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 It's too good not to be published in print here.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.


Kieran Shea said...

wow. i'm way in on the kostoff. LATE RAIN was my favorite read last summer, and last summer's reading was crammed with mofos.

Unknown said...

Battle Royale. My, my. I haven't heard much talk of that one since I first saw it back in my days as a college bum. I did notice the similarity to The Hunger Games, although with a PG-13 rating, I suspect the new American phenomenon will be much more tame than its Japanese counterpart. I think I'll hold out for Frank Darabont's film adaptation of Stephen King's The Long Walk instead.

If you're a fan of transgressive Asian cinema, I recommend you check out Takashi Miike's Kurosawa-inspired "13 Assassins," as well as the Korean films "Old Boy" and "I Saw the Devil."

jedidiah ayres said...

Yup, yup and yup 13 Assassins was one of my favs of last year and tho I'm not sure I ever want to see it again, I Saw the Devil was one of the most memorable. Old Boy is simply one of the best films period I've seen in the last 10 years. Stay away from it, WIll Smith! Battle Royale received my John Carpenter seal of approval - if Carpenter might've made it at the height of his powers, it's a winner.

Unknown said...

Ha! It's hard to forgive Carpenter for "Ghosts of Mars" and "Vampires." Few have fallen so far from so high. Sigh. I miss the heady days of "Assault on Precinct 13" and "Escape from New York." Hell, I'd even take the Carpenter-penned "Eyes of Laura Mars" and "Black Moon Rising" over most of his '90s output, the exception being "In the Mouth of Madness." "Escape from LA" is unworthy. President Cliff Robertson doesn't surpass Commander in Chief Donald Pleasence.