"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, December 27, 2008

Congratulations, Mr. Watkins

Congratulations to my friend and fellow Stonecoast grad (as well as kick-ass poet, bluesman and all-around cool guy) Christopher Watkins and his wife Amy Marinelli on the birth of their first child, Clara Bay Marinelli Watkins on December 22.

During the fall of 2006, Christopher was writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando. His debut collection, Short Houses with Wide Porches was published by Shady Lane Press last spring. He has also released five albums under the name Preacherboy and been awarded a gold record for his work with Eagle-Eye Cherry.

With an artist mom and writer/musician dad, I'm sure the world will see great things from Miss Clara Bay.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Down-and-Dirty Dozen: Yet Another Year-End Book List

Yeah, I know you’ve all been on tenterhooks, wondering which crime novels I most enjoyed this year. So here it is: the list of my favorite crime reads for 2008. They’re not necessarily books published this year, but all were new to me.

In no particular order:
Money Shot by Christa Faust
Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler*
Mafiya by Charlie Stella
Paying for It by Tony Black
Miami Purity by Vicki Hendricks
Cross by Ken Bruen
Provinces of Night by William Gay
Yellow Medicine by Anthony Neil Smith
The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli
Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell
Dust Devils by James Reasoner
Rilke on Black by Ken Bruen

Don’t ask me to pick one absolute favorite. I can’t do it.

Of course, I’ll probably read five or six more books before December 31st. Libby Fisher Hellman’s Easy Innocence, George Pelecanos’ Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go and Ken Bruen’s Once Were Cops are on the top of my TBR pile. So the “favorites” list might still grow.

You got a problem with that?




*Okay, so Go-Go Girls... is not a crime novel. However, it is chock full of funny, violent Gischlerian goodness and you ought to read it. You’ll like it. Or else.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Best Thing You Can Do...


I’m going to talk about Chris Holm’s story “The World Behind” again. There is an early scene in which the narrator (an adult looking back on his childhood) is getting his ass kicked by the school bully. A girl comes to his rescue, which is just about the worst thing that could happen under those circumstances. He knows word will get around. He’ll be humiliated and it only makes the bully hate him more. So the narrator has to come up with a bully-avoidance plan.

Rereading that story recently reminded me of something that happened when I was twelve. Those of you who haven’t known me long will find this hard to believe, but I was a scrawny, wimpy little kid. I had a big mouth with nothing to back it up. So anyway, I made some smartass remark to this older kid who lived on my block. Let’s call him Moe. I guess ol’ Moe must have been fourteen or fifteen at the time, and he had at least twenty pounds on me.

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, Moe commenced whaling on me. I’d like to say I fought back as best I could, but that would be a lie. Moe knocked me down with one shove, sat on my chest and used my head for a punching bag. When you’re a wimpy little wiseass, you learn to accept such things as the price of doing business.

In the normal course of events, the beating would have lasted a minute or two. Then the big moron would get bored and wander off. I’d wash off the blood and hope my lips didn’t swell up too much. No big deal. Like Jean Shepherd once said, “In the jungles of kid-dom, the mind switches gears rapidly.”

Here’s where it all went wrong…

My grandmother happened to look out the window. She saw Moe beating the stink out of me right on our front lawn. Grandma grabbed a broom and came screaming out of the house. Busting some pretty good moves for a 78 year-old, she laid into Moe with that broom. Then she chased him halfway down the block.

I knew right then I was screwed. The story of how I let my grandmother fight my battles would be all over town by the end of the day. Worse, Moe wanted payback for getting a broom handle upside his head.

A year or so later, Moe held up a Stop and Shop with a pellet gun. He got away with a carton of smokes and a few bucks’ cash. If I remember right, he barely had time to light one up before the cops snagged him.

So what’s the moral to my heart-warming tale?

It’s simple: sometimes the best thing you can do is just take the beating.

Oh, and: it’s still armed robbery, even if you “only” use a pellet gun.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Roachkiller


I was flipping through The Best American Mystery Stories 2008 (edited by George Pelecanos) yesterday, when I noticed that The Lineup co-conspirator Richie Narvaez got a nod. While his story "Roachkiller" (which appeared in the second issue of the late, lamented Murdaland) was not selected for the anthology, it did make Pelecanos and Penzler's list of Other Distinguished Mystery Stories of 2008. That's still pretty damn cool.

It was also nice to see stories from ThugLit and Expletive Deleted get some love.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Uncaged

As I've mentioned here before, my short story "Welcome to Wal-Mart, Motherfucker" is coming out this summer in Uncaged, the follow-up anthology to last year's Expletive Deleted. I got an e-mail from Bryon Quertermous yesterday, listing the other Uncaged contributors. It astounds me that editor Jen Jordan thought my story was good enough to share space with work by so many writers whom I admire. Christ on a bike, just take a look at this lineup:

Pierce Hansen
Evan Kilgore
Tim Maleeny
Nick Stone
Simon Kernick
Christa Faust
Victor Gischler
Stephen Blackmoore
Blake Crouch
Declan Burke
Gregg Hurwitz
Brian Azzarello
Simon Wood
Steven Torres
Allan Guthrie
Martyn Waites
Bryon Quertermous
J.D. Rhoades
Stuart MacBride
Patrick Shawn Bagley
Scott Phillips
Greg Bardsley
J.A. Konrath
Maxim Jakubowski
Talia Berliner

Thursday, December 4, 2008

40

I turned 40 today. I guess it's supposed to be some kind of watershed moment, but it feels like any other day. There were kids to feed, messes to clean, chores to do and pages to write, a class to teach later on tonight. Maybe I just haven't had time to get depressed about it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Memified


Patti Abbott tagged me for this meme and I decided to play along. The rules are simple:
1. List authors you read during 2008 who were new to you (that is, authors you read for the first time this year).
2. Bold those who were debut authors in 2008.
3. Tag some other people.

My list (and I may have to amend this as more come to mind) is as follows:

Christa Faust
Nega Mezlekia
Harry Crews
Allan Guthrie
John McFetridge
Wallace Stroby
Tom Piccirilli
James Reasoner
Benjamin Black
Tana French
Don Winslow
Karen Dionne
Tony Black
David Goodis
Leonardo Padura

I'm not one for tagging people. If you want to post your own list, that's cool. Just let me know so I can check it out. Or feel free to just comment here with a list. I'm good either way.