Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Paranoia Strikes Deep

Nothing to see here, just poking my head in. I'm busy at the moment, brooding mostly, but also cooking up a new crime column meditating on one of man's oldest motivations. I'll give you a minute to laundry list your own.

A couple of items of note...

Now I feel better. Of course, if they lose the list of the books I took on vacation, they can always track the chip in my passport. Which seems so much more civil than just tasering me and sticking one in the back of my neck when I'm not looking.

Cheer yourself up by visiting Christopher Moore's blog, where he's emerged from his research stint in the UK. In his latest post, Chris contemplates turning fifty, what it takes to run for the American presidency and "Slam Dancing For Cougars."

I mean, you’re sort of born with unlimited potential (especially if you’re white, male, middle class and American) and as you grow up you hear doors closing as you go along. Some early. Like when you start cranking that C average in seventh grade because it’s much more interesting to think about Mandy’s lady humps than it is to pay attention to, say, averaging fractions -- well, the doors to the White House start slamming. This is presuming you want to be a decent president – I realize, with the bar where it is now, I could have probably stolen a car, kidnapped Mandy and made my way across state lines while free-basing coke, beer-bonging Jack, and robbing gas stations and burning love haikus in Mandy’s fishnets with a Marlboro -- basically gone owl-shit wild until I had to be lobotomized and sedated just to stop me from auto-humping the sky -- and still recovered in time and with enough sense to keep us out of Iraq. But I didn’t know that then.

So, you know, missed opportunities.

Happy birthday, Chris. Give 'em hell.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Burning Love

Looks like I made the paper today (no, not the ones hanging in the Post Office, thanks for asking).

Being the prolific writer and literary cheerleader that I am, I've managed to talk the Rocky Mountain News into my second consecutive feature review in a row, following last month's dead-bang review of Dead Boys by Richard Lange.

This month, it's the quasi-controversial musings of arsonist Sam Pulsifer, he who burned down the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Massachusetts and chronicles his quest to set more hearts ablaze in Brock Clarke's An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. My feature review, titled "Igniting the Literary World," runs in the Spotlight section of today's Rocky Mountain News.

When you're done there, feel free to vist the book's clever website, which includes a detailed list of literary homesteads that deserve to be put to the fire, a memoirizer to fictionalize your own life story, and some practical advice for budding firebugs (Tip #2: "For an arsonist just starting out, it's perhaps easier to burn down a nearby home of an obscure writer rather than burn down a more famous writer's house in a more distant city.").

Don't play with matches, kids.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Roundup

Oh, what fun it is catching up with the real world. That old psychic whiplash will turn your head around. While I was gone, much of Greece burned to dust, Pavarotti sang his last aria, and the Pet Crock report turned out to be aptly named.

In other words, business as usual.

Halfway around the world, I saw Communists rally, swam in the salty seas, dodged heroin addicts in the shadow of the Acropolis, danced at a big fat Greek wedding, and learned much about Greek history. I even traded anecdotes about crime novelists with a pair of smoking Athenian desperadoes I met near the legendary battlefield at Marathon where the Greeks handed the Persians their asses back to them on a platter back in 490 BC. (Who knew George Pelecanos was Greek? The guy's a hero in the tavernas of Athens, let me tell you).

If you're wondering what the book critic takes on vacation with him, I had advance copies of Walter Mosley's new Easy Rawlins novel Blonde Faith - and I cannot recommend strongly enough that anybody who digs Walter beg, borrow or steal this book as soon as possible - and Charlie Huston's teenage wasteland The Shotgun Rule, a hell of a coda to the pulp artist's Henry Thompson trilogy and the promise of great things to come.

In case you missed it, you can review this month's crime and mystery picks by yours truly at Bookslut in the column "Grab Bag," shedding light on new titles by Andrew Vachss, Michael Marshall, Jason Starr, and other hard men of American literature. On the other side of the ocean, Colleen Mondor does a nice one-two punch on Cara Black's Parisian mysteries. Back here in New England, Shaw Miller goes toe-to-toe with Brock Clarke, whose satire An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England will soon be the subject of a feature review in the Rocky Mountain News, by yours truly. Circle of life, baby.

In non-violence-releated writing, the Kirkus Reviews Cooking Special is online, where the nice folks at Kirkus paid me perfectly good money to interview British wunderkind Jamie Oliver, BBQ architect Ted Reader, and Monterey Fish Company boss Paul Johnson, among myriad others. You foodies can also check out new titles by the lovely Giada DeLaurentis, Nigella Lawson, and an intriguing title by photographer Melanie Dunea called The Last Supper, where geniuses like Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller were asked to convey their wishes for their very last meal. This could be highly entertaining, in a savory, dark sort of way.

In other news...

I missed Clive Owen's carrot-gnawing performance in Shoot 'Em Up this weekend, but I'm finding the companion site, Bulletproof Baby, almost as entertaining.

Eco Libris wants me to plant a tree for every book I read. Then they send along a thank you note. Printed on paper. Something's amiss with their logic, recyclable paper be damned.

Sarah Weinman does a nice decontruction of David Peace's nuclear noir Tokyo Year Zero at the L.A. Times.

Ian Rankin is everywhere on the eve of the UK publication of Exit Music, reportedly the last Rebus novel (and why don't they publish these things simultaneously in the States, for chrissakes? Must find the cash to go to Waterstone's for Thanksgiving). The Guardian does the interview dance with Ian at the Covent Garden Hotel. The Rap Sheet, bless their black little hearts, has a rundown of more Rankin appearances throughout the UK. Sarah (again) nails the hoopla on the head with her comment, "I'm much more anxious to see the evolution of Ian Rankin, writer than the continuation of Ian Rankin, franchise."

Looks like there's another virtual watering hole to talk crime: a new message board called The Big Adios is open for business, including a guest spot by the much-lauded Tom Piccirilli, whose new novel The Fever Kill is currently on my to-do list for the week.

And on that note, I'm back at work, riding the commuter train of doom to post-vacation depression. See you around the water cooler.

Graphic Content

While I work to reestablish lines of communication and see what's been shaking while I'm away, feel free to amuse yourselves with some amazing Mediterranean graffiti. Which reminds me that I need to go order a copy of Banksy's book Wall and Piece, come to think of it...