Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Man with the Getaway Face, by Richard Stark

(pb; 1963: second book in the Parker series.  Also published under the title Steel Hit.)

From the back cover:

"Master thief Parker comes to a plastic surgeon in Nebraska with a face that the Outfit--the New York syndicate--wants to decorate with a bullet. But nothing can keep Parker away from his old life of crime--and the major heist of an armored car somewhere in New Jersey."


Getaway is as brutal, fast-moving and entertaining as its series-source novel, The Hunter.  Also, as with Hunter, there's not one wasted or ineffective word in this first Parker series sequel.  Worth owning, this.

Followed by The Outfit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

**One of my mainstream poems Shred, gouge, fly was republished in Leaves of Ink ezine

One of my older mainstream poems, Shred, gouge, fly, was republished in the Leaves of Ink ezine on May 7th, 2014.  (Many thanks to editor Earl S. Wynn, a.k.a. E.S. Wynn, for this.)

This celebratory poem is about a writer whose appreciation for his current life and lover is enhanced by his acceptance and understanding about his past.  (Shred, gouge, fly was originally published in my 2011 single-author anthology Behind the wheel: selected poems.)

Check this poem out, if you're so inclined and have the time!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Magic and Loss, by Nancy A. Collins

(pb; 2013: third novel in the Golgotham series)

From the back cover:

"Located on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Golgotham has been the city's supernatural ghetto for centuries.  Populated by countless creatures from myth and legend, its most prominent citizens are the Kymera, a race of witches who maintain an uneasy truce with New York's humans. . .

"It has been several months since Tate Eresby developed her new magical ability to bring whatever she creates to life, but she is still learning to control her power.  With Tate struggling to make a living as an artist, she and Hexe can barely make ends meet, but they are happy.

"Then Golgotham criminal overlord, Boss Marz, is released from prison, bent on revenge against the couple responsible for putting him there.  Hexe's right hand gets destroyed, leaving him unable to conjure his benign magic, and attempts to repair the hand succeed only in plunging him into a darkness that can' be lifted - even by the news that Tate is carrying his child.

"Now, with her pregnancy progressing at an astonishing rate, Tate realizes that carrying a possible heir to the Kymerian throne will attract danger from all corners, even beyond the grave."


Fun, relatively light* and fast-moving read that might especially appeal to those readers looking for an urban fantasy novel-series that's a shade darker and more mature than a YA novel (this is not meant in a demeaning way - there's hints of sex, but nothing even remotely explicit and the magic and violence of the first two books is PG-13 at worst).

There's a 'mystery' - hidden villains and secret associations - element to the book, but, as in Right Hand Magic and Left Hand Magic, they're easy - intentionally so - to suss out. 

My only nit with Magic is that its ending essentially sports the same finish as Right, making Magic's climactic fight feel formulaic.  (True, it's a minor nit, but one worth noting.)

Magic is worth your money and time, if its series-formulaic finish and lack of mystery aren't an issue of you.  If they are an issue, check this one out from the library.

[*compared to Collins' dark, ultra-violent Sonja Blue series]

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Lost My Heart in Hollywood / Diary of a Dick, by Will Viharo

(pb; 1995, 2011: fourth and fifth novellas in the Vic Valentine series)

From the back cover:

"I Lost My Heart in Hollywood chronicles the strangest case yet in the so-called career of Vic Valentine, Private Eye, as an unlikely tryst with the B movie scream queen of his dreams, Velma Vale, leads him down a dark, twisted path of paranoia, voyeurism, degradation and death.  The bizarre action heats up even as his burning loneliness and simmering sexual obsessions flare at the forefront of his tormented consciousness, with caution and common sense cooling idly on the backburner.


"Diary of a Dick tells further tantalizing tales of Vic chasing tail while allegedly on the trail of True Love, all the way to New Orleans and back again, as the femme fatales of his past and present suddenly converge with prurient promises of promiscuity.  As always, strings are attached to these erotic escapades, but the ties that bind begin rapidly unraveling, and Vic is left hanging by a thread like a doomed puppet.  The mysteries of love have never been more elusive."


Lost and Diary read more like sexploitation novellas than straightforward pulp/mystery works, although there's a strong element of mystery (along with deadly violence, Viharo's funny sense of wordplay and lots of lust) in both novellas.  There's also a lightness that wasn't present in the last Vic Valentine novella, the (understandably) grim Romance Takes a Raincheck, making these newer works stand out even more.  And, as with his earlier Vic Valentine stories, the characters, events and other elements that formed the storylines of previous novellas reflect and (further) shape the characters, moods and events of Lost and Diary.

Lost sports a claustrophobic, too-out-there-to-be-coincidental sense of cinematic-scripted conspiracy; Diary reads like a frak-a-licious, possibly life-changing series of carnal conquests.  This, along with Viharo's effective mixing of genres and love of film (which gets plenty of air time in both works), makes for reads that aren't like anything I've read in a while.

These combined fifth and sixth Vic Valentine stories are fun, sometimes chatty (in a character-true way) works - works worth purchasing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Hunter, by Richard Stark

(pb; 1962: first novel in the Parker series)

From the back cover:

"She shot him just above the belt and left him for dead.  Then they torched the house, with Parker in it, and took the money he had helped them steal.  It all went down just the way they'd planned, except for one thing: Parker didn't die."


Hunter is a stripped-to-its-seething-borderline-sociopathic-core crime novel, easily one of the best I've read in a long, long while.  If you're a reader looking a fast-paced, raw-violence and unsentimental read, this is worth owning.

Followed by The Man with the Getaway Face (it is also published under the title Steel Hit).


This novel became the basis for two films.

The first film, Point Blank, was released stateside on August 30, 1967.

Lee Marvin played Walker (cinematic stand-in for Parker).  Angie Dickinson played Chris.  Michael Strong played Stegman.  John Vernon played Mal Reese.  Keenan Wynn played Yost.  Carroll O'Connor played Brewster.  Sharon Acker played Lynne.  James Sikking played a "Hired Gun".

The film was directed by John Boorman, from a screenplay by Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse and Rafe Newhouse.


The second film version, Payback, was released stateside on February 5, 1999.  Brian Helgeland directed the film, from a screenplay he co-authored with Terry Hayes.

Mel Gibson played Porter (another cinematic stand-in for Parker).  Deborah Kara Unger played Mrs. Lynn Porter.  David Paymer played Arthur Stegman.  Gregg Henry played Val Resnick.  Maria Bello played Rosie. 

Bill Duke played Det. Hicks.  John Glover played Phil.  William Devane played Carter.  Lucy Liu, billed as Lucy Alexis Liu, played Pearl.  Jack Conley played Det. Leary.  Kris Kristofferson played Bronson.  An uncredited James Coburn played Justin Fairfax.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

**One of my older poems, The return sidetrips, was published in Smashed Cat ezine

One of my older mainstream poems, The return sidetrips, was published in Smashed Cat ezine today.  (Again, gratitude goes to editor Earl S. Wynn, a.k.a. E.S. Wynn, for this.)

This poem, which details the lysergic William S. Burroughs-esque (and hopefully brief) madness of an apartment-bound writer, has not been published anywhere else, so check it out if you're so inclined!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Stuck On You, by Jasper Bark

(eBook; 2014: horror / sex novella)

From Crystal Lake Publishing's Stuck On You sell page:

"Warning! Do not buy this book, gentle reader.

". . .This is the sickest, filthiest and most horny novella you’re likely to read this year. It will turn you on even as it turns your stomach. Think you’ve seen everything there is to see in horror and erotica? Think again! Just when you think this story can’t get any lower it finds new depths to plumb. . ."

"Crystal Lake Publishing"
Stuck is a fun - in an explicit sex/gross-out way - blast-through 28-page read that's solid, if a bit wordy and repetitious in its carnal descriptions and whose end "twist" is easy to spot for readers who are paying attention. 
The story runs thusly: a knick-knacks smuggler (Ricardo), heading into the States from Mexico, picks up a sexy female hitchhiker (Consuela) and has sex with her.  While they're going at it, they're struck by lightning, fused together - and that's only the beginning of what looks to be Ricardo's last night alive if he doesn't detach himself from his dead road-bang partner.
I liked how Bark kept piling on Ricardo's situational complications, making his protagonist's dilemma even more dire with every new fast-turn event.  Stuck isn't even close to the grossest writing I've read, but this is a solid read, written with the punny glee of a dirty-minded young man (I don't know how old the author is) who just wants to gross you the hell out with gore, bodily fluids and over-the-top sex.  If this sounds like your brand of dark, icky humor, check out this novella.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Long Distance Drunks: A Tribute to Charles Bukowski, edited by Max Booth III

(pb; 2014: story and poetry anthology)

Overall review:

Long Distance Drunks is an excellent, appropriately toned and executed collection that pays homage to its titular inspiration.  Every story and poem in this twenty-two piece anthology has something to recommend it.  This book is worth owning, especially if you're a fan of Bukowski's work and legacy.

Standout stories:

1.)  "The Killers" - Eli Wilde:  Two lovers - a mechanic and his boss's daughter - break out of their horrible and monotonous wasteland existences.  Bleak, compelling.

2.)   "Heavenly Cure For a Dripping C*ck" - T. Fox Dunham:  Bodily fluids, raw emotions and explicit sex highlight this tale about a "cursed" bum seeking physical healing.  Especially good read.

3.)   "A Scarecrow Unlabeled" - William Barker:  Vivid poem about Bukowski's writing - and a small part of his legacy.

4.)   "Shackjob" - Brett Williams:  A drunk-bum writer (Chuck Becker) rambles between bars, women and crash pads.  This work has a charming, effectively vagrant feel to it.  One of my favorite pieces in this collection.

5.)   "Drowning Butterfly" - Gabino Inglesias:  Effectively-Bukowski-esque piece about a struggling wandering author whose encounter with an eerie beach woman proves to be tender, dark and beautiful.  One of my favorite pieces in this collection.

6.)   "Zero" - S. MacLeod: An ex-junkie hooker comes up with a flawed pan to improve her circumstances.  Memorable finish to this one.

7.)   "Without Face" - Michael Bailey:  Time-fractured, hallucinatory tale about a man (Saul Pravat) dealing with the bloody fallout of indulging in a mystery drug.  Interesting work.

8.)   "Behind the Bar" - Will Viharo:  Raunchy, sometimes poetic and often hilarious dialogue highlights this story about a movie star (Mick - as in Mickey Rourke) and a famous author (Chuck - as in Charles Bukowski, whom Mick played in the 1987 film Barfly).  These two characters drink, fight and philosophize a bit.  One of my favorite pieces in this anthology.

9.)   "The Other Kind of Workshop" - Jacob Haddon:  This poem colorfully - in Bukowski-esque style - describes writers' realities.  Good poem, no wasted words in it and it flows well.

10.)   "Turk and Taylor" - Tom Pitts:  Excellent and sometimes creepy piece about a junkie trying to find the best place to fix.  Memorable work.

11.)   "Herniated Roots" - Richard Thomas:  An affair takes on dark, mysterious and perversely life-affirming aspects.

12.)   "Bukowski" - Justin Hyde:  Especially good, word-spare versework about its titular character.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Cold Hearts, by Gunnar Staalesen

(pb; 2008, 2013: sixteenth novel in the Varg Veum series.  Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett.)

From the back cover:

"On a frosty January day in Bergen, Norway, private investigator Varg Veum is visited by a prostitute.  Her friend Margrethe has disappeared and hasn't been seen for days.  Before her disappearance, something had unsettled her: she'd turned away a customer and returned to the neighborhood in terror.  Shortly after taking the case, Veum is confronted with a brutal, uneasy reality.  He soon finds the first body - and it won't be the last.  His investigation leads him into a dark subculture where corrupted idealism has had deadly consequences."


Cold  is a good, entertaining and tightly written  P.I. novel whose end reveals aren't revelations, but effective and intriguing with their lightning-quick pacing; this book is worth owning.


This novel inspired the film with the same name: Kalde Hjerter was released in Norway on March 30, 2012.  Geir Meum Olsen wrote the screenplay.

Trond Espen Seim, who also directed this film, reprised his role of Varg Veum.   Bjørn Floberg reprised his role of Jacob Hamre.  Lene Nystrøm played Karen Bjørge.  Mads Ousdal played Thorvaldsen.  Gitte Witte played Maggie.  Ingrid Olava played Siv.  Kim Sørenson played Malthus.


For further information on Varg Veum-related films, check out this site.

<em>Mother Night</em> by Kurt Vonnegut

(pb; 1961) From the back cover “ Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy du...