Friday, December 2, 2016

A Mercantile Appeal

Gah! It's the holy season of retail again and some of you need to stop whacking your heads against the fucking dull New York Times BS list looking for the perfect thing for that weirdo you know who reads. I am here to help.

First, your friend reads, huh? Must be edjumicated and shit - maybe they want some more smart-folk type fare. Check it out: smart people love translated merde - how about some foreigner fiction to make everybody feel superior? This year I finally read Jean-Patrick Manchette's The Prone Gunman and I feel so much better than you. Hey, not only was it originally published in French, it's a super fast read (one sitting for me - and that's saying something), and it's action-packed. By that I mean it's only action. There is not a single glimpse of the main character's interior life, if we want to know what he's thinking, we have to witness his actions cuz that's all we've got to go on. Don't worry though, he's kind of badass and demonstrates it often. Bonus - you can be one of those annoying pricks that says "the book is so much better than the movie" - which it is, I mean, fuck. Really, it is.

Another France-y book superior to its filmic adaptation? How about Caryl Ferey's Zulu? I also dug The High Life by Jean-Pierre Martinet and hey, the books of Pascal Garnier are now available if you want to gorge yourself on some truly bleak noir. You're welcome.

For the Italian persuaded on your list how's about Massimo Carlotto's Gang of Lovers? This one is a crossover between his two series - technically #7 in the Alligator books and #3 in the Pellegrini saga. That's a potent mix of amorality and violence. Or maybe Day of the Owl a good old fashioned black-hand book by Leonardo Sciascia.

Or maybe the romance tongue is not your thing. For you young Turks I can't recommend Perihan Magden's Escape highly enough. Formally intriguing and steeped in a paranoid, claustrophobic atmosphere, it is ultimately an unsettling tale of the bond between a mother and daughter on the run.

Fuminori Nakamura writes some twisted tales from Japan and bi-lingual translator and poet Qiu Xiaolong's Shanghai-set inspector Chen series will give you the next best experience to being there, but if you want two languages in the same book I suggest the potently nasty spanglish stylings of Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias. It's already short and you only have to read half of it. Points all around.

Oooh - another thing readers on your list may like - rare objects of quality like Zero Saints. Yeah, anybody can go to Barnes and Amazonia and pick up the latest big-push product from some faceless, multifocal publishing corporation, but sometimes what makes the thing special is well specificity of focus, clear identity, and passion-based publishing.

Check out and order from small presses like:
280 Steps
All Due Respect
Beat to a Pulp
Broken River Books
ChiZine Publications
Comet Press
Concord ePress (not just ebooks)
Dark House Press
Down & Out Books
Eraserhead Press
Gryphon Books
Gutter Books
Kingshot Press
Ladybox Books
Lazy Fascist Press
The Mysterious Press
New Pulp Press
One Eye Press
Perpetual Motion Machine
P.M. Press
Snubnose Press
Stark House Press
Swallowdown Press
Thrillville Press (home of Will Viharo)

Or my favorite idea - gift sets.

Dude - some terrific runs of magazines and journals of short fiction like the entire run of:
Murdaland (2 issues - oof - looks like the old website is now a porn domain - maybe you can find those issues on eBay)
Grift Magazine (2)
Out of the Gutter (7)
Needle Magazine (10)
Pulp Modern (10)
Crime Factory (now at 19)
print edition of Thuglit (23)
or the Thuglit anthologies from Kengsington (3)
Hardboiled Magazine (44)
maybe a grab-bag of Akashic Noir series (around 70 now).

And don't forget the cowboys out on the frontiers of self-publishing who are, against all odds, putting out quality fiction like Jack Clark, Barry Graham, Clayton Lindemuth, Iain Ryan, Josh Stallings,  Bob Truluck - aaaaand yep, they're all dudes, but hey, I've read and dig all these guys and think they're as worthy of an audience as any of folks pulling down big publishing deals. Get some and feel good about the much bigger slice of the money you pay going to the author.

One more idea already teased earlier - get em the books that the movie is based on. Some new and upcoming films to get out ahead of so's they can say the book was better...

Dog Eat Dog by Edward Bunker (film by Paul Schrader), Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman (film by E. L. Katz), Dermaphoria by Craig Clevenger (film Desiree by Ross Clarke), Blood Father by Peter Craig (film by Jean-Francois Richet), Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell (film by Juanita Wilson), You Can't Win by Jack Black (film by Robinson Devor), Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (film by Ben Affleck), or how about - Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski (the film The Belko Experiment by Greg McLean looks awfully similar).

Go on, get something good for the reader in your life. God knows they need it. Everybody else can have the beep-bop-boop.

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