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Incident Report

Incident Report No. 99

Photo by Khoa Võ from Pexels

Features

Gabino Iglesias on the crime writing of Paco Ignacio Taibo II at CrimeReads.

“Why Is Publishing So White?” by Richard Jean So and Gus Wezerek at The New York Times.

Interview with Ron Rash, author of “In the Valley”, at Southern Review of Books.

Jay Wilburn live-streamed writing 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo.

KKUURRTT and Tex Gresham chat about Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe’s film “Greener Gass” at Babou 691.

Interview with Erika T. Wurth, author of “Buckskin Cocaine” (Astrophil Press, 2017) at Full Stop.

Tom Quiller, author of “Evergreen” (Dream Paladin Books, 2020), is interviewed by John Wisniewski at Punk Noir Magazine.

“The Long, Dark Legacy of William Hjortsberg’s Supernatural Neo-Noirs” by Andrew Nette at CrimeReads.

Interview with cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, creator of “Bloom County”, at The New York Times.

Interview with crime fiction master Janet Evanovich at CrimeReads.

Brian Morton on the politics of cultural appropriation at Dissent Magazine.

A fantastic essay in The New York Times by Ligaya Mishan, “The Long and Tortured History of Cancel Culture”.

Gabino Iglesias on agents, can’t live with them, can’t stuff them in a sack.

Everyone has a different journey to writing, and Chris Whitaker’s path was certainly odd.

Some new short story collections via Chicago Review of Books.

A short interview with Andrzej Sapkowski, the mind behind “The Witcher”, at Literary Hub.

CrimeReads presents us with a 1965 TV interview with John le Carré.

There’s some much juiciness in Joanna Scutts’s The Times Literary Supplement essay on self-help books and their relationship to literary criticism.

An appreciation of Alison Lurie at the Los Angeles Times.

Electric Lit’s Favorite Short Story Collections of 2020

Part II of LitReactor’s Best of 2020.

Taking a test spin of the Netflix of Books, BingeBooks.

Interview with Les Edgerton, author of “Hard Times” (Bronzeville Books, 2020).

Interview with science fiction master Kim Stanley Robinson at Los Angeles Review of Books.

The First Two Pages: “When the Wind Is Southerly” by Leone Ciporin at Art Taylor, Writer.

What the pandemic could mean to Arts in the United States.

Interview Judith Levine and Erica R. Meiners, authors of “The Feminist and the Sex Offender”, who talk about the history of the sex offender registry and explore how we can strive to reduce sexual harm without mass incarceration.

Longreads Best of 2020: Crime Reporting.

Quite a few stories and poems were released on Hypnopmp.

Reviews

Review of “The Wingspan of Severed Hands” by Joanna Koch (Weirdpunk Books, 2020) at Babou 691.

Kevin Tipple reviews “All Due Respect 2020” edited by Chris Rhatigan and yours truly.

Review of “The Aosawa Murders” by Riku Onda, translated by Alison Watts (Bitter Lemon Press, 2020)

Ian Ayris reviews “The Art of Serial Killing” by Mark Ramsden (Fahrenheit 13, 2015).

Review of “The Ancient Hours” by Michael Bible (Melville House, 2020) at Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Review of “Saying Uncle” by Greg Gifune (2008) at Black Guys Do Read.

Scott Alderberg reviews of “Loveloid” by J.L. Morin (Harvard Square Editions, 2020) at Do Some Damage.

Fiction

New fiction from Daniel Torday at Guernica.

New flash fiction by Max Thrax at Bristol Noir.

New fiction by Phil Hurst at Punk Noir Magazine.

Bristol Noir presents us with new disturbing flash fiction from William R. Soldan.

New fiction from Bryan Costales at Close to the Bone.

Bristol Noir has new fiction from C.W. Blackwell.

New fiction by Rosemary McLean at Tough.

New flash fiction by Ted Flanagan at Shotgun Honey.

New fiction by Mark McConville at Bristol Noir.

New fiction from David Summers at Close to the Bone.

Fiction from Paul D. Brazill.

New fiction by Stephen J. Golds.

New flash fiction from Jeff Esterholm at Pulp Modern.

New fiction by Ian Ayris at Punk Noir Magazine.

Poetry

New poetry by Sharon Waller Knutson at The Five-Two.

Review of Alex Balgiu and Mónica de la Torre’s “Women in Concrete Poetry: 1959–1979” at BOMB Magazine.

New poetry by J.J. Campbell at The Rye Whiskey Review

New poetry by Ian Lewis Copestick at Punk Noir Magazine.

New poetry by Timothy Gager at Live Nude Poems.

New poetry by Brian Rihlmann at The Rye Whiskey Review.

New poetry from Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal at The Rye Whiskey Review,

Punk Noir Magazine has new poetry from John Patrick Robbins.

New poetry by Scott Ferry.

Louise Glück’s Nobel Lecture.

New poetry by Lisa Reynolds at The Rye Whiskey Review.

Podcasts

Frank Zafiro interviews TK Thorne, author of “House of Rose” (Camel Press, 2020) at Wrong Place, Write Crime.

Interview with Christopher Golden, author of Red Hands (2020) at Ink Heist.

Film and TV

Nick Kolakowski thinks that “The Good Thief” might be the best heist movie you’ve never seen.

Growing up watching “Bewitched” and loving Elizabeth Montgomery in “The Legend of Lizzie Borden”, I’m interested in watching the TV movie “Mrs. Sundance” (1974) that was reviewed by David Cranmer in Western Fictioneers.

That’s a hell-a lotta words about Goodfellas.

The Babou 691 interview with Chris Kelso and Laura Lee Bahr, screenwriters of the short film, “Strange Bird”.

Music

New music from Sturgill Simpson.

Ambient composer Harold Budd has died.

Best Southern Albums of 2020 from The Bitter Southerner.

The importance of the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack 20 years later.

Art and Photography

Photography of Joan Colom at Fragments of Noir.

Fragments of Noir presents more photographs by Roger Schall.

The Dirty Femmes series continues at Fragments of Noir.

Books

Jason Parent’s “Eight Cylinders” (Crystal Lake Publishing, 2020) is out.

Scott Grand’s “The Girl with the Stone Heart” (All Due Respect, 2020) is out.

“Damaged Goods”, a short story collection, by J. Travis Grundon (2020).

“Killer, Come Back to Me” by Ray Bradbury (Hard Case Crime, 2020), a collection of crime stories.

All Due Respect is accepting short story submissions. We’d love to publish more stories from women, writers of color, and other marginalized voices. We pay $25 upon publication. Submission guidelines here.

Categories
Books

Call for the Dead by John le Carré

John le Carré's "Call for the Dead"Early in September I had what NPR used to call a “Driveway Moment”. Having picked up my wife from work, we were listening to Fresh Air as Terry Gross interviewed David Cornwell aka John le Carré. Cornwell was fascinating and Gross was on top of her game, but we had pulled into the driveway and I had work to do. The car was turned off and I went inside. In the age of internet the Driveway Moment is no more as I knew that I would be able to listen to the interview the next day at my own convenience. Gross asked Cornwell about his new book A Legacy of Spies and why he wrote: “about a spy forced to face his responsibility for two death decades ago?”

I think because, back then, we had a clear philosophy which we thought we were protecting. And it was a notion of the West. It was a notion of individual freedom, of inclusiveness, of tolerance – all of that we called anti-communism. That was really a broad brush because there were many decent people who lived in communist territories who weren’t as bad as one might suppose. But now, today, this present time in which these matters are being reconsidered in my novel, we seem to have no direction.

We seem to be joined by nothing very much except fear and bewilderment about what the future holds. We have no coherent ideology in the West, and we used to believe in the great American example. I think that’s recently been profoundly undermined for us. We’re alone. Two of my most important characters in the story, Peter Guillam, the narrator, and George Smiley, who is William’s master, if you like, both of them turn out to be semi-Europeans. I think my concern as I started writing the book in this extraordinary atmosphere in which we presently live was somehow implicitly to make a case for Europe, which has now become an endangered species.

I was taken in by Cornwell’s thoughts about the death of the American ideal and what our future might hold for us.

FRESH AIR: Terry Gross interviews John le Carré

The interview gets even better as Cornwell describes his childhood: the mother that abandoned her children and growing up with a con-artist father — this part could not be more fascinating. While listening to this incredible interview, I figured it was time to read some John le Carré, this guy does have a  sterling reputation as a writer. I do have some vague recollection of reading a John le Carré novel, but with over a dozen films and TV shows made, I am still unsure. And my adventure into John le Carré’s world has begun with my reading of Call for the Dead.

The novel begins with George Smiley being summoned to the Circus. This simple sentence, without explanation of Smiley or the Circus, is understood by all. For over 50 years, John le Carré’s works have seeped into our collective consciousness. We find out that Smiley is the antithesis of James Bond, “short, fat, and of a quiet disposition, he appeared to spend a lot of money on really bad clothes, which hung about his squat frame like skin on a shrunken toad.” Compared to a bullfrog, Smiley could be seen waddling “down the aisle in search of the kiss that would turn him into a Prince.” Even Smiley’s wife Ann left him for a Cuban race car driver!

Call for the Dead is not a spy thriller in any sense, rather it is a murder mystery where the players all work in the espionage business. If the characters worked as cooks and waitstaff, it would still be a murder mystery and not a restaurant thriller.

Smiley is quickly dispatched to Surrey, south of London, to tie up the loose ends in a suicide; the victim, a Samuel Fennan, was interviewed days before by Smiley. The Circus, especially Smiley’s supervisor, would like this embarrassing situation to go away. It’s all very English. Smiley makes his way to Fennan’s house and quickly surmises that the suicide is a murder and so the story begins.

If you’ve never read John le Carré and have heard of his reputation of being a great writer, these rumors are true.

There had been a time when the mere business of driving a car was a relief to him; when he had found in the unreality of a long, solitary journey a palliative to his troubled brain, when the fatigue of several hours’ driving had allowed him to forget more sombre cares.

It was one of the subtler landmarks of middle age, perhaps, that he could no longer thus subdue his mind. It needed sterner measures now: he even tried on occasion to plan in his head a walk through a European city—to record the shops and buildings he would pass, for instance, in Berne on a walk from the Münster to the university. But despite such energetic mental exercise, the ghosts of time present would intrude and drive his dreams away. It was Ann who had robbed him of his peace, Ann who had once made the present so important and taught him the habit of reality, and when she went there was nothing.

There is nothing exceptional here in the excerpt above, it is just damn good prose. You’ll find such clear and beautiful writing throughout Call for the Dead and even the mystery is quite good.  I am looking forward to reading the next John le Carré book, A Murder of Quality.

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