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

September 20, 2009

Miscellany from the Machine

I'm behindhand in saying this, although anyone who reads this blog even semi-regularly already knows that I'm a fan of author Dave Zeltserman, but his Bad Thoughts and Bad Karma are something out of the ordinary. Rather than the pure noir of Small Crimes and Pariah, the 'Bad' books are crime fic with a horror/New Age bent. The books should be read in order since the motivation for the main character, cop and then PI Bill Shannon, is primarily developed in Bad Thoughts, then allowed to run free in Bad Karma. Bill is pretty much of a wheat-grass juice drinking, vegetarian homebody, except when he's dealing with astral projection, lucid dreams, cults, Russian mobsters, serial killers, and the like. Loads of fun here.

Fun? You want more? Declan Burke's Eight Ball Boogie delivers. But what did you expect? It's Declan Burke. This book is the first of the two Harry Rigby novels, The Big Empty being the second. Harry's worth knowing as his penchant for finding hot water to climb into is second to none. Watch for Burke's new book, Crime Always Pays, soon to be available on Kindle. The new book appears to include some of the characters from The Big O, a funny and fast-paced screwball noir, so although I haven't a Kindle, I'll find a way to read Crime Always Pays.

Cheers to Michael over at Lazy Thoughts From a Boomer for providing me with the film version of The Ninth Configuration. A superlative story became an exceptional movie, and how often can anyone honestly say that?

I rarely pay attention to the books selected for Oprah's book club, but I'm happy to note that this time out she's chosen a book of short stories. Not crime fic tales per se, but that's okay. Just knowing that more people will be exposed to short stories and perhaps come to appreciate their worth is good news. I can remember when almost all of the bestselling magazines in America contained at least one short story. Today, the number of popular magazines that routinely carry even a single short story can probably be counted on one hand.

In this era of the short attention span, one would think that chap books of three-to-five high quality short stories would sell wonderfully well at airport and train station newsstands. But that's probably a pipe dream. Or maybe someday (soon) digital kiosks will sell 99-cent stories available for download to the electronic device of your choice. It could happen. DailyLit is very close to that concept. Suppose you could pop in a fiver and come away with 'The Tell-Tale Heart' by Edgar Allan Poe; 'Triangle' by Jeffrey Deaver; 'Tales of the Jazz Age' by F. Scott Fitzgerald; 'One Serving of Bad Luck' by Sean Chercover; and 'Kill Posse' by Victor Gischler. You'd be all set for good reading on your Columbus to Chicago flight. Or you could just take an anthology from home. Or a Kindle.

Update from the Watery Grave Invitational: All entries were received before the deadline and the judges are now running their beady little eyes over these works. Oh, wait, my eyes are bright, not beady. Must be the other two judges. Anyway, we'll have the winners selected sometime in the next two-three weeks, depending on everyone's schedule. Hang in there, writers! It'll all be over soon.


  1. I enjoyed DZ's Small Crimes, and that genre-combo is intriguing. Author Clive Barker (of horror and fantasy fame) used similar with the Harry D'Amour character of his. And of course, who can forget the film Angel Heart and the book it's based on, Falling Angel. It's a great blend.

    I'm definitely making a point of picking up Killer Year just for One Serving of Bad Luck. And I can't wait for the outcome of the inaugural WGI.

    Unbeknownst to me, I guess I've been on a quest of sorts in bringing more attention to little seen, but great movie gems. You've been the conduit of sorts. My thanks to you for being so beneficent with Hickey & Boggs and The Ninth Configuration, Corey.

  2. I think you're going to like a number of the stories in 'Killer Year.' Brent Battles has an excellent story there, as does Robert Gregory Brown, and several others.