Friday, November 2, 2007

You Think I'm Dead

…but I sailed away, on a wave of mutilation. I’ve been away on a mission of dire importance, hence no fuel for the fire. But I’m back in the lair, caffeined up, and ready to dance for your entertainment like some kind of Ebola-infected monkey raised by his malevolent circus masters to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting public. Hit it.

If you open up today’s Rocky Mountain News (virtually, of course; why on earth would anyone buy a newspaper when you can just read TMZ for free?), you’ll find my brief review of Dr. Robert Greer’s new CJ Floyd mystery, The Mongoose Deception. To his credit, Greer is swinging for the rafters here with a seriously complex, brain-pounding conspiracy that starts with a dead guy in Colorado’s Eisenhower Tunnel and quickly sends Floyd and his posse chasing no less than JFK’s killers. I think he's done better work but kudos to him for mixing it up.

What is it about the Eisenhower Tunnel anyway? The tunnel also figures largely in the denouement of Stephen White’s ice-dry Kill Me from last year. I used to live in Colorado. It’s a hole in a mountain. It’s not that exciting in real life. Maybe to Hitchcock, but what does he know?

Elsewhere in our slowly decaying semi-blue sphere…

Before I forget (for the American readers, mostly), the September issue of Empire Magazine is on newsstands now at the bigger box stores. Two words: kicks ass. Dubbed “The Crime Issue,” it features interviews with all the principals on American Gangster, reports on No Country For Old Men and the splendid Eastern Promises, and a brilliant deconstruction of Michael Mann’s Heat. It’s pricey but after the slow death of Premiere magazines, it’s the best ten bucks you’ll spend this month, I swear to God.

Online, Empire runs down the five writers who have had the most influence on the crime film: Doyle, Hammett, Chandler, natch, but also James Ellroy (who should puff up like a blowfish at the very mention of his name, as usual) and, in a surprising and dead-on final choice, Patricia Highsmith.

At the Philly Inquirer, David Montgomery celebrates the remarkable “last entry” in the Easy Rawlins series, Blonde Faith. On that same note, Walter Mosley gives a short but characteristically well-composed interview to the Miami New Times. You can get my take on what is possibly Mosley's best work in the most recent Mystery Strumpet column at Bookslut.

The Rap Sheet runs down all the news that’s fit to print about Elmore Leonard and his lovely new bound version of his Rules for Writing. It includes, no less, a hand-typed interview with the author passed down via his publicist, which is kind of weird considering that while he doesn’t use a computer, he does have a phone. And a lovely speaking voice, if I may add.

I’m soft on the humor of The Onion, but their A.V. Club interviews are outstanding. There’s a nice one this month with Peter Dinklage, who is slated to star as Mongo the Magnificent in a film version of George C. Chesbro’s An Affair of Sorcerers. More on the lost classics featuring Chesbro’s ferocious dwarf at Bookslut.

As I’ve indicated before, I think John Burdett’s Bangkok novels are wildly underrated. The International Herald Tribune did a terrific interview with the author in which it’s also revealed that the film adaptation of Bangkok 8 will be directed by James McTeigue (V For Vendetta).

Finally, there are things in the world that don’t involve guns, puzzles and other hard-boiled components.

Stephen King reviews Eric Clapton’s autobiography and invents a new literary term: drunkalogue. You’ll want to add that to your dictionary now.

At the Los Angeles Times, RJ Smith kicks the corpse of Gram Parsons in a really sad, caustic review of David Meyer’s The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music that is less of a critical drubbing than a microwave reheating. Get over the Nudie suit already.

Slate runs down the best books we never read.

David Sedaris is doing his thing in Boston tonight at the Symphony Hall. (Remember when authors used to come speak for free? And bring those things, what were they called again? Oh, yes. Books.) The Chicago Tribune interviews him about quitting smoking, the New Republic nonsense, and applying for British citizenship (Now there’s an idea).

Finally, check out this great letter to the editor. The brightest minds of Charleston, West Virginia have elected, in their inbred wisdom, to ban the great works of Pat Conroy (specifically The Prince of Tides and Beach Music). Pat’s not happy, nor should he be. Idiots like those shouldn’t be allowed around perfectly good children.

And if that isn’t enough to rattle your faith in mankind, I’ll leave you with the history of earth in a roll of toilet paper. How poetically appropriate.

I’m going to the movies for about nineteen hours in a row. Don’t wait up.

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