"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of The Big Reap, The Wrong Goodbye and Dead Harvest.

"Bagley's got the poet's eye, but that doesn't mean everything is prettier in his work. It means the ugly stuff is more vivid. More intense. Like a sudden switch from analog to HD. And that's a trait to very much admire in his work." --Anthony Neil Smith, author of Hogdoggin', Yellow Medicine, The Drummer and Psychosomatic.




Saturday, February 16, 2008

Take Your Medicine



Yellow Medicine
Anthony Neil Smith
Bleak House Books, April 2008

We need to do something about this Anthony Neil Smith guy. He co-founded Plots with Guns, the greatest noir ‘zine that ever polluted the Internet[1]. His debut novel, Psychosomatic, was a piece of twisted genius. Then he single-handedly invented heavy metal noir with The Drummer.[2] His short stories show up in great magazines like Murdaland and even *sniff* literary journals.

Now Smith brings us Yellow Medicine, the heart-warming tale of Billy Lafitte, a disgraced cop from Mississippi who trudges through the days as a deputy sheriff in rural Minnesota: taking bribes from the local meth dealers; having sex with women in exchange for letting their law infractions slide; getting hammered and calling his ex-wife, who won’t let him talk to their kids; and suffering through an unhealthy crush on Drew, the bass player in a psychobilly band called Elvis Antichrist[3].

Drew asks Billy to help her meth dealing boyfriend out of a jam. Seems the boyfriend pissed off some Asians who are moving into the area and trying to take control of the drug trade. Of course, it isn’t that simple; the Asians aren’t just drug dealers. Billy has all he can do to avoid getting swept away in the shit storm that follows. Like Billy says, “If I made things right, then I had everything I wanted. Happiest fucking asshole on earth.”

Smith injects the traditional noir atmosphere with rednecks, college kids, ruthless feds, a terrorist cell and even—in some ways the most jarring part of the mix—a couple of decent people just trying to help. Then there is Billy, whose biggest goal is to live long enough to see his kids again. As always, Smith’s prose shows no mercy. It is beautifully dark stuff. This guy gets any better and I’m going to pull a Tonya Harding on him.





[1] Although PWG shut down in 2004, Smith is reviving it and we should see the first new issue soon.
[2] And if you don’t think the world needed heavy metal noir, then you can go fuck yourself.
[3] Psychobilly? Google it, baby.

5 comments:

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Neil says he didn't invent heavy metal noir.

Fuck it. I'm too lazy to rewrite that part of the review.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Wow, it sounds like ANS about got everything in here. Can't wait to read it.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Tanya harding? what, you're gonna have your boyfriend break his leg, do some porn and then beat on random D-listers in celebrity boxing matches? there's one centerfold I can miss.

Really looking forward to the book, though.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

You always have to shit on my plans, don't you, Stephen? You didn't even like my idea for chocolate-covered bacon.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Au contraire, mon ami. Chocolate bacon is awesome.