Monday, March 27, 2006

Black Dogs

Ian McEwan's short novel is an interesting excercise in point of view. It is the story of an estranged couple seen through the eyes of their son-in-law. It's a unique approach that gives the story some distance, but I wonder if it is too distant. I don't think this is his best novel, but he does what he does best as a novelist, which is make us think about the darker side of humanity.

Another thought: Black Dogs is very much a Twentieth Century novel, so in some ways it is outdated; but in others the themes ring very true in relation to the issues of today.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hugo nomination

I have to congratulate my mentor, James Patrick Kelly, for his Best Novella Hugo nomination for Burn. Jim is also up for a Nebula award this year for his novelette Men Are Trouble. Both are extremely good. A link to his website is available in the influences section to the right. Check it out.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I know. Very noir. Give me a break, I read it to my kid. It has been a long time since I read this book and I don't remember it being so...disengaging. I haven't seen the movie yet. Maybe it will be better. On to Prince Caspian.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Elmore Leonard

It just occurred to me that I forgot to put Elmore Leonard on my list of influences. D'oh! I've probably been reading Leonard longer than most of the people I've placed on this blog. My favorite Leonard is Stick. I remember watching the Burt Reynolds movie over and over again when I was younger. I sometimes wonder how the film would hold up to my tastes now, but I think it is best not to find out.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Fleshmarket Alley

I've been an Ian Rankin fan since I read Resurrection Men a few years ago. The author's series character, DI John Rebus, is perhaps one of the best modern tough guys in the genre; certainly on par with Connelly's Harry Bosch.

Fleshmarket Alley is an ambitious book that examines the issue of refugees in Scotland through the lens of a murder investigation, furthering the thought that crime novels are today's social novels. Novelists like Upton Sinclair have been replaced by the Ian Rankins and George Pelecanoses of noir fiction.

But as thought-provoking as Rankin's novel is, I found that it didn't draw me in like some of his other books have in the past. Not that Fleshmarket Alley isn't a very good, but sometimes I think an author we are in complete awe of has an unfair deficit to overcome in meeting our expectations. I'm sure that a reader new to Rankin would find this an excellent book.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Miami Blues

I couldn't help but compare Charles Willeford's book with the movie version as I was reading it. I remember seeing the film in the theater back in the spring of 1990, and I've seen it about a dozen times since then. It really is a wonderful film; and the novel is equally good, if not as playful as George Armitage's adaptation. Both have a wicked streak of black humor, but I wonder if Alec Baldwin's mischievous take on Junior gives the film a lighter feel. Both are highly recommended.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Crash. Really? This is the best picture of the year? Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film; but not that much. I think this one will go down as a best picture award winner that doesn't hold up over time, and history will say that another movie should have been chosen. Like "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Fellowship of the Ring", or "Dances With Wolves" and "Goodfellas", or "Forrest Gump" and "The Shawshank Redemption."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Give Us a Kiss

Sometimes I think Daniel Woodrell is the crime writer's writer; much like how Richard Yates has his following among literary writers, but failed to reach a broader audience. Of course Woodrell is very much alive, whereas Yates is pretty much dead (well, more than pretty much; he is dead), and Woodrell is still capable of breaking through to a mass audience. I think his The Death of Sweet Mister is a must read if you want to be a serious noir writer.

I just finished Give Us a Kiss and it only reaffirms by belief that Woodrell is probably one of the best, if not the best, modern noir writers. Maybe this comes from growing up in the country and being able to relate to and sympathize with the characters who populate his books, whereas I can only appreciate and empathize with those in more urban noir novels.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

220 Words

I woke up early this morning just revved up and ready to write some incredible stuff. I had a full hour-and-a-half to type something magical before heading off to work...and ended up writing just 220 words. And it wasn't about anything too exciting, either. Oh well, I'll add to it tonight, but it's a slight disappointment to get up early (I'm not a morning person) with the intention of being overly productive and not accomplishing much. Maybe I'll have to set a reasonable goal for myself. Tomorrow - 225 words!