Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Fiends Without Means

I'm not saying junkie fiction is my favorite genre.

No way, not even close. In fact I wouldn't say it's one that I feel particularly drawn to.

But then how do I explain the fact that a good percentage of my like super high scoring outstanding reads of the past several years land very comfortably within that subgenre? I dunno, but sheeeeeit these books fucking rocked my ass (and yeah, most of em are opiates, but I mean drug fiction in general - I'm square).

In Case We Die - Danny Bland - Yes it has crime elements to it including bank robbery and murder, but this story of a porno-shop clerk perpetually losing his heart and discovering he has a smidge more soul to sell fucking ripped my heart out. I know it's only February, but it's hard to imagine I'll love anything else this year so hard. Gah! Lovely.

Homeboy - Seth Morgan - Sweet sizzlin' savior did this thing have it all. Hard crime, hard time, equal parts humor and horror with enough heart to make the tough breaks ache and the prose stylings to make it pop. Story of a striptease barker at the eye of a storm of dirty secrets, deals and needles. Just one amazingly memorable character and line after another. Easily my favorite read of last year. One and done for Mr. Morgan who died shortly after publishing this first novel.

Another Day in Paradise / Steel Toes - Eddie Little - Comfortably crime fiction and sadly the only titles completed by Little before his death. Fuck me, another one + one = done for a brilliant crime writer. Don't worry, if you've seen the Larry Clark movie version of Another Day In Paradise it won't spoil the experience of digging into the books. In fact they're so much better than that film (which I love) you'll be glad you saw it first and can feel free to enjoy both the movie and the book.

Sick City / Black Neon / Dirty Hits - Tony O'Neill - The first two are novels that are linked by characters, but not necessarily sequels and the other a collection of short fiction, but O'Neill has a few more titles I've not yet read. Based on the raw power of these though, I will be working my way through his body of work like a hot shot.

Dope Thief / Wolves of Fairmount Park - Dennis Tafoya - Crime fiction absolutely, but so much heart and hurt on the pages you could remove the armed robbery and murder and still have compelling reasons to turn the pages. Dirty characters, clean prose and somehow this guy hasn't become a gajillionaire bestseller yet. Dennis, dude... what's next and when?

Cherry - Nico Walker - Last year I also read this first novel of dirtbaggery in the armed forces, armed robbery and everyday hoodrattery. The tone shifts hard and the plot lurches and stalls like a badass junker or a skeez-fucked junkie - sometimes it's spinning wheels, but sometimes the gears catch and all that muscle picks you up and carries you away. Sometimes it really sings.

Stark - Edward Bunker - I suspect this one contains a bit more memoir as fiction than some of his other (better) books. There's probably a reason it wasn't published before he died, but c'mon, I'm gonna read posthumously printed Eddie, you'd better believe it.

Bad Sex on Speed - Jerry Stahl - This collection of short fiction covers the crank side of Stahl's impressive narco-awareness. Ho, shit, it's wild. There's enough amphetamine dust on the page to give you a fuckin sharp secondhand buzz and a harsh comedown later.

The Heroin Chronicles - Jerry Stahl ed. - So maybe follow it up with this terrific collection edited by Stahl and featuring stories by Gary Phillips, Lydia Lunch, Eric Bogosian, Nick Tosches, Nathan Larson, Zoe Hansen, Tony O'Neill(!) and more. Yeah, I dig those Akashic drug chronicles collections too.

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