Week in Review of Small Press Crime Fiction for July 24-30, 2017
The Los Angeles Review of Books went crime fiction this past week in a big way. First was Anthony Award nominee Sarah M. Chen’s interview, The Statement Makes Itself, with Danny Gardner regarding his new book A Negro and an Ofay. I actually stayed away from this interview until I finished my review of Gardner’s book as I wanted to be right or wrong on my own merit (or lack thereof). Chen and Gardner’s talk is an important read.
The book is rooted in real American history. There’s no better indictment of our present than for me to tell a story set in our past that resonates as if it were happening today. I set the story in the country’s past and if there’s a statement to be made, it makes itself. What I think we don’t pay enough attention to is the subtle racism. Like abject racism is easy to hate, right? It’s gross. It’s abhorrent. Anybody can hate that. But if you’re going to help me, help me with the institutionalized racism, the structural racism, the cultural racism. I’m from Chicago. You’ll never get more racist than that in the United States. So I’m kind of conditioned to let the abject racism roll right off me. Help me with that stuff I can’t fix. The undertow that drags me under although I’m a strong swimmer.
Next up is Steve Weddle’s interview with Jeff Abbott, author of the recently released Blame. As the blurb for I’ll Take Whatever Comes states, Weddle and Abbott talk about “his new novel, parkour, cyber attacks, and the influence of his grandmother.” Lastly, Tara Laskowski, author of the short-story collection Bystanders, talks to Christopher Irvin, author of the short-story collection Safe Inside the Violence and his upcoming release Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All, in an interview called On Writing Violence. The discussion is good but I admittedly had a hard time getting past this:
One is marketed as crime fiction and the other is marketed as literary fiction. And yet, when Laskowski started reading Irvin’s stories, she realized there were many similarities in the ways they explored violence, ghosts and monsters, the working class, and inevitability.
I really should not care how readers from “literary” fiction get to crime fiction, but this made me channel my inner Kevin Kline from A Fish Called Wanda and shout, “You English are so superior, aren’t you?”
Over at Andrew Nette’s blog, Tony Kighton, author of the new book Three Hours Past Midnight (Crime Wave Press), has a timely post about crime ficition as literature:
I can imagine some readers protesting – crime fiction isn’t literature, it’s simply entertainment. My first argument is that all fiction is entertainment. If not, why else are we reading it? Yes, many great works of fiction explore deeper truths, but these also include work that is essentially genre, and besides, if it weren’t fun, nobody would read any of it. Second, the granddaddy of all literary serial characters, John Updike’s Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, is essentially the guy who peaked in high school. Through four novels and a novella in which he leaves his wife, their infant daughter dies, his wife leaves him, their house burns down, they lose the family business – even in the minds of his loved ones after his death – he never changes.
Apologies for missing the release of Jerry Kenneally’s Polo’s Long Shot on Down & Out Books last week. It is the eleventh in the Nick Polo Mystery series. I also missed Timothy J. Lockhart’s Smith from Stark House Press. Nikki Dolson’s long anticipated All Things Violent was released on Fahrenheit Press. Released this week on Bloodhound Books are Mark L. Fowler’s Red is the Colour and Pat Young’s Till the Dust Settles. A new entry into the Akashic Noir series, New Haven Noir. How about some Robot Noir, ’60s style, Adam Christopher’s Killing Is My Business (Tor Books), the latest in the Ray Electromagnetic series. Telos Publishing reissued eight or so of English noir author Hank Janson (Stephen Daniel Frances, 1917-1989), but at $15.95 for a paperback, I’ll be staying away. The James Patterson’s book published this past week is Moores Are Missing.
Erin K. Coughglin’s flash fiction in Shotgun Honey called The Girls Who Go to Wildwood is a great read. While you are there read Crime Waves Press writer Benedict J. Jones’ Samson’s Crossing. Two longer reads are Craig Faustus Buck’s Honeymoon Sweet about two con artists squatting in a beach house in Santa Monica, and J.J. Sinisi’s The Good Fortune of Agusta, a story about an older woman still carrying a lot of weight from her past. Two more, I promise and I’m done, Tom Leins’ Sloppy Operator and Tom Braken’s Last Good Day.
Last week I reviewed three books, two reviews which appeared here at Unlawful Acts: Nikki Dolson’s All Things Violent (Fahrenheit Books) and Danny Gardner’s A Negro and an Ofay. I also had a review published in Rusty Barnes’ Tough: Roy Harper’s Shank. (Crime Wave Press). Some of the reviews of interest are Erica Ruth Neubauer’s review of Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids and David Cranmer’s review of Adam Christopher’s Killing is My Business. Over at NPR, Jason Heller of The AV Club has the article, 3 Supernatural Noir Tales That Reflect The Inhuman Condition, which reviews Christopher’s book, Richard Kadrey’s The Kill Society, and Jason Ridler’s Hex-Rated. Also on NPR, Maureen Corrigan reviews a new biography on Chester Himes.
Over at Shotsmag Confidential, the two writers known as Michael Stanley give us a much-needed lesson on African crime fiction. Steph Post went on to Facebook and got a bunch of recommendations of upcoming releases. She put it all together, posted it on her blog, and appropriatley called it Steph’s Fall 2017 Book Preview! Go and read this because I’m sure your TBR needs some more padding. Jenny Mitcham’s Up The Creek Without a Yacht over at The Thill Begins and Jeff Abbott’s appropriately titled article, Jeff Abbot’s Top Ten Writing Tips, at The Strand Magazine are two good posts about writing. Over at SleuthSayers is Brian Thornton’s interview with S.W. Lauden, Anthony-Nominee S.W. Lauden Weighs In On The Novella
Like many crime and mystery readers, I appreciate a fast-paced page turner. A lot of things demand my attention daily, so when I carve out time to read I like stories that grab me by the throat and don’t let go.
As a writer, I enjoy the challenge of trying to write those kinds of stories for my readers. I also think the shorter form gives writers a chance to spread their wings a little.
In his blog Education of a Pulp Writer, David Cranmer points us to this Charlie Rose interview with Martin Amis and Elmore Leonard.