Monday, January 31, 2011

TERRIFIC News from Haffner Press

Greetings everybody. A lot to share, announce, and update in re: goings-on at Haffner Press (www.haffnerpress.com), so getting to it:

1) THE UNIVERSE WRECKERS: THE COLLECTED EDMOND HAMILTON, VOLUME THREE and THE COLLECTED CAPTAIN FUTURE, VOLUME TWO are at the printer and the galleys are undergoing their final check. Barring mishaps, we plan to have copies in mid-March.

2) We are pleased to announce that Grand Master Anne McCaffrey will write the introduction to Leigh Brackett's SHANNACH—THE LAST: FAREWELL TO MARS. We can also announce that the endpapers for SHANNACH will feature artwork by Ed Emshwiller from PLANET STORIES. This will be a spectacular title for your bookshelf.

3) We have been running an Early-Bird special at www.haffnerpress.com for an exclusive book, AN INSIDE LOOK, for (pre)orders of Kuttner's TERROR IN THE HOUSE, UNIVERSE WRECKERS, CAPT. FUTURE #2, and SHANNACH. We will continue to run this offer until we take possession of stock on UNIVERSE WRECKERS and CAPT. FUTURE #2, so if you're thinking about getting in on this offer, the clock is ticking . . .

4) We have locked the contents for THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OF THE JACK WILLIAMSON LECTURESHIP and will be announcing the retail price and begin taking pre-orders later this week.

5) The folks handling permissions for Ralph McQuarrie have come through big-time with the delivery of the cover art for AT THE HUMAN LIMIT, THE COLLECTED STORIES OF JACK WILLIAMSON, VOLUME EIGHT. The artwork for the endpapers is also finished (see www.haffnerpress.com/jw8.html) and we hope to launch this title at the 35th Jack Williamson Lectureship on April 1st at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

6) We have just closed the deal for the contents of the slipcased/limited edition of TERROR IN THE HOUSE, THE EARLY KUTTNER, VOLUME ONE:
•1/75 copies
• Signed by Dr. Garyn G. Roberts & Stephen Haffner
• A chapbook available only with this edition, with:
-Two collaborations with Robert Bloch: "The Black Kiss" and "The Grab Bag"
-*all* of Henry Kuttner's poetry
-A gallery of the interior illustrations for each so-decorated story included in TERROR IN THE HOUSE
• Matching Black Arristox cloth slipcase

7) The slipcased limited edition of DETOUR TO OTHERNESS will be shipping in mid-February and it is beautiful! A *few* left if you're wondering . . .

8) Tid-bits: Work continues on the slipcased editions of THE VAMPIRE MASTER and STARK AND THE STAR KINGS (as in, we keep adding more stuff), and they should be announced as available soon. A copy of the manuscript of Henry Kuttner's THUNDER IN THE VOID was delivered to Mike Resnick last week (he's doing the intro) and design-work is nearing completion on TALES FROM SUPER-SCIENCE FICTION, edited by Robert Silverberg.

We have a number of incredible projects to announce in the coming months, so keep your etherwave-set tuned to www.haffnerpress.com and be sure to follow us on Facebook.

Until next time, fellow astrogators, may the (solar) winds be at your back and . . .

Keep Watching the Skies!

Stephen Haffner
Big Poobah
HAFFNER PRESS

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Alaskans

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Ed here: I was looking through a 1960s book about the Warner Brothers TV factory of the Fifties and early Sixties and came across a reference to The Alaskans. Now I was a huge fan of all the WB product except for 77 Sunset Strip which I couldn't take because of Kookie. Really no-talent obnoxious jerk. The James Garner Mavericks were my all-time favorites but I liked all the westerns and suspense shows, esp. Cheyenne and Bourbon Street Beat. But The Alaskans...well I Googled it and came up with this long Wikipedia entry. Mostly what I remember of it (and I always watched it) was Roger Moore bundled up in furs mushing unseen huskies against a back screen of bitter Alaska winter. John Dehner did a couple of them as a con-man; those are the only two episodes I have fond memories of. The biggest selling point was Dorothy Provine who was then at the peak of her beauty. But the show had quite a (brief) history.

Wikipedia:


The Alaskans is a 1959 television series set in the port of Skagway, Alaska during the 1890s. The show features Roger Moore as "Silky Harris" and Jeff York as "Reno McKee", a pair of adventurers intent on swindling travelers bound for the Yukon Territories during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush.[4] Their plans are inevitably complicated by the presence of "Rocky Shaw" (Dorothy Provine), "an entertainer with a taste for the finer things in life".[5]
The show lasted for just one year, and is principally notable for being Moore's first regular work on American television.

The Alaskans is closely related to the series Maverick through broadcast and production.
Maverick was a lead-in for ABC's Sunday night of western dramas. For the 1959-60 season, Sundays began with Colt .45 and Maverick, went to Lawman and The Rebel, and concluded with The Alaskans.

This may have influenced the career path of Roger Moore. The same year that The Alaskans was canceled, James Garner decided to leave Maverick. Moore became, under protest[7], Garner's replacement, playing Bret Maverick's cousin Beau in the fourth season of Maverick.

Maverick and The Alaskans were also related through script, if not narrative. The two shows were not part of the same fictional world, as evidenced by a lack of crossovers between the two. Because of the 1960 Writers Guild of America strike as well as an ongoing Warner Bros. policy to save money on writers, however, The Alaskans inherited a certain amount of scripted material from Maverick. Moore bristled at the lack of originality in scripts: "An old Bronco script would interchange with an Alaskans or Maverick. In some cases, even the dialogue stayed unchanged."[7] In 2007, Moore noted, "Quite often I realized that we were filming Maverick scripts, with the names changed."[8] This made it simple for Jack L. Warner to envision Moore as Maverick since Moore had literally delivered Garner's dialogue while reshooting the same scripts with different names and locales.
Since the show has not been available to home audiences for over 40 years, independent verification of either claim is difficult. However, The Alaskans may have drawn from other series, as well. One viewer has detailed which specific Maverick, Sugarfoot and Cheyenne episodes spawned clones on The Alaskans. Cannibalizing scripts was standard operating procedure at Warner Bros. television. Their first big hit in the detective genre, 77 Sunset Strip, was copied in analogous series such as Bourbon Street Beat, Surfside Six, and Hawaiian Eye, with only the locations changed - L.A to New Orleans, Miami Beach, and Hawaii. The basic characters were identical with only the character parts which spoke in jargon being re-written eg. horse racing tout to jazz slang. It was an assembly line factory in the strictest sense of the phrase.This pre-dated the troubles with the Writers

For Roger Moore, the series is memorable for being "my most appalling television series ever". In particular, he found that attempting to recreate Alaskan exteriors on a studio backlot in California made for disagreeably hot work days.[10] The show also caused some marital strife for the actor when he had to admit to wife Dorothy Squires that he had fallen in love with co-star Dorothy Provine.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Books: Every Shallow Cut by Tom Piccirilli

There's a long tradition in American literature of writers using their mental and spiritual breakdowns as material for their work. Certainly Poe's phantasmagoric moments allude to his sometimes tenuous grip on reality; Jack London traveled to Whitechapel to see if The Ripper was worth writing about and ended up in an asylum--drunk and temporarily insane; F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about how his personal crash coincided with the market crash of `29 in both the infamous The Crack Up and in the wan sad opening lines of "Babylon Revisited;" and Fredrick Exley's masterpiece A Fan's Notes is nothing but a poetically and clinically detailed charting of alcoholism and dislocation and madness.

Tom Piccirilli's new novella Every Shallow Cut indirectly owes it title to a line on page 139. The novelist-narrator, wasted and wandering, possessor of both murderous thoughts as well as a hand gun, is told by a writer friend who suggests he might be better off in a mental hospital for a time: "I can feel every shallow cut you've ever suffered in it (the writer's new manuscript), all of them still bleeding, tearing wider and becoming deeper. You can die from a paper cut if it becomes infected."

And that's what Tom deals with in the novella. Infection. An infected narrator, an infected world.

The narrator--an esteemed novelist with a trunk load of literary awards and an empty bank account. "A pore lonesome wife-left feller" as Nelson Algren said of one of his characters. Groping for some kind of understanding of all the things that torment him--being fat for so much of his life (though no longer), his resentful relationship with his older brother and the publishing world's indifference to anything except commercial success.

The world is even more infected than the narrator. There are many references to the market crash--jobs lost, houses and cars repossessed, millions of people, much like the narrator, wandering, seeking, as baffled and hurt as he is. He even sends up the publishing business by spoofing some of the books that are hot tickets. My favorite is the one where the archangel comes back to earth to manage a kids' baseball team.

I love the writing here. It is stripped down to a kind of Charles Willeford-Charles Williams simplicity that is all the more effective for its bluntness and accessability. The dialogue is dead-on. The man's relationship with his dog Churchill could have been the one false treacly note but Tom makes it work perfectly. No cutesy-poo.

Tom Piccirilli has written many fine books and stories but at this point in his career, for me anyway, I would call Every Shallow Cut his masterpiece.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kindle Books Outsell Paperback Books on Amazon

From Galleycat:


AMAZON
Kindle Books Outsell Paperback Books on Amazon
By Jason Boog on January 27, 2011 4:27 PM
Amazon.com, Inc. announced its fourth quarter results today, hitting a major milestone: Kindle books are now more popular than paperback books on the bookselling website.

In addition, the company said it sold “millions of third-generation Kindles” during the quarter, keeping figures cloudy. eBookNewser has more about the company’s multibillion dollar sales last quarter.

Here’s more from CEO Jeff Bezos, from the release: “We had our first $10 billion quarter, and after selling millions of third-generation Kindles with the new Pearl e-ink display during the quarter, Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on Amazon.com. Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year, so this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dog In The Manger by Mike Resnick

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I've been reading Mike Resnick since the Eighties. He's written just about every conceivable kind of science fiction and fantasy and has always done well by both genres. And he's got the Hugo awards, among many many others, to prove it. I'm an especially big fan of his Widowmaker series--my kind of action science fiction--and his novel Walpurgis lll, which is the most fascinating study of pure evil I've ever read. And is a fine example of how espionage/assassination fiction can be used to propel sf.

In Dog In The Manger (Alexander Books; also available on Kindle) Mike works in the classic private eye tradition. But wait--as Barry Malzberg notes in his excellent introduction--"You can't fake this voice and you have to attach it to a real character with a genuine, refractory situation." Exactly and absolutely. We've finally moved beyond the cliche of the hardboiled gumshoe of bad pulp and bad movies/tv. We are now in a time when private eye fiction can have the reach and resonance of literary fiction. F. Paul Wilson said once that p.i. fiction offers us "snapshots of our time" (or other eras in the case of historical p.i. fiction).

Eli Paxton's voice in Dog In The Manger is exactly right. A decent guy, smart but not a genius, courageous but not a fool, and with just a hint of weariness and malaise in some of the scenes, a resident of a Cincinatti he seems to love, Eli agrees to try and track down a lost dog--an expensive show dog that was supposed to be shipped via plane to another city. But no dog arrived there. Or did one? And why do the people involved in the shipping and receiving all end up dead in a matter of days? Over a dog?

Not only is the plot a damned good (with big surprises in store), through Eli we are taken into the world of show dogs and their trainers, doctors and groupies (yes at several points "Best In Show" did come to mind). I did something I rarely do these days--I read it in a single sitting.

I think you'll do the same.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MR. MONK ON THE ROAD by Lee Goldberg

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Question: What could be worse than taking a trip with Adrian Monk? Answer: Taking a trip with Adrian Monk and his brother Ambrose. Nuclear Neuroses Overload.

Yet the comely Natalie Teeger not only goes along for the ride, she's one of the instigators. Because Ambrose Monk suffers from agoraphobia Natalie and Monk decide--wait for it--to rent a motor home, drug Ambrose and install Ambrose in said RV so that he wakes up while they are in motion. Natalie has the whole trip planned. How can he complain? He's inside a sort of house, isn't?

Lee Goldberg has cast the new and extremely enjoyable Monk book as a picaresque adventure. First of all it's fun to watch Natalie, who is not up for taking any grief from either brother, run the show while listening to Adrian bitch and whine his way through the entire book. My favorite moment is when Adrian learns that people who go through burger drive-ins frequently sit in the parking lot with the food on their laps. Food resting on your crotch? "It's like eating your food off a toilet seat." Who wouldn't want to travel with Adrian?

Lee cleverly ties a few of their adventures into murders. Adrian wants to linger and solve them but Sgt. Natalie won't have it. They keep moving. Parts of the book are given over to Lee's descriptions of and commentaries about various places in Southern California. Some very nice writing. He also shows how how life can vary in different RV camps. Some are pretty nice; some send both the Monk brothers into existential dread.

Of all the characters we meet along the way the most vivid to me are Dub (an aging reporter dying of lung cancer determined to learn the identity of a serial killer he's been searching for) and some older whacky women traveling together in an RV and devoutly wishing they were twenty again.

I've given up trying to rank the Monk books. I've read them all and think they each have different pleasures to offer, which is a tribute to Lee's savvy as a writer. But I have to say that putting both the Monks in a RV with Natalie-take-no-crap-Teeger has got to be the funniest premise yet. A truly hilarious read with a surprise shout-out to the movie "Duel" coming out of nowhere. Among many other surprises.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Books: I'm A Fool To Kill You by Robert J. Randisi

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I'm A Fool To Kill You by Robert J. Randisi

I’M A FOOL TO KILL YOU
By Robert J. Randisi


I’m a frustrated lounge singer.
Frank Sinatra always said he was just a lounge singer. At a live concert during the 80’s I heard him say that he and “Mr. Bennett” were the last of the lounge singers.
Well, I sing in my office, and on my own karaoke machine, and at a small karaoke lounge a friend of mine has in his basement (and at some PWA Shamus Award Banquets). And when I got the opportunity to write the screenplay for the first Rat Pack book, EVERYBODY KILLS SOMEBODY, SOMETIME, I wrote myself a part as—you guessed it, a washed up lounge singer. If and when that script gets made you’ll see me in the screen, singing.
But until my singing debut comes, I’m still writing Rat Pack mysteries.
I wrote four of them for St. Martin’s Press, and have now moved on to Severn House with the next two. You’ll notice the difference, as the covers are very dissimilar. However, whether it was St. Martins or Severn, for some reason I have had more input into these book covers than at any time in my career.
I am a huge, HUGE, Rat Pack fan, which is the reason I’m writing these books in the first place. With book #4 I went just outside the Rat Pack to their extended family member, Marilyn Monroe. With the new one, book #5, I’M A FOOL TO KILL YOU, I used my favorite screen siren, Ava Gardner. Her marriage to Frank made her fair game, plus the fact that Frank wrote the lyrics of “I’m A Fool To Love You” specifically for her.
Eddie G. and Jerry Epstein are asked by Frank to look into Ava’s blackout to see if she actually killed the gangster she woke up in bed next to in a Chicago Hotel. Of course, Dino is around, and Sammy accompanies Eddie to a Chicago meeting with mob boss Sam “Momo” Giancana. Joey Bishop does a cameo, and Peter Lawford finds himself on the outs with Frank, at this point. Since I’m with Frank on this point, Peter finds himself out of the book (he was also replaced by Frank with Bing Crosby in the movie Robin and The 7 Hoods).
(Lawford sidebar: I always wondered what the hell this stiff-backed actor was doing on stage with the other four. Turns out there was a time during his career when he had a stage act with—guess who—Jimmy Durante.)
Some nice things have been said about my depiction of Ava Gardner in this book. Actually, this one and the Marilyn are two of my favorites in this series. The next book, FLY ME TO THE MORGUE, is only 6 months away and features Bing Crosby, with a cameo by Bob Hope.
Future books includes appearances by Howard Hughes and Jimmy Durante, and the effect Frank Jr.’s kidnapping and JFK’s assassination have on Frank, as they occurred only weeks apart at the end of 1963.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

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Careers: Erle Stanley Gardner
(from 2006)

I've never been able to figure out why Raymond Chandler felt he owed such a literary debt to Erle Stanley Gardner. He told Gardner that he'd once copied a Gardner story so closely that he couldn't submit it for publication. I guess he felt it would look like plagiarism. But what did he learn from Gardner? Certainly not style. Certainly not dialogue. Certainly not structure. Writers learn from unlikely sources, true enough. But Chandler seemed to lavish so much praise on Gardner you have to wonder what inspired him exactly.

But Chandler was a snob and when you examine the nature of his praise, you get a sense he was being condescending. He said that only when you wrote at great speed (as Gardner did) could you make such unbeleivable plot turns palatable to otherwise sensible readers. I've always wondered what Gardner made of that. He was no fool.

All this comes to mind because I had several doctor appointments in the past few weeks and I'm always careful to bring fast and uncomplicated reads along with me. For the last few doc visits I brought along Perry Mason novels. Early Perry Mason novels, I should note, when Mason was still a creature of Black Mask rather than The Saturday Evening Post. Throughout his career he was wise enough to recognize one of the great true American boogeymen, big business. His social conscience came fom his days as a lawyer when he represented Native Americans, black Americans and Latino Americans in towns that did not want them.

I still find the Masons good reads. True, Gardner worked with stereotypes--The Bad Wife, The Crooked Cop, The Loyal Servant--and he told his stories largely through (sometimes interminable) dialogue but while I'm reading them I'm almost always caught up in the puzzle he's given us. Nobody is what they claim to be. Everybody has a secret, usually a nasty one, the exception being the tortured person Mason has agreed to take on as a client, usually while shunning much more lucrative work.

The early Masons were written before Gardner decided to make his work "timeless." There is little place description in the later books. He didn't want to "date" them. I like the history I get from the first dozen Masons, from all of the Doug Selbys and even from the A.A. Fairs written during the war years. I enjoy sitting in the tea rooms, bars, mansions, hotels and trains of the Thirties and early Forties. His work became far less interesting when it was shorn of any physical specificity.

The Masons owe much more to the Golden Age than most critics seem to have noticed. Their plot pieces are no less unlikely, the clues no less exotic and the conclusions no less bombastic. But I'm not complaining. Most Golden Age stuff except for John Dickson Carr is difficult for me to gak down. But somehow Perry, Della and Paul make it all fun again. I'm a Gardner fan for life.

PS When I first published this Brendan DuBois wrote to tell me that his middle school nun used to assign Perry Masons for book reports. Very cool nun.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cape Fear reviewed by Dean Brierly

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Cady channels his inner beatnik.

Dean Brierly reviews for both Cinema Retro and other magazines and has two of his own websites--Films of The Fifties, Films of The Sixties. Here's an example of his work, a section from his long review of Cape Fear. You'll have to scroll down a ways to get the entire review. It's excellent.


The Lawless

Robert Mitchum rarely played out and out villains, but when he did, the results were spectacular. No one who has seen Night of the Hunter (1955) is likely to forget his murderous preacher with the words “love” and “hate” tattooed on his knuckles. The actor brought equal intensity to his role as Max Cady, whose heavy-lidded, baleful stare hints at barely repressed psychotic undercurrents. Mitchum’s powerful physique, on frequent display throughout the film, holds the promise of unstoppable violence. He imbues Cady with a reptilian quality that evokes nothing so much as a ravenous crocodile as he pursues the Bowden family through Georgia swampland in the film’s final minutes.

The revelation of Mitchum’s performance, however, is its redneck hipster quality. Cady is without doubt one of the most visceral predators ever burned onto celluloid. But he’s also an undeniably cool cat, a sociopathic Jack Kerouac, if you will. Cady’s sartorial style—chinos, sport shirt, windbreaker and, most distinctively, a sporty Panama hat tilted back at a cocksure angle—immediately sets him apart from the conservative citizenry of the small Southern town where the story unfolds. Cady doesn’t walk, he saunters. His body language is arrogant and knowing, and his face is set in a perpetual smirk, as if he’s enjoying a secret joke at the expense of all the rubes around him. He’s also a fount of sardonic humor, delivered in streetwise jargon that nicely counterbalances the film’s visual and thematic darkness. His first words in the movie, addressed to an elderly black janitor, are: “Hey, daddy, where does Sam Bowden hang out?” Although Cady uses the word “daddy” as a casual form of an address to an older man, the term also harbors racial and sexual implications that possibly relate to his life in prison. The viewer has already pegged Cady as an unregenerate sleazeball, so anything’s possible.

But what really makes Cady cool is how easily he dominates people and situations. When he’s arrested in a cocktail bar on the orders of Chief Dutton, he doesn't meekly submit, but first ambles over to the sexy girl he’s been eyeballing, tosses a contemptuous glance at her male companion, and says, “I’m going to give you just one hour to get rid of your friend.” “Are you trying to pick me up?” she asks. He relies with a knowing leer and emphatic “Yes,” pushes the brim of his hat down Sinatra style and strolls out like the arrogant badass he is.

for the rest go here http://sixtiescrimefilms.blogspot.com/

George Axelrod

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Ed here: I watched "The Seven Year Itch" the other night and that made me remember George Axelrod. And that made me remember my review of his Gold Medal novel, which Hard Case Crime reissued a few years back.

BLACKMAILER by George Axelrod

There were few cooler guys on TV in the Fifties than George Axelrod. I didn't see him that often--he did a few talk shows; a few arts shows--but I always thought Now that's the kind of guy I wish I could be. Hip but accessible.

Not only had Axelrod produced such fine B'way and movie hits as "The Seven Year Itch" and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?," he'd adapted such novels as "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" to the screen.

And on TV he was slick and and funny and serious about his craft.

Oh, and one more thing. He was the author of a genuine Gold Medal novel.

I bought BLACKMAILER a few years after it appeared...say forty-five years ago. Now Hard Case Crime has reissued it and even after all this time it holds up well, albeit as a tribute to a time long past but fondly remembered by some portions of my generation.

What Axelrod did here was take the elements of the standard hardboiled crime novel--good bad girls and bad bad men, the prospect of lots of cash--and mix them up with talent agents and movie stars. And relate all this in a voice that is both literate and a bit larky at times--and works surprisingly well, even in the scenes of violence. There's a faux Hemingway (who was God at that time), a faux Marilyn Monroe (who was Goddess at that time) and enough double-crossing to make you cross-eyed.

This is one of those kick-back novels. A beer or two, a night with nothing to do, a devout desire for pure escape. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Innocent Mrs. Duff by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding

THE INNOCENT MRS. DUFF
One of the more familiar knocks on mystery fiction is that it rarely treats death seriously. That too often murder is simply the device that propels the story and not much more. I think that's a fair criticism and I certainly include my own work as being guilty of that particular sin. Murder, even literary murder, should HURT.

I'd also add to that criticism the various addictions common to the genre, namely alcoholism and drug addiction. Only Larry Block and a few others have taken us into the real world of recovering alcoholics. For the most part addiction has become just another keystroke common to the world of mystery fiction.

I've read three novels in my life that have described accurately--in my experience as an alcoholic--the horrors of being drunk most of your life. Certainly Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, After the First Death by Larry Block and a novel you've probably never heard of, though alcoholic Raymond Chandler pushed it as one of the finest suspense novels of his time.

For some reason, much as I've pushed her here, I'd never read THE INNOCENT MRS. DUFF by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding. It is remarkable in many ways, not least because the protagonis. Jacob Duff is drunk for virtually the entire novel. And we see 95% of the book through his eyes. Functionally drunk for most of it but also falling-down drunk in places. Holding's genius was to sustain a sense of dread that I don't think even Ruth Rendell has equaled. There are times in her novels when I have to put the book down for a few minutes. They are that claustrophobic in mood and action.

That's the first most remarkable aspect of the book. The second most remarkable is the fact that we see the book through the eyes of one of the most arrogant, self-invoved, cold and self-deluded man I've ever encountered in fiction of any kind. I hated the bastard so much--I'm not enamored of the upper-classes, alas, and Duff embodies everything I loathe about them--I almost gave up after chapter three. I wasn't sure I wanted to learn anything more about this jerk,

But Holding has the voodoo, at least for me. She makes me turn pages faster than any best-seller because what you're rushing to discover is the fate of her people. All the good folks in this one are women, especially Duff's younger, beautiful and very decent wife. He constantly compares her unfavorably to his first wife, though we soon learn that he didn't care much for his first wife, either. At age forty he's still looking for his dream woman. God have mercy on her soul if he ever finds her.

As always with Holding, as with much of Poe, what we have is not so much a plot (though she's as good as Christie) as a phantasmagoria of despair, distrust and suspicion that consumes the protagonist. Is his wife cheating on him? Is she setting up his death so she'll inherit his estate? Is she turning his young son against him? Has his wealthy aunt, his life-long mentor and mother confessor, taken the side of his young wife? Has his drinking disgraced him in his small town and are all those smirks aimed at him? And finally, is he a murderer? And why does he have to sneak around these days to drink?

If you're curious about Holding, this is a good place to start. Anthony Boucher always said that she was the mother of all psychological suspense novelists. What's intresting is how few, fifty-some years after her death, have come close to equaling her enormous powers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pro-File: Loren D. Estleman




"Nobody does it better." Elmore Leonard

The Left-Handed Dollar is Loren Estleman's twentieth Amos Walker novel--and the thirtieth anniversary of the series!

Pro-File LorenD. Estleman

Tell us about your current novel or project?

1. Another Amos Walker, INFERNAL ANGELS, is scheduled for July 2011: It’s about Homeland Security’s increasing threat to our liberties, and will most likely fatten my FBI file. In 2012 Forge will publish a huge dream project, THE CONFESSIONS OF AL CAPONE. It came in at 796 pp. manuscript and takes place in Miami in 1944 and Chicago during Prohibition. If Capone ever entertained writing his autobiography, I like to think it would bear a close resemblance to this.

Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

2. I’m fooling around with another project I’ve tinkered with off and on for years. One advantage of being months ahead on all your deadlines is you get to flirt with some bizarre stuff.

What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

3. Doing what you most like to do and getting paid for it. It beats working.

The greatest displeasure?

4. Meeting people who find out what I do, then say they’re not much for reading, mot even realizing they’re insulting you to your face.

Advice to the publishing world?

5. Print far more copies tan you can ever expect to sell. It’s the only way to galvanize the sales team.

Rules for the road?

6. Learn another skill in case the writing doesn’t work out. I got this from my college journalism professor. I took him to mean I should get a job with a newspaper so I’d always have it for a backup.

Advice for new writers?

7. Don’t write about Detroit.

Worst writiing advice you ever got?

8. Let us, your publishers, deal with Hollywood.

Writers you'd like to see in print again?

9. Fletcher Flora and Jack Ritchie.

Thank you very much, Loren.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stark House Newsletter

(Ed here: A little late with this one. Sorry, Greg.)

Hello Everyone,



We’re just a week or so away from shipping Peter Rabe’s wonderful pair of previously unpublished novels, The Silent Wall and The Return of Marvin Palaver. About The Silent Wall, Keir Graff of Booklist said that “It’s a claustrophobic noir, at times almost unbearably tense, and would certainly have a following if it had already been published.”



Cullen Gallagher’s blog, Pulp Serenade, has been revisiting some already classic Rabe books, and regarding The Return of Marvin Palaver, he says: “Funny and inventive, The Return of Marvin Palaver shows us a new side to Rabe. His hardboiled novels were always a shade witty, but here he fleshes out the humor and runs with it. A really enjoyable, quick read.”



And with the bonus of the rare Rabe short story, “Hard Case Redhead,” this volume offers not only the trademark Rabe style but different shades of this wonderful talent. It won’t disappoint. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, “If you don’t like these books, you don’t like ice cream.”



A question: What kind of books were written by some of the paperback era’s most popular and prolific writers, that featured elements of crime, an (un)healthy dose of violence, and an even bigger dose of larger-than-life fantasy women? Here’s a hint: sometimes you wrap a Hemingway cover around them when you ride the train or take them to the doctor’s office.



Yes, they’re books that have come to be known as “sleaze” novels. While that may or may not be a good label, there is some truly entertaining fiction hiding under that umbrella that deserves to be read. The genre seems to be undergoing a bit of a resurgence lately, with books by Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake and others coming back into print.



We offer you a pair of books by Don Elliott, the not-so-secret pseudonym of the one and only Robert Silverberg, author of such books as Dying Inside, Nightwings, Lord Valentine’s Castle, and many, many more. Silverberg may be known primarily for his science fiction work, but he has written everything from history books to crime fiction to yes, sleaze.



The original books, Gang Girl and Sex Bum, have long been sought after by collectors and those avid few who have been working through the years to uncover and identify who wrote which of these “sleaze classics.” They’re being reprinted here together for the first time.



As entertaining as these books are, the introduction to the book by Silverberg himself is a brilliant evocation of the times and the circumstances that gave rise to this genre. The intro itself will make you want to read these books and perhaps look for more by other favorite writers of the time. If you felt perhaps a bit uncomfortable picking up a sleaze title, Silverberg puts the books into a context that is both fascinating as a historical snapshot and gives the reader a non-apologetic enthusiasm to dip a toe in these once “forbidden” waters:



“…And because we all worked under pen names, we were free to let our inhibitions
drop away and push our characters to their limits, without worrying
about what anyone else — friends, relatives, book reviewers — might
say or think about our work. We had ourselves a ball, and got paid nicely
while we were doing it.
And also we never forgot that we were doing the fundamental thing that
writers are supposed to do: providing pleasure and entertainment for
readers who genuinely loved our work.”
-Robert Silverberg, from his introduction to the Stark House volume of Gang Girl/Sex Bum, “Those Good Old Soft-core Days”


Exciting stuff--undiscovered Rabe and re-discovered Silverberg (er, make that Don Elliott). We hope you give both a try.



And as always, you can receive these books and every new Stark House Press book fresh from the printer with our own Crime Club. See our website (www.starkhousepress.com) for details (including info on a limited time discount special for new subscribers), or shoot an e-mail to griffinskye3@sbcglobal.net. And to subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, use the same address.



Cheers,

Greg Shepard, publisher

Stark House Press

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sick day(s)

I've been getting progressively sicker this week so haven't been doing much. When my temp hit 102 I went to the doc. She told me that I have the flu and a very bad case of sinusitis. And my lower blood pressure number is 54. I'm pretty weak and working to bring that back up. What she's worried about, because I don't have much of an immune system because of the cancer, is that it'll turn into pneumonia, which has happened twice before. So she gave me some kind of neutron bomb anti-biotic and said to call her on Tuesday.

Remember The Fugs song River of Shit...when everything goes wrong? Last night my electric blanket gave out. Years ago at Mayo I became a big electric blanket guy. So when I left the doc's office I drove to the nearest store that sold them. Turned out to be Sears. Got it home and it doesn't work.

I wanna say right here and now that when I become President I plan to model myself after the Steve Carrell character on "The Office." I'm going to terrify congress into going along with every law I want passed. And every law I want passed will be rooted in personal grudges and pique. Starting with Sears. :) I probably won't be back for a few days.

PS I'm well aware that there are children starving all over the world. And people living under the iron fist of dictators. But I bet they at least have electric blankets.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Joe Gores, R.I.P.




From Vince Emery Productions:

Joe Gores is one of the world's best-regarded mystery writers. He is a three-time winner of the Edgar Award (the highest honor for mystery writers), and has also won the Maltese Falcon Award (Japan's highest award in the mystery field), and he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America.

Gores worked as a logger, a carnival roustabout, a teacher at a boys' school in Kenya, and for twelve years, as a detective. Gores' popular novels and stories about detective agency Daniel Kearney Associates are based on his own experiences as a San Francisco private eye. I regard them as the best-written and most enjoyable detective series by any current writer.

Gores has written scripts for Kojak, Columbo, Magnum P.I., Mike Hammer, Remington Steele, and other television series. Francis Ford Coppola produced a movie based on Gores' novel Hammett. Mr. Gores is currently writing the novel Spade & Archer, which will be the authorized prequel to The Maltese Falcon.

Ed here: I worked with Joe Gores on a number of occasions. What a gentleman and what a good guy. I hold his work in great esteem. He was something few writers ever are--an original. The Daniel Kearney stories and novels are linear descendants of Hammett and many of them are, to me, just as good. So long, Joe.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ROUGH AVAILABLE AGAIN



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Ed here: Last night Cullen Gallagher at Pulp Serenade was kind enough to review my first novel, Rough Cut, which I wrote with the encouragement of my wife an Al Collins. Al even tried to get me an agent. I got something like seven turn-downs and the reason was all the same. One agent said, "The most psychotic character in the book is the protagonist." Finally a young editor at St. Martin's named Brian DeFiore (now an agent) bought it after finding it in the slush pile. The Ramble House edition also includes New, Improved Murder which is the first Jack Dwyer novel, a lighthearted mystery by my standards. Buy now. We only have six thousand copies in the warehouse (I'm not sure but I also believe that there's an alien being hidden there too.)


"Rough Cut" by Ed Gorman by Cullen Gallagher Pulp Serenade


“There aren’t any heroes in this,” he said.

“I know.”

Looking back on Ed Gorman’s first novel, Rough Cut, originally published in 1985, it’s remarkable not only for how assured the writing is, but also because so many of the themes and motifs that would come to haunt his work are already evident. No heroes, just broken men who’ve broken the only home they knew, and who try and find compensation in their work. You can see shades of it in the tragic titular character in The Sharpshooter, in the troubled brothers on the police force in The Midnight Room, and especially in political consultant Dev Conrad in Sleeping Dogs and Stranglehold. The seed of all these characters is to be found here, in Rough Cut.

Advertising executive Michael Ketchum is the first of many jaded, world-weary, emotionally damaged protagonists that would come to populate Gorman’s fiction. He knows that his colleagues are opportunists, cheaters, and sometimes just plain assholes – but murder is something he didn’t expect. Office tensions are pushed to the max as bodies pile up and deceptions come to the surface, and Ketchum wonders if there will be anything left of his business to run – assuming he’s not next on the killer’s list.

A highly entertaining thriller, there’s something of the novel’s driving plot and unsentimental tone that reminds me of the best qualities of the first generation of paperback writers. Yet the book is anything but a throwback, and Gorman brings a lot of original ideas to the page. The poisonous advertising setting (inspired, no doubt, by Gorman’s own experiences in the field) is distinctive and ripe with bitterness, drama, and potential violence.

Among the most defining – and gratifying – characteristics is Gorman’s protagonist, Michael Ketchum, an average joe who unwittingly becomes an amateur detective, as many of Day Keene’s or Harry Whittington’s characters had to do decades earlier. But unlike his predecessors, Ketchum isn’t driven by his hard-on radar, or a need for self-preservation, but instead by a mature sense of responsibility. He doesn’t seem scared so much by death as by the all-too-real threat of losing his main advertising client, and having his business go under. There’s so much dead inside him already that if the business went, he’s not sure there’d be anything left of himself. I think he’s also aware that no matter how big a jerk his colleagues can be, they all need that paycheck at the end of the day – and as one of two heads of the company, Ketchum doesn’t want to let them down. At least that is how I read the office as a surrogate family.

Gorman’s prose is never lacking in empathy – it’s what gives his thrillers the overtones of tragedy, and it’s what gives the story an extra punch. Infidelity and duplicity are what gives so many of Ketchum’s colleagues hope to get through the day. I’m not sure whether Ketchum is better off seeing through the charade, or if his lack of illusions makes him all the more hopeless.

Strong plot, strong characters, strong writing – Rough Cut is one helluva debut novel, and the start to a wonderful career that only grows richer with each new book.

Rough Cut is available from Ramble House books, paired with New, Improved Murder.

And here is an interview I did with Ed when The Midnight Room came out.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“When you get that sense of isolation, that sense that you can confide in no one, then you’re easing open the door of madness and peering inside.”

“You reach a certain age, or state of mind, and what you find yourself doing is clinging–clinging to things that you once would have scoffed at as mediocre, things that are now embarrassingly important.”

“My life pushed in on me like walls meant to crush.”

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Spree by Max Allan Collins



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I'm just about finished with my third or fourth reading of Max Collin's SPREE. This is not only one of my favorite of Al's books, it's one of my favorite books period. This is how you do it.

The Nolan series features a man formerly a man associated with the mob, though reluctantly, now trying to go straight with a restaurant in the Quad Cities on the Mississippi River. Things are going along nicely until Cole Comfort and his dim son catch up with him. They hold him resposible for some of their serious bad luck.

To fully appreciate Cole you have reach back to William Falkner and Erskine Caldwell. Outwardly he's something of a stereotype hayseed, right down to his flannel shirts and bib overalls. But he's hard to peg, as one of his early victims learns. She wonders about a man who says "ain't" then a few sentences later uses the word "conduit." Go figure.

Cole Comfort is one of the great bad guys of hardboiled fiction. A man who has used his family to help him run every kind of scam, con and robbery you see on those WANTED posters in the post office. And not a sentimentalist. Oh, no. If he has to lose a loved one in the process of getting what he wants so be it.

Son Lyle is a twenty-three year old pretty boy who is in effect his father's robot. He doesn't want to kill anybody but just as the book opens he's about to off his sixth victim. He has flashes of remorse but they don't last longer than any of his other thoughts, around thirty seconds.

In broadstroke the story is a confrontation between Nolan and the Comforts. They are nasty sumbitches and make some of the mob men who tried to kill Nolan years earlier seem like nice guys.

What makes the book memorable is its successful balance of hard boiled suspense and wit. No easy task. Nolan is just detached enough to function as a mercenary when he goes after the Comforts for kidnapping his woman (Collins partially modeled him after Lee Van Cleef) but believable enough to really care about her. Collins' description of their relationship is winning and unique.

But the Comforts take the book. Loathsome as they are--Cole is a combination of Bubba and Richard Speck--you can't look away no matter how grotesque they become. Most of the Comfort scenes have me smiling all the way through. Several have me laughing out loud.

Spree is pure twisty pleasure and a major book in Collins' career.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Robert Duvall: Don't Mourn the Good Old Days of Hollywood

Robert Duvall: Don't Mourn the Good Old Days of Hollywood
Published: January 07, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

FROM THE WRAP
By Brent Lang

They may not make them like they used to, but Robert Duvall is still optimistic about the future of movies.

“There’s still room for all kinds of films. Going into the 21st century, this is such an in-medium that you’re getting all kinds of people to do it -- African Americans, Spanish -- it’s open to all,” Duvall told a capacity crowd at a showing Thursday night of his acclaimed new drama “Get Low,” part of TheWrap's ongoing Academy Screening Series.

Unlike other actors of his generation who mourn the passage of the decade when “Easy Riders” and “Raging Bulls” took over the studios, Duvall said he believes that film’s future is bright.

“What’s been pushed to the outside can still be seen by the public, and the public can benefit,” Duvall said.

In fact, the Oscar winner mentioned one movie that is even better today than four decades ago, when he first rose up the acting ranks with memorable roles in screen classics such as “The Godfather,” “Apocalypse Now,” and “The Great Santini”: the Coen Brothers' remake of “True Grit.” The actor played Ned Pepper in the 1969 original, squaring off against John Wayne.

“The old guys were more authoritarian,” Duvall said. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen the first one, but I think maybe this ‘True Grit’ is a little better.”

for the rest go here:
http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column-post/duvall-films-bright-future-true-grit-better-23728

Thursday, January 06, 2011

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: SHARP PRACTICE, HARRISON HIGH by John Farris

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Let’s see. Sharp Practice by John Farris is a slasher novel. And it’s also a police procedural of a very British kind (though written by an American). A love story (the long-suffering wife of a cheating husband; the brother and sister who just can’t keep their hands off each other; numerous people lonely and neurotic in very modern ways). A gentle spoof of the hierarchy of academia. A look at the frustrations of a writer trying come up with another novel as good as the first one. And of course a look at one of the most savage murderers in modern suspense fiction, though Farris is wise enough not to give us an autopsy. He’s Hithcockian in his belief that less is more. Praise the Lord.

And that’s just a partial list of the novel's elements.

It is also one of the most sophisticated, elegantly told and perverse novels of terror ever written. The surprises are so stunning that two or three times I had to put the book aside and take a little rest. There are three twists in this novel that are so cunningly wrought they will shock even the most jaded reader.

That’s all I’m going to say about Sharp Practice. Read it and you’ll see that I’ve understated my enthusiasm for its suave brilliance.

So instead of a book report I’d like to turn to Mr. Farris himself.

Here's a quote from Steve Lewis that introduces Farris very well:

"It has just occurred to me that John Farris has one of the longest careers of any mystery writer still active. His first novel, The Corpse Next Door, was published by Graphic Books, a small but solid line of mostly paperback originals, in 1956. Farris was born in 1936, so if the book wasn’t published until he was 20, the odds are the most of it was written when he was still nineteen.

"He switched to the pen name of Steve Brackeen for his next few books, typical Gold Medal thrillers, except that Gold Medal didn’t do them. One of them, Baby Moll (Crest, 1958), will be reprinted by Hard Case Crime later this year under his own name, a mere 50 years later.

" Farris eventually became the author of the “Harrison High” books, which sold in the millions, and he became an even bigger seller once he started writing horror fiction that was invariably tinged with the supernatural. Books like The Fury (1976) and All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes (1977) are as close to classics in the field as you’re going to get, and yet … even though Farris has averaged close to a book a year since those two books, unlike Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz and mystery-wise, Ed McBain, who came along about the same time he did, it is as if no one’s ever heard of him. Nobody knows his name."

If you were a reader in the early 1960s it was impossible not to know the name of John Farris. Harrison High, the novel Lewis refers to, was popular for two reasons. First because it was a fine true novel about high school life. The aspects that were judged scandalous by some critics were in fact the truest parts of the book.

What set it apart from all the other high school novels was that it was very much like the literary novels of the time, especially those of the unjustly forgotten Calder Willingham. Harrison High remains rich in dealing with its era (the late 1950s), its people (generally middle-class whites) and its social problems (back alley abortions were still common). But with all that it's the characters I've kept with me. And having gone back to the novel several times over the years I'm aware of how carefully and honestly Farris drew them.

The second reason for the book's popularity was that it was written by an ambitious young man who wasn't long out of high school himself. The Dell paperback edtion (much like Peyton Place just before it) seemed to be everywhere. Farris' photo on the back cover depicted a thoughtful man who might have played football at one time or another.

John Farris went on to write many more novels, a number of them true and lasting masterpieces. But for people my age that thick Dell paperback version of Harrison High was an especially important novel.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

James Frey's Controversial Fiction Factory Hits Big

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This is from Jacket Copy, the Los Angeles Times

The first fruit of James Frey's fiction factory
January 3, 2011 | 8:13 am


James Frey achieved a strange fame with his bestselling memoir that proved not entirely true, "A Million Little Pieces." After going on "Oprah" to promote his book, he was brought back to face her displeasure about its exaggerations.

He moved to New York and wrote a big book set in Los Angeles. "Bright Shiny Morning" came out in 2008; David L. Ulin, who was then L.A. Times books editor, wrote it was "a terrible book. One of the worst I've ever read."

But a little literary criticism wasn't going to slow Frey down. As New York magazine reported in November, Frey has created Full Fathom Five, a company that recruits young MFA students to co-write novels with him -- for as little as $500, $250 or even nothing -- in hopes of sharing in the profits of their eventual blockbuster sale. The writing duties fell almost completely to the young writers: Frey would provide story ideas, writing guidance or polishing, and the connections to get the work published and in the right hands.


-- Carolyn Kellogg

for the rest go here:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2011/01/the-first-fruit-of-james-freys-fiction-factory.html

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Roger Ebert on SF Fandom

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Ed here: I ran across this piece by accident, Roger recalling his days in science fiction fandom. We'd both been publishing fanzines for some time. Roger was the best writer of our group. He already had great style and humor. I lived in two worlds. After I cleaned up my act and decided that being a thug was not a worthy goal, I got seriously involved in fandom. I wrote for any zine that would have me. I also published a zine called Ciln (I have no idea what the title meant) and managed to cadge Roger and Bob Bloch and Marion Zimmer Bradley and Greg Benford among others to contribute to my truly humble enterprise. Here's Roger writing about his own days in fandom.

This is one of the finest pieces I've ever read about being a science fiction fan in the late fifties and early sixties.

ROGER EBERT:


A year or so after that I joined Tucker and Ed Gorman, a fan from Cedar Rapids, on a trip to the MidWestCon in Cincinnati. We drove in my family’s Dodge, nearly skidding off a road in Indiana, talking all the way about fandom in a giddy rapid-fire exchange of inside jargon. At a motel in Cincinnati, I made people laugh with my reproductions of Bob and Ray routines, and drank a little beer, which felt like a lot of beer to an inexperienced drinker, and–here is the earth-shaking part–I actually met Buck and Juanita Coulson, Dick and Pat Lupoff, and Harlan Ellison! The Coulsons struck me as two of the nicest people I had ever met, the kind of people where you would like to move into their spare room, and the astonishingly long run of their Yandro was one of the monuments of fandom. The Lupoffs were enormously funny and smart New Yorkers–that city that the novels of Thomas Wolfe had forever colored in my daydreams. Harlan was–how old? Twenty? Young and cocky, with the color proofs for the cover of his new paperback that Berkeley Books was about to publish, and as he showed me the glossy reproduction, I knew envy of a desperately sincere kind.

(more)

These meetings, these connections and conversations, were important because they existed in an alternative world to the one I inhabited. Fandom grew out of and fed a world-view that was dubious of received opinion, sarcastic, anarchic, geeky before that was fash-ionable. In those years it was heretical to take comic books or "Captain Video" seriously. Pop culture was not yet an academic subject. From Lenny Bruce, Stan Freberg, Harvey Kurtzman, Mort Sahl, and Bob and Ray we found an angle on America that cut through the orthodoxy of the Fifties and was an early form of what would come to be known as the Sixties.

(more)

From time to time I’ve heard from friends from those days. I spent time with Ed Gorman during a visit to Coe College; he became a mystery writer and wrote a novel about two movie critics who had a TV show. Harlan Ellison and I have had dinner in Los Angeles–once in the home of the eccentric film collector David Bradley, who had a concrete bunker filled with prints behind his house, and showed us the rare early cut of "The Big Sleep." I ran into Dick Lupoff in San Francisco during a book tour–he has a show on Pacifica Radio–and we remembered that New York visit, when he and Pat seemed so incomprehensibly metropolitan to me. I actually sold two stories to Ted White when he was editing Amazing and Fantastic, circa 1970.

for the rest go here:

http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0501/thoughtexperiments.shtml

Monday, January 03, 2011

TTA Press




Ed here: This is an outright plug for one of the most interesting and innovative small publishers in the world. TTA Publications. Black Static is horror-oriented with cutting edge fiction and numerous columns, most notably by the always enlightening Christopher Fowler. One dazzling issue after another.

Crimewave is one of the most consistently rule-breaking collections of crime fiction being published anywhere. Last night I started reading it but had to stop after reading the first story, Plainview by David Hoing. I stopped reading because the story is so good, so rich, so lyrically told reading anything else for the night would have been a waste of time. When I went to the back for the author bios I found that Hoing lives in Waterloo, about seventy miles from Cedar Rapids. I just got off the phone with him. I'm sure I sounded like a fan boy.. He's done quite a bit of science fiction, he told me, but this was his first attempt at mystery. What can I tell you? His story is so good I almost decided to quit writing. What's the point? THIS IS HIS FIRST MYSTERY STORY!!!!!!!!!

Get to know your local TTA Publications dealer. They've got the real stuff.


Crimewave
Crime & Mystery Crimewave 11 out now
Current Issue

Crimewave 11: Ghosts Out Now
18th Nov, 2010



Cover Art:
The evocative wraparound cover art is by Ben Baldwin.



Stories:
Plainview Part One: The Shoe Store by Dave Hoing

Friday, November 28, 1975
• The owner of the shop, a local eccentric named Kohlsrud, had liver spots on his hands and nicotine stains on his fingernails. He held the shoehorn in his right hand and cupped it over Leslie’s lower calf before slowly sliding the metal down to her heel. His wrist brushed against the smooth and supple contours of her leg. As he guided her foot into the loafer she noticed several scabs on the top of his head. What little hair he had was wiry and longish and white.


Wilkolak by Nina Allan

Kip knew the man was the monster as soon as he saw him. He was coming out of the convenience store attached to the garage at the bottom end of Lee High Road, his shopping in an old Tesco bag. Kip uncapped the Nikon and took his picture; the click of the shutter release sounded loud to him, even above the noise of the passing traffic. Kip lowered the camera, suddenly afraid the man might turn and see him, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the man crossed the garage forecourt, ignoring the cars parked at the pumps and heading off up the road in the direction of Lewisham. He was of medium height, but skinny, with gangling limbs and a jutting Adam’s apple and reminded Kip of Tom Courtenay in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. He wore tatty old Levis, and an army surplus jacket that was too big for him around the shoulders. He seemed lost in thought, cocooned in it, shut off from his surroundings, from Kip, from everything.


The Conspirators by Christopher Fowler

At the next table of the hotel restaurant, three waiters took their places beside the diners, and with a synchronised flourish raised the silver covers on their salvers. A fourth appeared, bearing a tray containing a quartet of tiny copper pots. Each waiter took a handle and proceeded to pour the sauces from the pots onto the salvers from a height of not less than eighteen inches. They might have been tipping jewels into coffers.


Who's Gonna Miss You When You're Gone? by Mikal Trimm

The trailer sat at the end of an unpaved stretch of hard-packed red sand and crushed oyster shells. Desmond Fells drove slowly through the gulf-spat detritus that served as dirt in the Florida panhandle, taking home the groceries in his parent’s ancient International Harvester station wagon. The shocks screamed in protest as he hit another hole in the road. Something clinked ominously against the hatch.


Holderhaven by Richard Butner

In 1911, Nerissa and Jorn Holder move into Holderhaven. • In 1966, Nerissa Holder dies, having outlived her husband, both sons, and a son-in-law. • In 1983, Holderhaven opens as a country house museum. • In 2003, Rudy needs a summer job. His friend at college, Bill Mills, says he can pull some strings. Bill does not need a summer job. Bill’s family is not quite as wealthy as the Holders had been, but they are rich enough. Bill’s father is Ol’ Dick Mills. Dick Mills’ house does not have a name. It is much smaller than Holderhaven, but it still has a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a separate climate-controlled warehouse for his collection of vintage Jaguar convertibles. Ol’ Dick Mills knows everyone in the county. Everyone who matters, at least. He places a call to Harriet Diamond, supervisor of operations at the Holderhaven House Museum.


Eleven Eleven by Cheryl Wood Ruggiero

Of course the old man should never have sold Alsie the gun. She was twelve years old today. She had no ID. But she had often hung around in the pawn shop when it was really cold outside, and the old man had let her stay because he was a kind man, even if he did take all kinds of bad things in for pawn and never asked where they came from.


Where the Bodies Are by Ilsa J. Bick

There’d been snow the night before, heavy and wet, another twelve, thirteen-inch dump added to the two feet already on the cemetery. Gulls screamed against a pewter sky, and the keen tang of crushed alu minum promised more snow on the way. Blades of an icy wind off Lake Michigan hacked Miriam’s cheeks, cutting tears. • An engine grumbled to her left. Blinking against salt-sting, Miriam watched as a mud-spattered flatbed skidded off thick slush before passing through a gate that was never locked. The truck was Stan’s, the Hebrew cemetery’s gravedigger-slash-maintenance-guy – and Miriam thought, with all apologies to Queen: And another one bites the dust.


Neighborhood Watch by Cody Goodfellow

This is a nice neighborhood: the houses upper middle class, postwar modern villa styles, big backyards, meandering drives up and down gentle hills that promise a spectacular view from any window. Quiet. To look at it on paper, you might think it was just another anachronistic suburb long since swallowed up by the city. The city peers over the low roofs and eucalyptus-lined avenues, but nothing bad from outside gets in, nothing but a hushed whisper from the freeway, so far as anyone who lives here knows.


K Love by O'Neil De Noux

Jodie Kintyre found the suicide note in a clear, plastic sandwich bag in the right front pocket of the jumper’s faded jeans. She carefully opened the bag and removed the handwritten note, laying it on the hood of the Humvee that had driven her to the scene. She put her useless portable radio on the note to keep it from flying away in the post-Hurricane Rita gusts that still blew across New Orleans. Behind her the three National Guard MPs, fresh-faced youngsters from Connecticut, stared curiously at her. They’d kept their distance from the body in the center of Bourbon Street.


Living Arrangement by Steve Rasnic Tem

Monte had never been a good father, in fact he had been pretty lousy by anyone’s standards, but after he lost his job and became too ill to work and the arthritis made it so he could hardly move his legs, his daughter pretended otherwise and asked him to come live with her, her young son, and the current boyfriend. “You always took care of me,” she said. “Let me do this for you.”


4am, When the Walls are Thinnest by Alison J. Littlewood

Stumpy Ellis told a lot of stories about how he lost his thumb, and they always seemed to involve violence, and grinding, and eyes. I was the only one who heard the real story, and I never would have told. Stumpy had a temper, and a man with a temper in prison is like a powder keg in a room full of lit matches.


The Hostess by Joel Lane

Not long after I moved to Birmingham in the 1980s, a family feud led to one of the worst crimes in my experience. It happened in Digbeth, an old industrial district now taken over by warehouses and wholesale businesses. The narrow backstreets and rotting factories hid a multitude of stolen goods. But most of the actual crimes happened elsewhere. The Digbeth police station was busier with drunks fighting in the Barrel Organ and the Railway Tavern than with professional villains.


We Are Two Lions by Luke Sholer

I guide the clipper up my skull, going against the grain. Hairs fall into the bathroom sink. Outside, a lean rain dusts the asphalt. People say you’re on your way. • I let the blade-guard ride the contours of my head, imagining you’re doing it, like you used to, your chest grazing my back. If it has to happen, I want it like that. Your lips and then the muzzle against my skull.


Plainview Part Two: The Blood Cools by Dave Hoing

Friday, July 3, 2009
• Mike Alexander and his wife Beth joined in singing hymn number 474 from the old green Book of Worship as the Frischel girls followed the casket of their mother up the aisle and out of the church. The girls were hardly girls anymore – Lindsey, the youngest, must be nearing forty by now – but Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church hadn’t changed a whit since Mike left town in 1976. In fact, the pew in front of him still bore the marks he’d carved into the wood on his last visit, the now immortalized initials of his special girlfriends at the time, VK72 + LF75 + ML76. Thirty-three years later, no one had replaced the pews, no one had sanded the old wood, and no one, as far as he knew, had taken much notice of his handiwork. All somebody had done was to apply layer after layer of varnish until the etchings were smooth and shallow indentations, barely visible except to those who knew where to look and what to look for.


What People Say About Crimewave:
“Publications like Crimewave make me want to move to England”
— Bookgasm

“Crimewave goes further, and the quality is higher”
— The Times

“A must-have collection of the hottest crime stories around”
— Ian Rankin



“The best in cutting edge crime fiction”
— Ed Gorman


“Head and shoulders above every other mystery magazine in look, content and tone”
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Format of Crimewave 11: Ghosts
Crimewave is published as an Americal Royal (229mm x 152mm) paperback, 240 pages on cream bookwove plus colour laminated cover.



How To Buy:
The cover price of Crimewave 11: Ghosts (ISBN 978-0-9553683-4-9), a limited edition large format paperback, is just £9.99. However, it might be difficult to find in your local shop. Therefore we recommend that you subscribe to four issues for just £26 (plus a little p&p for overseas readers) which gets you this 240-page book for just £6.50 as well as helping to ensure the continued existence of the series. Alternatively you can buy Crimewave 11 by itself. Click on the link below, the 'buy now' button top right, or the Shop link in the top bar.

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Ben Baldwin
Dave Hoing
Nina Allan
Christopher Fowler
Mikal Trimm
Richard Butner
Cheryl Wood Ruggiero
Ilsa J. Bick
Cody Goodfellow
O'Neil De Noux
Steve Rasnic Tem
Alison J. Littlewood
Joel Lane
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Sunday, January 02, 2011

29th Anniversary



Twenty-nine years ago today Carol and I were married. The best years of my life. Thanks to her.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Jon Lovitz

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Ed here: I've alway been a big fan of Jon Lovitz and his work. Wednesday the A.V. Club's Sean O'Neal interviewed Lovitz at length about his life and career. As usual with Lovitz there is a lot of anxiety and pain mixed with the sardonic humor. At the end of the piece of I've linked to a You Tube Clip of Lovitz in a scene from the movie "Happiness." He's got the chops. And it's nice to see the lovely Jane Adams be lovely. She's too often in unflattering roles. The trick here is--is Lovitz the good guy or the bad guy? A victim or a self-pitying manipulator?

From The A.V. Club

AVC: When you came back in ’97 and hosted, were there any differences that you noticed in that cast as compared to your own?

JL: I didn’t sense any tension, and I also didn’t sense any camaraderie. It seemed very quiet. I didn’t see comedians goofing around. None of that. It was weird. I mean, it was calm, and everybody got along. And Lorne was very nice to me, but I felt like they looked at me like an outsider, even though I had been there. After the show, people come up to the host and say congratulations, and the only one who came up to me was Will Ferrell. He said, “Good show.” Nobody else did, which I found very odd.

On Monday, they have a meeting with all the writers and cast. They come in Lorne’s office and pitch their ideas. Before the meeting, Lorne said, “Listen, just don’t say anything.” And I go, “Really?” So they come in and tell me their ideas, and I just go, [Pauses] “Okay.” And I didn’t say anything! I think they probably thought I was a jerk, but he told me, “Don’t say anything.” I couldn’t say, “Oh, that’s funny.” They’d say, “We have an idea for a sketch. You’re a teacher, and the student brings you an apple.” I go, “Right.” “And then another comes in and another brings you an apple, and then another brings you an apple.” I go, “Then what happens?” They go, “No, that’s the sketch. They’re just all bringing you apples.” I said, “That’s not a sketch. That’s just a premise.” They didn’t know what I was talking about. I said, “A sketch is supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end. It’s like a movie. It’s supposed to have a story. You have a who, what, where—the beginning, and the conflict, and it builds and builds. That’s how you do improv. You’re filling in all those spots to make the scene work. It builds to a climax. Then there’s a resolution, which is the ending. It takes hours to write the ending. It’s hard to come up with them.” They just looked at me blankly.

I think the writers thought I was a jerk, because I was like, “Then what happens?” to all of it. They’d go, “That’s it.” Maybe they didn’t like that. They wrote a first draft, and, “Who are you to touch our brilliant first draft?” Writing is rewriting.

for the rest go here:
http://www.avclub.com/articles/jon-lovitz,49464/

JON LOVITZ ON YOU TUBE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uod4yW6NYfo