The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

February 21, 2009

Profoundly giddy.

Earlier this week I had an email from the local bookstore, Foul Play. 'We have received a copy of Bruen's Sanctuary. It's yours, free, if you want it.'

IF I want it? I knew it had to be an ARC because the book isn't slated for release in the US until late summer. No problem, that's okay with me. And besides. they were also holding a book by Ruth Dudley Edwards I'd ordered. So I trundled on over to the store and John (co-owner) said, 'We have some other promo books if you want to take a look. We've already sorted out the ones we're going to read.' Sure, why not? I might even find one I want.

Friends, I came away with a staggeringly good haul. Besides the new Ken Bruen book, I snagged forthcoming books from John Hart (The Last Child); Adrian McKinty (Fifty Grand); Dennis Tafoya (his debut novel,(Dope Thief); Craig McDonald (Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life); and Kenneth Abel (Down In the Flood).

A wealth of riches.

So I've just this minute finished Craig McDonald's book, and as I love to hear (read) writers talk about their craft, crime writers in particular, this book went to the top of my reading stack. I'm not going to write a full review here (because I'd want to quote from every author), but I do want to note a couple of things. First, there's the quality and range of work by the 16 interviewees, including my sainted Bruen as well as James Crumley, Daniel Woodrell, Elmore Leonard, Andrew Vachss, Lee Child, et al. Writers with critical success and writers with commercial success, and poles apart stylistically.

Then there's the quality of the discussions, because there seems to be more natural give and take between McDonald and the other authors than one usually finds in interviews. Credit that to McDonald being well-read -- studied, even -- in each author's oeuvre, as well as intelligent questions that do not simply repeat from author to author. Combine those qualities with men who are (mostly) willing to discuss what they have done with their lives, and I found myself hating that each interview had to end.

To my surprise, I have to say that my favorite interview was with an author whose work I've not read, Andrew Vachss. Sure, I've heard of him, and now I have to read his books. Printed interviews lack the vocal inflection that is so vital to human communication, but in the Vachss interview, he came across with such intensity and intelligence and affability, that I was sold.

For those in the writing life, for those considering entering into it, when you try to assess why (and at some point you will), reading Rogue Males is a good place to start.


  1. Sounds like you are one of John's best customers. Why doesn't that surprise me?

    ROUGE MALES sounds interesting. I think there are fewer men who read books today. It is almost impossible to talk about this without sounding sexist. I read all kinds of books, but I guess I crave a few more writers in the John D.MacDonald mold.

  2. John D Mac was a one-off, there's none like him.

    I see plenty of men in the Barnes & Noble, and most of them are in the non-fiction or magazine areas. Nothing wrong with that, but where's the modern masculine equivalent -- nah, not equivalent, let's say counter-balance to chick lit?

  3. I can't say I like the compartmentalizing of authors. Most of my fans are men. I think that's great. And I usually read more books by men. Possibly subjects or treatments mark some novels as "for men only" or "for women only." If so, it's a pity.

  4. Wanted to make sure you saw this:

  5. Thanks for the heads up, Jen, that's one I'd like to attend. I wish that it was a simple signing during the afternoon though, and not dinner. I'll think about it.

  6. Yes, I know what you mean. I had hoped it was one of their Saturday morning deals, which is much easier for me to do. But for Craig...;) I'll just make arrangements to leave work a little early that day. It'll be a late night, but for Craig...LOL

    Let me know if you decide to go, so I can look for you and say "hey."

  7. Will do. And if you get a chance, have a beer with him. Iron City or something like, wasn't it?