Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Night Music: Edie Gorme

"The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known"

Edie Falco, the great actress who played Carmella Soprano, gave this quote  to VANITY FAIR after hearing of James Gandolfini's death: "The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known"

Of course, we say things at a time like this without really thinking about it. But I would have to say that what Tony and Carmella shared did not strike me as great love. He cheated throughout the series; he was unable to share almost any part of his life with her, they were separated numerous times. In fact, I saw very little love between them.What I did see was two people who shared a house, two children, and grievances that would crush any marriage.

If you had to name a fictional couple who shared a great love, who would it be?

Friday Night Lights' Coach and Tami Taylor's is the single best marriage I have ever seen portrayed on TV.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Night Music: BAND OF GOLD

Next Special Friday Authors;:

I am thinking of a Jack Vance Day on August 9th and a Patricia Highsmith Day on September 27th. Adding Ross MacDonald on November 8th. I hope I live that long.

I have never read Vance, but it looks like he has quite a number of genres and books to choose from. Highsmith also seems to have the necessary quantity.


Friday's Forgotten Books: Elmore Leonard Day, June 28, 2013

Todd Mason has offered to collect any posts next Friday. Thanks Todd!!

 (Information from Elmore Leonard's website)

Elmore Leonard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 11, 1925 and moved to Detroit in 1934.
In high school a classmate gave him his nickname, “Dutch” after the Washington Senators “knuckleballer”, Emil “Dutch” Leonard. This stands as his nickname to this day.

In 1943, at the age of 17, Leonard graduated from The University of Detroit High School, and was  drafted and assigned to the Seabees, the fighting construction battalion of the United States Navy. He served for a little more than a year and a half in the Admiralty Islands and the Philippines.

Leonard enrolled in the University of Detroit and majored in English and Philosophy.
He married Beverly Cline in 1949 and went to work for the Campbell Ewald advertising agency. He soon became an ad writer but wrote Western stories on the side, selling mostly to pulp magazines, and to men’s magazines like Argosy, and one story to the Saturday Evening Post.

He chose westerns because he liked western movies and wanted to sell to Hollywood. Influenced by Ernest Hemingway, he applied Hemingway’s spare style of writing to his stories. For source material, Leonard focused on the Cavalry and Apaches of Southern Arizona in the 1880s. He wrote five western novels and thirty short stories in the 1950s, two of which sold to the movies: 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T.

In 1961, Leonard quit his job at the ad agency to write full time. The western fiction market had dried up. But the demands of a growing family required him to take freelance advertising jobs instead.

After five years away from writing fiction, Leonard finished his first non-Western novel, The Big Bounce, buoyed by the sale of film rights to his novel Hombre. His Hollywood agent, the legendary H. N. Swanson read it and told him, “Kiddo, I’m going to make you rich.”

Leonard began selling his work to Hollywood on a regular basis. When his next novel, The Moonshine War sold, he wrote the screenplay. Screenwriting would give him the income to pursue his real goal: writing novels full time. 52 Pickup was published in 1974, the first of several novels set in his hometown, Detroit.

He read The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins and credits Higgins with showing him how to “loosen up” his writing and “get into scenes quicker.”

In 1984, LaBrava was voted the best novel by the Mystery Writers of America. The following year, Glitz appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and Leonard was touted as “the greatest living crime writer.”
Freaky Deaky, Killshot, Maximum Bob and his “Hollywood” book, Get Shorty, which in 1995 was made into a hit movie by Barry Sonnenfeld and catapulted him to even greater fame.
Two more successful film adaptations followed: Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, based on Rum Punch in 1997, and Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight in 1998.

In 2001, The New York Times published Leonard’s “Ten Rules of Writing” now famous among writers and critics featuring his axiom, “I try to leave out the parts that people tend to skip.” In 2007, the rules were made into a little book called Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, illustrated by Joe Ciardiello.

In 2005, at the age of 80, he wrote his fortieth novel, The Hot Kid, featuring his iconic marshal, Carl Webster, receiving some of the best reviews of his long career. That same year, he followed up with a 14 part serial novel for the New York Times Magazine entitled “Comfort to the Enemy.”  In 2006, he completed the Carl Webster saga with Up in Honey’s Room. He also went full circle, as the book was set in the Detroit of his youth.

That same year, he received the prestigious Cartier’s Diamond Dagger Award in England and The Raymond Chandler Award at the Noir in Festival in Courmayeur, Italy.

More awards followed:  The F. Scott Fitzgerald award in 2008; the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

In late 2010, Djibouti was published; a fun romp through the world of Somali pirates and home grown Al Qaeda terrorists, seen through the eyes of a documentary filmmaker. 
Today, inspired by Justified, based on his novella, Fire in the Hole (2000), Elmore wrote his 45th novel, Raylan.  Parts of this novel have been incorporated into the second and third season of Justified.  “I can pick up Raylan’s story anywhere,” Elmore said.  It’s like visiting with an old friend.”
Elmore Leonard lives in Bloomfield Village, Michigan.  He has five children, twelve grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Personal Note: I have heard Elmore Leonard speak twice about his career. He is a thrilling speaker, telling stories as long as the audience stays in their seats. He usually is accompanied by his son, Peter, also a novelist or his assistant.

Ed Gorman is the author of many westerns and crime fiction novels. I am especially fond of the Dev Conrad series. He also edits anthologies and writes short stories. You can find him here. 

"The basic structure of an Elmore Leonard plot," Larry Beinhart explains in How to Write a Mystery, "is that a big tough guy pushes a little tough guy. The little guy doesn't take it. He shoves back. The little guy is the kinda guy, the harder you shove him, the more trouble he's gonna be. In the end, the big guy really wishes he'd picked someone else to shove. When Leonard started he wrote westerns, and in those early books you can see the bones without an X-ray. I recommend Valdez Is Coming to anyone who wants to understand the structure of an Elmore Leonard novel."

Exactly and in all respects. One of the most enlightened and enlightening insights ever written about Leonard's work. 

Valdez is one of my favorite of the Leonard novels. The villain Frank Tanner is drawn in bile and blood and Valdez, thought by townspeople to be something of a loser, shines when reveals himself to be a former Army tracker and killer. 

The story is simple and straightforward. As part-time constable Valdez is tricked into killing an innocent man. Afterward, regretting what he's done, he asks Tanner and his cronies to at least chip in and give the dead man's widow some money. They treat him as if he were drunk and crazy. But he keeps on with his servile (he is a man who knows his place) until they begin to punish him. They crucify him as the cover depicts and leave him to death in the desert.

But he comes back to ask Tanner once again for the widow's money. Tanner declines and soon comes to regret it as Valdez now becomes the deadly man he was in his Army days.

We forget that in novels such as 52 Pick-Up and a few others Leonard had the power to hurt you. You see that especially in his western stories, the complete collection of which is readily available.

Elmore Leonard, Tishomingo Blues (2002)

I’ve read a lot of Elmore Leonard’s books since first discovering Unknown Man No. 89 back in 1981. His many virtues have been amply documented, starting with his dialogue and going on to such memorable characters as Chili Palmer and Raylan Givens. Sometimes the plots don’t hold together all the way to the end but in general Leonard provides quality entertainment nearly every time out.
Sometimes two or three years go by before I read his latest book, often leading to catching up with several I’d missed, but for whatever reason a decade went by before I picked up and read a copy of Tishomingo Blues. Maybe I thought it was set in the past, I don’t know, but I’m glad I finally got around to it.
The book is set in the Mississippi Delta report town of Tunica, Mississippi, not far from the crossroads on Highway 61 where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil. Daredevil Dennis Lenahan makes a living diving from 80 feet up into a tank of water. Unfortunately, while he is getting read to dive he witnesses a Dixie Mafia murder. Also witnessing it is Detroit sharpie Robert Taylor, surely one of Leonard’s best characters. He’s down in Mississippi with a picture purporting to show his great grandfather’s lynching nearly 100 years earlier but he’s got an agenda of his own and he thinks Dennis can help him. Throw in his Detroit associates, Dixie drug dealers and a bunch of Civil War reenacters and you can could on Leonard to keep the balls in the air for several hundred entertaining pages. While this might not be among his best books it is an enjoyable and entertaining one and one I dare say you’ll enjoy.

Jeff Meyerson

Tishomingo Blues by Elmore Leonard
(Review by Deb)
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to know too much about the actual place where a work of fiction is set.  This might be one of the reasons I have never been able to get into James Lee Burke’s books—his Louisiana is unlike any Louisiana I have ever experienced, despite having lived here for many years.  But I figured I’d be fine when it came to Elmore Leonard’s Tishomingo Blues (published in 2002), set in Tunica, Mississippi, which is about a six-hour drive from where I live: close enough to understand, far enough away to happily suspend disbelief.
Tunica is in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, part of the Mississippi/Arkansas/Tennessee tri-state area, and close to many legendary Civil Rights and blues music landmarks, but is best known today for its string of Indian casinos and hotels. Wikipedia informs us that Tunica County is 70% African-American and 33% of its population lives below the poverty line; but this is not the Tunica of Leonard’s novel.  The Tunica of Tishomingo Blues is a place awash in casino money and the by-products of getting too much money too fast:  drugs, prostitution, corruption at all levels of government and law enforcement, shoddy building construction, a local workforce made compliant by the need to please the area’s largest employer, and the never-ending quest to persuade people to part with their money—by means fair or foul—all presided over by a loosely-organized group of good ol’ boys referred to variously as the Dixie Mafia, the Redneck Mafia, or the Cornbread Cosa Nostra.  This may indeed be the “true” Tunica—I wouldn’t know, which made Tishomingo Blues a much happier reading experience for me than, say, Tin Roof Blow Down.
Tishomingo Blues is a raucous tale of diver Dennis Lanahan, who performs dangerous high dives on the southern carnival circuit.  Growing tired of that nomadic lifestyle, he talks his way into a job at one of the newly-opened casinos in Tunica, where he’ll perform his high-dive act twice a day for casino patrons in exchange for not having to do all the travel, set-up, and take-down that is part of the carnival world.  In his new job, Dennis meets a wide variety of characters, some noble, some shady, some a little of both, all of whom will somehow play a part in the unfolding drama. 
Dennis first meets Charlie, a former baseball pitcher whose greatest achievements occurred in the minor leagues (he loves to dwell on his glory days striking out the likes of Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs, conveniently forgetting that he struck them out during their time in A-ball).  Charlie is sort of an unofficial greeter at the casino; he glad-hands the patrons, tells his baseball stories, and makes sure guests are inclined to open their wallets at the gambling tables.  Then there’s Robert, a black Detroit native, who is stringing out a very long and dangerous con in Tunica, involving an old photograph of a lynching, but who bonds with Dennis over their shared interest in Delta Blues music.
Dennis also meets (and, very soon after, beds) Vernice, a cocktail waitress of a certain age.  Vernice is an interesting character and one I suspect to be close to the truth of the economies of a place supported more and less by legalized gambling:  a middle-aged woman who’s been around the block a time or two, not a lot of formal education but plenty of life experience, but with limited economic prospects, who ends up working at one of the few jobs available in the area, knowing that much of her earning power rests on the increasingly difficult job of appearing young enough and attractive enough for the largely-male clientele of the casino.
While practicing for his first dive, 80-feet above a small pool, Dennis witnesses the murder of the man assigned to be his assistant.  Dennis didn’t care much for the taciturn and unpleasant man, but by inadvertently witnessing his murder, Dennis has a target on his own back and must save his own skin by joining forces with Robert, while playing cat-and-mouse with the murderers, the out-of-town investigator, the casino owner, a high-rolling gambler and his glamorous trophy wife, the owner of a company that builds substandard prefab housing, and a multitude of other characters, all of whom are connected in one way or another with the murdered man and his murderers and most of whom are participating in an upcoming Civil War battle reenactment.
There’s a lot going on in this book—one might be tempted to say a little too much—and it takes a while to keep the characters straight, especially when many of them talk in an interchangeable way (you could take a quote out-of-context and no know if it was uttered by a fatuous white Civil War re-enactor or a black man straight out of Detroit).  Everyone seems to immediately know all the Leonard pop-culture touchstones (blues music, the movie Shane), but contemporary references often seem blurred.  However, the whiz-bang plot and lightening fast-action make up from any failures in character differentiation or contemporary culture.  There will be other deaths, other betrayals, other surprises. Suffice to say, Dennis must use all his wits (and, occasionally, a gun) in order to keep himself alive and all the people who want him dead at bay.  Meanwhile, we get an interesting look at casino culture in a small (i.e., not Vegas or Atlantic City) town and the kind of world where every character is familiar with the obscurest battles of the Civil War and keep them alive by re-enacting them.  (Side note:  I’ve lived in the south off-and-on for almost half of my life and I’ve never seen a Civil War re-enactment and have never met a person who has participated in one.)
As I finished this book, it occurred to me that the “Dixie Noir” genre has essentially replaced those hillbilly pulps that always featured nubile Daisy-Mae types on the cover.  I suppose the south, with its complicated racial history that is still being played out today, vast areas of undeveloped land and untapped resources, and a rather lamentable tendency on the part of some to exploit these things for economic gain, will always provide rich soil for writers.  Whether Tishomingo Blues is any closer to the “true” south than God’s Little Acre, I’ll leave that for others to decide.


A more recent collection is more comprehensive, but this is the collection I read and most enjoyably. Three stories caught my attention. 

THE TONTO WOMAN is the story of a woman scorned by her husband after she is captured by Indians and branded facially with a tattoo. Ruben Vega spots her first bathing bare-breasted at her pump. He gradually ingratiates himself with her and learns that other than supplying her with food, her husband has no dealings with her. Throughout the course of this story, Ruben Vega (and he is always referred to by his full name) helps her to recover some self-respect. 

THE CAPTIVES is the story of a murderous outlaws planning on robbing a stagecoach, but they take the wrong coach captive. The coach contains a young married couple, and the callous husband persuades the outlaws to turn their planned robbery into a kidnapping. Pat Brennan is the man who sets things right. 

In ONLY GOOD ONES, a group of townspeople believe a deserter and murderer is shacked up on the edge of town and are firing on the shack. Bob Valdez is the young sheriff trying to keep order and sort things out. 

All three of these stories exhibit Leonard's grace with the language, his skill in using the right amount of detail to bring a story to life, his gift creating indelible characters. If his women are a bit less vivid than his men-well that's a common fault in this type of story, I think. But at least they are present, giving men a reason to act badly or honorably. I believe this story led to the film. 

Patti Abbott

More Elmore Leonard Reviews

Sergio Angelini, CAT CHASER
Ben, Dead End Follies, PRONTO 
BigBoiReviews, RUM PUNCH
Bill Crider, THE TALL T
Rocky Holland, FREAKY, DEAKY
Keishon, UNKNOWN MAN #89
George Kelley, CHICK KILLER
Todd Mason. DJIOUTIJohn McFetridge, DJIBOUTI 
Keith Rawson, RAYLAN
Gerard Saylor, PRONTO
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, 3:10 to YUMA
James Winter, OUT OF SIGHT

And other reviews

Joe Barone, THE END OF THE NIGHT,  JOHN D. Macdonald
Brian Busby, THE LITTLE YELLOW HOUSE, Jesse McEwen
Martin Edwards, MY OWN MURDER, Richard Hull
Margot Kinberg, VIOLENT EXPOSURE, Katherine Howell
Evan Lewis, ON THE WAY, Dashiell Hammett
Juri Nummelin, DARKER THAN YOU THINK, Jack Williamson
Richard Robinson, Summer Reading List

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


James Gandolfini: Best Dramatic Role Ever?

It is difficult to think of a more iconic figure on television than Tony Soprano. Never has an actor so dominated seven years worth a of top-quality TV.

Now in the movies, you might say James Bond. But he was played by many actors. I say James Bond and you might think of Sean Connery but I might picture Daniel Craig.

But say Tony Soprano and everyone knows who you mean. What a loss!

Who comes close to creating this memorable a character?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Night Music: Take this Waltz


Sometimes I think my life is excessively about story 

I wake up, eat, and go work on a story ((I am currently working on a story based on a Grimm's Fairy Tale). I take a break to clean a little and play a story on my boombox (THE REVISED FUNDAMENTAL OF CAREGIVING) which I am reading a second time for my book group.

I return to my own story--get bogged down, and switch over to another story about a burglar.

Second break for more cleaning chores, I put on my IPAD to listen to Alan Sepinwall talk about TV.

At lunch, I read Sara Gran's first Claire DeWitt book.

After lunch I go to the gym and listen to some more FUNDAMENTALS on the treadmill.

Work for an hour or two more on my own stories, and then clean some more while I finish up Alan Sepinwall.

At four o'clock I read THE REVOLUTION WAS TELEVISED by Sepinwal-about the TV shows that changed the game.

After dinner, I go for a walk where Phil and I discuss various writing problems. He talks about the story of Alger Hiss (he is working on a book about Nixon) and I tell him I cannot figure out how to get my burglar into a certain spot.

We come home and both of us reads for an hour.(Probably a NEW YORKER story and one of the books)

We put on the TV at eight-thirty or so and watch about ninety minutes of story. (Last night it was VEEP and MAD MEN).

Then I go up to bed and read Sara Gran for an hour before he joins me.


On the weekends, you can add in a movie or two and possibly a play. Or we meet up with friends who talk about what they've read, seen at the movies or watched on TV.

This was not always the case with me. I used to have a job, two parents to tend, a grandchild to babysit often. But now it is story, story, story. How about you?


This show lasted only one year (1995-96) and I am not sure I saw every episode.  Bruce Greenwood plays a photo-documentary maker whose whole existence is erased in the time it takes to use a restroom. It appears everyone in his life has been persuaded to lie to him. He comes to believe that his circumstances relate somehow to a photo he took of four men being hanged in South American.

It harkens to a lot of other movies and shows like CORONET BLUE, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, etc. It was expected to be a huge hit, got great reviews, but disappeared. I love this sort of show, but they often seem to self-destruct. Maybe in 1996 we weren't ready for story arcs quite yet. Or maybe this should have been a movie rather than a TV show since it hung so much on a conceit.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Theme Music: Game of Thrones

Goodnight Moon as a Horror Movie

Good Night Moon

Goodnight Moon
by Margaret Wise Brown
In the great green room
there was a telephone
and a red balloon
and a picture of...
The cow jumping over the moon
And there were three little bears sitting on chairs

And two little kittens And a pair of mittens
And a little toy house And a young mouse

And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush
And a quiet old lady who was whispering "hush"

Goodnight room Goodnight room
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon

Goodnight light and the red balloon
Goodnight bears Goodnight chairs

Goodnight kittens and Goodnight mittens

Goodnight clocks and goodnight socks

Goodnight little house and Goodnight mouse

Goodnight comb and Goodnight brush

Goodnight nobody Goodnight mush

And Goodnight to the old lady whispering "hush"

Goodnight stars Goodnight air

Goodnight noises everywhere


Say Something Good About Detroit-Spaulding Court/ 50 th Anniversary March for Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday a march celebrating 50 years since the original march by Martin Luther King took place in Detroit. Try watching this footage without crying.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Night Poetry: Adrienne Rich


I'm reading the Alan Sepinwal book THE REVOLUTION WAS TELEVISED. He says if you are looking for the great American novel, a good case can be made that it is THE WIRE. What say you?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Night Music: Gimme Shelter

The Best TV Pilots

This is my choice. It took off like a rocket. What else? (Sorry this was scheduled before the death of Gandolfini).

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Night Music: Townes Van Zandt

Friday's Forgotten Books: Friday, June 21, 2013

Next week is Elmore Leonard week. Please consider sending a review along. 

Eric Ambler, Journey into Fear (1940)---reissued by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (2002) (Phil Abbott)

      A few weeks ago, I read a short essay by Ian Rankin on spy fiction. He mentioned Eric Amber as a neglected writer who was largely responsible for elevation of the genre despite the fact that Graham Greeene and John LeCarre now receive most of the credit. Rankin noted that to the extent Amber is mentioned at all, it is for his best-seller A Coffin for Dimitrious,  but he contended that many of his earlier works deserved attention. I picked up a used copy of Amber’s A Journey into Fear at Aunt Agatha’s in Ann Arbor Michigan. At least based on this one example, Rankin is correct.

Journey into Fear is a subtle examination of European culture and politics at the brink of World War II. Graham, a middle class professional everyman, visits Turkey in order to recommend fortification of its ports in the advent of a German attack. Returning from a nightclub he is slightly wounded as he enters his hotel room. Graham dismisses the incident as a botched burglary, but he is sent to a Colonel Haki at the urging of Turkish friend.  Haki informs him that he is a target of assassination by a German agent since he holds the key to an Anglo-Turkish alliance.

The safest way back to London is by train to Genoa and then to on Paris.  On board, Graham meets a variety of fellow passengers, any one of whom could be the assassin or in his employ. The structure of the novel bears a resemblance to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,  but Amber’s treatment is much more nuanced and complex.  There is a seductive nightclub performer, whose show he saw in Istanbul, who attempts to convince him to begin an affair; her openly disreputable Spanish spouse; a Turkish businessman; an aged German archeologist; a pro-fascist French couple.

The interaction among these travelers (where they sit in the dining car, what they drink, how  they interpret the upcoming war, their views on communism and fascism, their prejudices) form a masterful delineation of European attitudes in 1940. Graham, the protagonist, is anything but a master of the situation.   He tries his best to decode the motivations of the other passengers, but he is frequently incorrect, a result of his own cultural perspectives, his amateur status, and even his own sexual desire. This unreliable narrator is much like a whole pre-war generation.

From the standpoint of a twenty first century reader, Journey into Fear could have used just one more final twist. Nevertheless, on the basis of this one example, Ambler certainly ranks with contemporary espionage writers. Alan Furst, for instance, owes him a great debt.

Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad and Sam McCain series of books You can find him here.


A few times a week Keith Olbermann runs stories about Dumb Criminals. Ignorant and/or Stupid people doing stupid things. The stories never involve anybody being killed.

In a certain way the narrator of The Postman Rings Twice has always struck me as deserving of a slot on the Olbermann show. Of course he went a little beyond being stupid. He killed somebody.

What Bloch has done is write a journal authored by one of these people, in this case an arrogant murderous drifter who constantly calls attention to his own supposed genius. He latches on to a nineteen-year-old maid who falls so blindly in love with him that she reulctantly agrees to help him kidnap her charge, the four-year-old daughter of a very decent wealthy couple.

The book worked on me in two serious ways. It made me examine my own class anger, number one. The slickie who tells this story believes that he has the right to hurt anyone who has more than he does. Two or three times he makes a passionate case for this. I remembered that in the sixties when an ROTC building was torched by demonstrators in Iowa City how sickened I was by the jubiliation the street. Rich or poor doesn't make any difference. Pigs is pigs. I grew up in a union family and generally agreed that American workers were exploited (if only we could have seen then just how exploited they would be a few decades later). But as always there were a few guys who had to push too far, never understanding that they were in the process of becoming very much like their enemy and the rent-a-cops who bullied them on the picket lines.

Number two is the realism of its setting, especially the first act which involves the narrator working in a factory and heading out for taverns after work. Bloch gets it down just right, a slice of Brit Kitchen Sink drama (Sunday Night and Sunday Morning told but told by a sociopathic murderer) before the Brits caught on to it.

The plot goes over the top a few times, yes, but somehow that only enhances the delusionary tone of the killer. He is a superior being therefore his entire life is over the top. No mere mortal can claim that.

I see so many crime stories on the tube that push me to wishing I was in favor of capital punishment. Some asshole marches six employees into the back of a supermarket and kills them for less than a grand? Or a wife and her tattoo sleazy boyfriend murder her husband for twenty grand's worth of insurance? Or a suburban Chicago cops kills (allegedly of course) two maybe three wives and peddles his ass on every show that will have him, grinning ghoul every time out?

Somehow all these rotten bastards are in this memoir of a really terrifying guy. No serial killer antics. No booga-bogga. Just hard core pure one hundred per cent evil.

And that's just what Robert Bloch got down in this masterful little novel.

Sergio Angelini, THE AXEMAN COMETH, Nev Fountain Joe Barone, FUZZ, Ed McBain
Les Blatt, THE THIN MAN, Dashiell Hammett
Brian Busby, AN EASY PLACE TO DIE, David Montrose
Martin Edwards, NO WALLS OF JASPER, Joanna Cannon
Curt Evans, SOUTHERN ELECTRIC MURDER  Francis John Whaley
Jerry House, THE CHRONICLES OF LUCIUS LEFFING, Joseph Payne Brennan
Randy Johnson, SWING LOW, SWING DEAD, Frank Gruber
Margot Kinberg, THE PENGUIN POOL MURDER, Stuart Palmer
B.F. Lawson, SHROUD OF CANVAS, Isobel Mary Lambet
Evan Lewis, THE DIAMOND WAGER, Samuel Dashiell
Steve Lewis/Dan Stumpf, WALL OF GUNS, Jim O'Mara
Todd Mason. AGEE ON FILM. James Agee
Stephen Nester, IN DEEP, Bernard Wolfe (THE RAP SHEET)
Juri Nummelin, DARK HOLLOW, John Connolly
James Reasoner, UTE REVENGE, Paul Ledd
Michael Slind, THE DANTE CLUB, Matthew Pearl
Kerrie Smith, ANGEL TOUCH, Mike Ripley
Kevin Tipple, SINGULARITY, Kathryn Casey
TomCat, 77 Sunset Strip, Roy Huggins
James Winter, THE HURT MACHINE, Reed Farrel Coleman

And for a review of one of my favorite films of 2013, see CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Last Scene: THE USUAL SUSPECTS: Spoiler Alert

Bios, Memoirs, Etc

You're at your local library. You go to the biography section. Reviews aside, who are you most likely to pick up a book about should there be one. There are a few people who have always fascinated me. The Alcott family and that circle in Concord has always interested me. And then there's this crew.

1000 books, according to the doc on SHOWTIME, have been written about Marilyn Monroe. Why does she interest us so much?

Snubnose Press is having an anniversary sale and all of their books including mine are for sale for $.99 on Amazon. If you have a spare buck, they have lots of books for you to read.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Opening Credits; CHINA BEACH

How Much is Too Much?

I just read a review of LIFE AFTER LIFE (Atkinson) in the London Review of Books. There was not a single plot point, this reviewer did not discuss. There was no reason to read the book after this unless you wanted to read it for its style. Why do reviewers do this? Going through the plot page by page doesn't take much ability. Does it drive you crazy? Do you read reviews at all?

California-I am coming back to you soon. (Well, in January at least)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday Night Music; Stranger on the Shore

Forgotten Movie: THE FOX

Based on the novel by D.H. Lawrence, director Rydell moves the setting to snowy Canada.

In an attempt to become independent and get away from the city, two young women (Sandy Dennis and Anne Heywood).are managing a small farm. Keir Dulleau, whose grandfather once lived on the farm, turns up offering to help with the work.

The only threat to this idyllic setting comes from a fox that preys on the chickens. Miss Heywood cannot quite bring herself to kill the fox, although she sees it several times. Dullea finally shoots it; but, of course, Dullea is also a fox, preying on the two women.

After Dullea and Miss Heywood announce that they plan to be married, Sandy Dennis comes completely undone.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie Theme Music: THE DEER HUNTER


Ain't she sweet?
Dan Conaway and Megan Abbott at the Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, MI

My blog list hasn't expanded much in a long time. I am mostly reading friends rather than looking for new ideas? What blogs do you read that might be unusual or thought-provoking.

My story "Kathy McDonald's Mother" is up on YELLOW MAMA.  Thanks to Cindy Rosmus.

Say Something Good About Detroit: Detroit's Only but Thriving Synagogue

From the Huffington Post)
In recent years, the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue has served as the focal point of a resurgent Jewish community. Not long ago Detroit's last free-standing synagogue was on the verge of shutting down.
"The only thing that was happening in the building four to five years ago was Saturday morning services that could barely get a minyan [religious quorum] there," Leor Barak, president of Isaac Agree's board of directors, said. "Now look at us ... We have hundreds of people going through our doors every day. We're a hub for Jewish life in Detroit." (This building is in downtown Detroit, an area where there are very few Jews. However, many younger people are trying hard to revitalize the city by living there). 
Isaac Agree, which belongs to the conservative tradition of Judaism, was founded in 1921 -- a time when Detroit was home to a large, vibrant Jewish population. As the Jewish population migrated from the city, however, the synagogue's membership diminished. By 2008, the institution's congregation had dwindled to a handful of older, largely suburban members.
The recent transformation has been dramatic. The congregation now has 250 member units -- a figure that includes both individuals and families -- and its Friday evening and Saturday morning services regularly draw around 40 people. In addition, Isaac Agree now hosts regular Thursday morning services, Torah studies, Hebrew lessons and a wide array of other programming.
What led to this resurgence? Barak, the board's 32-year-old president, credits his predecessor Marty Herman with securing a $50,000 matching grant from the Kosins Family Foundation in 2006.

But it was an influx of young people like him that brought renewed vitality to the congregation.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Night Poetry: From Macbeth

Happy Father's Day


                       Happy Father's Day

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday Night Music: Kimbra

Your Favorite Invention

THE SUNDAY MAGAZINE of the NEW YORK TIMES did an issue on inventions. Many of them you don't even think of an an invention. Like a PB & J or a band aid.

My favorite non-technological invention in the zip lock bag. I would put everything in one if they had ones large enough. I remember the bad old days when things fell out of bags. No more.

What is yours?

Friday, June 14, 2013


Friday's Forgotten Books, June 14, 2013

Two weeks until Elmore Leonard Day. For anyone who has a review but no blog, please send your review to me.  

SIDESWIPE, Charles Willeford

Following MIAMI BLUES and NEW HOPE FOR THE DEAD, Miami homicide detective Hoke Moseley abandons his pregnant partner and housemate, Ellita Sanchez, and his two daughters to manage his father's apartment complex in Riviera Beach, Florida. 

When the book begins he cannot even get himself out of bed. 

Stanley Sinliewicz, a Ford retiree spending a night in jail, does a favor for a killer named Louden, which results in his release from jail. The two then embark on an odyssey which can only lead to disaster.

Hoke soon finds the simple life is easier to envision than envelop. Coping with a job offer from the local police, a string of local burglaries, and a daughter with an eating disorder puts him back on the path home. Playing the disinterested father can only go so far. 

Like others in the series, SIDESWIPE is packed with action and humor. Elmore Leonard says no one writes a better crime novel than Willeford. Who am I to argue with that? Walter Mosley claims he reads Willeford for a break for the monotony of endless grimness. There is a real art to telling a hard-boiled crime story with this much humor. 

 This is my favorite of the Hoke novels although I am saving the final one. 

Joe Barone. SHALLOW GRAVES, Jeremiah Healy 
Brian Busby, THE BROKEN TRAIL, George W. Kirby
Bill Crider, TAKE MY FACE, Peter Held (Jack Vance)
Martin Edwards, THE 10:30 FROM MARSEILLES, Sebastian Japrisot
Curt Evans, STUDIES IN MURDER, Edmund Lester Pearson
Jerry House, MOON MISSING. Edward Sorel
Randy Johnson, WEB OF THE CITY, Harlan Ellison
George Kelley, DEAD LOW TIDE and ONE MORE SUNDAY, John D. Macdonald
Margot Kinberg, THE LODGER, Maria Belloc Lowndes
B.V. Lawson, DR. NICHOLA RETURNS, Guy Boothby
Evan Lewis, MORE LONE RANGER, Big Little Books
Todd MasonTHE MEN IN MY LIFE by Vivian Gornick; BENCHMARKS CONTINUED by Algis Budrys...books about books and writers...
Neer, DEATH IN RETIREMENT, Josephine Bell
J.F. Norris, MURDER IN A NUNNERY, Eric Shepherd
J. Kingston Pierce, THE BIG FIX, Roger Simon
James Reasoner, TO THE HEART OF THE STORM, Will Eisner
Gerard Saylor, ON THE WRONG TRACK, Steve Hockensmith 
Michael Slind, THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, Agatha Christie
Kerrie Smith, THE MAKEOVER MURDERS, Jennifer Rowe
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, THE VANISHERS, Donald Hamilton
TomCat, THE SHADE OF TIME, David Duncan
Prashant Trikannad, NO COMEBACKS, Freerick Forsythe
James Winter, THE POET, Michael Connelly