Thursday, July 25, 2013

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Burn It Down, Start Again

We are officially under construction here at HQ. All tenants of this establishment will be notified of move dates, title changes, office re-arrangements, changes to the internal wiki and social media accounts, password clearances, and procedures for surrendering keys and parking passes, not to mention the results of recent performance reviews to be delivered shortly.

In the meantime, please enjoy these delightful refreshments.

If you're lucky in a lifetime, you get to dig into the nature of mortality with novelist and screenwriter Paul Auster 
I indulge my fondness for the late Ed Ricketts by talking climate change with Dr. Orrin Pilkey.
On the eve of the election, it's worth taking a look at the great texts of American history.
The great books that draw us together during SDCC.
Beating up social media via word-of-mouth.
A look at urban life through the lens of The City.
To what lengths will an unreasonable man go? Especially if he has a stainless steel rabbit?
 I have nothing but good things to say about the novelist Barbara Kingsolver. A more gracious interview subject doesn't walk upon this Earth of hers.

Nothing funnier than the title "Paris I (Heart) You But You're Bringing Me Down."

"London is a cities of voices, captured by the great and small..."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

We Never Close

So that was a year.

Ho, Internet. It has been some time.

Let's reintroduce ourselves.

In the meantime, here's a few highlights from my scribbling last year, which was violently limited for a giant multiplicity of reasons people characterize as "work."

From the bottom, up.

I talked manners with the acidly funny Henry Alford.

Carl Richards scribbles on napkins about money.

An English giant lost his greatest fight.

We talked movies and much more with Robert Ebert.

Fellow former denizen of the Ozarks Daniel Woodrell earned a Kirkus Star from me.

My Greek amigo Dimitris and his pirate friends were thrilled I got to interview George Pelecanos.

I leaned the phrase "Sino-American Relations" and what it really means.

I interviewed my favorite writer. Review of his latest, Sacre Bleu is forthcoming, although he doesn't know that yet.

I read comic books. Lots and lots of comic books.

I quizzed the fantastic reporter Juliet Eilperin about fish. Fish with really big teeth.

There are robots. And then there are killer robots, as penned by Daniel Wilson.

I talked about the West with Stephen Harrigan, author of the classic Gates of the Alamo.

What better to get into with the creator of Artemis Fowl? Let's talk about killing people.

My other favorite author came out of the woodwork with a new GroVont book.

Brad Pitt? Moneyball? I got your real source for Moneyball right here.

This guy? Knew Sinatra. Blue Angel Met Kennedy and Giancana. Hung out with the Rat Pack. You couldn't make this up.

If I had known, I would have seriously paid more attention to *that trial.*

I work in the non-profit industry, helping people help each other. I could be dealing heroin and accomplish the same thing, as it turns out.

Or I could just peer pressure people into doing the right thing. Which would be cool, too.

The author of The House of Sand and Fog and I talked about beating people up. Mostly ourselves.

I made my pitch to reboot Shogun and Rainbow Six.

I quizzed the Usual Suspects about their plans for the year.

We learned the dangers of the "Virtual You."

We deconstructed Harlem.

And I interviewed one bad @#$@#$$$#.

Cross your fingers, boys and girls. It's a new year, after all. I'll make my wishes if you make yours.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Am Very Busy and Important

Okay, so I'm really not. I've been been writing for a while like I've been reading this blog but the truth is that I've just been busy with a new day job, just like everyone else.

That said, the work has started to pile up so I thought it might be time to compile a few nice pieces that have come out lately, thanks to Kirkus Reviews.

Kirkus is evolving into more of a hybrid print/web model with a focus on the reader, which has led to some fun assignments lately.

First, you can enjoy "The Dirty Dozen: Killer Mysteries and Thrillers for 2011." Get in early on great new books from the likes of Larry Block, Andy Diggle, Cara Black, Paul Doiron and Denise Hamilton, all of whom graciously sent along their appreciation this week. See, they're not always thinking about killing people. Just most of the time.

Next, you can enjoy the piece I should label "Jamie Fraser Fans Want to Kill Me." Actually, it's a well-meaning piece called "Reboot! Five literary franchises that deserve the Hollywood nip-tuck treatment."

Also featured on the front page today was my interview with the great Andre Dubus III, the talented author of The Garden of Last Days and The House of Sand and Fog. Andre also graciously opened up about his memoir, Townie, a remembrance of the culture of violence in small-town New England. It's a tremendous book and a great interview.

Also on the slate is my Q&A with Dr. Jonathan Gill about his history of Harlem, a groundbreaking historical survey that traces the life and times of one of America's greatest cultural epicenters.

And finally, you can call this one a warning bell. If you're an online junkie, you'll want to steer well clear of Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality by Dr. Elias Aboujaoude. Read more in this interview with Dr. Aboujaoude about how technology affects our behavior, whether we know it or not.

I think next month it's a chat with Marcia Clark, and then we get into the robots.

Yes, really.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Very Short Interview with Neil Gaiman

I don't know if it's still true, but at the time I did this interview, I was the first journalist to speak with the great Neil Gaiman about his editorship of this year's Best American Comics collection.

The conversation went on quite a lot longer than what you see in the interview. Here's a few missing bits - consider them your interview extras for the day.

On novelists like Ames and Lethem starting to work in comics:

"In the old days, you would get, for lack of a better word, a ‘real’ prose novelist coming into the business. But they tended to create punky comics. What I love now is that we have a generation of prose writers who grew up reading and loving comics and wanting to put their own mark on them."

On the fantastic DC experiment, Wednesday Comics:

"I had so much fun doing Wednesday Comics. My first reaction when Mike Allred asked me to join him on the project was to wonder how we could take advantage of the size. How could we play with the hugeness of this thing? And we went off and we did. And the accusation that I had leveled at me on people’s blogs and reviews was the first one with which I agreed completely and said, you’re completely right. Guilty as charged. People said, he looked like he’s having too much fun.

It really was done in an interesting way. I thought that the idea of giving a bunch of people a character and telling them to go do something awesome was fantastic. The idea of someone reinventing Kamandi as Prince Valiant. Mike and I deciding to go off and do Metamorpho as a mad tribute to Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon. There really aren’t enough Bob Haney tributes in the world.It got to the point where I was thinking things like, ‘we could actually do a games of snakes and ladders that would actually be playable.’ And realizing that I didn’t care if anyone else thought it was a good idea because it made me happy.

Why comics after all this time?

It’s not at all nostalgia. The bit that I find fascinating is that nobody would ever ask a novelist why he writes plays occasionally. No one asks screenwriters why they occasionally write poems.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On Your Way Out

Thanks, everybody.

My last column as the Mystery Strumpet (my most unlikely sobriquet ever at Bookslut) came out today, in celebration of the online magazine's 100th issue. I just haven't been able to keep up in recent months, and as I've explained in the column, I think it's irresponsible for me to keep the title if I can't keep up the work. Will I keep writing for Jessa, Michael and the gang? Oh, you bet. (and I'm still writing like crazy for Bookslut, The Denver Post, Kirkus and others, for all you booky publishing types who think of sending me books or assigning assignments).

That said, there's a great advantage to be had in having a free range in which to let your thoughts roam, not to mention not worrying about dropping a dirty word now and then. There's a whole wide world of books to chew up, and anyone who gets my attention earns my attention and efforts for sure, and will continue to do so.

As I told Jessa when I turned in my badge, I never had more fun writing for anyone than I did writing for
Bookslut. There's a good chance you may see me again someday with a different column, but for now I'm all shot to hell, so it's time for there to be a new Sheriff in Town.

For the record, I wrote a lot of okay columns and a few good ones. If you stumble across this blog in the ethernet long after I'm gone, go read "Radio Noir," my favorite column of all time. If that's cool, go read "Talking Crime," my crazy-quilt conversation with Don Westlake, Elmore Leonard and Walter Mosley, or "Pulp Fiction, Hard Cases and the Travis McGee Retirement Plan."

You joining me among the living can tune in one more time for a few words from Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen, and myself weighing in on Arkady Ranko, great first lines, Travis McGee and Black Mask magazine. If you're interested in taking on the role of Mystery Strumpet for Bookslut, feel free to contact myself or Michael Schaub, the managing editor of Bookslut, to apply for the gig.

I pretty much said what I had to say in the column, but let me add a little coda with some words from others that have gone down over the years.

"Any desire to do a regular mystery/suspense column?" --Jessa Crispin

"If I’d been Bookslut’s Clayton Moore, fielding calls on a pre-holiday morning from a trio of prominent crime novelists--Walter Mosley, Donald Westlake, and Elmore Leonard--all with news to share about their next books, I might just have crawled back to bed afterward, content that my Christmas had been present-rich enough." --the great J. Kingston Pierce of The Rap Sheet

"I had the opportunity to talk with reviewer Clayton Moore when he was writing for Kirkus Reviews. Now he's writing about mysteries for Bookslut (his sobriquet is Mystery Strumpet). I enjoyed our conversation and I'm glad he enjoyed my book:

I’ve never been one for the outdoorsy sub-genre, although I certainly understand the attraction of CJ Box and his ilk. Yet somehow Paul Doiron’s debut novel The Poacher’s Sontranscends its setting, lending a bleak austerity to its milieu while simultaneously infusing its main character with Steinbeckian humanity.

Any reviewer who mentions Steinbeck and me in the same sentence has earned a lifelong place on my Christmas card list." - Paul Doiron, author of The Poacher's Son

"I was pleased to see The Wheelman included in a roundup of car-related crime novels over at "Mystery Strumpet" Clayton Moore takes a spin through my novel, as well as James Sallis's Drive, Andrew Vachss's The Getaway Man, Timothy Watts's Grand Theft, James H. Cobb's West on 66 and Joe Gores's 32 Cadillacs. Cheers to Moore for the kind words." --Duane Swierczynski

"It’s a great article, and I really appreciate your kind words! You really captured the essence of the line and where we are right now with our major foray into
graphic novels" --Karen Berger, editor of Vertigo Comics

"In his column Five Off the Top, Mystery Strumpet Clayton Moore trumpets The Serialist:"Last month's winner for funniest book of the month was a killer." - David Gorson

And finally, from the Bookslut blog, Clayton Moore, a.k.a. the Mystery Strumpet, gives us the benefit of his refined taste. Moore's "Mystery Strumpet's Nifty-Keen Beach Books Round-Up" conveniently organizes books by crime type -- for example " Cold-Blooded, World-Shaking Murder, 1968," for the new Hampton Sides biography of James Earl Ray , Hellhound on His Trail . These are well-chosen and unusual books, including Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre and James Sullivan's book about the late "criminal" George Carlin, Seven Dirty Words . " - Novelist

"I rather enjoyed this piece by Clayton Moore, the Mystery Strumpet of Bookslut on "Age, Wisdom, and Treachery," about creative people, age, wisdom and, well, you get the idea." - The Bookgrrl

"Speaking For the Dead: The June "Mystery Strumpet" column for Bookslut is at once a meditation on the meaning of Memorial Day and a look at recent historical novels (literary thrillers, mostly) about historical characters from the not-so-distant past. Edgar Allan Poe, anyone?" - Reading The Past

"Like so many others before him, Clayton Moore, Bookslut’s “mystery strumpet,” ponders the definition of 'thriller.' 'I usually have my own perspective on the question,” Moore writes, 'but my position waffles depending on the book, the day, and my current medication.' Moore doesn’t spend a lot of time on his pondering, however, but jumps right in and looks at three upcoming books whose thrillerish pedigrees probably won’t be much questioned: The Raw Shark Texts, by Steven Hall (Canongate), Killer Weekend, by Ridley Pearson (Putnam), and Free Fire, by C.J. Box (Putnam). (“Ok
ay,” says Moore, “I’m going to skirt the boundaries of this month’s topic a little bit and leave you with a genuine, Edgar-winning mystery writer.”) The piece is engaging and it’s here. " - The Rap Sheet

The Rocky Mountain News ran a great piece on Dead Boys, by Clayton Moore. Also, check out Moore's blog, Bang!" - Richard Lange, author of This Wicked World.

I love this headline: 'The Spy Who Didn’t Suck.' In fact, I’d steal it in a New York minute, had
Bookslut not just used it to crown a quite wonderful essay by Clayton Moore, in which the critic discovers that fictional British secret agent James Bond isn’t a one-dimensional figure who appeared in novels by Ian Fleming that are all but unreadable today. In fact, writes Moore, contrary to the contemporary zeitgeist that would have us believe that Fleming’s protagonist is a rather embarrassing leftover from another era, 'maybe James Bond does still matter.'--The Rap Sheet

Clayton Moore's Bookslut column has a decidedly dangerous edge to it." --Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

"We're heartbroken to announce that this issue brings the final Mystery Strumpet column from longtime Bookslut contributor Clayton Moore. Clayton is a good friend of mine, and I still plan to extort him into writing for us, but he's passing on the Strumpet mantle to an as-yet-unnamed successor. (Interested? Let me know.) Clayton, man, we'll miss you, and thanks for everything. --Bookslut's own Michael Schaub

"Dear Clayton, Your article is obviously heartfelt and tremendously flattering. I appreciate it very much. Thank you. Mongo and Garth send their regards. Best, George C. Chesbro."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What's Next

Well, this is getting to be a habit. For the second week in a row, the featured review in the Denver Post books section is by yours truly. Enjoy my review of Zero History by William Gibson.

I think the review is pretty good, but I was well-prepared by interviewing the author a few months ago. It's always a pleasure to hear Gibson's unique voice, whether it's in print or on the telephone. I mentioned to him that his most recent books are rather unnerving because they make the future feel like a place where no one knows what's going to happen next.

"Well, I think that is what the future feels like now," he said. "It’s what I was feeling a decade ago. I had to be really honest with myself and with the reader in admitting that I didn’t know what was going to happen, even in a limited way. I couldn’t even pretend I knew what was going to happen. I’ve never meant to predict what might happen in the future. I’ve just written about pretending that. It got to a point where it all just seemed like everything was going to be random. But we were a decade into it being kind of random, and I started to think about how I might fit into that place."

Fascinating conversation, and a terrific interview subject, even if he does make my brain hurt just a bit...