Thursday, December 30, 2010

William Goldman meets Richard Widmark


Ed here: This is one of my all-time favorite pieces from my blog. 2008.

William Goldman Meets Richard Widmark
From Variety

Widmark left indelible impressions
William Goldman remembers the acting icon

I only met Richard Widmark once, and briefly, a third of a century ago, but I'm not going to forget him.
I was in London, working with the director John Schhlesinger on a novel and screenplay of mine, "Marathon Man." Schlesinger, unquestionably brilliant, had won the best directing Oscar a few years earlier for his work on "Midnight Cowboy." He had also been nominated for "Darling" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

And he was, at this time, terrified he was dead in Hollywood. He had finished a movie, "The Day of the Locust," that he was convinced would destroy him. So he accepted "Marathon Man" -- a thriller -- for salvation.

We had a marvelous cast -- Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider, William Devane -- and the very great Laurence Olivier.

Who was sick, and maybe dying.

I asked our producer, Robert Evans, if Olivier was set and he replied: "Is he set? Is Oliver set? He's so set you wouldn't believe it." Then he paused, finished up with this: "Of course he isn't set-set."

OK, I am staying at a hotel, working in Schlesinger's house, and I ring his doorbell on this special day, and he answers, looking very surprised indeed.

"Richard Widmark is coming over -- he wants to read for Szell," the Olivier part.

for the rest go here:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Stan Lee Day!


I've mentioned Mark Evanier's blog News From Me before. Mark is one of the finest writers on the internet in addition to being a popular media authority of astounding proportions. He has been a successful writer and producer of tv shows, stage shows, cartoon shows--and he's written extensively for comic books and virtually every other kind of venue over many decades. But what I like most about Mark is his common sense, his reverence for all forms of popular media dating back to the vaudeville of the 1800s--and his unmatched generosity and kindness. He is one of the most decent and compassionate observers of this vale of tears I've ever read. And he's a hell of a lot of fun! Here's Mark noting Stan Lee Day.

Happy Stan Lee Day!

by Mark Evanier

Today's Stan Lee's birthday. You can find out how old he is with about two seconds of Googling but if you've seen him the last few years, you won't believe the number. I saw him about two weeks ago and he still radiates as much energy as any character who ever appeared in a Stan Lee comic.

I enjoy watching him in action these days. He's very, very good at being Stan Lee...very good at being a celebrity, shaking hands, signing autographs. I'm not sure who's getting more of a thrill out of it — Stan or the people he meets. A few months ago at San Diego, I was invited to be on a panel with him and I didn't say a lot. I just sat there on the dais watching the audience staring at him and smiling and thinking how they were going to go home and tell friends — for the rest of their lives, probably — "I got to see Stan Lee in person." Of all the characters he created or co-created, the most colorful is still Stan Lee, himself. He's also the most incredible and I hope he goes on being Stan Lee for a long, long time.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Little Fockers - Little Success


Ed here: This long paragraph from Deadline Hollywood tells you just how movies (and sausages) sometimes get made.

1. Little Fockers (Universal) NEW [3,536 Theaters]
Wednesday $7.2M, Thursday $7.1M, Friday $5M, Saturday $14.5M
3-Day Weekend $34M, Cume $48.3M

This was supposed to be the big get-out-the-audience Christmas weekend family comedy, and exit polling showed the audience was 57%/43% female vs. male, and 53%/47% under vs over age 30. Granted, the Christmas Day total was almost 3 times Christmas Eve. But these are Universal's own less-than-encouraging numbers as well as 3-day weekend and 5-day holiday cumes for this third in the Meet The Parents/Meet The Fockers franchise starring Robert de Niro and Ben Stiller, with the Friday and Saturday estimates for Little Fockers only about 75% of the take for the same exact play period of Meet The Fockers which also opened during the Christmas holiday. Watching the sausage being made when it came to this major studio laugher wasn't pretty. At one point, Universal contemplated replacing director Paul Weitz with producer-writer John Hamburg on The Little Fockers. But that would have resulted in a Directors Guild dust-up. Plus, Adam Fogelson had just taken over as Uni Pictures chairman and didn't want to throw the already traumatized studio into a worse funk. So the decision was made to fix the movie in post. Weitz, Hamburg, Stiller, and Jay Roach spent two months going through the footage and finalized a week of pickups with all the principal cast. So Universal scheduled more than half a dozen full-blown scenes, including 4 with Dustin Hoffman who originally had been written out of the threequel when the studio couldn't reach a deal with him. But Hamburg and Roach helped convince Dustin to reprise his role opposite Barbra Streisand and he didn't come cheap. This is now at least a $100M budget film. Universal continued to spin that Little Fockers could have gone out "as is" but the studio "wanted to make it better as an investment in the future of the franchise." I always thought this threequel would kill the studio's golden goose -- and with only 9% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a "B-" CinemaScore, it likely did.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Richard S. Wheeler; Noirboiled Notes


Ed here: I was going to quote parts of Richard Wheeler's piece from his Curmugdeon's Diary ( but it's done so well I'm reprinting the entire post. Thanks, Richard.


Into the Sunset by Richard S. Wheeler

Ron Charles, the Washington Post's gifted fiction reviewer, began a review of a literary story set in the West published by Little, Brown, with this:

By Ron Charles
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
When people talk about genre fiction, their list peters out somewhere after romance and sci-fi - long before they get down to westerns, those once-mighty bestsellers that now seem as quaint as leather fringe. (Quick: Who won this year's Spur Award?) You don't have to be all that old to remember an era when the sun rose every day on novels about cowboys and horses, but two decades after Louis L'Amour took his boots off, Bantam is publishing his books in "Legacy Editions," a sclerotic label if there ever was one. Cormac McCarthy has left horses for the apocalypse. And reviewing a Larry McMurtry novel last year, our reviewer said, "The prose seems summary in nature, imparting a 'let's get this over with' quality."

Them would be fightin' words if anybody still cared.

Richard: The novel he reviews is contemporary, ranch-oriented, and bears no resemblance to traditional western fiction. It should not be called a western at all. It is simply a rural story set in modern Arizona, with a woman author and heroine, which is what attracted Charles's interest.

He is certainly expressing a reality that can't be rationalized away. Only Pinnacle and Berkley have significant western lines, and these depend heavily on erotic fiction (Berkley) or gunman stories with high body counts (Pinnacle). The ranch western is pretty hard to find these days, as is the trail drive novel, as well as the mining camp story and the Indian Wars story. The subgenre fur trade story is about gone too. Mustangers, wagon train masters, gold-seekers, homesteaders, Pony Express, nesters, vigilantes, rustlers, scouts, buffalo hunters, pretty much gone.

The genre western isn't dead, and won't die soon, but don't expect any literary Viagra to change things.

---------------------------Noirboiled Notes

Here's a site that all stripe of noir fans should enjoy. David Rachels reviews the noirish world with brief punchy overviews that reveal an eclectic and highly opinionated mind. So far I only agree with about half of his judgements but he writes so well I have to credit his observations. A literate, lively site that will introduce new noir fans to the full spectrum of the the genre--and serve as a refresher course for long time fans like myself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Ed here: Last night I talked about Lee Server's excellent biography of Robert Mitchum. Here's Lee's masterful take on the pulps.
Used copies are readily available. (From 2009)


Before he became known for his excellent biographies of Robert Mitchum, Ava Gardner and Samuel Fuller, Server wrote and co-edited several books about noir. I collaborated with him on two of them. His knowledge of noir films made me feel like the tourist I am.

He also wrote one of the finest books on pulp fiction I've ever read, Danger is My Business. It's filled with full colors of cover from every genre of pulps and stories about the writers and artists and editors who made them so successful for two decades. Just one example--do you know how Myrna Loy got her last name? I didn't. It turns out the mysterious Peter Ruric, author of Fast One and several classic hardboiled Black Mask stories, gave it to her when she was still a dancer in a nightclub. Very little is known about Ruric who's real name was George Sims and who was born not far from Cedar Rapids.

Each genre gets it own chapter-horror, adventure-western, private eye, romance and sex, hero pulps and science fiction as well as a chapter on the so-called Fiction Factories that ruled pulp land.

The romance and sex chapter surprised me. These pulps took real risks given the prevailing morality of the era. Robert Leslie Bellems set the tone for the naughty hardboiled male writers while women turned in the real erotica.

Same with the horror pulps. Looking at the covers I'm struck by how many of them depicted female bondage. The scantily clad (and usually great looking) heroines were always tied up by some fiend.

We all know how a lot of blurbs work. One writer wants to help another writer so he praises the book. You can usually tell when the blurb writer is log rolling. "I don't think I've ever read a novel as stupendously suspenseful or as monumentally wonderful or as Nobel-worthy as Sure I Killed, I Killed Him Good. And there's print on every page! Honest!"

But here are two blurbs that ring true for sure.

"Danger is My Business Takes me back forty years to my beginnings. Thank God for the pulps!" Elmore Leonard

"Danger is My Business is pure gold. It is so much fun to read. Lee Server's enthusiasm is well-matched to a writing style so witty and a knowledge of the subject so wide-ranging that Danger I My Business is a total page-tuner, as involving as any of the magazines he's opened for us." Donald E. Westlake

This is a book that belongs in your library.

Robert Mitchum - Lee Server


I first got to know Lee Server by reading his books. He's written some of the finest work ever done on the worlds of hardboiled and noir. I was lucky enough to work with him on a few of them. One of his finest books is his biography of Robert Mitchum. I've started rereading it again and I'm learning a lot more the third time through. If you're interested in Mitchum, Hollywood or a career arc that defied categorizing, this fact-packed well-written biography is for you. This is an interview Lee did at the time of the book's publication. The entire thing is well worth reading.

LEE: Mitchum was never BIG box office like a John Wayne or . . . arggh . . . Harrison Ford or Stallone. He was never at the right studio, never got the "good" parts or the obvious prestige jobs. To people who know old movies only from catching one of those network "AFI Presents Tom Hanks Presents the Fifty Greatest Crying Scenes" specials he's a minor figure perhaps. But he has always had a strong and rather rabid following--and a diverse following, I mean from intellectuals to tough blue collar guys (and gals)--and there are folks who have found things in Mitchum as an artist and to an extent as a person, found someone who speaks to them, or for them--his persona, his style, his outlook on life. Of course all the great iconic stars offer some sort of instructional appeal but Mitchum I think is more complex, more poetic. You asked if I think his appeal will continue to last and grow. I think so very much. And my publisher and creditors hope so too.

ALAN: The Mitchum book presents an extremely paradoxical man. It appears that he was talented, charming, intellectual and well liked while conversely being a serial philanderer, alcoholic, crude, and occasionally cruel. Did your research and writing lead you to form any conclusions about Bob Mitchum, the man or do the facts simply speak for themselves?

LEE: Mitchum's life was an ongoing tussle--sometimes a bloody brawl--between these conflicting sides of his nature, the sensitivity, the poetry, the gracious, laxy [sic], live-and-let-live side of him and the darkness, the violence, the compulsion to piss, figuratively and--as readers of the book will know--literally, on everything. He was self-destructive and often just plain destructive. Often his behavior, his decisions and comments were inexplicable. People who knew him for decades, people who knew him well for his entire life, confessed they could not understand all that made him tick. I lay out all the various and possible motives for his behavior but I let the reader ponder the riddle of Mitchum without pretending I hold the solution. I wanted, in fact, this unresolvedness, this mystery, to hang over the reader at the end. Don't know if it worked, but I tried.

for the rest go here:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quarry - Max Allan Collins & Terry Beatty


I've said many, many times here that Max Collins' Quarry books are among my all-time favorite hardboiled crime novels. For me there are two reasons for my enthusiasm-One, Max makes Quarry a real human being, something fictional hired killers almost never are; Two, the storytelling in these books is flawless. The pacing, the twists, the black comedy, the actually sexy sex and the always staggering payoffs. These are books that can be enjoyed again and again. I've probably read each of them at least five or six times. They get richer with age.

Now, thanks to Perfect Crime books, the Quarrys have the packaging they deserve. Terry Beatty, artist extraordinary, has designed the look and done the illustrations. Terry has won many awards for his work and has done everything from Batman to advertising.

The photo at the top was Max at the time he began writing the Quarrys. He explains this in his excellent afterwards found in each novel.

Holiday gifts? You bet. Anybody who appreciates superior storytelling, vivid characterization and plotting that just doesn't quit will be happy to get these books. I promise.

Sunday, December 12, 2010



1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).

I’m going to cheat and talk about 3 of my novels.

I just put out an original e-book for the Kindle and Nook, something that’s a very high octane, ultra noir crime and horror hybrid called Vampire Crimes. Think Pulp Fiction with vampires and it gives you some idea what this one’s about. I wrote Vampire Crimes back in 2006, but my agent at the time had her hands full trying to sell Pariah, The Caretaker of Lorne Field and Outsourced, so she never did anything with it. I eventually switched agents, moving to Matt Bialer over at Sandford J. Greenburger, and Matt was excited by this book, thought it would be an easy sale, and we came close—we had a number of young editors who loved this book and tried to acquire it but ran into problems for any of these reasons (a) editors higher on the food chain were trying to bring in their own vampire books and didn’t want the competition (b) people were afraid the book was too noir for a thriller (c) the fear also that the book was too much of a horror novel, especially with the vampire genre being co-opted as more of a teen romance. We also had the problem that Matt was sending this out in March of 2009, which was when the publishing industry had started to go South in a big way. So it didn’t sell, and I got sick of seeing of one of my better noir books gathering dust, so I put it out there myself for about the price of a cup of coffee.

My latest print book release was The Caretaker of Lorne Field, which Overlook Press published in late August. This isn’t a crime or mystery novel, but instead a mix of horror and allegorical fable, and the reader reaction to it has been great, with the book already being nominated for a Black Quill Award for best dark genre novel of the year among some very stiff competition, including Stephen King’s Under the Done, Peter Straub’s A Dark Matter and Justin Cronin’s The Passage.

The basic premise of the book is a simple one—a family has been responsible for weeding a field for the last three hundred years, with the belief being that if the field isn’t weeded according to the strict guidelines set out by the contract, that the weeds will grow into monsters and the world will quickly end. Now in present time, the current Caretaker believes these legends and believes he’s saving the world each day, but few others in this town still believe this. As simple as this concept is, the book is almost like a Rorschach test where each reader seems to take something different from it—some readers looking at the book as pure horror, others as a religious parable, others as a political parable, others as an allegory of sacrifice vs. selfishness, or of belief faith vs. reality, and the list goes on.

In February, Serpent’s Tail will be releasing my bank heist crime novel, Outsourced, which Booklist already calls a small gem of crime fiction, and which has gotten some very nice reviews in the UK from The London Times, The Financial Times and Morning Star, and a rave review from The Australian. I have a film deal with this with Impact Pictures, who are the guys who make the Resident Evil movies, and the script and financing are already set, so hopefully this will go into production soon. This is a fun, fast-paced twisty crime book that people are going to enjoy.

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

I just finished a Julius Katz & Archie novel. My novella, Julius Katz, got a great reaction from mystery readers, winning several awards including the Shamus, and since all the other books I ever submitted to NY were always rejected for being too dark, too gritty, too unlikable characters, etc., I decided this time to write a charming and lighthearted book with endearing characters that already have 1000s of fans from the stories with these same characters that have already appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. The feedback I’ve gotten from my early readers and Julius Katz fans that I showed the manuscript to has been extremely enthusiastic, and the novel really works much better than the stories. It should be a no-brainer for NY, but we’ll see.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The creative part. It’s such a great high when you get lost in the writing and the rest of the world disappears. I love the writing part of the business

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

The business side of writing.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Learn a lesson from the independent publishing houses and start buying the books you love and trust your readers. And, uh, publish my Julius Katz novel—1000s of mystery readers have already enthusiastically embraced the characters from the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine short stories, so no reason to talk yourself out of it with reasons that don’t make any sense!

6. What is the best piece of writing advice you ever got?

Enjoy the journey.

7. What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever got?

This is specific advice I got regarding Small Crimes when an editor gave me a three page analysis of everything that he thought was wrong with the book. If I didn’t trust my own instincts, I would have ruined the book by blindly taking his suggestions. It is important to listen to other people, but ultimately you have to trust your own judgment and gut level feelings.

8. What is the best piece of writing business advice you ever got?

Don’t stop writing while you’re waiting on submissions. Just keep writing. It helps keep you productive and keeps your head in a good place.

9. What is the worst piece of writing business advice you ever got?

That’s a tough one, Ed. Just as I ignored most of the good advice I’ve gotten over the years I think I’ve probably tuned out most of the bad advice as well.

10. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Gil Brewer and Cornell Woolrich have some of their books in print, but it would be nice to see more of them.

11. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

My first sale was Fast Lane to the Italian publisher, Meridiano Zero, which happened due to an odd sequence of events. My first English rights sale was Small Crimes to Serpent’s Tail, which was also due an unusual sequence of events, and I’ll talk about that one. Everyone in New York had rejected Small Crimes, some publishers several times, and I was getting ready to throw in the towel and quitting writing. I had several people, including Ken Bruen and Vicki Hendricks saying really good things about this book, and because of that I was able to get John Williams at Serpent’s Tail to take a look at it, but John told me the chances of them buying it were slim—that they only buy books that they absolutely love and feel they can’t live without, so while I thought it likely that John would like Small Crimes, I didn’t expect to sell them the novel. After a year of not hearing anything, I decided to accept an offer I had from Five Star, and call it quits. Five Star has good people, and is a good library publisher (selling almost entirely to libraries), but it wasn’t what I was looking for to keep going at this. Two days after I signed and mailed back the contract to Five Star, I got a call from John that Serpent’s Tail wanted to buy it, and at that point I was scrambling to try to arrange something with Five Star. Fortunately the people there are great and we worked out trading my novel Bad Thoughts for Small Crimes, but it was such a stressful month while trying to work this out, that I couldn’t really enjoy the moment of selling Small Crimes. I enjoyed it more a couple of years later when Small Crimes was published and NPR picked it as one of the 5 best mystery and crime novels of 2008.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Pro-File: Lee Goldberg

Pro-File: Lee Goldberg
Member of The Top Suspense Group

From Lee Goldberg's website:

Lee Goldberg writes books and television shows.

"His mother wanted him to be a doctor, and his grandfather wanted him to go into the family furniture business. Instead, he put himself through UCLA as a freelance journalist, writing for such publications as American Film, Starlog, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times Syndicate, The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle (He also wrote erotic letters to the editor for Playgirl at $25-a-letter, but he doesn't tell people about that, he just likes to boast about those "tiffany" credits).

"He published his first book .357 Vigilante (as "Ian Ludlow," so he'd be on the shelf next to Robert Ludlum) while he was still a UCLA student. The West Coast Review of Books called his debut "as stunning as the report of a .357 Magnum, a dynamic premiere effort," singling the book out as "The Best New Paperback Series" of the year. Naturally, the publisher promptly went bankrupt and he never saw a dime in royalties.

"Welcome to publishing, Lee.

"His subsequent books include the non-fiction books Successful Television Writing and Unsold Television Pilots ("The Best Bathroom Reading Ever!" San Francisco Chronicle) as well as the novels My Gun Has Bullets ("It will make you cackle like a sitcom laugh track," Entertainment Weekly), Beyond the Beyond ("Outrageously entertaining," Kirkus Reviews), and The Man with the Iron-On Badge ("as dark and twisted as anything Hammet or Chandler ever dreamed up," Kirkus Reviews).

"Goldberg broke into television with a freelance script sale to Spenser: For Hire. Since then, his TV writing & producing credits have covered a wide variety of genres, including sci-fi (SeaQuest), cop shows (Hunter), martial arts (Martial Law), whodunits (Diagnosis Murder, Nero Wolfe), the occult (She-Wolf of London), kid's shows (R.L. Stine's The Nightmare Room), T&A (Baywatch), comedy (Monk) and utter crap (The Highwayman). His TV work has earned him two Edgar Award nominations from the Mystery Writers of America.

"His two careers, novelist and TV writer, merged when he began writing the Diagnosis Murder series of original novels, based on the hit CBS TV mystery that he also wrote and produced. And he also writes novels based on Monk, another show he's worked on.

"Goldberg lives in Los Angeles with his wife and his daughter and still sleeps in "Man From UNCLE" pajamas."


1 The Monk novels are big hits. One just appeared in paperback, correct?

Yes, “Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out” is now in bookstores, drugstores, airports, e-retailers and finer supermarket nationwide. The hardcover really seemed to hit a nerve…in a good way…with readers and reviewers, since it dealt with the current economic crisis. Monk essentially loses his savings and his job…and is facing eviction. I think it gave readers a chance to find some laughter in their own predicaments. The story also touches on the whole Bernie Madoff thing. Monk is convinced a Madoff-like guy is guilty of murder…even though he’s under house arrest, is wearing an GPS ankle bracelet, and is under constant police and media surveillance.

2. What’s the next Monk book about and when does it come out?

It’s called “Mr. Monk on the Road” and comes out in hardcover in January. It’s the first book set after the final episode of the TV series. The book is also something of a departure…literally. Monk and Natalie take Ambrose on a road trip in a motorhome. Naturally, they come across a murder along the way.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

It's exactly that -- having a writing career. I get paid to sit at my computer and make-believe. People pay me to share my fantasies. It doesn't get any better than that.

4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?

The opportunities for writers in book publishing and episodic TV are shrinking every day. It's a scary time to be a professional writer if you aren't already a bestselling author or an A-list screenwriter/TV showrunner.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Hire me to write more books and pay me more!

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Richard S. Prather, Harry Whittington, Dan J. Marlowe...and, from more recent times, Richard Barre, Jeremiah Healy, and Doug Swanson.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

My first novel under my own name was "My Gun Has Bullets" (I'd written four others under the pseudonym "Ian Ludlow"). I wrote it out of frustration. I was stuck in Canada working on a terrible syndicated action show starring a compete imbecile. Instead of getting into arguments with the so-called star, I went back to my hotel room and took my anger out at the keyboard. The book was a broad satire on the TV business. The tagline was: "The Mob is bringing their style of doing business to TV. They don't cancel series. They kill them." It was great fun to write.

8. What do you consider the highlight of your career thus far?

In publishing, it would have to be writing "The Man with the Iron-on Badge," which didn't sell well but it was very well reviewed, was nominated for the Shamus, and is probably my best book. I am very proud of it and wish it had been successful enough for me to still be writing about that character.

In television, it was the three years I wrote and produced "Diagnosis Murder" with William Rabkin (who writes the "Psych" novels). We knew even as we were doing it that things would probably never be as good again, which somehow made the experience even sweeter.

9. How about the low point?

In publishing, it was the commercial failure of my book "The Walk," which also didn't get any critical notice one way or the other (but the story has a happy ending – it has become a Kindle bestseller. I’ve sold nearly 19,000 ebook editions of “The Walk” in almost a year-and-a-half). In TV, it was writing for "The New Adventures of Flipper," starring a teenage Jessica Alba and a dolphin.

10. Which book or short story would you recommend to readers unfamiliar with your work?

My best book is "The Man with the Iron-On Badge," but it's pretty hard to find. Otherwise, I'd recommend the DIAGNOSIS MURDER novel "The Past Tense" (the darkest entry in that series) or any of my MONK books, all of which are light-hearted mysteries that I'm proud of.

Thanks very much, Ed

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Really Interesting J.A. Konrath: The Bestseller Shift

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Bestseller Shift

In just a week, Amanda Hocking has sold over 10,000 ebooks.

Who is Amanda Hocking?

She's a self-published paranormal romance author. Check out her blog.

Not counting sales of Shaken, Afraid, or my Jack Daniels ebooks, I've sold about 2200 ebooks this week. And I've got about three times as many titles for sale as Amanda does.

Now, this isn't a competition, and writers should never compare their numbers, but I'm bringing Amanda's numbers up because I think it's indicative of a paradigm shift within the industry.

In the traditional publishing model, the most important factor in how many books sell is distribution.f

or the rest go here:

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Killing Reveals Truths of Life at Limelight’s Edge

Ed here: The difference between tabloid reporting (and I include everything I've seen on TV about Ronni Chasen up to now) and real reporting is the difference between urine and apple cider. They look similar when you hold them up to the light but if you know what you're looking at, you won't be fooled. Like many people I've been following the Ronni Chasen murder case but not until I read this article did I realize just how downright inept all the other stories about her really were. She was, according to the press reports since day one,, super-rich, super-popwerful and the belle of any ball she attended. I guess not.

December 4, 2010
Killing Reveals Truths of Life at Limelight’s Edge
LOS ANGELES — Ronni Chasen could be loud. And she pushed.

At an event like the Governors Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, one of the last show business soirĂ©es she attended before her murder on Nov. 16, Ms. Chasen sent reporters skittering for shelter as she scanned the room for targets of opportunity — people to introduce to clients like the film composer Hans Zimmer and the soundtrack expert Diane Warren.

At 64, Ms. Chasen was fighting to keep her place in a Hollywood public relations game that had mostly gone to firms bigger than her boutique Chasen and Company, or to players who were younger.

Assumptions of a pampered Hollywood life have shifted since she was killed last month, shot repeatedly while driving home from a movie premiere. The unsolved killing is pulling back the veil on a person who, like many in the show business capital, focused on holding onto a steadily eroding modicum of glamour.

Dismissing impressions of privilege, her longtime friend Martha Smilgis said: “Ronni was not a Jewish princess. She was a Jewish businesswoman.”

The distinction was Ms. Smilgis’s way of sorting through a bewildering thicket of facts that have begun to surface as both friends and investigators come to terms with the shooting of a woman who was hardly the most important in Hollywood but had become one of its best-known stock characters.

Ms. Chasen operated a modest public relations firm with the sort of clients who might be expected to pay fees of only a few thousand dollars a month — not much when measured against the need to pay salaries for her staff of four and the demands of a Hollywood life.

for the rest go here:

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Six Rules for Success; Women in Baseball

Ed Here: Writer Susan Oleksiw has an an interesting piece on her blog tonight:

Six Rules for Success by Susan Oleksiw

Mystery writing conferences are a great opportunity for those of use who work at our craft in isolation most of the time to get together and renew our enthusiasm. This year’s Crime Bake was one of the best, and I came away with lots of things to think about and new books to read. The panels brought a lot of new names and topics, but through it all, writers came back to a few main points about writing and the life of a writer. These are worth keeping in mind no matter who the writer is—the author of a bestseller, of a first book, or of half a dozen mysteries that sell modestly. So here they are, the qualities of a successful writer as reiterated by a number of writers who have achieved a range of success.

First, be persistent. Writing the novel takes time, selling it to a publisher takes time, producing it takes time, and selling it to the book-buying public takes time. It can take twenty years to become an overnight sensation, so keep working year after year after year, and you will continue to learn and grow and eventually get there.

for the rest go here:


-------------------------------Barbara Gregorich

Hi Ed,

You may have seen this on my posts, but in case not I'm writing to tell you that I've just published Research Notes for Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball, Vol. I: Maud Nelson, Margaret Nabel. This is an 8x10 book (notebook sized) of 114 pages, consisting of original newspaper articles written between 1875 and 1935. Most of the articles are quoted in their entirety, some are summarized. These are a portion of the research notes from which I wrote Women at Play back in 1992.

This book will be of interest to baseball researchers, to women in baseball who want to know their history, perhaps to baseball fans who aren't interested in research but would enjoy reading old-timey articles, maybe to novelists looking for the flavor of the times, and, I hope, to high school English teachers who assign research papers to students.

Since publishing this book last month, I’ve already heard from baseball researchers who said that information in my book led them to some aspect of their own research they didn’t know about or hadn’t considered.

The book is available only through Amazon, $12 for the softbound format, $5 for the Kindle format.

Here's the link:;

Best wishes,

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:

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.

-------------------------------------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. 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.)

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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 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.”

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