Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, June 23, 2017

Todd will be taking the helm next week as we travel to Stratford to see GUYS AND DOLLS, H.M.S. PINAFORE and THE BACCHAE. Thanks, Todd

Andrew Nette is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, reviewer and pulp scholar.
He is the author of two novels, Ghost Money, a crime story set in Cambodia in the mid-nineties, and Gunshine State.
He is co-editor of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980, which will be released by PM Press in late 2017.

The Song Is You
, Megan Abbott
The Song is You is only the second Megan Abbott book I’ve read, but it’s cemented her place in the select group of authors whose work I recommend to friends with undisguised envy about what awaits them.
Hell, can Abbott write and her take on post-Second World War Hollywood is distinctive and razor sharp.
The Song Is You focuses on Gil ‘Hop’ Hopkins, a studio publicity man/fixer/pimp whose beat is “the world of trouble between mid-night and seven am”. Whether it’s rescuing starlets from opium dens and rough trade or procuring quickie abortions for leading men and studio heads who want to maintain their happily married public personas, it’s just a job for Hopkins.
He does what he’s told and doesn’t ask questions until he gets involved in the disappearance of starlet Jean Spangler, two years missing with no clues other than a mysterious note and a swirl of rumours. They shared a moment, if you can call it that, the night before Jean disappeared. A group of them had been drinking hard and they ended up in a seedy harbour side bar, where Hop left Jean in the company of a couple of big name studio crooners with a reputation for playing very rough.
Girls like Jean, drawn to Tinseltown from dust bowl towns across America with stars in the eyes and hopes of making it big, are a dime a dozen in Hop’s world. He’d hardly given her a second thought until a friend of Jean’s makes contact, accusing him of being one of the people responsible for her disappearance.
Soon, fueled by guilt and the need to protect his own arse he’s investigating every last detail about the night in question.
There’s a hard-bitten female journalist who is also looking into Jean’s disappearance, plenty of mob connections and a whiff that Jean may have been involved in her own illegal scam. There’s also plenty of sex. It positively oozes from the pores of the story, amid the mood lighting, calypso music, tiki torches and martinis.
The parallels between The Song Is You and Ellroy’s Black Dahlia are obvious, their noir sensibility, the era they are set in, their mix of fact and fiction, right down to their raven-haired party-girl victims. But there’s something about Abbott’s book that sets it apart.
I think big part of it is her less is more style. This allows her to hint at horrendous events, introduce the sleaziest characters and take us to the very worst places, without collapsing into clichĂ©. She’s also a master of allowing class, sex and social observation to collide in a way that does take away from the precision of her plot and characters.

Sergio Angelini, THE BURNING COURT, John Dickson Carr
Mark Baker, FORCE OF HABIT, Alice Loweecy
Yvette Banek, WAY STATION, Clifford D. Simak
Les Blatt,A SCREAM IN SOHO, John G. Brandon
Bill Crider, LOST HORIZONS, James Hilton 
Scott Cupp, The Continental Op: The Complete Case Files by Dashiell Hammett, 1923 – 1930, Edited by Richard Laymon and Julie M. Rivett 
Martin Edwards, THE CASE OF THE GILDED FLY, Edmund Crispin 
Curt Evans, BOMBAY MAIL, Lawrence Blochman
Richard Horton, CASTLE GARAC, Nicholas Monsarrat
Jerry House, Two by Edgar Rice Burroughs
George Kelley, WAR AND PEACE, Leo Tolstoy
Margot Kinberg, FALLING ANGEL, William Hjortsberg
B.V. Lawson, THE GRAND BABYLON HOTEL, Arnold Bennett
Evan Lewis, POPEYE, E.C. Segar
Todd Mason, THE DUTTON REVIEW, ed. Jerome Charyn et al
Matt Paust, GOD'S RED GIFT, Louis S. Warren
Gerard Saylor, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, Neil Gaiman
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, DARK PASSAGE, David Goodis
TomCat, DEATH INVITES YOU, Paul Halter

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Watched BECOMING CARY GRANT last night (Showtime) It  was more poignant than jolly and only told the story from the vantage point of his unpublished memoirs.. I have to wonder if there is any film clip more often shown than the one from NORTH BY NORTHWEST where he flees from a murderous crop duster.Can you think of one?Also what is your favorite Cary Grant movie? Nearly impossible to choose just one.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday's Forgotten Movies: THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST (1988)

This was one of my favorite Anne Tyler novels and the movie is faithful to the book. William Hurt nails his role. And Geena Davis does too. Like so many of Tyler's characters these are uniformly eccentric yet lovable people. And the Baltimore setting works (hope it isn't Toronto again) .
When a travel writer loses his wife (neither can recover from the death of a child), he moves back in with his siblings and finds a dog whisperer to help him with his dog and eventually with his life. A nice little movie. Kathleen Turner is in it too little though. This was directed by Lawrence Kasdan who also directed Hurt in THE BIG CHILL.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

Spending Father's Day with Phil, Josh and Kevin (as well as Julie, Kevin's mom). A nice day indeed.

I expect I will have more to be happy about next week. This week sort of ran over me with doctor and dentist appts. A movie I expected to like but really didn.t. Books I expected to like but didn't.

Hope you had more to be happy about than I did.

Most of my satisfaction came from TV shows. MASTER OF SEX, BETTER CALL SAUL and I LOVE DICK. It took me the entire series to get to a good place with I LOVE DICK. But GRANTCHESTER and THE TUNNEL are back tonight. So maybe next week is going to be euphoric.

REMINDER: HEIST NOVELS FOR FFB on July 14. Let me know if you think you are too busy to be doing this.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, June 16, 2017

LEVINE, by Donald Westlake (reviewed by Dana King, archives)

Donald Westlake is best known for humorous crime fiction under his own name, and for the dark Parker stories published under the Richard Stark pseudonym. Levine, a 1984 collection of short stories originally published in mystery magazines between 1959 and 1984, is something else entirely.

Abe Levine is a detective in New York's 43rd Precinct. A gentle man, Levine is morbidly aware of his entry into what were then referred to as "the heart attack years." A common thread through all the stories is the frequency with which Levine's heart skips a beat, and how conscious this makes him of the fragility of life. His distaste for artificially hastened death, and his almost humanitarian desire to see those responsible brought to justice, must always be weighed against the effects of his efforts on his own deteriorating heart.

Few literary cops combine Levine's gentle and fragile nature with his passion for justice. The introduction to the collection contains Westlake's explanation for Levine's creation: "It has become the convention that policemen, professional detectives, are 'hardened' to death, 'immune' to life untimely nipped…It was the idea of a cop, a police detective, who was so intensely aware of his own inevitable death that he wound up hating people who took the idea of death frivolously that led me to Abe Levine."

LEVINE is, unfortunately, out of print, so the public library or a used bookstore will be required. While Abe Levine stands apart from Westlake's better known characters, the careful plotting and mastery of craft present in all of his work is not lacking. Anyone looking for something different from a familiar hand could hardly do better than to hunt up a copy of LEVI

Sergio Angelini, FAT OLLIE'S BOOK, Ed McBain
Mark Baker, BLOOD WORK, Michael Connelly
Yvette Banek, A BLUNT INSTRUMENT, Georgette Heyer
Joe Barone, BLOOD HOLLOW, William Kent Kruger
Les Blatt, THE RELIGIOUS BODY, Catherine Aird
Bill Crider, THE CRITIC'S CHOICE: THE BEST OF CRIME AND DETECTIVE TV, Max Allan Collins and Allan Javna
Scott Cupp, THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE, John D. MacDonald
Martin Edwards, THE LYTTLETON CASE, R.A.V. Morris
Curt Evans,  Kindertotenlieder: A Question of Inheritance  and Easy Prey  by Josephine Bell
Richard Horton,  Space Captain by Murray Leinster/The Mad Metropolib by Philip E. High
Jerry House, TOM SWIFT AND HIS BIG TUNNEL, Howard. R..Garris
George Kelley, THE STAR TREK READER, James Blish
Margot Kinberg, RED INK, Angela Makholwa
Evan Lewis,  BIG RED'S DAUGHTER and TOKYO DOLL, John McPartland
Steve Lewis, DREAMING OF BABYLON, Richard Brautigan
Todd Mason, ALIEN CARGO, Theodore Sturgeon
James Reasoner, LATIGO, Frank O'Rourke
Richard Robinson, ORBITAL DECAY, Allen Steele
TracyK, BADGE OF EVIL, Whit Masterson
Westlake Review, THIEVE'S DOZEN, Donald Westlake

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Marlins Go to Championship Game

My thoroughly excellent son took a team that was 1-11 last year and got them to the Championship game. Every kid played, every parent supported them. No one was anything but happy with our boys. Couldn't be prouder of mine.Saturday will be the final game! GO MARLINS!