Friday, November 17, 2017

Sorry: A Glitch Has Occured. Will post FFB when possible, probably Monday.

Todd Mason will get to the links later today. Sorry again. I need to switch over to a new computer but have put it off too long.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Forgotten Movies

What brought this to mind was that we saw the play on Friday night. The cast here was excellent as was the cast in the version we saw. A play this elegant and profound has to touch you and it did.

Have you seen either the play or movie?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

It makes me happy that Kevin is always inventing games even if I never quite understand them!

Really enjoyed a local production of A RAISIN IN THE SUN, which is more powerful now than ever. Well, at least as powerful now as ever.

Happy to have lunch with some old friends that have been going through the same sort of hard times we have but have not let it beat them down. Janet was a professor of folklore before her retirement. Andrea, a professor Italian. It was fun to compare recent reads, movies, tv, trying to stay away from the BIG TOPIC. And fun to hear they are having their first grandchild soon. The parents have not asked the sex, which I find incomprehensible. Why talk about the baby as it when you could take about it as she or he?

How about you? 

Oh, and this from Ken Bruen.
  Patricia Abbott's collection of stories are just electric
Utterly amazing
In any collection there are usually a few duds.
Not here
no way
The short story form is perhaps the most difficult to achieve artistry in
PA joins the very select few
Frank O Connor
Raymond Carver
De Maupassant
who has not only mastered this art but brought something entirely new to the genre
A dark captivating compassion.
gra go mor

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 10, 2017

(from the archives: Ed Gorman)

Forgotten Books: Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson

Let's begin with a tale of woe. Mine.

Years ago I was asked to contribute a forty thousand word novella to a YA series about shapeshifters. You know, beings humans and otherwise who can transform themselves into other kinds of creatures. I immediately thought of Jack Williamson's The Wolves of Darkness, a grand old pulp novella set in the snowy American West and featuring enough creepy
violence and tangled romance to make it memorable. It even has its moments of sweeping poetry.

Reading Williamson's piece showed me how to write my own. A few days after the young editor received it he called to rave. And I do mean rave. The best of the entire series. Eerie and poetic. Yadda yadda yadda. For the next forty-eight hours I was intolerable to be around. It was during this time our five cats learned to give me the finger. My swollen head was pricked soon enough. The young editor's older boss hated it. He gave my editor a list of reasons he hated it. I was to rewrite it. I wouldn't do it. I said I'd just write another one, which I did. Old editor seemed to like this one all right but he still wasn't keen on how my "characterizations" occasionally stopped the action. Backstory--verboten.

Shortly after this werewolves began to be popular. I spoke to a small reading group one night and told them about Wolves of Darkness and then about Williamson's novel Darker Than You Think. Everything I love about pulp fantasy is in this book. The werewolf angle quickly becomes just part of a massive struggle for the soul of humanity. As British reviewer Tom Matic points out:

"According to its backstory, homo sapiens emerged as the dominant species after a long and bitter struggle with another species, homo lycanthropus, whose ability to manipulate probability gave it the power to change its shape and practise magic. These concepts, fascinating as
they are, might make for dry reading were they not mediated via a gripping thriller riddled with startling plot twists, that blends scientific romance with images of stark bloodcurdling horror, such as the kitten throttled with a ribbon and impaled with a pin to induce Mondrick's asthma attack and heart failure, and the pathetic yet fearsome figure of his blind widow, her eyes clawed out by were-leopards. With its scenes of demonic mayhem in an academic setting and the sexual and moral sparring between the two main characters, it almost feels like a prototype of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer in a film noir setting."

Williamson couching his shapeshifters in terms of science fiction lends the story a realistic edge fantasies rarely achieve. The brooding psychology of the characters also have, as Matic points out, a noirish feel. And as always Williams manages to make the natural environment a
strong element in the story. He's as good with city folk as rural. And he's especially good with his version of the femme fatale, though here she turns out to be as complicated and tortured as the protagonist.

This is one whomping great tale. If you're tired of today's werewolves, try this classic and you'll be hooked not only by this book but by Jack Williamson' work in general..  

Sergio Angelini, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, Sergio Angelini
Les Blatt, THE ORIGIN OF EVIL, Ellery Queen
Richard Horton, THE ORDEAL OF GILBERT PINFOLD, Evelyn Waugh
George Kelly, HARD-BOILED, NOIR AND GOLD MEDALS, Rick Ollerman
Margot Kinberg, NUNSLINGER, Stark Holborn
Rob Kitchin, A RISING MAN, Abir Mukherjee
B.V. Lawson, THE SLIPPER POINT MYSTERY, Augusta Huiell Seaman
Evan Lewis, CODE NAME GADGET, Peter Rabe
Steve Lewis, NOT A THROUGH STREET, Ernest Larsen 
Todd Mason, VENTURE: THE TRAVELER'S WORLD (Feburary, '65)
Juri Numellin, HOURS BEFORE DAWN, Celia Fremlin
Matt Paust, DESTINATION UNKNOWN, Agatha Christie
Gerard Saylor, DIG MY GRAVE DEEP, Peter Rabe
Kevin Tipple, THE KILLER WORE CRANBERRY: A SECOND HELPING, edited by J. Alan Hartman
Tomcat, DANCING DEATH, Christopher Bush and ANNE VAN DORN
TracyK, BROTHERS KEEPERS, Donald E. Westlake 
Westlake Review, DIRTY MONEY, Part 3

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Who are the biggest holes in your reading of crime fiction?

I have many holes, but about half the books I read are out of the genre. But in the genre, I have never read Ellery Queen, Michael Connelly or Hugh Pentecost. There are plenty more too.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Tuesday Night Music

The Saddest Movies

I thought about this a bit and decided, the movie had to be a good one. I wasn't going to highlight a movie that was sad but lousy. There are a lot of those--mostly romances. So my five saddest movies would be CALVARY, MOONLIGHT, PRIEST,ORDINARY PEOPLE and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. I am sure given this task tomorrow others would come to me.

What movies would you choose?

Monday, November 06, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

Seeing LA BOHEME on my local arthouse movies screen live from the Royal Opera House in London. This program and others like it are available in many places now and gives us a chance to see classic works of music, dance and theater that we may not have been able to see otherwise. Phil watched the 7th game, but my friend, Charleen, and I enjoyed this production so much.

Phil's latest scan was cancer-free. Yay! Four months of freedom after 15 months of surgery,  chemo and radiation.

Enjoyed the Harlem Quartet, played here on Saturday. They are in Detroit for a few days, introducing their music to schools with music programs. They are currently in residence in London so we are lucky to have them here for a week. They play both jazz and classical and are joyous performers.

Having a friend like Mary, who has helped us through the last few years and is making a celebration dinner for us tonight. Everyone needs a friend like Mary. There are very few people who you know you can count on and she is our go-to friend.

Still reeling from the finale of THE DEUCE. Megan talks about her experience in working on the show on the terrific LARB right here.  

And how nice meeting Steve Oerkfitz for coffee. So nice to talk books and movies and other topics with someone I have known online for so long. Everyone I have ever met from my online life has been exactly as they seemed: smart, nice, interesting. 

And what about you? 

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Friday, November 03, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 3, 2017

(From Kaye Barley in the archives)

The Pierre Chambrun series by Hugh Pentecost

Hugh Pentecost. I thought I had remembered the
PERFECT forgotten books. Perfect! Couldn’t wait to squeal about an author who I haven’t heard mentioned in forever. You can imagine how my chin hit the floor as I read Lesa Holstine’s November 28th blogwhen the name Hugh Pentecost jumped off the page at me.

But, Lesa and I do tend to enjoy a lot of the same books, so perhaps not too surprising. Except this was a series which ended in 1988! How ironic is it for the two of us to want to re-read and remember these books at exactly the same time, and want to bring them to “Friday’s Forgotten Books?” It gives even more emphasis to the fact that they deserve to be remembered. Lesa did her usual excellent job inbringing these books to life and stirring some interest.

If you haven’t already read the Pierre Chambrun series, I too encourage you to try to find them and give them a try. I
think my love of and curiosity regarding all things having to do with hotels must stem from discovering Kay Thompson’s ELOISE at an early age. I find myself drawn to books which have hotels as a “character.” Especially a luxury hotel, which is a world unto itself. Upon discovering this series, I was in heaven. I continue re-reading the novels and short stories simply to lose myself in the Beaumont Hotel.

Hugh Pentecost was the pseudonym of Judson Philips (1903-1989). Philips was a founding member of the Mystery Writers of America and served as its third president, in addition to being Grand Master in 1973. Pentecost’s luxurious Beaumont Hotel is the leading character in 22 books. When asked if the Beaumont was based on the Plaza, the Ritz, or another luxury New York City hotel, Mr. Pentecost replied that although he knew these grandhotels well, none of them were as well known to him, nor as well loved, as his own Beaumont, which was as real to him as his own home.

While we don’t ever find Eloise scampering the halls of the Beaumont, there’s a host of interesting characters with their own stories and secrets to keep us entertained. At the start of the series, which was begun in 1962, we’re introduced to Pierre Chambrun who is the much admired, well loved, lord and master over the Beaumont. We’re also introduced to a cast of supporting characters – most of whom arestill employed by the hotel when the series ends in 1988. The
re are few character changes; but the changes are important to the series, and I think perhaps one of the reasons for its successful, long life. They include replacing Mr. Chambrun’s original insignificant secretary with the intriguing Ms. Ruysdale. The involvement between Chambrun and Ruysdale is developed slowly and intricately during the series until the very last line in the verylast book leaving no mistake as to the nature of their relationship.

Another important change is losing a likeable key character, Alison Barnwell, public relations manager. Alison marries and she and her husband move away from the city to open their own hotel. By replacing Alison with Mark Ha
skell, the series gains its “voice.” Its through Mark that the rest of the stories are told. The relationship between Mark and Pierre is very much like that between Nero Wolfe and Archie. A relationship which would not have been as wholly believable with a female character during this time period. One additional recurring character who remains a favorite is the elderly Mrs.Victoria Haven. Penthouse resident. One time stage star, and legendary beauty. A woman of great dignity, intelligence, mystery and humor. My favorite booksin the series are the ones which include Mrs. Haven.Into this close, closed and tight knit community fall the adventures of the richand famous, infamous, innocent or not so, scrupulous or unscrupulous, always intriguing visitors with mysteries begging to be solved.

Sergio Angelini, I AM MARY DUNNE, Brian Moore
Yvette Banek, FREE FALL, Robert Crais
Brian Busby, WIVES AND LOVERS, Michael Milner
Bill Crider, KISS ME, SATAN, Victor Gischler
Martin Edwards, THE GOLD STAR LINE, Meade and Eustace
Curt Evans, NO BONES ABOUT IT, Ruth Sawtell Wallis
Richard Horton, UNDER THE RED ROBE, Stanley J. Weyman
Jerry House, TWO FABLES, Roald Dahl
Nick Jones, PERIL FOR THE GUY, John Kennett
George Kelley, THE ART OF THE PULPS, Douglas Ellis
Margot Kinberg, ABOVE SUSPICION, Lynda La Plante  
Rob Kitchin, MAP OF A NATION, Rachel Hewitt
Evan Lewis, TAI-PAN, James Clavell 
Steve Lewis, CHAIN SAW, Jackson Gillis 
Todd Mason, Favorite Little Magazines
Neer, THE FILM OF FEAR, Frederic Arnold Kummer Jr.
J.F. Norris, TO CATCH A THIEF, Daphne Sanders
Matt Paust, More Maigrets, Georges Simenon 
James Reasoner, BELLS OF DOOM, Maxwell Grant
Gerard Saylor, WHORESON, Donald Goines
TomCat, THE WINDBLOW MYSTERY, Edward Gellibrand
TracyK, SMALLBONES DECEASED, Michael Gilbert 
Westlake Review, DIRTY MONEY, Richard Stark 
Zybahn, THE SUPER HUGOS, Issac Asimov

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Wednesday Night Music

First Wedneday Book Club: LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng

This was peculiar book for me. Although I read it very quickly, easily and with pleasure, it had many oddities. It wasn't until the book was half over, that its real topic emerged: the adoption of Asian babies by American couples. And the problems of surrogate mothers as well. And because the topic arises late, it leaves most of the characters lurching for their place. Characters I had begun to be interested in in the first half, barely surfaced in the second.

It is also a story of mothers and daughters. A major figure is identified mostly by her surname. Why?
And if the first half addresses privilege, the second half leaves this behind and hones in on other non-character based issues too often. It's as if, Ng becomes bored with her clever social satire and reaches for a deeper tone.

The plot mostly concerns the intersection of a self-satisfied Shaker Heights family with a single mother and her daughter. The single mother is an artist who begins to clean for the family. The daughter forms relationships with all of the family's kids. But as I said earlier, most of this goes out the window in the second half.

I kept thinking that if this book was reordered and told from the single mother's POV, it would have been a stronger story. But you can find lots of reviews who had no problem with the story. So maybe it's just me. Certainly it is a well-written, thoughtful book. Just a little short of memorable characters. Too many of them never come alive.

You can find more reviews at Barrie Summy's place. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween

Joan Didion documentary on Netflix: THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD

Joan Didion chronicled much of American life from the sixties till fairly recently. She wrote novels and two memoirs: both about the deaths of the two people in this picture. Her nephew Griffin Dunne, attempts to capture her life and work in this documentary. And although she fully cooperated with  him, she remains something of an enigma at the end. A life as rich and full as her is difficult to put on film. Their are so many avenues to explore and only so much time. But this was a mostly successful attempt. Certainly the biographical ticks are covered. If there is a hole, it would be in not having a literary critic sum up her contribution to the modern essay and literature itself more fully. Why are SLOUCHING TOWARD BETHLEHEM and THE WHITE ALBUM still revered? What is it about her writing that enthralls most literary students?

In this photo, she is the onlooker. I think that sums her up fairly well. Highly recommended.

Monday, October 30, 2017


The Halloween edition.Or almost.
Not since 400 BLOWS have I seen a film as good about childhood as THE FLORIDA PROJECT. Amazing performances in a story of welfare hotels just outside the Magic Kingdom. Interview with the director credit his love of THE LITTLE RASCALS in getting the sort of performances he wanted.

Some ambivalence about THE MINDHUNTER on Netflix. It may be just a bit more graphic in its detail than I want. But STRANGER THINGS starts out well. And THE GOOD PLACE does not disappoint me although my husband is not a big fan. Nor a big fan of BETTER THINGS, which I also like,

Not much family stuff. Kevin''s hockey game was canceled and he lost a tooth (baby) in PE. I envy those of you who have so much interaction with your family. Ours is small and spread out.

Speaking of which, my nephew in VA had a baby girl so I am now a great aunt. Welcome Marley Nase. How beautiful you are.And Marley has a beautiful mother Michelle. Congrats to them all.

And what about you?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, October 27, 2017

 (Read in 2007)
When was the last time you read a book so compelling you couldn't put it down? What was it?
For me, it was this novel. It takes a long time in Pick-Up for the reader to understand the protagonist and what he's all about. Why he's in the fix he's in. Maybe you won't understand the full story until the last line. And yet, Willeford is able to tell his story lucidly, making even the most mundane details riveting.
This is basically a story about two drunks. Why does it work so well? Better for me even than Kennedy's drunks in Albany. Because the characters are interesting, the narrative pull inescapable, the writing excellent.
Even when the plot turns a bit unlikely in the last third--the characters remain true to themselves, so you go along with it.
What turned you on this much?

Sergio Angelini, OMNIBUS, Carter Brown
Yvette Banek, THE PALE HORSE, Agatha Christie
Elgin Bleecker, WOLFSHEAD, Robert E. Howard
Brian Busby, THE NEW APOCALYPSE, John Daniel Logan
Bill Crider, FOUR UGLY GUNS, Ralph Hayes
Martin Edwards, TIME TO CHANGE HATS, Margot Bennett
Curt Evans THE SECOND SICKLE, Ursala Curtiss; THE STAIRWAY, Ursula Curtiss
Elisabeth Grace Foley, UNDER FIRE, Charles King
Richard Horton,  Times Without Number, by John Brunner/Destiny's Orbit, by David Grinnell
Jerry House, THORKOL, LORD OF THE UNKNOWN, Edmond Hamilton
Margot Kinberg, THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS, Eric Ambler
Rob Kitchin, FLASHMAN'S LADY, George Macdonald Fraser
B.V. Lawson, THE CHINK IN THE ARMOR, Marie Belloc Lowndes
Evan Lewis, THE DESPERADO, Clifton Lewis
Steve Lewis/Dan Stumpf. THE GHOST OF OLD MOVIES,
Todd Mason, Various short story publications
James Reasoner, THIRST OF THE LIVING DEAD, Arthur Leo Zagat
Gerard Saylor, WARLORDS OF MARS, Edgar Rice Burroughs
TomCat, GROANING SPINNEY, Gladys Mitchell
Kerrie Smith, HARBOUR STREET, Ann Cleves
TracyK, CLOSE QUARTERS, Michael Gilbert
Westlake Review, ASK THE PARROT 
Zybahn, THE LAMP OF GOD, Ellery Queen

Thursday, October 26, 2017


 I have never been a huge Harry Dean Stanton fan although he has been used pretty effectively in his long career. I especially remember him from BIG LOVE where he played the evil polygamist in a cult of Mormonism. Also in the David Lynch movies. and in TWIN PEAKS

But LUCKY was a grace note to end a career on. At age 90+ it suddenly becomes clear to Lucky, an eccentric fellow living in the southwest, that he is going to die...eventually. Apparently other than a flash of the abyss at 12, he has given no thought to this before. LUCKY details his life before and after this insight. Wonderful to see James Darren, playing a bar buddy. Still handsome and still my teenage heartthrob. Lynch himself does a great job as does virtually every player in this film. It's a small world they live in but is populated like a neighborhood in LA or New York.

Well-directed, well-shot and enough of a story for me, I highly recommend it if watching a guy wander around for 90 minutes is your bag. It sure was mine.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Brief Encounter

Okay, not really a forgotten film. But I bet many men have not seen it. And Phil had to admit at the end, it was a superb piece of cinema. Even if it was a love story. But a love story only the British could tell because of its restraint, its sense of honorable behavior, its dignity.
Two middle-aged people, both unsatisfied in some never stated way with their marriage, meet in a rail station around 1945. Beautifully shot, directed (David Lean) and acted, this is the love story where two people act honorably despite its cost. So sad. The intensity of unacted upon love may have never been equaled.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

Huntington Woods is having "the best scarecrow contest". It's fun to travel around, mostly on foot, and look at them.This is by my friend, Jenn. It is quite large.

Really happy to share some good times in Toronto with friends. Especially gratifying for a parent to see their child experience such acknowledgement from her peers. And we got to spend more time with Megan than we have in ages.

Enjoyed LOVING VINCENT, which is a film composted almost entirely of Van Gogh's artwork. Any Van Gogh fan will enjoy it.

So much terrific weather to enjoy. Love walking through HW and listening to podcasts. My favorite is FILMSPOTTING where they can spend an hour on which characters in Noah Baumbach films are the best. Glad podcasts have come along to replace the radio shows I once listened to.  And I very much enjoyed THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES on Netflix.

And speaking of Megan, she sure wrote a terrific episode of THE DEUCE, which aired last night. 

How about you?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Any Street Corner in Philly in the early Sixties, some guys were singing this.

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, October 20, 2017

 (From the archives)

I am reluctantly finishing this book, which I have so enjoyed. I can't imagine any of you would not. More than 100 current writers choose a crime fiction book they admire and write an essay about it. Each one approaches it a bit differently. Some of the essays are scholarly. Some are personal. Some discuss the author more than the book. But nearly every one is worth reading. It is interesting to see how one writer has influenced another's work too. Some of them make perfect sense. With some the connection is less clear.

I had a hard time thinking of a book I would have included that wasn't here. In a review in the Washington Post, the reviewer asks where is Nicholas Blake and a few other golden age writers, but on the whole there are not too many great books not represented. Most of the books chosen do not come from the cozy sub-genre though.

I had read only half the books essayed here. Some I had never heard of. A few of the essayists were new to me too. But I sure went over to my TBR pile for three books I own but haven't read.

What book would you have chosen for your "book to die for?"

I would have chosen THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. Although Highsmith is remembered for STRANGERS ON A TRAIN-a very clever novel, I think Tom Ripley is a more memorable and important character. Perhaps a book of characters to die for would be fun. 

Sergio Angelini, SINGLE AND SINGLE, John LeCarre
Yvette Banek, THE FRIGHTENED STIFF, Kelly Roos
Elgin Bleecker, TRUE GRIT, Charles Portis
Brian Busby, BLACK FEATHER,  Benge Atlee
Bill Crider, THE BODY LOOKS FAMILIAR and THE LATE MRS. FIVE, Richard Wormser
Richard Horton, MR. FORTUNE'S MAGGOT, Sylvia Townsend Warner
Martin Edwards, TOO MANY COUSINS, Douglas G. Browne
Jerry House, CHASING THE BEAR, Robert B., Parker
George Kelley, SECRET AGENT X, Paul Chadwick
Margot Kinberg, THE BLIND GODDESS, Anne Holt
Rob Kitchin, A DANGEROUS MAN, Charlie Houston
B.V. Lawson, WIDOW CHERRY,  Benjamin Leopold Farjean
Steve Lewis, WHO IS SIMON WARWICK, Patricia Moyes
Steven Nester,(THE RAP SHEET) THE BIG FIX, Roger L. Simon
Matt Paust, Maigret Double Feature, Georges Simenon
James Reasoner, SLAVE RUNNER. Gordon MacCreigh
Richard Robinson, TIMELESS, Armand Baltazar
Gerard Saylor, THE HIGHWAY KIND, ed. Patrick Milliken
Katherine Tomlinson, AN EXCESS MALE, Maggie Shen King
TracyK, THE NIGHTRUNNERS, Michael Collins
Westlake Review, ASK THE PARROT

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Oh, if every book was only as charming as this one. Set in Paris, a book shop owner finds a handbag and sets out to find its owner using clues from the items found in the bag. If I told you more, I would lessen your pleasure. Short, sweet, perfect for an hour or two's read. Have you read a charming book recently?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Taking a Week Off: Behave Yourselves.

                                                             Wish me luck.I will need it.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, October 6, 2017

Todd will have the links next week. Thanks, Todd.

from the archives of Randy Johnson.

I’ve posted about Pono Hawkins before HERE.He’s tilting at Wind mills again, literally. This time on the other side of the world. Maine. He’s there to help an old comrade who’s in jail for murder.
Buddy Franklin is his name and Pono doesn’t even like him. He once testified at a trial where Pono was accused of shooting an Afghani girl. He did, but the fifteen year old had been set on fire by her husband for daring to lay eyes on another man, an honor killing. Dying anyway and begging for someone to kill her, he’d ended her pain. The Bush government made him a scapegoat and Pono got twenty years, a sentence vindicated a few months later. Franklin had also married the woman Pono loved.
Why help him then?
A thing called honor. Franklin was Special Forces like Pono and the testimony was by rules of law. One didn’t desert a comrade in trouble. Oh, forgot to mention, Franklin had saved his life in a firefight as well.
The Wind Mafia was at it again in Maine. Pono had managed to beat them in Hawaii and they were now making billions, off the public dollar, building useless wind turbine towers, blotting the landscape, killing wildlife, ruining property values, and getting obscenely rich, along with the politicians, judges, and cops they paid off.
Pono was only there for a few days before the harassment started, shots were fired at him, and the cops were trying to pin murders, arson, and destruction of property on him.
A wonderfully written novel that wouldn’t let me stop until I finished it. Read the whole thing in less than a day.

Sergio Angelini, THE MANNY DEWITT TRILOGY, Peter Rabe
Yvette Banek, Classic Book Covers such as A SHOW OF HANDS, Erle Stanley Gardner
Les Blatt, Two by George Bellairs
Elgin Bleecker, ROUND TRIP, W.R. Burnett
Brian Busby, "Advice from Stephen Leacock
Scott Cupp, RIVER OF TEETH, Sarah Galley 
Martin Edwards, THE BORNLESS KEEPER, P.B. Yuill
Curt Evans, Roger Scarlett reissues 
Richard Horton, MIDDLE MARCH, George Elliott and AMAZING STORIES review
Margot Kinberg, CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, Elizabeth Peters
Rob Kitchin, WHISKEY IN SMALL GLASSES, Denzil Meyrich 
B.V. Lawson, ONE NIGHT'S MYSTERY, May Agnes Fleming 
Evan Lewis, THE LONG RIFLE, Stewart Edward White
Brian Lindenmuth, THE TWILIGHTERS, Noel Loomis
Todd Mason, MAGAZINE OF HORROR and GAMMA, 1963
Matt Paust, A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, John Kennedy Toole
James Reasoner, THE HELL-BORN CLAN, Phil Richards
Gerard Saylor, SHOEDOG, George Pelecanos
TracyK, THE EMPEROR'S SNUFF BOX, John Dickson Carr
Prashant Trikannad, SNIFF, THE DETECTIVE, Richard Scarry
Westlake Review, NOBODY RUNS FOREVER, Part 2

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

First Wednesdays Book Review Club: MORNINGSTAR, Ann Hood

                                                 For more reviews, go to Barrie Summy's blog, right here. 

MORNINGSTAR, GROWING UP WITH BOOKS is a favorite type of book for me. In it, novelist Ann Hood relates the details of her formative years through the books she chose to read at various ages. I am not going to tell you the books she chose because you will enjoy seeing what she read yourself  from her first books onward. We learn a lot about her middle-class family and the town of Warwick, RI. where she watched the decline of the town through her formative years. Mills and factories closed, better stores moved out of town or disappeared. A familiar story by now.

All of the books she talks about (and it's not all that many) were books that meant something to me too. And the thing that I liked best about it was her choices were original, realistic, different. Not the sort of books found on BY THE BOOK in the TIMES each week. But instead what a girl might stumble on herself when her family were not readers. This was also the case with me. No one ever guided my reading so I read inappropriate books often. No one told me to read books like FROM THE TERRACE or BABBITT or THE DEVIL IN BUCKS COUNTY or THE IDIOT, but I did.

This is a short book and Hood confines her discussion to about a dozen books, all which resonated with the times she lived in, her age at the time, and the country itself. . I would have like a list at the back of other books she read but did not include here. Especially childhood favorites.

I enjoyed this short book, almost more memoir than literary discussion but that is just fine. 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tuesday Night Music

Two Movies I Have Seen This Week: BATTLE OF THE SEXES and BRAD'S STATUS

Neither of these films was a complete bust, but both of them were disappointments in a way. BATTLE OF THE SEXES was a Hollywood biopic and thus, despite very fine performances from Emma Stone and Steve Carrell, made the film duller than it had to be. The female tennis players, struggling to achieve equality in pay and respect with the men were presented as a mass of quasi-cheerleaders. Very few were even named. And how many Sarah Silverman performances must we endure before it is clear she always plays the same part. Both King and Riggs were poignant figures: he having become a clown to support his gambling addiction, and she for discovering her sexuality at the same time she was battling for women's rights. But neither is given the attention it deserves. Instead we spend too much time on meaningless scenes.The characters that evoke the most sympathy are their spouses. B-
BRAD'S STATUS presents a father who has no idea his son is a great student and has a good crack at a Harvard education despite having devoted his life to non-profits. You expect him to be a better man than he is. Are we supposed to feel sorry that his friends have greater success? Are we supposed to dislike him? But how can we when his son, a great kid, feels so sorry for him. Ben Stiller just never seems to play anyone but himself. His conversation with an older friend of his son's, a musician, is painful. "How can you be fifty and not know the world doesn't revolve around you?" she asks. Exactly. And yet you feel the movie feels sorry for him too. Again the character evoking the most sympathy is his wife. C+

Monday, October 02, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

I really enjoyed my trip to DC where we saw a terrific play set in Detroit (THE SKELETON CREW), went to a marvelous sculpture museum and garden in Maryland, saw a great exhibit of photographs of Marlene Dietrich at the Portrait Gallery (as well as portraits of the presidents)  and a great movie COLUMBUS. It was nice to see our friends there and also enjoy a visit with my brother, about to become a grandfather in two weeks. Another Nase will enter the world.

We had lovely weather although very hot. And some great meals. A much needed getaway for us. And thanks to Todd for helping out yet again.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

FRIDAY'S FORGOTTEN BOOKS, September 29, 2017

NIGHT TRAIN, Martin Amis

I came to NIGHT TRAIN having read only one Martin Amis book, THE RACHEL PAPERS. This is a very different book than THE RACHEL PAPERS and a very different book from the other books that preceded it. It was, I think, his ninth novel.

A female American cop, named Mike Hoolihan, investigates the apparent suicide of a young girl, Jennifer Rockwell, with everything to live for. She was also the daughter of Hoolihan's commanding officer. She is young, beautiful, has all of the assets and support Hoolihan does not. So it is this puzzle that occupies the investigation. Hoolihan makes a list of the things that would provoke a suicide and pursues them. At a certain point, a pattern begins to emerge.

Amis is able to imbue his main character with typical American cop traits. She is tough, scarred, a victim of abuse, determined.If she is able to get up every morning and face life, why not Jennifer? What makes some survive and others not. This question occupies much of the novel. 

Looking at the amazon reviews, some people faulted Amis for not writing his typical literary novel, some faulted him for not writing the typical police procedure. I credit him for writing a unique book.

Mark Baker, ANGEL'S FLIGHT, Michael Connelly
Yvette Banek, THE RIGHT SIDE, Spencer Quinn
Les Blatt, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY, Agatha Christie
Brian Busby, REVENGE, Robert Barr
Martin Edwards, THE BOX OFFICE MURDERS, Freeman Wills Crofts
Richard Horton, NEW DREAMS THIS MORNING, James Blish
George Kelley, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, Grady Hendrix
Margot Kinberg, AMONG THIEVES John Clarkson
B.V. Lawson, DR. NICOLA RETURNS. Guy Newell Boothby
Evan Lewis, "Surrogate" Robert Parker
Steve Lewis/Barry Gardner, DEEP END, Geoffrey Norman
Todd Mason, KIT REED
Neer, ASSASSINS, Jim Eldridge
Craig Pittman (THE RAP SHEET)La Brava, Elmore Leonard
Matt Paust, FINDING MOON, Tony Hillerman
James Reasoner, THE HARPERS OF TITAN, Edmond Hamilton
Gerard Saylor, GUN CHURCH, Reed Farrell Coleman
Kevin Tipple, THE WOMAN IN BLUE, Elly Griffiths
TomCat, THE CASE OF THE APRIL FOOLS, Christopher Bush
TracyK, THE CASE OF THE ROLLING BONES, Erle Stanley Gardner
Prashant Trikannad, BOOT HILL, AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE WEST, ed. Robert Randisi

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday Night Music


I doubt that I will see a better movie than COLUMBUS this year. If you favor a lot of action, a big cast, noise, this probably isn't for you. But if you like quiet movies about the small moments in lives, you may like it too.
COLUMBUS takes place in Columbus, IN, rated the sixth best architectural place to visit in the U.S. and it is only a town of 40,000. All of the best modernist architects have buildings here and the movie makes good use of them. The two main characters, a girl of 20 (Haley Lu Richardson) and an older Korean-American (John Cho) are dealing with parent issues. But what makes the movie work so well is how their stories make use of the elements of architecture. Scenes are shot through windows, mirrors, doors, and only occasionally does it call direct attention to that. Hallways become an interesting way of showing distance. Their shared passion for architecture can only take them so far though. Such a beautiful movie. Directed by Kogonada, I think his name will become more familiar.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Forgotten Movies; GHOST STORY

This was a bit of a disappointment.I am not sure why the story seemed laid out poorly. And the acting was strange. Especially Craig Wasson, whose acting style didn't jibe at all with the four older actors. I loved the book and think if I read it again now I would still like it because there are good bones here. I think the direction is poor too. Perhaps the limitations of four elderly men impeded it as well. Also there was an awful lot of story to be told.
In summary: Four successful elderly gentlemen, members of the Chowder Society, share a gruesome, 50-year old secret. When one of Edward Wanderley's twin sons dies in a bizarre accident, the group begins to see a pattern of frightening events developing.
Read the book, skip the movie.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Night Music

Things That Make Me Happy

A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, I struggled to get into this. Some books require a deeper focus than I have had lately to appreciate their worth. And this was one of them. But now I "get" it and am really enjoying it. The beauty of the prose and the deep rendering of a character and place really hooked me.

Really enjoyed watching Kevin perform with his Monday night School of Rock group. Amazing to see these elementary school kids, sing, keyboard, play drums and guitar. They have so much stage presence already. And they all love it. They performed at a bar at noon, which was an odd experience but the stage and lighting was terrific.

Enjoyed the first episode of THE DEUCE. We had some friends over and they didn't get it at all. Their only TV watching is sports, news and Downton Abbey. They also don't read novels. They have trouble with narrative and they have no historical context for what a show like this is trying to do. So they were mystified, but we loved it. 

The weather still rocks. Our new sprinkler system is keeping our lawn florescent green despite the lack of rain.

Phil has had the cataracts removed from both eyes. Glad that is over with. Certainly the year for doctors. Hope we get some respite from it.

What about you?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The New Collection Debuts at the end of February

The majority of these stories appeared in anthologies, lit journals and fairly obscure venues. None were in MONKEY JUSTICE. One is brand new. I am very thankful that Jason Pinter was willing to take a chance on a collection. I know the sales for these are even lower than the sales for novels from unknown authors. There are about 25 stories in here. They vary in POV, setting, etc, but almost none are terribly violent. Thanks to the editors that first published them. They allowed me to forge a writing career of sorts. If you had told me a decade ago, I would have three books, two ebooks and over 140 stories, been nominated for four awards, I would have fallen into a dead faint. Hey Mom and Dad, I did amount to something.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, September 15, 2017

Forgotten Stories


This is a very short story that is discussed, filmed and anthologized repeateldy if you google it. You can read it right here.
A woman with a heart condition is brought news about the crash of a train that her husband was traveling on. She sits looking out the window, going through various stages of grief and ending up in an unexpected place. I won't tell you how it ends but you might suspect it. A bit of an O' Henry ending but beautifully written and making the interesting observation that we don't always know ourselves well. If you go to You Tube you can see many student productions of it. It must be often assigned.

Sergio Angelini, PAST TENSE, Margot Kinberg
Yvette Banek, THE HOUSE AT SEA'S END, Elly Griffiths. 
Elgin Bleecker, Final Jeopardy, Linda Fairstein
Martin Edwards, MURDER MARS THE TOUR, Mary Fit
Richard Horton,  Bow Down to Nul, by Brian W. Aldiss/The Dark Destroyers, by Manly Wade Wellman
Jerry House, THE WIND LEANS WEST, August Derleth 
George Kelley,  DAVID FALKAYN: STAR TRADER,  Poul Anderson
Margot Kinberg, THE DAWN PATROL, Don Winslow
B.V. Lawson, THE MOONSHINE WAR, Elmore Leonard
Evan Lewis, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, Ian Fleming
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, NO MATCH FOR THE LAW, Osmington Mills
Neer, LOST AMONG THE LIVING, Simone St.James
Scott Parker, THE SUN RISES WEST,  Oscar J. Friend
Matt Paust, THE AWAKENING, Kate Chopin
James Reasoner, THE EMPIRE OF DOOM, John Peter Drummond
Kevin Tipple, DICE ANGEL, Brian Rouff
TomCat, NO KILLER HAS WINGS, Joel Hoffman
TracyK, BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY, Dorothy Sayers