand out there would be for a second Noir at the Bar book. Noirier. Barrier. Helluva line up I think we could get together...

And now it's time to announce the next N@B event!!! Saturday, April 28th St. Louis will be knocked on its ass by Cortright McMeel, Les Edgerton and David James Keaton. Still waiting to confirm slot number four, but hot damn it's one of our most badass lineups already. What have you got to do to get here? You live in St. Loius? How about Kansas City, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville, Little Rock, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee...? Giving you plenny o'time to make some arrangements. It's gonna be hot in the city that night. For those who need things spelled out for 'em, McMeel's one of the reasons this blog exists in the first place. He was the publisher of the too fuckin perfect to last Murdaland magazine, (and Les had a story in that first issue too... as did Daniel Woodrell, Ken Bruen, Gary Phillips, J.D. Rhoades, Tim L. Williams, Patricia Abbott and some guy name of David Goodis), and frankly without Murdaland delivering the serious kick in the nuts it did, I may notta picked up writing short stories or been half as pumped about the possibilities of modern crime fiction. He's also the author of Short. McMeel's next novel (from which I gather he'll be reading is all about dirt and brutality in Baltimore's MMA scene.

Cort and his frequent publishing partner Eddie Vega (Murdaland, Noir Nation and the new Bare Knuckle Press) can't get themselves enough of Les. I just read Edgerton's The Bitch and if there were any room to wonder why before there aint any more. Edgerton's name belongs in the ranks of convict fiction alongside Eddie Bunker and Scott Wolven (who will have novellas coming soon from Bare Knuckle Press - ssssssso esssssited).

And Keaton? You don't know? DJK mainlines mayhem and his live delivery system will infect a city block in ten minutes. You've been warned.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Booked: The Evidence

Perspective ain't what it used to be. Heh. Livius Nedin and Robb Olson, back at the ample bosom of Chicago, have released the audio records of their St. Louis trip. Were you at the event? Listen for the sounds of you making a complete jackass of yourself. Here are some helpful links to the Booked Podcast N@B episodes in chronological order -

So, N@B, it's like a thing now, yeah? It appears that Glenn Gray and Todd Robinson are moving toward concocting a New York N@B event. 'Ow ewe dewin? Fawkhen sweet. Furthermore, those L.A. N@B reprobates, Stephen Blackmoore, Eric Beetner and Aldo Calcagno have put together a helluva fight card for their next event featuring Gar Anthony Haywood, Gary Phillips, Johnny Shaw, Jordan Harper and N@B St. Louis alum Hilary Davidson. Hot damn, I wish I were gonna be there. In my own humble opinion if you ain't hep to that Harper cat yet it's about fucking time you got there. You hear me? ABOUT FUCKING TIME. Motherfucker writes like I do in my most delusional fantasies.

Somebody I'd like to coax down to St. Louis for an event is Frank Wheeler Jr. I'm reading The Wowzer right now and I've got a sickly, tingly feeling in my privates that this one is gonna gonna be a memorable, nay, unforgettable trip down psycho-killer lane. Jeez, add this one to the list of Arkansas crime sagas of 2012 kicked off with such a ridiculously high bar established by Jake Hinkson's Hell On Church Street. Easily two of the most electrically-charged debuts I've read in... fill in the blank. Hmmm, maybe I could get both of em to answer this former Arkansan's invitation to ransack the River City, invite the now footloose and fancy-freelance N@B alum John Hornor Jacobs up from the un-Natural state for another go at the birthplace of ragtime. Yeah, I'm warming to it. BTW - since his N@B debut, Jacobs has seen his first novel Southern Gods released and nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, and something like twenty future books sold including the next This Dark Earth. You wanna check out an audio excerpt from This Dark Earth? Follow this link to hear N@B alum Daniel O'Shea read from it, (and pre-ordering it goes without saying, right?) If yur anything like me, then O'Shea is how sexy you imagine you sound after a few shots of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes. But, if you're like me, you'd be wrong. O'Shea's got hisself his own eBook of short fiction too, y'know? Lookiddup - Old School from those whippersnappers at Snubnose Press - who have - is this right? Released another collection of short fiction from Keith Rawson? Really, The Chaos We Know is only now beginning to settle into the collective subconscious and while we're still reeling, Laughing at Dead Men comes along to take advantage of us in our weakened state.

Oooh, reminds me. Speaking of N@B alum with eBook news, Laura Benedict's The Devil's Oven is finally available to the reading public. My favorite to date of Laura's books, you oughtta checkerowd if you do that eReading thing. A good-un fo sho. And, y'know what? I'm starting a lil' N@B blog that'll contain a lot of cross-over material from HBW, but really just be for snap announcements and updates on events and alum. Find it at this link - Noir at the Bar

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Boner of a Lonely Heart

So, I think I've watched Paul von Stoetzel's short film Viscosity a half dozen times this week. It's some funny shit. I got the inevitable 'Did you really write that?' question from a slack-jawed co-worker, to which I reply - yes. No. Sort of. While there are several lines taken directly from my unattributed dialogue-only short story of the same name from Out of the Gutter #6, screen writer Richard Molby deserves credit for providing some structure to that thing (it's got - no shit - three acts like a proper film instead of just being a camera circling some degenerates around a table ala Reservoir Dogs) and the performers John Lilleberg, Shad Cooper, Sam L. Landman and Brian P. Loyce did a bang up job selling the fuzzy logic of my own juvenile misadventures with pleasure (yeah, most of that shit really happened kids - and the short story's got more - go read it) and looking at the credits - I gotta think even the PA Peter Dragovich musta contributed something to the translation. Thanks everybody. Can't wait for the world to get a crack at it, but Minneapolis first. If you're in the area March 22 you can catch the premier screening of Viscosity and many more short films at Z-Fest.

Julian Grant has slipped me a sneak peek at Fuckload of Scotch Tape too, and it's wild. Julian wrote the script for this one and took an interesting route off the reservation by blending the plot of two of my short stories (the titular one from Out of the Gutter #5 and Mahogany & Monogamy from Blood, Guts & Whiskey) which I wrote to run parallel tracks and intersect in calamitous ways. Calamity intact, but it's my very own bizarro world where characters I created are spliced, combined or squeezed together, or do things I never gave them permission to do - but that fit them perfectly (the kids are far from alright folks). The whole picture is a fucked-up dreamscape of horrors given a better, deeper level of surreality by the substantial contribution of Kevin Quain - whose songs Julian has laced this perverted pic with. Big kudos to Julian for finding such oddly complimentary elements to throw together. I think my favorite sequence in the film is the closest thing the pic has to a proper song and dance number to Quain's Catch You in the Rye with lyrics that reflect the inner monologue of the main character (You drink my last dollar - then you tell me that it's over - You swore you'd always love me tender - but you'll forget me when you're sober - and when you ditched me in the desert - I was a million miles from nowhere - and when I passed out I was thinking - it must be happy hour somewhere), while the bouncy tune - think Tom Waits in full jaunty mode along the lines of Tango 'Till They're Sore - captures the physicality of the moment. Really nice work. 

You wanna see a trailer For F*ckload of S*octch Tape? Make with the clicky right here.

Over the weekend, I caught up with two critically dogpiled movies that I really enjoyed. First, William Monahan's London Boulevard adapted from the Ken Bruen novel of the same name (which was inspired by the classic Billy Wilder film Sunset Blvd. in turn). I think I read Bruen's book while I was binging on his stuff nearly ten years ago and frankly - I don't recall much of the plot, so I'm not going to get into the things I did notice that don't mirror the book (cause the movie is the movie is the movie and must stand or fall on its own), but I will only comment on the fact that Bruen is such a prose powerhouse that nothing on film is going to quite feel like his books read. Monahan idn't no slouch with the talkies neither. He's best known for writing Martin Scorsese's The Departed (itself an occidentalization of Wai-keung Lau and Alan Mak'Infernal Affairs) which was hardly tight - slack and bloated were the script, but me-thinks the blame for that falls on Marty for letting Jack Nicholson have whatever he wanted and not on Billy's shoulders - but tight or not, it was always... fun, or at least amusing. Monahan also scripted the adaptation of David Ignatius's Body of Lies which was forgotten as soon as it hit screens, but is one of my favorite Ridley Scott flicks of the last fifteen years, easily. London Boulevard was a long way from knocking my socks off, but it was a well executed genre film that I suspect will be looked upon more betterer in the futures. Great supporting cast including fine work from Ben Chaplin, David Thewlis, Eddie Marsan, Anna Friel, Stephen Graham and the always begging to be nearer the center of the picture Ray Winstone. If anything it whet my appetite for Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths also starring Colin Farrell.

Second - I watched Bruce Robinson's The Rum Diary adapted from Hunter S. Thompson's novel, and never got tired of the variations on baffled indignation Johnny Depp ran through, but found Michael Rispoli to be the best thing on screen. Was there much to the picture? No. Was Depp's

Jeremiah Tolbert's electronic crime magazine The Big Click is one more thing I'm gonna have to pay attention to now, dammit. When your first issue has fiction from Ken Bruen and Anonymous-9 I gotta have a looksee. Also Cullen Gallagher is now publishing a hardboiled and noir-ish Western fiction site Fires on the Plain that I'm sure will burn more gray matter than I have to spare, but there ya go. Go. Read it.

Finally, Robb Olson and Livius Nedin at the Booked Podcast have started a long slog of episodes which I will find embarrassingly self-congratulatory to promote. But that won't stop me. In this episode they review Elmore Leonard's Raylan and then get to their wrap up of the AWP conference and their St. Louis trip including N@B. For the next few weeks they'll be releasing bits of their recorded uh records of N@B and The Wrong Kind of Reading. Sounds like neither were familiar with Leonard's books outside of a few movies and of course Justified, which is too bad as he laced Raylan with nods to previous work (my favorite being a throwaway line 'Valdez is coming' which was the title of one his early westerns - and became a film too starring Burt Lancaster). And I love the movie poster and book cover equally so I'm posting both. 

Over at Ransom Notes I go on a bit about Joe R. Lansdale's latest Edge of Dark Water as well as Owen Laukkanen's debut The Professionals right here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Special Ops

This little post comes from the FB page of Benjamin WhitmerSo Daniel Grandbois, gentleman that he is, leaves me a message saying that he's drinking a beer at the AWP with TZ Hernandez, and, man, they think Stephen Graham Jones is around, too. And I think, Jesus, that's really nice of them to think of me, how cool does it sound to shoot the shit with those guys? So I get on the computer and search Google Maps for an AWP Bar in Denver, figuring maybe I'll sneak out, 'cause I could hang out a little, it's been a helluva week. But then I get frustrated trying to find it and give up. - and before last weekend, Ida been in the same boat, but not no more. AWP (pronounced 'op') stands for Asshats With Phd's and is a nomadic conference for writers that descended this year upon Chicago. I know this, 'cause I was there, and Ima recount my experience for all yall less fortunates (you too, Whitmer).

Three flavors of sexy
Thursday morning I jumped a train for Chicago, which was a first, but is prolly my favorite way to travel now - as I was able to immediately jump into a book. Couple hours later I had a new seat mate also on her way to AWP - Amy Sayre-Roberts of Quiddity magazine, but you degenerates may know her name from Akashic's Chicago Noir. We had plenny talky bout shared interests like human trafficking, modern slavery and best practices for running your own prison industrial complex. Liked her. From there I essplored downtown Chicago for a cuppla hours before, that paragon of phlegmaticism, Tim Hennessy picked me up and we tooled bout town eventually trolling the bar at the Hilton for familiar faces hoping for details on The Wrong Kind of Reading event. None to be found. Had to settle for brief encounters with Alan Heathcock and Benjamin Percy before finding Libby Cudmore and Matthew Quinn Martin to rescue poor Tim from the aggressive advances of a ravenous cougar (Tim's eyes really are piercing). 

David James Keaton brings us breakfast on head.
Upon arrival at the Galway Arms we found the likes of Jason Stuart comforting a whimpering David James Keaton with liquid courage and strong words along the lines of 'if you choke up there, I'm telling them about Vegas'. Upstairs John Weagly was setting up the room while Robb Olson and Livius Nedin prepared for more damning evidence collection for blackmail at Booked. Sean Ferguson provided security and was probably the only factor that kept me from trying to strong-arm the N@B files away from them right then and there. By the time the event began N@B alum Pinckney Benedict, Kyle Minor, Anthony Neil Smith, Caleb J. Ross, Gordon Highland and Nic Young were imbibing with and tolerating various mortals scattered about the room including Nik Korpon, Kent Gowran, about half the contributors to Warmed & Bound and various Flywheel and Burnt Bridge folk. 

Must find cock-heavy passage
Nikki Dolson kicked the event off with a tale of Viagra's dark side that really set the tone for the evening. The event really shoulda been called Cock-a-doodle-Don't. Weagly recited a backward piece for the benefit of the dyslexic among us and DJK brought the house down with the trials of a day in the life of a blue movie director - 99 problems... and a bitch ate one. After a much-needed refreshment break, Neil channeled Herman for his dog's eye view of murder by methheads, and ball-biting. "Minor Injuries" Kyle was next up (barely - dude was on crutches) with The Truth and All Its Ugly and Senor Benedict brought the legend of Pig Helmet to the great unwashed. Seth Harwood closed out the printed word for the evening, spontaneously ditching plans for reading from This Is Life and furiously searching his electronic telephonic device for files of Young Junius and a proper blow-job-for-crack exchange to keep with the evening's anatomical theme.

This man does not snore.
I strong-armed Mr. Stuart into putting me up for the evening and picked up a copy of Raise a Holler to add to my scores of Keaton's Zee Bee & Bee (in print - I already had it electronically), Weagly's The Undertow of Small Town Dreams and Buffalo Bill in the Gallery of the Machines by Mark Rapacz that night. Good hanging with Stuart and talking writing, publishing and Dunkin Donuts. Spent the rest of the morning at the Hilton reading in a comfy chair outside the bar. Round noon Harwood walks by and inquires as to my engrossing material and I show him Nick Arvin's The Reconstructionist. If it's not completely unethical to meet the man whose work you're half-assed reviewing before you've written the piece, he'd be glad to introduce me to Arvin later in the afternoon. It may be unethical, but that didn't stop me. I met those two a couple hours later for drinks and that was it for my AWP experiences. In between those encounters, I had brief words with Urban Waite and Tom Franklin. One particular writer mentioned in this piece loaned me his glossy ID to grant me access to some of the places I'd been booted from earlier in the day for not having paid for the right to be there. I checked out the book room for an hour and only saw about half of it. Saw some cool-ass shit and a looooooot of boring-ass crap with cool-looking respectable formatting. I happened by the Press 53 table and saw copies of Surreal South '09 and Surreal South '11 on display, which was kinda cool. I wanted to stop people and say 'yo, my shit's in there', but I remained too classy by half. I mean, what if they wanted a signature, but my name didn't match the one on the official glossy pass hanging about my neck? Actually, one person did call bullshit on my identity. Turns out he knew the author I was impersonating, but he thought it were a big funny, so good on him. One notable book I picked up on that tour was The Good Neighbor Policy: A Double-Cross in Double Dactyls by Charles Ardai - it's a poemtry. Yup. Gonna read those shits quick-like.

I finished The Reconstructionist on the train home, as well as Les Edgerton's The Bitch - both those'll throw you for some fucked up emotional loops... heightened perhaps by fatigue induced delirium and large Slavic gentlemen snoozing in the next seat. Things waiting for me when I got home: This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs and a package from N@B star Jane Bradley - thanks, lady.