Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Harry Whittington - A Question


Ed here: I ran across this old post of mine--five years ago--and realized I never did find the answer to my question. Maybe by now somebody knows.

Harry Whittington

I was looking through a catalog for 50s paperbacks and naturally enough I came across Harry Whittington's name just about everywhere. He wrote for companies large and small, some so small that even today I've never seen one of their books.

This started me thinking of the one mystery about Harry I was never able to clear up even after three somewhat lengthy interviews and a couple of phone conversations.

The story is familiar to most people who have even a cursory knowledge of his career. One day, after dropping from the heights of Gold Medal and Crest, Harry found himself writing Man From Uncle Books for a flat $1000. But not even this was the bottom because soon enough his agent would tell Harry that Harry just wasn't marketable anymore. Period.

I asked Harry twice about this and he said that that was just the way it was so he went back to full-time work for the government. I remember that I seemed to surprise him when I asked why he didn't look around for a different agent. But again he just said that that was how things were and so back to full-time jobs.

Harry was a pro's pro. He did it all. I can understand how he stopped hitting the top markets in the mid-60s. The market was changing, his kind of lean, mean sex-and-murder book was no longer in fashion. But Harry could write anything. And all his agent could get was flat-fee work for hire? Harry Whittington?

A few years later, he did contact another agent and was almost immediately back in the saddle with adult westerns nd ultimately, back at Gold Medal/Fawcett, with Southern plantation epics. But I'm sure this agent could have sold him back when his came came to a so-called end.

I've often wondered if that was really all there was to it. That he would give up the fight so easily, take the word of a single agent that he was no longer marketable.

Anybody help me out with this?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Robert Aldrich


Ed here: Excellent long post by Matthew Bradley on his Bradley on Film blog. Robert Aldrich has always been one of my favorite under-rated directors. Matthew does a great job elaborating on Aldrich's importance.

Matthew Bradley:

At his best when prefiguring or subverting entire genres and subgenres, Aldrich made heroes of a sympathetic Indian in Apache, at a time when few would do so, and unsympathetic—but weirdly compelling—p.i. Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) in Kiss Me Deadly. The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) anticipated the wave of all-star disaster films launched, as it were, by Airport (1970), and Ulzana’s Raid used a Western setting to make a statement about the war then raging in Vietnam. In The Dirty Dozen, he turned the star-studded WW II epic on its head twice, first by making a bunch of convicted criminals his main characters, and then by making us really care about them.

With Baby Jane, Aldrich could lay claim to creating an entire subgenre of his own, unleashing a torrent of “dotty old lady” thrillers, which he perpetuated as both a director (Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte [1964]) and a producer (What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? [1969]). In fact, he often produced his own films and, like Dino De Laurentiis, used his early success to establish his own production company, only to have it shuttered by a series of flops. Among his directorial efforts, he’s credited as a writer on only three (Ten Seconds to Hell [1959], 4 for Texas, and Too Late the Hero [1970]) and, perhaps predictably, was never so much as nominated for an Academy Award.

for the rest go here:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interview with Tim Meadows; Max Allan Collins


Photo: Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Ed here: I've always liked Tim Meadows' work. He generally works quietly and precisely. My perception of SNL is that it's never been especially kind to its actors of color (or to some of its lesser white ones, either). Eddie Murphy was the exception. But he stormed the bastille. There was no denying him. I've enjoyed a lot of Meadows' work since he left SNL, particularly the scam artist he plays on Stephen Colbert.

Today there's a great interview with Max Allan Collins (of Top Suspense Group) that's well worth reading. Asked about himself as a writer he says "I'm a storyteller. I work in whatever medium is available to me -- where the possibilities of getting stories told are. Where the money is." As I read it I was thinking about the Tim Meadows interview I'd read earlier in the morning--and how similar they were in several ways. To read the Collins interview go here: http://topsuspense.blogspot.com/2010/11/introducing-max-allan-collins.html

From New York Magazine

Tim Meadows has always had a low-key style of comedy. He's never been a pratfaller or a screamer, and his impressions on Saturday Night Live never involved any great verbal calisthenics. When he left SNL in 2000 after ten seasons, his career seemed low-key as well; apart from his Ladies Man film, he mostly kept busy with a series of supporting roles as deadpan peeved neighbors, doctors, and teachers, in shows ranging from high quality (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Mean Girls) to not-so-high (The Even Stevens Movie, According to Jim). He's now starring as a frustrated political-science professor on TBS's new college comedy, Glory Daze, which airs tonight. We talked to the 49-year-old actor to discuss how he made his career choices and were pleasantly surprised by his candor, which was just as low-key as you'd expect.

You were on Saturday Night Live for ten seasons. Did you get the sense at some point that the length of your tenure had turned into a negative?
It surprised me around year eight or nine when people would say — especially in the press — that I’d been on the show for a long time. It was like they were saying, “He won’t leave and go do something else.” It sort of bothered me because I felt like, this is the job I’m working, and this is still a great place to be. So, yeah, I was surprised by the criticism of it.

Do you think the criticism arose because SNL is viewed as a launching pad?
Yeah. But what people don’t understand is that in show business, you don’t get those jobs often. So I didn’t want to give it up until I felt like, (1) I had done everything I could do on the show and, (2) I wasn’t creatively able to contribute. And by the tenth season, I felt that way. I just wasn’t inspired. I was tired. And I was, you know, married. I felt like it was time to move on.

When the first two things you did post-SNL — namely, The Ladies Man and The Michael Richards Show — totally tanked, did you ever think, Holy shit, what’s happening to me?

Yes. Although the Michael Richards thing was different from The Ladies Man, because I had no control over it. The Ladies Man I can live with because it’s my comedy, you know? I’m not ashamed of that movie. But with The Michael Richards Show, the thing that made me feel like I’d made a wrong choice was at the press conference for the show. The pilot they’d showed me was a single-camera show, and then at the press conference they said it was going to be multiple cameras. I just looked at Andy Robin, who was the show-runner, and I was like, “Really?” And he said, “Yeah.” I just sat back in my chair and I knew: “We’re doomed.”

for the rest go here:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Video for Top Suspense Group


Thanks to Steven Booth who produced the commercial and to Terrill Lankford who took the time to to make it blog ready for me, here is the video for The Top Suspense Group, whose newest member is Lee Goldberg. Howdy, Lee!

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allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385">

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ross Mc vs. John D

Patti Abbott sure does ask interesting questions. Today she wonders about the sometimes vitriolic comparisons between the two writers. This is the response I wrote. And please remember I'm rarely wrong more than 98.9% of the time.

I think Ross Macdonald was the finest writer ever of private eye fiction. He brought literary integrity and psychological depth to the form that has never been equaled. I think John D. was the great populist storyteller. He once said that he wrote folk tales for men who carried their lunches in buckets. While I don't think he had the depth of Ross Mc I think he had a range and storytelling ability that Ross Mc sometimes lacked. Hell I read them both all the time. Hard to beat either one of them if you like to watch masters at work.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

King of Comedy; Guns


Ed here: I wouldn't go as far as Mark Kermode. I don't think King of Comedy is Martin Scorese's best film but I do think it's a brilliant and misunderstood masterpiece.

Mark Kermode The Guardian U.K. King of Comedy Cast: Jerry Lewis, Robert De Niro, Sandra Bernhardt 1982

When I interviewed Martin Scorsese for this Sunday's Observer New Review, he described Michael Powell's 1960 shocker Peeping Tom as "one of my all-time favourite movies" – a film that brilliantly dramatises the "pathology of cinema" and the "dangers of gazing". Decried by critics and hounded out of cinemas on its initial release, the film became a lost classic, and was only rediscovered after Scorsese helped get it into the New York film festival and co-financed its rerelease two decades later. Peeping Tom is now considered the pinnacle of Powell's career.

As for Scorsese, it seems to me that the director's own greatest film is still one of his least applauded. Ask any casual fan to name their top Scorsese flicks and the chances are they'll come up with titles, such as Taxi Driver and Mean Streets, that came to define the cutting edge of American cinema in the 70s; or Raging Bull, a searing portrait of the life of Jake La Motta, featuring Robert De Niro at his body-changing best. Or what about Goodfellas, which remains so popular that a possible small-screen prequel is in the offing?

for the rest go here:


Kevin Burton Smith commented on my post about guns. This demonstrates exactly what I was talking about in an America gone gun crazy. Thanks, Kevin

Kevin Burton Smith said...
The couple that own the local comic shop near here have, on three different cases in the last eight years, hauled out their guns to defend their store from being burglarized in the middle of the night. In each case, they were in the store (in the middle of the night?). They've killed two of them (he got one, she got one) and initiated a high speed chase that ended with them pulling a gun and forcing the guy off the road.

Evidently, they prefer sitting in their store at night and killing people to putting a couple of bars on their windows.

10:46 AM

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shoot D'Jour

Georgia Man Arrested For Shooting Young Man Over Halloween Egging Of His Mercedes
KATE BRUMBACK | 11/19/10 09:15 PM |

ATLANTA — An Atlanta man has been charged with gunning down a young man he thought threw eggs at his Mercedes in a Halloween prank.

Police spokesman Carlos Campos says officers arrested 20-year-old Michael Hunnicutt around 1:35 p.m. Friday and charged him with murder in the death of 18-year-old Tavarus Erving on Oct. 31.

Police say Hunnicutt shot Erving after he confronted him because he believed Erving splattered his Mercedes with eggs. Police say 10 shots were fired.

Hunnicutt was being held Friday in the Fulton County jail. Police said they didn't know if Hunnicutt had an attorney.

Ed here: This is where the extravagance of contemporary hardboiled crime fiction meets the reality of people who shouldn't own guns.

Couple things. I don't own a gun because of my temper. I don't own a gun because at my age my eyesight is bad. I don't own a gun because the thought of that makes people I love nervous.

This isn't to say that there aren't times when I don't wish I owned a gun. A number of things alarm me today than weren't around when I was young and healthy. Most ominous to me are home invasions. I think there should be a law that says if you break into somebody's home when they're there you get seven years tacked on to your sentence whatever other crimes you might commit while inside. Even if you don't harm the people. Even if you don't take anything. Tough shit asshole.

On the other hand the Hunnicutt case reminds me of a local case back in the eighties. A guy who lived in a tony condominium heard somebody in the garage below his unit. He went down there with a gun in his hand and found a black eighteen-year-old about to steal his pricy foreign car. He shot him dead. Point blank. The kid wasn't armed. My memory is that he wasn't charged. I didn't think that was right then and I don't think that was right now. In that circumstance there were a number of alternatives to killing. I'm sure the guy was a hero to some. To me he was a murderer.

I have a friend who spent most of his life in the military. He's also written many, many, many novels in various genres. Him I trust with guns. He did two tours in Nam as a chopper pilot, fought in the Gulf war and did two tours in Iraq. He knows how to handle himself in dangerous situations, He and his very pretty wife bought a nice new home and soon after were awakened one night by burglars on the ground floor. He took his pistol from the nightstand drawer then walked to the head of the stairs and said loudly, "I have a gun. If you're not out of here in sixty seconds I'm coming down and you'll be sorry I did." He always laughs when he talks about all the noise they made scrambling to get out of the house. They knocked over a lot of furniture but they didn't do any damage.

I know there aren't any easy solutions to this. I also know that people get scared (I do) and will do anything to save their lives. That's one thing. But when you're simply pissed off and kill somebody in the guise of protecting yourself, that's something else altogether.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Forgotten Books: Scandal on The Sand by John Trinian; Top Suspense Group

Forgotten Books: SCANDAL ON THE SAND by John Trinian

John Trinian was a working name of Zekial Marko. He was a former
convicted criminal who started publishing when he got out of jail
in the early sixties. His first novel was under his real name
(Scratch a Thief, Fawcett Gold Medal 1961, also as Once a Thief),
after which he started using the pseudonym. As Trinian, he
published five or six novels with various paperback houses, such
as Pyramid. Scratch a Thief is an excellent novel, you should try it. That's
the only book I've read by him, sadly, so I can't comment on the
others. -- Juri Nummelin (on Rara-Avis)

Ed here:

Further information on Trinian has him writing for The Rockford Files and other TV shows. While I don't think he was as good as Malcolm Braly, another Gold Medal author who served hard time, I do think his novels had both a lyrical and sexual aspect that we don't find in most of Braly.

I just finished Trinian's SCANDAL ON THE SAND (1964) and I have to say that it offers just about everything I ask for from a novel. A unique story, a strong voice, a definite worldview and several compelling characters, most notably the rich young woman at the book's center, Karen Fornier.

A dying killer whale washes up on a stretch of deserted Southern California beach. Karen, hungover and dismal that she finally gave into the childish wanna-be macho man Hobart, the one her parents would like her to marry...she leaves their beach motel hoping to lose him. Wandering along the beach she finds the whale and for her its appearance is almost religious. The way she bonds with it is moving and is a credit to Trinian's skill.

Hobart insists that the whale is dead and should be cut up for cat food. He finds a sinister, arrogant young cop, Mulford, who agrees with him. Mulford orders a tow truck to come in and drag it away. He then orders Hobart and Karen to leave the area. Hobart sees in the harsh machismo of Mulford everything he's secretly wanted to be, that not even his considerable inheritance could buy him. He sides with Mulford and tries to drag Karen away. But she defies them both and stays. Not even when the whale proves to be alive will Mulford stop the tow truck. He says he'll shoot the whale.

All this is being observed from close-by a hood named Bonniano who is to meet a runner who will give him enough money to escape to Mexico. Bonniano is in the news for being a hit man who last night iced a prominent mob figure. Everybody's looking for him.

These and others play into the story of whale on the beach. The character sketches show the influences of Sherwood Anderson and John O'Hara and the cutaways to life on the beach bring the 1964 era alive. Boys wearing white clam digger pants--girls lying about in pink bikinis with transistor radios stuck to their ears--and just about everybody managing to grab themselves a little marijuana whenever the opportunity comes up...all this being the lull before the flower power storm that was less than two years away.

A cunning little book. Trinian was the real deal.

-------------------------------------Top Suspense Group

Last night I posted information about The Top Suspense Group. Since I'm part of it I can hardly offer a balance opinion but I will say that if you're looking for some really good e books are reasonable price, head to our website. http://www.topsuspense.com/

-------------------------------------Peter Sagal

I always spend Saturdays listening to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me on NPR. In format it's like old time radio's live audience participation quiz shows with two exceptions--there' a panel of smart ass celebrities (numerous authors, comedians and actors) and all the innuendo would have gotten them thrown off the air back in the thirties and forties.

Peter Sagal is the host and he's quicker, smarter and wittier than all the late night boys combined.

Last Saturday he invited a guy who'd written a history of Wisconsin on the show. (The show often comes from Wisconsin towns.) He naturally wanted the guy to hit some of the highlights that would interest and amuse people. The guy was irritating. Sagal would say how about the story about--and the guy would say "Nah, that's too long" or "Nah, that isn't that interesting." He really knew how to move books.

Finally Sagal cleverly led him into telling the story of a Catholic community/outpost way out in the wilds in the middle eighteen hundreds. Visitors would always remark that while some Catholics were persecuted in other areas these Catholics seemed to be extremely happy. Well, there was a reason for that. Entire families guzzled a drink called Fox River Elixir. They probably drank it while they were erecting some very beautiful churches and creating a very pretty little town. Happy and industrious. Americana.

Sometime in the 1860s (I think this was the date) a scientist decided to analyze Fox River Elixir which had about it a "sanctified" air because some of the imbibers felt it had "holy properties." Well, if holy meant a drink that was fifty percent river water, thirty per cent very heavy wine and twenty per cent cocaine, a bottle of this and you'd be on your way to the pearly gates.

But even that isn't the kicker. Somewhere in the 1870s the people at Fox River Elixir got whatever Pope was wearing that skyscraper hat to endorse the product in a print ad! The ad ran in newspapers. Sagal said "I'm not sure which Pope but it was but it was probably one of those Leos. I never trusted those guys."

Mind boggling. A Pope hawking booze and cocaine. I wonder if he got a cut.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010




Electronic books are soon to be a billion dollar business, yet it's
more difficult than ever to find a good read, especially via digital
download. With more than 700,000 ebooks already on line, with a good
number of them self-published, ebook stores are becoming the
equivalent of publisher's past 'slush piles'. A newly-formed
collaborative site called The Top Suspense Group plans to slash
through all the clutter. www.topsuspensegroup.com will be offering
readers one central site filled with exciting e-books, covering
several genres and all at reasonable prices.

"Readers can count on us," creator and acclaimed author Dave
Zeltserman explains, “Every member of our group has already made his
or her mark on genre fiction, whether it's noir, crime, mystery,
thriller, horror or Westerns, and in some cases, several of these

Authors aboard include Zeltserman, Max Allan Collins, Bill Crider, Ed
Gorman, Vicki Hendricks, and Harry Shannon.

Zeltserman has spoken before about the difficulty readers have in
searching for sites that offer seasoned professionals. Top Suspense
Group members make some of their finest material available at
affordable prices. Many of the ebooks will contain bonus material,
such as the writer’s commentary on the book that has been purchased,
or the addition of a free short story.

“We believe readers will appreciate a reliable inexpensive site that
continuously delivers some of the best in contemporary genre fiction,”
said Top Suspense Group member and multi-award winning author, Max
Allan Collins.

Ed Gorman

The Essentials


The other day Terry Gross on NPR played a 1993 interview with Eli Wallach in celebration of the honorary Oscar he'll receive. Listening to him talk about his decades-long career I realized how good and sometimes great he was in dozens of pictures I'd seen over my lifetime. He did everything from tough cops to ironic killer cowboys to drawing room comedy. There was a time when he headlined a few films and did well for himself on Broadway. He acted until recently.

I've mentioned before that for me there are a number of actors who redeemed even bad films just by walking into camera range. Robert Ryan, Jack Warden, Jack Weston, Gloria Graham, Carole Lombard, James Garner, Marsha Hunt, Constance Bennett, Lee Marvin--a complete list would take me a couple of hours to type out.

There are a number of excellent younger actors today. They may be even better than the people I listed above. But none of them give me quite the movie thrill I get from those on my list. This may well be because I grew up watching the actors above. Do you think we're more comfortable with those we spent long hours with in the movie theaters?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Could product placement work in books?


From Galleycat

Could Product Placement Work in Books?

Do you want ads in your books? How about product placement? Today Entertainment Weekly collected clips of product placement in the soap opera, Days of Our Lives. The Cheerios placement embedded above makes us laugh, but the advertising dollars also helped keep the show on the air.

Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal touched off a publishing debate the prospect of advertisements in digital books: “With e-reader prices dropping like a stone and major tech players jumping into the book retail business, what room is left for publishers’ profits? The surprising answer: ads. They’re coming soon to a book near you.”

Could you handle strategic product placement in your favorite book or eBook? Movable Type Literary Group founder Jason Ashlock started the Twitter hashtag #adsinbooks back in August. It might be time to revisit the debate. (Via Edward Champion)

UPDATE: Reader Ted Weinstein reminds us that Fay Weldon made headlines back in 2001 for product placement in her novel, The Bulgari Connection. In addition, reader Alex Irvine shared another product placement story from 2008.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

THE HIDDEN by Bill Pronzini


THE HIDDEN by Bill Pronzini

Bill Pronzini is not only a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America, he's a Grand Master of the dark and sinister noir novel. He demonstrates this again in one of his finest (perhaps the finest) books in his long career.

Jay Macklin is a failed man. A career as a baseball player was ended early by injury. As were other attempts at establishing himself. His decade-plus marriage to Shelby was so solid and good for a long time but unemployment and heart trouble (the latter something she doesn't know about) have taken their toll. Shelby finds herself attracted to a doctor at the hospital where she works as a paramedic.

The novel brings Jay and Shelby together in an anxious attempt to find their old love and respect. They travel to a cottage in rugged Northern California only to meet Brian and Claire Lomax, a married couple who has even more problems than they do. They also become aware of a serial killer who has been traveling this same area. A power failure seems symbolic of their marriage's final days.

Pronzini has always been at his best dealing with smashed lives. HIs descriptions of violent weather and pitiless nature only enhance the emotional turbulence that make the drama so rich. Gripping, sinister, unpredictable, The Hidden is a masterful novel of treachery and terror by a true master of the form.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Terror In The House by Henry Kuttner

I've just finished reading this massive handsomely made collection of Henry Kuttner's early terror and dark suspense stories. As I've mentioned here many times, Kuttner is my favorite of all thirties and forties pulp writers and this book demonstrates why. Just about every single trope of the terror magazines can be found in these stories. Kuttner was part of a group including Robert Bloch who incorporated its idol H.P. Lovecraft's work into their own. A half dozen of these stories reflect that influence.

To me Kuttner was always at his best when he wrote dark. And these stories qualify as that. Plus they offer an interesting historical viewpoint of Depression America. Garyn G. Roberts writes a long and rich introduction.

But it is Richard Matheson's shorter piece that contains one of the funniest stories I've ever read. Seems that in the late forties The Fictioneers--the group of pulp writers that later became legend--got into some kind of argument with another group of writers. Bill Cox (William R. Cox) and Bill Gault (William Campbell Gault) decided to go punch it out with them. I knew both of them and that is certainly within the realm of possibility. Kuttner insisted on going along. They were skeptical.

Every photo I've ever seen of Kuttner shows him to have been a slim extremely well-dressed man. I get the impression he weighed very little and wasn't at all the fighting type. But nobody ever mentioned his attire until Matheson's piece. His first word is "Dapper." All this plays into the fact that he wouldn't take no for an answer. He insisted on going along for the fight. Did it ever come off? Was anybody hurt? How drunk were they when they arrived? The answers are lost to time. Or at least to fuzzy hangover memories. :)

This is a knock-out collection in every sense. And there is a second volume to come. Grab it now before it goes out of print.


by Henry Kuttner
is, uh, in the house!

click image for more info
Preface by
Richard Matheson
Introduction by
Dr. Garyn G. Roberts

The Graveyard Rats, Weird Tales Mar ’36
Bamboo Death, Thrilling Mystery Jun ’36
The Devil Rides, Thrilling Mystery Sep ’36
The Secret of Kralitz, Weird Tales Oct ’36
Power of the Snake, Thrilling Mystery Nov ’36
Coffins for Six, Thrilling Mystery Dec ’36
It Walks by Night, Weird Tales Dec ’36
Laughter of the Dead, Thrilling Mystery Dec ’36
The Eater of Souls, Weird Tales Jan ’37
Terror in the House, Thrilling Mystery Jan ’37
The Faceless Fiend, Thrilling Mystery Jan ’37
The Dweller in the Tomb, Thrilling Mystery Feb ’37
I, the Vampire, Weird Tales Feb ’37
Nightmare Woman, Thrilling Mystery Mar ’37
The Salem Horror, Weird Tales May ’37
My Brother, The Ghoul, Thrilling Mystery Jun ’37
I Am the Wolf, Thrilling Mystery Jul ’37
The Jest of Droom-Avista, Weird Tales Aug ’37
Four Frightful Men, Thrilling Mystery Sep ’37
When the Earth Lived, Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct ’37
Terror on the Stage, Thrilling Mystery Sep ’37
Lord of the Lions, Thrilling Mystery Nov ’37
The Bloodless Peril, Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec ’37
Invasion from the Fourth Dimension, Thrilling Mystery Jan ’38
Messer Orsini’s Hands, Spicy Mystery Jan ’38
Worlds' End, Weird Tales Feb '38
The Graveyard Curse, Spicy Mystery Mar ’38
The Unresting Dead, Thrilling Mystery Mar ’38
The Shadow on the Screen, Weird Tales Mar ’38
Hell’s Archangel, Spicy Mystery Apr ’38
My Name Is Death, Spicy Mystery May ’38
Devil’s Masquerade, Mystery Tales Jun ’38
The Dark Heritage, Marvel Science Stories Aug ’38
Dictator of the Americas, Marvel Science Stories Aug ’38
The Disinherited, Astounding Science Fiction Aug ’38
Hands Across the Void, Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec ’38
The Frog, Strange Stories Feb ’39
The Invaders, Strange Stories Feb ’39
The Bells of Horror, Strange Stories Apr ’39
Beyond Annihilation, Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr ’39

Friday, November 12, 2010

Peripatetic Penzler Moves Again, Now to Grove/Atlantic

Peripatetic Penzler Moves Again, Now to Grove/Atlantic

Otto Penzler, who has been publishing through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the US for the past six years, is relaunching the Mysterious Press imprint with his newest publishing partner, Grove/Atlantic. Penzler reacquired the imprint's name from Hachette Book Group, having sold the original Mysterious Press to Warner Books in 1989.

That move parallels Penzler's relocation in the UK, where moved his line to Grove/Atlantic spin-off Atlantic Books, as part of the new Corvus division led by Anthony Cheetham, last November. (Cheetham has previously set up Penzler's line at his former company Quercus, after almost setting it up at Random UK's Century/Arrow.)

Aside from the connection already established at Atlantic Books in the UK, Grove/Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin says in the announcement "we have been publishing in this area for the last few years with success, most notably with Donna Leon. We are thrilled to start this partnership with Otto Penzler, who is recognized as one of the premier editors and publishers of mysteries and thrillers working today."

My cousin Terry Butler who is, knows I'm not a sports fan. I guess he sent me these to cheer me up.


Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann:
"Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like
Norman Einstein."

Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh :
"I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes."

Bill Peterson, a Florida State football coach:
"You guys line up alphabetically by height.."
And, "You guys pair up in groups of three, and then line up in a

Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left wing, explaining why he keeps a
color photo of himself above his locker:
"That's so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my

And, best of all:

Frank Layden, Utah Jazz president, on a former player:
"I asked him, 'Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?'
He said, 'Coach, I don't know and I don't care.'"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mystery Scene Holiday issue; Kris Rusch e books will save publishing

Holiday Issue: Out Mid-November
Dennis Lehane, Tasha Alexander, 2010 Gift Guide, Joseph Wambaugh, 2010 Mystery and Crime Award Reads

Mystery Scene's 2010 Holiday Issue, #117

Hi everyone,

We're just finishing up Holiday Issue #117, which should hit newsstands in mid-November.

In the new issue, author Dennis Lehane discusses the much-anticipated return of Boston PIs Angie Gennaro and Patrick Kenzie in Moonlight Mile. We also talk to Tasha Alexander about her new novel Dangerous to Know and her Victorian heroine Lady Emily, a woman truly before her time. And you won't want to miss our examination of Stuart Neville's tough, morally complex Irish thrillers The Ghosts of Belfast and Collusion.

Author Carolyn Hart discusses the solace that good books can provide in hard times, and we hear from other writers who share their favorite comfort reads. If you're just getting started on holiday gift buying, be sure to consult the annual Mystery Scene Gift Guide. We'll also be making online additions throughout the next month. The first online list, "Spy Kids," is available here.

Lawrence Block remembers the colorful bank-robber-turned-crime-writer Albert Nussbaum, and lots more!

Kate Stine

Read Anything Good Lately?

The Business Rusch: How E-Books Will Save Big Publishing

(Changing Times Continued)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

In my very first post in this long series of linked topics, I advised anyone who cared about publishing to keep up with the day-to-day industry news. I wrote that blog post in my spare time over four days and I noted: “In four days, some parts of the [publishing] landscape changed—small parts, mind you, but they changed. That’s how quickly the sands are shifting.”

The sands continue to shift. Last week, I mentioned that expensive overhead is one of the problems Big Publishing has—and by Big Publishing , I mean established commercial publishers who run multimillion dollar (in many cases multibillion dollar) corporations. (Find that definition and more essential stuff in my second post). One aspect of that expensive overhead are the long-term rents they pay for their office buildings.

I posted that on the 2nd of November. On the 6th of November, The Wall Street Journal ran this article: “Big Book Publisher to Reduce Its Offices.” Random House Incorporated—which is a unit of Bertelsmann AG (remember, corporations inside of conglomerates)—announced that it plans to sublease more than a third of the office space that it holds in its headquarters building. (It has other buildings.)

for the rest go here:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Forgotten Books: Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King; Executive Pink

You're right. No novel or story by Stephen King is forgotten. But his newer material sometimes causes pieces of his enormous and generally excellent body of work to fade from time to time.

Secret Window, Secret Garden is contained in a fine collection called Four Past Midnight. Originally published in1990, in 2004 it became a feature film starring Johnny Depp, Maria Bello and John Turturro. I pretty much liked the movie but I missed the richness of King's writing.

Morton Rainey is a best-selling novelist living alone in isolated western Maine in a cabin that was once the summer home of Rainey and his wife. They have just divorced and Rainey is devastated. His emotional distress has led to his inability to write. He sits uselessly at his computer.

One day a strange man shows up at Rainey's. He is Southern Gothic, the mutant offspring of a marriage between William Faulker and Flannery O'Connor. He introduces himself as Johnny Shooter, an unlikely name. He accuses Rainey of plagiarizing a story that he, Shooter wrote, some years ago. Rainey recognizes Shooter for what he is. A lunatic.

But a relentless and crafty one. He wants Rainey to confess his sin and will settle for nothing less than that admission. Bizarre and terrible things begin to happen, not the least of which is Rainey's cat being nailed to Rainey's back porch.

I don't want to do any spoiling so I'll simply say that just about all of King's virtues are on display here. The land, the local customs, the sweaty Woolrichian desperation and the absolute gripping storytelling. I've read this novella three or four times but I was flipping the pages the same way when I read it most recently. It is a startling piece of suspense writing and demonstrates why he still dominates the book charts.

Alternately moving--King gives us a believable and moving look at a lost marriage--and terrifying--Rainey's interior monologues are a miasma of horror, dysfunction, sadness and rage--making the characters every bit as stunning as the plot. Fine work by a master.


Executive Pink
by Mathew Paust
194 pages
President invites suspected assassins to Rose Garden press conference.
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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

Ed here: In case you don't know Opus Dei is the scumbag secret far far far right Catholic organization that Dan Brown used as the villain in The Da Vinci Code, truly one of the worst books I ever managed to get halfway through. It is in all respects a slimy organization which, of course, the Vatican is quite proud of. But as proof that real real real rich people are as dumb as the rest of us...here is a tale designed to make all of us class warriors quite happy.

From Huff Post:

Music composer and oil-family heir Roger Davidson heard kind of an unbelievable story when he went into Datalink Computer Services in Mount Kisco to get a virus removed from an infected computer. The company's owner, Vickram Bedi, who realized Davidson was heir to the Schlumberger oil fortune (yes, everything about this fiasco sounds fake), tried to con Davidson by telling him further investigation of the infected device revealed that Davidson and his family were the target of an assassination plot by Polish priests affiliated with Opus Dei, the Roman Catholic organization best known for its starring role in The Da Vinci Code. With terrifically convincing details — like the fact that Bedi's uncle used an Indian military aircraft to track down the computer virus to a remote village in Honduras — Bedi and his girlfriend were able to bilk Davidson of $20 million over six years for data security and 24-hour covert protection.

Sure, it sounds implausible. But who are you going to believe: that nagging feeling that tells you maybe a fictionalized version of a murderous Catholic cult is not really plotting your demise or a shifty-looking IT repairman in Mount Kisco who promises that some version of Paul Bettany might one day show up at your front door?
Virus Leads to $20 Milli

Monday, November 08, 2010

Conan's Real Late-Night Foe Is Jon Stewart

Conan's Real Late-Night Foe Isn't Jay or Dave -- It's Jon Stewart
By Dylan Stableford From The Wrap
Published: November 07, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

Last week, when Conan O’Brien made a surprise, pre-launch appearance on “Lopez Tonight,” George Lopez greeted him saying, "welcome to basic cable."

It was a warm welcome -- something Jay Leno and NBC failed to give O’Brien when they forced him out of the “Tonight Show” chair just seven months in.

But as O’Brien makes his historic late-night leap -- or fall -- from broadcast to cable (with a lower budget to match) one person who might not be so welcoming is Jon Stewart.

Why? Because the “Daily Show” now faces something it didn’t have before: competition.

“’Conan’ absolutely presents a threat for Stewart,” Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media, told TheWrap. “Until now, ‘The Daily Show’ has had to compete with local news and syndicated sitcoms.”

Ed here:

Conan starts tonight on TBS. And I don't give a shit. To tell you the truth I gave up late night a long time ago. Just not worth staying up for or taping.

Letterman will always be a bully boy asshole (which he undoubtedly was in high school and college) though he remains the funniest of the three; Leno was very, very funny when he was on the old Letterman show on NBC but since then he's a gagster and nothing more and I doubt he's The Everyman he pretends to be, a berserker in his own way; and I was never crazy about O'Brien, much less so now that since he's been playing the Wronged Person in the entire Jeff Zucker fuck up. It's hard to cry for somebody who'll collect eighteen or nineteen mil out of the thirty five or whatever NBC gave him.

I still like Stewart though I think the "importance" the media has bestowed on him is showing in his performances more and more. I've actually come to prefer Colbert because a) he's funnier and b) he's actually nastier on pols than Stewart.

I wonder what Mylie Cyrus makes of all this.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The soup on soaps

My wife Carol did a fair share of musical theater so we know a few people who ended up in soap operas. In fact one of our favorite stupid-silly movies is Soapdish in which Sally Fields is perfectly willing to make a total physical and emotional and hilarious ass of herself for the entirety of the goofy film. Kevin Kline is great as a Ham With Aspirations (his dream is to do a one-man Hamlet if that tells you anything) and a very young Elizabeth Shue who is both gorgeous and winning. Whoppi Goldberg, Robert Downey, Jr. and Cathy Moriarty provide strong back-up. Not to mention Garry Marshall's clueless network boss. This is one of those gag-a-minute stories that generally keeps the laugh rolling from start to finish.

I thought of this today as I read the piece in the Times about the latest soap opera to fold and what the actors will do for a living afterward. I never got into soaps. I tried when a few of the people we knew were on but I could never get past all the intensity. I just wanted somebody to sit in a chair, open a beer and say "I don't care if your grandmother is having a sex change operation and if your first husband (whom I know you are still in love with) was gored fighting a bull in Pamploma. I'm watching a fricking old movie with Bogart." And so we sit on the guy watching tv and drinking beer for three or four minutes. You know, a little real life among all the stormy passions.

But I'm always sorry to see actors lose jobs. We're having it tough as writers these days but these men and women are really up against it what with Hwood cutting back on the number of movies and tv doing all these fucking reality shows.

It's an interesting (if melancholy piece) and worth reading:

Stay Tuned for Soap Stars’ Next Acts

Published: November 4, 2010

IF people at the Knitting Factory recognized Jake Silbermann’s cornflower-blue eyes last month, they were too cool to let on. The handsome Mr. Silbermann, looking considerably more pulled together in a sport coat and sweater combo than most of the 20-somethings attending the Royal Flush film festival at this Brooklyn club, took questions from the small audience following a screening of his short film “Stuffer.”

At 27 and just three years after quitting his telesales job to join the cast of the soap opera “As the World Turns,” Mr. Silbermann is known to millions (maybe not you, but millions nonetheless) as Noah Mayer. Paired with the equally photogenic Van Hansis, who played Luke Snyder, he was half of daytime television’s first same-sex super couple and the last in a long line of the show’s duos honored with one of those conjoined nicknames favored by adoring fans. Noah. Luke. Nuke.

Now Mr. Silbermann is out of a job, or at least the steady soap opera work that only a few of his former cast mates can currently lay claim to. On Sept. 17, after 54 years of backstabbing, bitchery and tune-in-tomorrows, “As the World Turns” followed its sister soap “Guiding Light” into an ever-expanding universe of defunct daytime melodrama. In 1990 an average daily soap viewership of 6.5 million could choose among 12 network serials. Today, according to a recent report in Advertising Age, average viewership hovers well below 1.5 million, with six soaps left on the air. When production at the “As the World Turns” studio in Brooklyn halted in June, New York was left with only one soap — “One Life to Live,” on ABC — and hundreds of actors plotting their next real-life story lines.


“New York, he said, “will have a lot more actors waiting tables.”

for the rest go here:

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Stuff-be warned some politics

1. Movie posters have been real pop art since the early days of the silents. I'm always on the look-out for for good ones and thanks to Ain't It Cool I came across the above today. Great B movie title and equally great art.

2. I'm beginning to wonder if Zach Galifianakis is going to last much longer at the top. Unless he's hiding the kind of talent that would allow him to play other kinds of characters I think he'll burn out pretty fast doing his take on irritating child-like assholes.

3. Nobody's raised this point yet but I wonder if there's not something more behind Keith Olberman's suspension than his political contributions. The always stupid Howard Kurtz wrote this morning that Olberman should apologize to MSNBC. Wrong as usual. MSNBC should apologize to all of us who owe Olberman for being the voice of truth for so many years. Yes he can be a gasbag, a blowhard, a narrow-minded lefty, a poor imitation of Edward R. Murrow--but he's proven himself to be a brave, witty, insightful commentator who always offers the real facts first and then his commentary. People don't seem to notice that many of his guests quietly (and often) disagree with him. There's a real give and take sometimes. Whatever piece of shit suspended him should himself be suspended--by a thin frayed rope over the Grand Canyon. One of my real heroes Sen. Bernie Sanders calls it "a disgrace" and writes about it here on Huff Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/msnbcs-disgrace_b_779844.html

4. I noted on my political postings that Jon Stewart irritated me at his rally when he seemed to equate left tv/radio talkers with right radio/tv talkers. This "equivalancy" bullshit spoiled the entire rally for me. The other thing wrong with it was that it wasn't about anything. Sanity? What Stewart was sanctimoniously promoting was mediocrity and cowardice. Bill Maher really took him on and down last night. This is just a few minutes long but well worth watching. http://tv.gawker.com/5683124/bill-mahers-harsh-critique-of-the-stewartcolbert-rally

5. I'm sorry to see so many of these celebrity couples divorcing, I'd be even sorrier if I knew who the hell any of them are.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Unpublished authors-there's hope!

Ed here: Christine O'Donnell is only the latest. Snooki and at least one of her moron friends have book deals. So does one of the most histrionic of The Housewives, maybe the blonde who crashed Obama's party. I ask with no guile--who reads this shit anyway?

Christine O’Donnell Considering Book Deal Offers
By Jason Boog on November 5, 2010 12:31 PM

U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell lost her Congressional bid in Delaware this week, but now she is considering book deal offers.

O’Donnell (pictured, via) spoke about the future in a Today Show interview. Fox News recently noted that they have “no plans to hire her” at the network (as some had speculated).

Here’s an excerpt from the interview: “I honestly have no clue. I’m looking at the short-term, we have a lot of opportunities from book deals that I’m exploring, but like I said, for now, I would like to continue to be an advocate for those in Delaware , the farmers who have never had a voice in Washington, I would like to see what I can do to help bring their issues to the spotlight.”

Thursday, November 04, 2010

"The fucking Eagles?"

Ed here: After The Big Lebowksi started to gain attention on HBO etc. a few people I'd known in the old days e mailed me to say that Lebowski's episode in the back seat of the taxi where the driver plays the Eagles reminded them of me in my drinking and drugging days. Belligerent to a fault; willing to say anything to piss somebody off. And always succeeding. Especially impressive was the fact that I wasn't tough. Unfortunately a few of the guys I picked on were.

"The fucking Eagles?" Lebowski cries. And then the burly cabbie tosses him out into the night.

I have to admit I've always been of two minds about the omni-present Eagles. I've always thought that Glen Fry was a hack and an idiot, esp when he was trying to ride the "Miami Vice" train and pretend he was Don Johnson's character. Some of their tunes are memorable but the collective persona is ridiculous. Seinfeld brilliantly mocked "Desperado," the phoniest bullshit-macho song ever recorded ("Up there riding fences" in his GAP duds). Range ridin hombres all right. Their fans are quick to point out that some of them actually came from Texas. I come from Iowa but I don't raise hogs or grow soybeans.

There were certainly better groups around at the time they hit so big but they had the right kind of urban cowboy schmaltz people wanted to hear and they had brilliant management.

I mention all this because The AV Club ran a truly interesting take on the Eagles and their relationship to country music. I don't know who Nathan Rabin is (I'm sure he doesn't know who I am either) but he is one hell of a writer. Read on:

By Nathan Rabin November 2, 2010

In 2009, A.V. Club head writer and hip-hop specialist Nathan Rabin decided to spend a year or two immersing himself in the canon of country music, a genre he knew little about, but was keen to explore. The result: “Nashville Or Bust,” a series of essays about seminal country artists. After 52 entries, Rabin plans to travel south and explore some of country music’s most hallowed landmarks and institutions.

Nathan Rabin:

When it comes to the Eagles’ suitability for Nashville Or Bust, I am powerfully split. Part of me feels like I have to write about the Eagles, who became one of the most popular bands of the past century while playing a historically non-commercial genre: country-rock. I feel like I should write about the Eagles because they represented the non-cool side of the same hip scene that spawned Sweetheart Of The Rodeo-era Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Gram Parsons. Yet there is a dissenting voice in my head screaming that I shouldn’t write about the Eagles because they aren’t really country. After a certain point, it’d be a stretch to even call what they play country-rock, and this certainly isn’t a series devoted to the biggest-selling rock groups of all time.

Yes, the Eagles are too big to cover, and too big not to cover. For a group whose greatest hits implore listeners to take it easy and cultivate a peaceful, easy feeling, the group inspires an astonishing contempt. The mere mention of the group’s name is enough to inspire reflexive cries of “Fuck those guys,” or approving references to Gram Parsons’ description of the group’s music as “a plastic dry-fuck.”

for the rest go here:


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Forgotten Books: The Crime Lover's Casebook edited by Jerome Charyn

There have been numerous anthologies attempting to show the breadth of crime fiction by signaling that it reaches from genre all the way to world literature. This is one of the best of them due to the taste of editor Charyn, himself an accomplished literary writer.

The genre is represented here by such excellent writers (with excellent stories) as Lawrence Block, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Harlan Ellison (Not that Ellison can comfortably be claimed by any genre; he is unto himself), Tony Hillerman, Walter Mosley, Ross Thomas, George C. Chesbro and several others. Since the anthology was published first in 1993 it was nearly a decade ahead of the next group/generation up. There is no Megan Abbott, Marcus Sakey, Ken Bruen, Daniel Woodrell, etc. Be interesting to update the book with some of these new editions.

The literary writers range from Joyce Carol Oates to Italo Calvino to Flannery O'Connor to Manuel Vasquez Montalban among many others.

For me the two outstanding literary pieces are the excerpt from Don DeLillo's novel Libra and Raymond Carver's famous Cathedral. The DeLillo piece demonstrates how effective backstory can be. Yes, even though it's fallen into disrepute in some quarters, DeLillo uses it here to create a character and a world as unexpected and grim as any apocalyptic fiction. Stunning work.

Cathedral is arguably Raymond Carver's finest story. His version of the unreliable narrator is masterful. We don't challenge his veracity as a reporter--it's his attitude toward the dark tale he's relating. This is a story you can read a dozen times without mastering.

The Casebook was first published by the late (and much missed) Byron Preiss and is a great example of his taste in literature.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why E-Books Aren't Scary - Stephen King

Here's an interesting interview with Stephen King about e books (From The Wall Street Journal):

Why E-Books Aren't Scary


Stephen King has filled HIS share of printed pages: Since "Carrie" was accepted for publication in the spring of 1973, he has written more than 40 books and countless short stories. His latest work, coming Nov. 9, is a collection of four stories titled "Full Dark, No Stars." In an author's afterword, Mr. King notes that he wrote one of them, "A Good Marriage," after reading a piece about Dennis Rader, the "BTK Killer" (for "bind, torture and kill") who murdered 10 people in Kansas between 1974 and 1991. He wondered what would happen if a "wife suddenly found out about her husband's awful hobby."

Mr. King is realistic about where books are headed. In digital publishing, as a writer, he's what might be called an "early adopter." Back in March 2000, Simon & Schuster Inc. issued Mr. King's story "Riding the Bullet" as an e-book that was downloaded from the Web onto hand-held devices or computers.

More recently, Mr. King's novella "Ur" was written exclusively for Amazon's Kindle e-reader when the second generation of that device went on sale in February 2009. In the interview below, Mr. King discusses his thoughts on the future of digital reading and publishing:

for he rest go here:

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Wall Street Journal Reviews Stranglehold

From The Wall Street Journal

Dirty Politics, Deadly Games


What's worrying the Illinois congresswoman? That's the question vexing political consultant Dev Conrad, the protagonist-narrator of Ed Gorman's engaging political mystery "Stranglehold" (Minotaur, 211 pages, $24.99).

Instead of stepping up the tempo in the final days of a too-close-for-comfort election campaign, Rep. Susan Cooper is unfocused, secretive and often absent-without-explanation. Conrad, a former Army intelligence man who carries a Glock in his rental-car's glove compartment, goes into investigative mode, shadowing his own client through her private life for the sake of her (and his) career.

He finds that he is not the only one probing into the congresswoman's present and past. One step ahead of him is a ruthless duo specializing in "opposition research": digging up toxic dirt on political candidates.

"Elections are a contact sport," Conrad acknowledges, and in his trade "there are no saints . . . just degrees of sinners." But the game turns fatal when one of these rival snoops is murdered. Now the congresswoman's re-election race is a matter of life and death.

Mr. Gorman, the author of more than 30 books, tells his fast-paced story with a minimum of stylistic fuss; but he doesn't fail to indicate the selfish motives propelling certain public "servants" and the economic and social pain often suffered by the citizens so "served." The author uses an observation by Thomas Jefferson as the novel's headnote: "Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct." The most frightening revelations in "Stranglehold" may be the unseemly truths it seems to tell about the status quo of our electoral process.

(Ed here: Thanks to Brendan Dubois for sending me the link to the review)