"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 Collector" series, The Killing Kind, and Red Right Hand.

"A refreshingly new voice in noir." --Ed Kurtz, author of Nothing You Can Do and The Rib From Which I Remake the World.

"A glorious boilermaker of noir and East Coast gothic. The action is taut as a sprung snare and Bagley tightens the screws with every page." -- Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase and Blood Standard.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hey, no touchbacks!

I tagged Declan Burke last Friday for Patti Abbott’s “Books You Must Read” blog project, and now Dec has taken his revenge by tagging me with a “Six Random Things About You” meme. The problem is that I’m not all that interesting. But here we go anyway…

The rules are:
Link to the person who tagged you. Check.
Post the rules on your blog. Check.
Write six random things about yourself in a blog post. Scroll on down.
Tag six people in your post. How about Lyman Feero, Christa Miller, Daniel Hatadi, Anthony Rainone, Victor Gischler and Bill Crider?
Let each person know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. I sent e-mails instead.
Let the taggee know your entry is up. Check.

Six Random Things About Me:

#1: The coolest thing I did last weekend was teach my four year-old how to play Wiffleball.

#2: I read more than 300 books during my freshman year of college because I was worried about being an ignorant slob.

#3: I make the world’s best Spanish rice.

#4: I left home when I was 17 and hitchhiked to New York.

#5: I hate to fly, and have only done it twice in the last twenty years.

#6: I can almost play one small part of the Doctor Who theme on my bass.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fridays: The Book You Have to Read

Patti Abbott asked me to take part in a new blog project she’s calling Fridays: The Book You Have to Read. Here’s Patti: “I’m worried that we are letting some great books of the recent past slide out of print and out of our consciousness. Not the first-tier classics we can all name perhaps, but that group of books that comes next.” It’s a great idea that we hope will get people to read books they have somehow overlooked. Not lost classics, exactly; more like missed classics by living authors.

This week’s participating writers are Bill Crider, Josephine Damian, Clair Dickson, Travis Erwin, Sandra Ruttan, Sandra Scoppettone, Anthony Neil Smith, Patti and me. Visit their blogs today, and you're sure to find something good. Patti also asked each of us to tag someone to recommend a book next Friday. So, Declan Burke: consider yourself tagged.

My recommendation is:
The Dog of the South by Charles Portis

Ray Midge’s wife Norma has left him for her ex-husband, a weirdo by the name of Guy Dupree. That wouldn’t be so bad—Ray is a quiet, peace-loving guy and Norma was always badgering him to take her out—if not for the fact that they ran off with Ray’s credit cards, a .410 shotgun he’d had since he was a boy, and his meticulously maintained Ford Torino. Ray waits for the credit card bills to come in so he can track Dupree and Norma.

Driving Dupree’s Buick, which has four mismatched tires, a hole in the floor and engine problems, Ray follows their trail through Texas, then on down to Mexico and eventually to Dupree’s father’s farm in British Honduras. Along the way, Ray runs into a string of delightfully strange characters, not the least of whom is Dr. Reo Symes. On the run himself, Symes is a disgraced physician living in an old broken-down school bus called The Dog of the South. Things go from bad to disastrous for Ray: he runs out of money, a border guard confiscates his pistol, he discovers his beloved Torino in a junkyard and, when he finally gets to the farm, Dupree is crazier than ever and Norma is gone. But it doesn’t end there…

Charles Portis (1933- ) is the author of five novels: Norwood (1965), True Grit (1968), The Dog of the South (1979), Masters of Atlantis (1985) and Gringos (1991). I recommend them all, and I wish the man were more prolific.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Eyes of Texas are Upon Us.

The fine folks at Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas will carry copies of The Lineup: Poems on Crime. Once again, Texas leads the way (as Bill Crider might say); Muder by the Book is the first store to offer this cool anthology. We don't yet have a release date, but it should hit the streets and shelves soon.

The Lineup features hard-boiled poems by Ken Bruen, Robert Plath, Sandra Seamans, KC Trommer, Graham Everett, Daniel Thomas Moran, R. Narvaez, A.E. Roman, Gerald So, Daniel Hatadi, Sarah Cortez, Stephen D. Rogers, Misti Rainwater-Lites and some fat bastard from Maine.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Splendid Isolation?

A woman with whom I went to high school died Friday.

I say I went to high school with her, but the truth is that I barely knew her name and I don't recall ever speaking to her. Worse, I can't remember whether she was in my graduating class or my wife's. She was someone I recognized when I saw her in town. That's all.

So what does this have to do with writing?

I have become a virtual hermit over the last couple of months. Aside from my family, the only people with whom I've had any significant contact are my writing students. I avoid going into town; in fact, I sometimes go days at a stretch without leaving this dirt road. I haven't visited friends or had friends come to the house since before Christmas. If something takes me away from writing, then I have no time for it.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Yes, writing is a solitary pursuit. But my writing is born of a fascination with people, and I feel the loss of that interraction. Even Thoreau, for all his praise of solitude and contemplation, had to go hang around in town now and then. So I think I'll take the dog for a walk out onto the paved road this afternoon and see who we meet. It's a terrible thing to not know your neighbors, or people who were in your high school class, especially in a small town.