December was a spotty month as far as the Incident Report is concerned. But it’s back like a refrigerated woman. Early this week, I listed my Best of 2018. If you hadn’t had the chance to check it out, please do. I believe you’ll find some surprises.
I also reviewed S.A. Cosby’s “My Darkest Prayer”. I’m digging the non-PI PI genres, guys and gals investigating disappearances, murders, etc. but without the PI license. I said of “My Darkest Prayer” that “Cosby delivers a dark righteousness in this sharp debut novel that will grab you by the throat and not let you go.” You can read my review or, better yet, just buy the book.
E.A. Aymar, author of “The Unrepentant” that’ll be released in March by Down & Out Books, has an essay about the MWA/Fairstein issue, “Notes from the Fringe” in the Washington Independent Review of Books. If you thought “Yeah, yeah, enough of that, let’s move on”, you’re most likely white and, more importantly, you should read the damn thing. There’s a lot going on in the essay but one of the threads is Aymar’s love of Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” and his not-so successful campaign of getting women to “get” the film.
None of the women I dated really had that much interest in arguing about “Manhattan” with me. At least, they didn’t seem to. I was passionate about the movie, and that support extended to the filmmaker. Yes, I would argue, he married his daughter, but she wasn’t blood-related. So it’s different.
Those women would usually change the subject, and I’d let them. And, given their lack of interest in continuing the argument, I’d assume I’d won.
It took me years to realize I’d lost.
Meanwhile over at Writer’s Digest, David Corbett hosts a conversation about the challenges of being a writer of color in the crime fiction genre. The writers who participated in this roundtable are Danny Gardner, Rachel Howzell Hall, Kellye Garrett, Naomi Hirahara, Gar Anthony Haywood, and Gary Phillips. There’s much to digest in this article, but if there’s one idea I’d like my readers takeaway, it’s from what Haywood said:
“There are dedicated readers of crime fiction who will never read a novel featuring a non-white protagonist, or written by an author of color, simply because they think they know what such fiction—all such fiction—must read like, and they aren’t interested.”
Broadening my reading diversity is something I am struggling with even though I thought I was being successful in 2018, I most definitely wasn’t.
This article is a great addition to “It’s Up to Us: A Roundtable Discussion” featuring Garrett, Haywood, Walter Mosley, Barbara Neely, Hall, and Kyra Davis published the Los Angeles Review of Books back in November 2018.
You may have noticed a lack of links in this edition of the Incident Report. No worries, they’re around but not here. I’m doing a daily-ish morning newsletter that handles that. Take a look at some past issues, maybe even subscribe. Occasionally, I’ve been posting links in social media but that’s a time sink for me.
Over at SleuthSayers, Lawrence Maddox, author of “Flash Bang Booze” (Shotgun Honey), writes about genre crossing. He does a look back at the pulp magazines that were not only crime fiction but several other genres as well. Looking at authors who crossed genres back in the day, Maddox introduces Charlie Huston and Earl Javorsky. There’ll be more to follow in a follow up post from Maddox, but for now, start reading “Stop Meddling in My Genre – Part 1”.
Before I wrap up, a few items of interest. Brian Garfield, most famously known as the author of “Death Wish” died recently. Rob Hart, author of the forthcoming “Take Out”, wrote about this article a few years ago: “From Page to Screen with Death Wish: The Case of the Disappearing Conscience”. Also it was the 100th anniversary of Charles Willeford’s birth. Here’s an odd story about Willeford recounted by Lawrence Block.
At some point during our lunch, Charles fixed an eye on me and began talking about people who ate cat. There was, he said, an informal worldwide society of men who had eaten cat, and they looked for and acknowledged one another. One man might look at another and say something along the lines of, “You eat cat, don’t you?” And the other might smile and nod in acknowledgment, or raise an eyebrow.
“Now you,” Charles said, “you look to me like a man who has eaten cat.”
Now at the time I was a vegetarian, so I hadn’t eaten so much as a tuna fish sandwich for seven or eight years, never mind a pussycat. But all I did was say that I hadn’t in fact ever eaten cat.
Charles seemed to find the admission disappointing. “I’m surprised,” he said. “I thought you might well be a man who has eaten cat.”
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The pulp image is by Rafael de Soto courtesy of James Vaughan amongst many. De Soto’s image originally appeared on the December 1947 cover of Detective Tales and was also used on the cover of “Red Harvest”, published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard in 1989.