"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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

As Noir As It Gets

Poets are sick.


Every fucking one of them, going all the way back to Homer—and still countless generations before that blind old fart set the standard for Western literature, some Cro-Mag with a rancid animal hide swaddling his junk stood up beside a campfire and wove stories about a great hunt or the cruelty of gods or the downright fun of slamming a handaxe into your enemy’s face.

Get it now?

Poets are bat-shit crazy because more than anyone else, they feel the power of words.

And poetry is the world’s oldest form of storytelling.

Embrace these simple concepts and we'll get along just fine.

Which brings me to volume four of The Lineup: Poems on Crime.

As someone who had a small hand in shaping the first two anthologies, I’m proud to say The Lineup gets better every year. This time around, we see a man haunted by war crimes (Reed Farrel Coleman’s “Slider, Part 7”), a woman getting revenge on her dead lover’s ex-wife (Germaine Welch’s “Houston Oil Man Missing”), the cold lives of prostitutes (“Street Girls: Selected Memories” by Stephen Jay Schwartz) and the beginning of a rape victim’s endless nightmare (J.D. Smith’s “From a Deposition”). Kieran Shea (“In Oaxaca, 2006”) and Keith Rawson (“A Story to Tell Our Daughter”) deliver the goods, too. From Ken Bruen, whose novels are epic noir poetry disguised as prose, we get “Funeral: Of the Wino”:

For far too long
I’d lived
a lithium above despair.

Which brings me back around to my point about poets being sick.

These poems are as noir as it gets, buddy. Each one is a distillation of pain, greed, loss, false hope, betrayal, desperation and death. The poets themselves are hard men and dangerous women. The difference between them and the rest of the tribe? The poets don’t turn away from the darkness. Poets don’t flinch.

Crime poetry seeks an understanding of what drives us to rob, cheat, torture and kill each other. Some of the stories in The Lineup are true. Others are made up. But every one of them is real. Editors Gerald So, Reed Farrel Coleman, Sarah Cortez and Richie Narvaez have put together a crew of poets who aren't fucking around. Charles Bukowski would have felt right at home in these pages. Not to mention Johnny Cash and Bon Scott.

Poets are sick.

And it's a good fucking thing for all of us.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Obligatory Top Ten List

I actually got a request for this, which means at least one person is still following the blog. So, it's time to list my favorite down-and-dirty crime reads of 2010. Most of these were new releases, but a couple of the books came out in 2009. Hey, my list = my rules. Ya gotsa problem widdat?

These are in no particlar order, but I will say that Benjamin Whitmer's Pike was my absolute favorite novel of the year. To paraphrase the great Nigel Tufnel: "It's like how much more noir could it be? And the answer is none. None...more noir." If you haven't read Pike yet, do yourself a favor and snag a copy right away. Rural noir at its hardscrabble finest.

Okay, now for the rest of the list:
The Ghosts of Belfast (aka The Twelve) by Stuart Neville
Kings of the Earth by John Clinch
Young Junius by Seth Harwood
Criminal Volume 5: The Sinners by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield
Thunder Beach by Michael Lister
The Deputy by Victor Gischler
The Devil by Ken Bruen (even though the supernatural aspect felt out of place)
Nobody's Angel by Jack Clark