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Video extract from “The Starved Lover Sings”

May 25, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

This novel is O’Sullivan’s second, after Killarney Blues, published by Betimes Books in 2013. It takes place in a world transformed by disaster: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, nationalist and corporate mergers, roaming wolves. The Starved Lover Sings is a fever dream of a world at the end of its rope.

Our protagonist, and in many chapters our narrator, is Tombo, a PE teacher and soccer referee.

In this excerpt, our antagonist is one of the two teenage girls, called Ferocity and Velocity, or Tink and Tank, or Weal and Woe, or Tooth and Nail, or Bado and Sado — whatever suits them at the moment — who develop an obsession with Tombo and decide he’s “the one”…

 

#spycops – the tawdry facts that couldn’t hold together as fiction

May 16, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

Donald Finnaeus Mayo about undercover policing – in facts and fiction.

Donald Finnaeus Mayo

Unknown-1Former undercover officer Andy Coles, photo courtesy of Peterborough Today

Another day, and another former police officer is forced to resign amid allegations he manipulated a young female activist into entering into a sexual relationship while working undercover in the 1990s. This time it’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridge Andy Coles, who has been outed by campaigners from the Undercover Research Group.

The group claims that Coles was part of a covert group of Metropolitan Police Officers who assumed false identities in order to inveigle themselves into the lives of political activists. What is so alarming about the revelations, and the reason why the Met is looking down the wrong end of a whopping lawsuit, is that the activists targeted were by and large engaged in legitimate political protest. Where they erred on the wrong side of the law, it was generally for activities such as breaking into…

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New release: “The Insider’s Guide to Betrayal”

May 15, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

The second novel from Donald Finnaeus Mayo, author of Francesca, is an unlikely love story between an undercover intelligence officer and an IRA activist. While the novel is set in the 1980s, its theme has been placed into sharp focus by recent investigations and court cases concerning the controversial practice of  undercover policing.

 

 

 

Review – Craig McDonald’s ‘One True Sentence’

May 13, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

A wonderful new review for Book 1 in the Hector Lassiter series

Poisoned Pen

I first heard about Craig McDonald’s series of historical mystery thrillers fairly recently via a review by fellow Ellroy scholar Steven Powell. In it, Powell draws some fascinating links between McDonald’s work and James Sallis’s ‘Lew Griffin’ mysteries – a series of compelling, unusual and beautifully written crime novels. Probably better known as the author of Drive (which was subsequently made into an excellent film by Nicolas Winding Refn), James Sallis is one of the most underrated – and one of my favourite – crime writers working to day, so this comparison was intriguing enough for me to pick up one of McDonald’s books.

McDonald’s novels follow the exploits of Hector Lassiter, a crime writer/amateur detective who finds himself swept up in some of the most violent and infamous events of Twentieth Century history. One True Sentence places us in 1920’s Paris, an historical milieu populated by bohemian artists and real life figures from ‘the Lost Generation’. Not long out…

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A new review of Craig McDonald’s “The Running Kind”

April 20, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

The Running Kind reviewed by Marvin Minkler of Modern First Editions

No happy ending ever started in a bar.

After the tumultuous events that took place on the world’s stage during World War II, and after, in the last Hector Lassiter novel I read, and my ninth, Roll The Credits, expectations were a bit lower as I began The Running Kind. Mistake on my part.

Hector was in a Youngstown, Ohio hotel bar during the December 1950 blizzard, reuniting with his dear, old Irish cop friend, Jimmy Hanrahan. While sharing drinks and war stories, they are suddenly interrupted by a young hysterical girl, who pulls at Hector’s sleeve, pleading: “Please, mister, my mommy needs help.”
Never hesitant, off Hector and Jimmy go, guns and fists at the ready.

After a violent confrontation with some thugs in the bathroom of the hotel and outside, the men rescue the girl’s mother, who is the wife of a Ohio mobster chieftain, and the mistress of the mobster, who Hector notices right away, resembles Veronica Lake. The girls are on the run, trying to find a way to testify against the mob boss, at the Televised Hearings on the Mafia, being held by Senator Kefauver.

Never to shy away from a dangerous and deadly challenge, especially when outnumbered, Hector and Jimmy commit to helping them get to Dayton to testify. Off they go with mobsters, hit men, crooked cops, hired thugs, and FBI agents, joining the cross-country chase through the blizzard, culminating in events that will alter Lassiter’s life forever. Alter in a way that he never would have imagined. One hell-of-a way for the original running kind to celebrate turning 50.

One of the things I so enjoy about reading the Hector Lassiter series, is the way novelist Craig McDonald introduces historical and cultural figures who play roles in the different books, through different eras. In The Running Kind one of the people who help Hector out of a deadly jam, is Doc Savage’s writer, Lester Dent. A young writer, Rod Serling sits with Hector in a bar outside the Antioch campus, and tells Hector of his idea for a new dark anthology series he is writing for television.

Untouchables hero, and now down on his luck, Eliot Ness, puts down the bottle, and picks up a gun to give Hector and Jimmy much-needed help. Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner make an appearance late in the novel, bringing a message from Sam “Momo” Giancana, that will lead Hector back to Cleveland, for revenge, and a terrific climax.

There is also a subtle undercurrent of loss and regret throughout The Running Kind. For Hector, at three am in the morning, it will always be the dark-haired beauty, and fellow writer, Brinke Devlin, his life’s greatest love. Like Hector, she was a running kind, and her memory will run through his thoughts forever.

I have been asked on more than one occasion, which Hector Lassiter novel I liked the best. It is safe to say that it has always been the last one I read.

“The Death of Tarpons”: A journey into darkness

March 28, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

On the occasion of the new release of Les Edgerton’s debut novel, The Death of Tarpons, in paperback format by Betimes Books and in electronic format by Endeavour Press, we are taking a look back at what makes Edgerton’s first work of fiction so special. For something which, at first glance, seems so different from his later works, how does it fit so seamlessly in Edgerton’s body of work?

First published in 1996 as a hard cover edition, The Death of Tarpons stands out in Edgerton’s repertoire for how different in tone it is from his subsequent novels. To many, Edgerton is known as an acclaimed crime writer, but his most loyal fans will also know that he has never wanted to limit himself – or be limited – to one genre of writing: from short story collections like Gumbo Ya-Ya to young adult fiction such as Mirror, Mirror and plenty of non-fiction, Edgerton has explored writing in its many forms.

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that Edgerton’s first piece of writing is a touching coming-of-age story about a young teenage boy trying to build a better relationship with his father.

“Then, last year, I got this fantastic idea to do something totally on my own, in secret, that would show him once and for all I could do something mechanical. Manly. Then, he would love me and be proud of me and put his arm around me. I decided to build a boat. For him.”

Brazos River Bridge in 1958, Freeport, Texas

This sounds as far removed as possible from other works like The Rapist or Just Like That but, as one reviewer and fellow author has mentioned, the seeds of Edgerton’s later fiction can indeed be found here.

“Edgerton’s later novels have become Noir classics to many, and The Death of Tarpons hints at a moonless childhood that explains the author’s successful literary journeys into darkness.”

Jack Getze, Spinetingler Magazine, 2017

In The Death of Tarpons, young Corey certainly encounters many episodes of darkness. Nearly all of the personal relationships around him are afflicted with violent outbursts or psychological abuse: the regular beatings of his best friend, Destin, and his mother at the hands of his drunken father; the violent reprimands Corey endures from his own father as well as the emotional neglect he and his mother receive from Corey’s father – a neglect that has driven his mother to religious fanaticism.

“Every atom in my body was in fear. I had never seen such a look on his face as there was now, not even at his angriest. It was like the face of God Himself, the face the fire and brimstone preacher Mom listened to, conjured up, Sunday mornings.”

Thus, the darkness one would expect from Edgerton’s work is present in his debut; however, it is tempered by the sweet nature of its protagonist and the loving relationship Corey has with his Grandpa.

What allows Edgerton to write across different genres with such success is something that all his works have in common: an honesty that can only come from personal experience. Edgerton has described The Death of Tarpons as being “85% autobiographical” and as being a work which was long in the making, having started writing it at the age of fifteen. The setting of the novel – 1950s era Freeport, Texas – was a place where Edgerton spent part of his childhood and many characters are drawn from real life with, for example, the author’s own grandmother being just as successful and driven a businesswoman as the Grandma character featured in the novel. Just as Edgerton’s own experience as an ex-con gives a realistic edge to his crime fiction, the same truthfulness can be found in his debut.

Aerial view of downtown Freeport, Texas c.1955

“The Oyster Bar. The business that had sustained three generations, mine and my sister Doc’s, my parents, and my grandparents. The business that, along with the taxi cab company, my grandmother had created and ruled as her own private fiefdom. Not with some metaphoric iron hand, but with a very real Navy Colt long-barreled .45 on the dash of her taxi”.

The Tarpon Inn in 1954, Freeport, Texas

Honesty and credibility are what make Edgerton’s writings so distinctive and evocative. When reading The Death of Tarpons, one can really visualise what it was like being a young boy, just out on summer vacation with lots of great plans for how he was going to spend the holidays hanging out with his best friend, fishing with his Grandpa and getting closer to his dad.

1954 photograph of a teenage schoolboy taken for ‘The Luckiest Generation’ feature in LIFE Magazine

“All the way downtown, I used lawns, head down, alert for nettles and stickers. When I had to cross a street, leave the coolness of grass, I ran faster, landing on different parts of the soles of my feet. First-day-of-summer-vacation-tootsies were too white and thin-skinned for concrete baked at ninety-plus degrees.”

As with the rest of Edgerton’s work, the vividness of his characters and settings is a result of his personal knowledge of what it was like to be a young teenage boy growing up at this time in the American South. The credibility that comes from writing about places and situations one is familiar with is what gives The Death of Tarpons, as well as Edgerton’s other novels, a distinctive edge.

Tarpons cover with Hugh Seaver etching

Who are “The Painter’s Women”?

March 1, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

Fionnuala Brennan’s novel about Francisco de Goya takes the fresh approach of telling the artist’s story through those of the important women in his life. Who were these women, and what was their relationship to the great painter?

'The Milkmaid of Bordeaux', Francisco de Goya

‘The Milkmaid of Bordeaux’

Rosario, Goya’s loyal but conflicted daughter

On the eve of her father’s burial, Rosario keeps vigil by his bedside, spending the hours talking to him before she loses him forever. Affectionately known as “his little ladybird”, Rosario and de Goya had been very close and so, on this night, she is desperate to leave nothing unsaid.

Yet, already distraught by his death, young Rosario also has to cope with being de Goya’s illegitimate daughter, ostracised by the rest of his family. As night turns to day, Rosario’s fear for the future grows more intense. Without her father’s protection, how will she and her mother, Leocadia, survive? Can she trust de Goya’s promises to provide for them despite the antagonism of his legitimate family members?

Feeling guilty for doubting her father’s word, Rosario determines to keep the promise she made to him before his passing. But can she succeed in doing so, in the midst of the chaos that follows de Goya’s death?

“Swear to me that nobody will dictate the art you will make. And when the day comes when you know you are good enough, then use my name. But not until then.”

Gumersinda, the spiteful daughter-in-law

“Opportunist, adulterer, collaborator! I know that one should not speak ill of the dead, but I do not care.”

'Portrait of a Lady with Fan', Francisco de Goya

‘Portrait of a Lady with Fan’ (probably Gumersinda)

Money, respectability and status; for Gumersinda, these are sacrosanct. Her father-in-law, however, appears to defy these values at every opportunity.

Rumours of infidelities with models and rich patrons, of his relationships with servants and his spawning of illegitimate heirs do not appear to ruffle him. Nor does he see the hypocrisy between his political paintings and his political actions. But Gumersinda cares. And she will not stand for de Goya jeopardising her, or her son’s, reputation anymore.

Charcoal drawing 'Gumersinda Goicoechea, de Goya's daughter-in-law', Francisco de Goya

Charcoal drawing ‘Gumersinda Goicoechea’

When she is called away from her comfortable life in Spain to attend to her dying father-in-law, Gumersinda is annoyed with Javier, her husband. He is blind to his father’s faults and has never caught on to Gumersinda’s dislike of the man.

However, seizing the opportunity she has unwittingly been given, Gumersinda resolves to save the dignity of her family before de Goya’s mistress, Leocadia, can cause any more harm.

 

Leocadia, Goya’s frustrated companion and mother of Rosario

Fleeing an unhappy marriage and with a son to support, Leocadia first met the widowed de Goya when she applied to be his housekeeper. Over time, they became lovers and their daughter, Rosario, was born. Due to the scandalous nature of their relationship, neither Leocadia nor Rosario could ever receive recognition as de Goya’s family which left Leocadia feeling like an object of shame, hidden away in de Goya’s house.

'La Leocadia', Francisco de Goya

‘La Leocadia’

“Everybody here knows that I was his wife – in all but name.”

For Leocadia, de Goya has never appreciated the sacrifices she made to be with him nor has he always been kind to her. He directed his passion and energy towards his art and his tenderness to his children and grandchildren, yet for Leocadia, all her efforts led to were loud arguments and stormy exits. Even the memory of his deceased wife, Josefa, loomed like a spectre in their relationship.

But now that de Goya has died, will Leocadia finally receive some token of appreciation from him? Can Leocadia now emerge from the shadows of Goya’s life and earn the respect she deserves?

 

Charcoal drawing of Josefa Bayeu, Francisco de Goya

Charcoal drawing of Josefa Bayeu

Josefa, the long-suffering wife

Confined to her deathbed, Josefa spends her remaining days looking back on her marriage to the fiercely proud and temperamental Goya. Marrying into a respected and well-connected family was of great advantage to Goya, yet for Josefa it produced a string of tragic pregnancies which left her feeling voiceless and alone.

“I was stricken with a sickness of mind and body worse than the plague. There was no hope, no reason for me to go on breathing”

A sympathetic response was all Josefa desired but proved difficult to achieve when having to compete with Goya’s art – and his female models – for his attention.

As she approaches the end of her life, Josefa wishes to make de Goya hear the truth about their marriage, about the ways she suffered.

Can she at last cease vying for Goya’s attention and get the respect she deserves? Yet if there was any love in their marriage, will it fully reveal itself now before it’s too late?

'The White Duchess', Francisco de Goya

‘The White Duchess’

Duchess of Alba, Goya’s fiery patron

Beautiful and intelligent, the Duchess of Alba does not lack confidence in her abilities. When she sets her sights on something – or someone – she normally gets her way. If this makes her endearing to men, it bristles the women she takes them from.

In an effort to rile another woman, the Duchess summons Goya to her home to paint a number of portraits for her. Goya’s arrogant nature vexes the Duchess at first but, to her surprise, she finds herself wanting him nonetheless.

'The Black Duchess' Francisco de Goya

‘The Black Duchess’

“In truth I am fascinated by this uncouth artist. I ask myself why this is so and have to admit that it is simply because he appears so impenetrable, contradictory and, most exasperating of all, unattainable. He has become my challenge.”

Widely revered for her beauty and skilled at the art of seduction, the Duchess feels a certain power over the artist she has employed. But Goya is headstrong too. Will her flirtation with the artist succeed or has she met her match in Goya?

Dolores, a naïve artist’s model who gets a hard lesson in life

'The Clothed Maja', Francisco de Goya

‘The Clothed Maja’

Working as a maid in the Duchess of Alba’s home, Dolores thought she knew exactly how her life would turn out; she would follow the rules, marry a man of her rank and have a family of her own. However, the normal and secure life Dolores foresaw is utterly changed after a strange artist is summoned to paint the Duchess. Intrigued by the young servant, de Goya asks for her to model for him and introduces her to a life Dolores would never have expected.

“I could hardly wait to find out what being a model for an artist meant. I also wondered why there had to be so much secrecy about it. I was soon to find out.”

'The Duchess of Osuna', Francisco de Goya

‘The Duchess of Osuna’

Duchess of Osuna, another aristocratic patron

“María Josefa has a great many talents and gifts. So elegant, so learned, so accomplished.”

As an artist, de Goya relied on the regular and loyal patronage of a number of Spain’s wealthy elite. His status as the Court Painter and his reputation for being one of Spain’s leading painters of the day helped him receive more commissions. Of these many aristocratic patrons, one of the most fervent was the Duchess of Osuna.

As with many of de Goya’s models – and to the detriment of Josefa and Leocadia – rumours swirled as to whether the two enjoyed a strictly business relationship.

Queen María Luisa

The queen of Spain was another of Goya’s patrons and was fond of horse-riding, as seen in her portrait here. According to the Duchess of Alba, Queen María Luisa was suspected of having a relationship with the prime minister, Don Manuel Godoy.

'Queen Maria Luisa On Horseback', Francisco de Goya

‘Queen Maria Luisa On Horseback’

“Despite the torture she endured while Goya painted her, the lump of lard was apparently very pleased with the finished work, and especially with the portrayal of Marcial, a present from Godoy and thus her favourite horse. Her Majesty was also delighted with the progress of another big painting on which Goya was engaged – a group portrait of the entire Royal Family.”

Books for your Valentine

February 3, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

“From the first page I was drawn into and seriously engaged in Kat’s many adventures and misadventures. Streets and places in London and Milan are so vividly described, as well as the world of fashion. But what I loved the most about this book is the fact that this is no ordinary chick lit, where the most important thing is the romance in the story. It’s so much more: a window to the world of fashion, lifestyle and basically, life with all it’s ups and downs.” Amazon Reviewer

***

“Weaving fiction into well researched historical fact, Fionnuala Brennan conjures up the relationships six women had with the great 18th-century Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Just as Goya conjured up the glitter and gold of the Spanish court with his portraits while revealing his subjects greed and vanity, so Fionnuala gives us a good and often bitter taste of the painter’s attraction for these women and his, at times, difficult personality.” Amazon Reviewer

***

“In the midst of a world slowly going to the dogs, and brought together by murder and art restoration, two lost former revolutionary souls manage to carve out a slice of happiness with each other once more. Dirty Pictures is at its heart a fierce and darkly funny story about love – for your lover, parents, children and beliefs.” Amazon Reviewer

***

“The relationship between Holmes and Watson is fresh and flirty and defines this new take on Sherlock. The Red-Handed League manages to make him uber-intelligent and the master of deduction whilst also humanising him, and takes the novel away from the pastiche of other Holmes interpretations that maintain the asexual genius and become slightly stilted in both prose and character.” Amazon Reviewer

***

“Hogan has crafted an absorbing tale of hope and redemption set on a beautiful, remote Greek island….The author skillfully weaves together themes of environmental protection, humanity’s oneness with all living creatures, nature versus commerce, political intrigue and romance. When he meets the free spirit Kerryn, our unnamed protagonist questions the wisdom and the risks of giving of oneself completely — whether it be to one cause or to another being.” Goodreads Reviewer

***

“I loved Brinke Devlin the first time she came on the page and I loved her at the end, too. She’s a fascinating character. Those of us who are male writers can really appreciate how difficult it is to write such a strong and believable female character.” Jim Sallis, author of Drive

New electronic literary imprint publishes Francesca

November 17, 2016

BetimesBooksNow

Our trade paperback edition is also available: viewBook.at/Francesca_DFMayo

Donald Finnaeus Mayo

Francesca, originally brought out by Betimes Books, has been published in an e-version by The Odyssey Press. Odyssey is the newest imprint from Endeavour Press, Britain’s leading independent digital publisher, and was launched to publish new literary fiction and biographies, and revive older classics now out of print.

francesca-1

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Video Extract from Patricia Ketola’s Debut Novel, “Dirty Pictures”

October 27, 2016

BetimesBooksNow

Dirty Pictures is available to buy here. 

When New York art dealer Elizabeth Martel’s mother falls ill, she returns to her hometown in the Midwest. After her mother’s death she is seriously short of funds, and a friend suggests she take a job as art adviser to billionaire grain merchant, Preston Greylander.

When Greylander is killed in a mysterious murder-suicide, Martel is left in possession of a Rembrandt that needs restoration. She takes the painting to Amsterdam where she deposits it with the prestigious firm of Van der Saar Fine Arts.

The Van der Saar family has been in the art business since the seventeenth century and the current generation is represented by two brothers: Hendrik, suave and charismatic, is the perfect front man, while the deceptively low key Willem is a master of restoration. Hendrik and Martel enthusiastically resume an old love affair, and she discovers that the brothers’ personal lives are in chaos, and the family is haunted by guilt and swathed in deception.

As doubts arise about the authenticity of the Rembrandt, other actors arrive in Amsterdam determined to recover the picture.

 

 

Author Hadley Colt discusses which famous film portrayals influenced her ‘Sherlock Holmes’ novel, “The Red-Handed League”.

October 24, 2016

BetimesBooksNow

From Hadley Colt’s Blog:

THE RED-HANDED LEAGUE & THE FACES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

The faces of Sherlock Holmes: So many, so varied. Some so bewildering.

I’m specifically thinking about Mr. Holmes’ countless incarnations on film.

When you look over the list of actors who’ve taken on the task of playing Sherlock—and ifyou’ve somehow evaded forming your own opinions of The Great Detective—then you might believe the character to be wildly elastic.

There’s a vast range between Basil Rathbone and Benedict Cumberbatch; bigger still between Roger Moore (James Bond, The Saint) and Tom Baker (Rasputin…Doctor Who).

Even the guy who played Max Headroom got several turns as Holmes early during the previous decade.

The old black-and-white Rathbone films simply don’t speak to me. Not a smidge.

Rathbone’s Holmes is rigid, distant, and terribly off-putting to me.

The Basil-era Watson comes across as a daft old uncle slipping into senility. You can’t fathom the two men actually being able to spend a simple evening together in their Baker Street digs, let alone having a constructive partnership as crime fighters.

Surely, that Watson would drive that Holmes to murder.

Throughout much of the 1960s and 1970s, it seems to be there was more very bad miscasting: venerable but dull old British actors (Peter Cushing, John Neville) and some bewildering choices including George C. Scott and “I Dream of Jeanie’s” Larry Hagman (it’s true, look it up!).

Things started to improve, at least from my perspective, in the late 1970s, with Nicol Williamson’s haunted take on a cocaine-addicted Great Detective in Nicholas Meyer’s “The Seven-Percent Solution.”

Soon after came Christopher Plummer’s rather dashing Holmes in the under-rated “Murder by Decree.”

In both those iterations, Watson finally got an I.Q. up-grade courtesy of Robert Duval and James Mason.

brett-with-violinIn 1984, my definitive Holmes at last arrived in the person of Jeremy Brett.

Particularly in the early going of his sublime array of Granada adaptations, Brett for me embodies the Holmes that captivated me on the page.

Once Mr. Brett passed, it took over a decade of this new century to give me another Holmes in whom I could invest in and take to my heart in the person of Benedict Cumberbatch.

 

We all have our favorite or preferred takes on Holmes and Watson.

I know some actually prefer Robert Downey, Jr. and Johnny Lee Miller to Cumberbatch. I don’t get it, but to each his own, right?

When it came time to put my spin on Sherlock Holmes for my new novel, The Red-Handed League, I was aiming for a synthesis of the younger Jeremy Brett and the current Cumberbatch versions of Holmes.

Given the chance, how would you portray Holmes and Watson? Who would you be seeing in your mind’s eye as you tried to restore them to life on the page?

***

Find out if Hadley Colt has created your perfect Sherlock Holmes by buying The Red-Handed League at Amazon

Video Extract of “The Red-Handed League” by Hadley Colt

October 20, 2016

BetimesBooksNow

Available here

We are witness to a young Sherlock Holmes, brilliant, arrogant and at the start of what promises to be a stellar career as the world’s first and only consulting detective.

Enter Jona Watson, a fetching young forensics student recruited to go undercover in a tony private school rocked by scandalous affairs between teachers and students. A primary suspect Jona is directed to investigate: the mysterious and slightly odd, newly hired chemistry teacher named Mr. William Sherlock Holmes, a charismatic enigma.

Fantastic New Review of the Hector Lassiter Series by Craig McDonald

September 14, 2016

BetimesBooksNow

“Finished Toros & Torsos last night, and reluctantly closed it. Just a superb read, from an expert craftsman Did not want to see it end. Fully entertaining, so well researched, and one I will not forget for a long time.

Then, to top it off, I discover Part Four – How The Ghost of You Clings (1959) – two years after the events of Head Games, in which Hector and Papa become friends again, and join together for a fitting finale. What a surprise. Back to Borderlands again.

Still waiting for One True Sentence to arrive. Which one do you recommend after One True Sentence, Craig?” Marvin Minkler 

Lassiter 8 covers-page-001 (2)

The full series is available on Amazon.

viewBook.at/OneTrueSentence

 

An Excerpt from Charlie P, Book 3 in Central Park West Trilogy by Richard Kalich

August 29, 2016

BetimesBooksNow


Central Park West Trilogy includes three novels, The Nihilesthete, Penthouse F and Charlie P, originally published separately and collected for the first time in a single volume.  Post-modern fables, dark, shocking, perversely funny, wickedly astute, and compulsively readable, they share Kalich’s ferocious energy and unique vision. Together, they break down standard notions of plot, character and form a body of work that is distinctive and brilliant. Central Park West Trilogy encapsulates Kalich’s uncompromising examination of the state of modern life, as well as his experimentations with form and language.

Charlie P (first published 2005) dispenses with a conventional narrative altogether, as we follow the comic misadventures of a singularly unique, comic and outlandish Everyman. At age three, when his father dies, he decides to overcome mortality by becoming immortal: by not living his life, he will live forever. Akin to other great American icons such as Sinclair Lewis’s Babbit and Forrest Gump, Charlie P, while asocial and alienated, is, at the same time, at the heart of the American dream.

“I would rather that the familiar be embraced and the novel resonate beyond itself and intone the spheres of Plato and Beckett. Charlie P resonates.”  Review of Contemporary Fiction


“Immortality

Once and for all, at age three, when Charlie P’s father died after having given him the most special birthday present of his young life, Lionel Electric Trains, Charlie P decided to live forever rather than suffer the indignity of mortality. Under no circumstances would he allow death to interfere with his daily regimen from this time on.

Though still a babe in his mother’s arms, certainly not to be misconstrued a late bloomer, Charlie P had already given the matter much thought; in fact, thought of nothing else. His father’s premature death presaged even more ominous events to come. Living forever, immortality, was indeed the only sure defense against this constant gnawing fear of the worst.

Given the nature of child consciousness, the global, diffuse, undifferentiated way it cognizes the world, its lack of specificity and discernment, it didn’t take Charlie P long to transfer the dread of his father’s loss on to his most prized possession, the electric trains, and especially the little train-master responsible for routing the train’s safe passage.

Charlie P focused all his life’s blood and energy on that little man. More than anything, he wanted the trainmaster to continue doing his job uninterrupted forever. Easier said than done: Immortality. There are less difficult things to accomplish in this world. Charlie P’s main challenge was to keep the trainmaster out of harm’s way. More specifically, to keep the little man sitting safely and securely at his table in the stationmaster’s house, ever on the ready to be called to duty. What would happen if the little man took ill? Succumbed to his father’s fate? What would happen if the battery that energized the light bulb on top of the house’s door whenever the trains approached, signaling the trainmaster to stand and leave his shelter and go about performing his duties, failed to light? Charlie P lived with the chronic fear that just this eventuality would happen. That one day the battery would die.

But how to prevent such a catastrophe? That was the question: Should he obtain an additional set of electric trains? Seek out an as yet unbeknownst elixir of life? Place the little man on a health food diet with vitamin supplements? Discover the secrets of the aging process? Or should he himself control the trains’ speeds, alter their paths, negotiate new routes, take other means of transportation—no, boats, planes, automobiles were subject to the same laws of chance and risk, gravity and motion, as trains; those unfortunates taking them could sink, crash and burn. And even though mourned for a short while after their demise, ultimately, like his father, they would soon be forgotten as the years passed by. No. Charlie P’s answer was not to play the game. By not using up the battery, the trainmaster could go on sitting safely in his house—be at Charlie P’s beck and call forever. By denying himself pleasure now, by abrogating what he most looked forward to while playing with his trains, by not having the little man do his duty, perform his chores, even though it was his favorite moment in all the world, the precursor, causal link and catalyst to his trains riding through peaks and valleys, across bridges and over hills, high on steppes and low beneath mountains, during which, needless to say, everything around them was fraught with danger, subject to the aleatory whims of chance, when the battery sooner or later would run out, when, like his father, the trainmaster sooner or later would succumb to his fate—No. Pleasure and joy, fun and games, intoxication and bliss, were a small price to pay for immortality.

And so Charlie P played the game by not playing it. Bestowed eternal everlasting life on the trainmaster.

Once and for all, at age three, Charlie P decided that by not playing the game, by not living his life, unlike his father, like the trainmaster, he could, he would, live forever.”


The Central Park West Trilogy is part of Amazon.co.uk‘s August promotions and will be available to buy for £0.99 until the start of September. 

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An Excerpt from Penthouse F, Book 2 in the Central Park West Trilogy by Richard Kalich

August 25, 2016

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Central Park West Trilogy is under promotion at Amazon.co.uk and the e-book will be available for the fantastic price of £0.99 until the end of August. Don’t miss your chance to discover Richard Kalich’s outstanding work practically for free.


056a6d014a626317878a4fa3e4632568“- You noticed Mr. Kalich and the young woman as soon as they entered the women’s area on the second floor.

The sales rep nods his head.

– Why was that?

– A young woman and a mature gentleman always catch my eye. I guess it’s my salesman’s instinct. The old ones always spend more.

– And that’s what happened on this occasion?

– As soon as the young woman asked to try on our white Juliet dress displayed on the cover page of our fall brochure, I knew he was a goner.

– The brochure with the Romeo and Juliet thematic logo?

– That’s the one.

– What do you mean when you say: Mr. Kalich was a goner?

– Actually it was the way both of them looked.

– Both of them?

– Well, when Mr. Kalich first saw the young woman in the white dress, he just stood there as if mesmerized.

– And the young woman?

– She was absolutely beautiful. Radiant. But to be more accurate, she didn’t so much come out of the dressing room as peeked out. Her face flushed as if embarrassed.

– Why was she embarrassed?

– I’ve seen that look before. The young woman’s at that awkward age, half woman, half girl. I would bet anything she was asking herself those questions young girls always ask: Do I belong here? Is this really me? You know–am I a woman or still a girl?

– And Mr. Kalich. Can you elaborate further on how he reacted when seeing the young woman first peek out of the dressing room?

– He immediately purchased the dress. I had the impression no expense would have been too great for him.

– Did you notice anything else about Mr. Kalich and the young girl?

– Well, she gave him a thank you kiss. Just a peck on the cheek, really.

– Was Mr. Kalich disappointed?

– I wouldn’t say that. At least at the time I didn’t think so. But a little later I changed my mind.

– What made you change your mind?

– A customer standing nearby, an elegant lady, made a comment to Mr. Kalich saying: “You have a beautiful daughter.”

– And how did Mr. Kalich react to the elegant lady’s comment: “You have a beautiful daughter?”

– It was an awkward moment to say the least. But somehow he managed a polite smile and thank you. But anyone could see it was a forced smile.

– Did you notice anything else about Mr. Kalich after the elegant lady’s comment?

– Despite my rushing him away from the scene of the crime, so to speak, after paying for the dress he left the store in a huff.

– And the girl?

– She followed after him, poor thing, like a naughty child with her fingers caught in the cookie jar.

– You’re not exaggerating?

– No, not at all. It doesn’t take much more than that to break the spell. That’s why we salesmen have to be constantly on guard against eventualities like that.

Picture09-page-001.jpg– And this time you were not?

– I guess not. The woman caught me offguard. I must have been staring at the young girl as much as Mr. Kalich. As the brochure suggests. Romeo and Juliet. It’s all illusion. Magic, you know. For those few seconds when the girl made her entrance out of the dressing room wearing the white dress, who can say what was in the old man’s mind.

– I take it not like a doting father.

– More like a Romeo who had found his Juliet. 

As if to validate, if only to himself, the sales rep nods his head.”


Central Park West Trilogy includes three novels, The Nihilesthete, Penthouse F and Charlie P, originally published separately and collected for the first time in a single volume.  Post-modern fables, dark, shocking, perversely funny, wickedly astute, and compulsively readable, they share Kalich’s ferocious energy and unique vision. Together, they break down standard notions of plot, character and form a body of work that is distinctive and brilliant. Central Park West Trilogy encapsulates Kalich’s uncompromising examination of the state of modern life, as well as his experimentations with form and language.

Penthouse F (first published 2010) is a cautionary tale that takes the form of an inquiry into the suicide—or murder?—of a young boy and girl in the Manhattan penthouse of a writer named Richard Kalich. Blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, kindness and cruelty, love and obsession, guilt and responsibility, writer and character, Penthouse F is a critical examination of our increasingly voyeuristic society.

Penthouse F is akin to the best work of Paul Auster in terms of its readability without sacrificing its intelligence of experiment. […] Kalich delivers afresh, relevant, and enticingly readable work of metafiction.”  American Book Review

 

An Excerpt from The Nihilesthete, Book 1 in the Central Park West Trilogy by Richard Kalich

August 23, 2016

BetimesBooksNow

The Central Park West Trilogy is part of Amazon’s August promotions and will be available on Amazon.co.uk for £0.99 until the end of the month.


My little shopping spree was not without difficulties. I couldn’t purchase my present ready-made at a store. I had to improvise. I had to purchase a costly art book first and cut out the print reproduction I wanted and then have it enlarged to poster size. After that was accomplished, I had it framed, a plain silver boarder, (quite expensive), and finally I had it gift wrapped. So much trouble for my little one. If only he knew: he is no trouble at all.

You should have seen his reaction. And it was genuine. I’m sure of that. Or should I say I made sure? Not only does this psychologist have his inkblots, but he has his placebo as well. Such things are mandatory in my work. Before giving Brodski his gift, I opened the other. Though it wasn’t actually for him, at the time he couldn’t know that. Mrs. Regina Douglas, our medical social worker, advised me what to get. She said a person suffering from his condition, a cri du chat, would most likely be attracted to the same things as an infant. Something glittering and shiny, preferably an object that moves. I purchased a shiny new egg beater for Mrs. Rivera. And waved it in front of her eyes. The old lady was absolutely gaga at my kindness. But Brodski wasn’t. He showed no response.

His eyes were dead. Then I unwrapped his present. A framed poster-size print of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Within seconds his face lit up. His eyes opened wide. So wide he looked ridiculous. It was as if at this moment he was seeing the whole world. The room absolutely resounded with mewing sounds. He passed his test with flying colors.

Even Mrs. Rivera was impressed. “I have never see him respond like that,” she said.

To this woman I am fast becoming a benefactor. To Brodski, a philanthropist of the arts. And really, I have no interest in the arts. In anything, “make-belimunch32eve.” Of all the riddles in the world, man’s need for beauty baffles me most. But then, why has it preserved so long? Longer and more durable than governments, dynasties, moralities, civilizations, even religions.

Could I be wrong?

No. Never!”


Central Park West Trilogy includes three novels, The Nihilesthete, Penthouse F and Charlie P, originally published separately and collected for the first time in a single volume.  Post-modern fables, dark, shocking, perversely funny, wickedly astute, and compulsively readable, they share Kalich’s ferocious energy and unique vision. Together, they break down standard notions of plot, character and form a body of work that is distinctive and brilliant. Central Park West Trilogy encapsulates Kalich’s uncompromising examination of the state of modern life, as well as his experimentations with form and language.

The Nihilesthete (first published in 1987 and nominated for a Pen/Faulkner Award, The Hemingway Award, a National Book Award, and Pulitzer Prize) introduces us to Kalich’s dark world, where a spiritually desolate caseworker plays increasingly sadistic games with a limbless, speechless idiot with a painter’s eye.

“One of the most powerfully written books of the decade.” San Francisco Chronicle

Jackie Mallon about the aftermath of the Paris attacks and “A Moveable Feast”

November 23, 2015

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We’ll Always Have Paris

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It is still difficult to comprehend what happened in Paris last weekend. Tonight as I write this there are reports of terrorist threats on cities as diverse as Brussels and Atlanta. Inside a crowded downtown Manhattan cafe, we hear a police siren and fire truck pass and all of us raise our heads and look to the window. Tomorrow I will go to work near Times Square and I can’t help imagining what if…It’s easy to fall prey to the most crippling fear when the bad guys seem to be maniacally spinning a desktop globe of the world and stopping it randomly, their only strategy of attack apparently pointing to a colored landmass with a dirty fingernail. But we just can’t allow ourselves to get mired down in the headlines… unless the headline is this one:

Hemingway’s Paris Memoir Flies Off Shelves in Show of Defiance

A Moveable Feast, or Paris est une Fête in French, first published in 1964, Hemingway’s gorgeous account of life in Paris during the 1920s, is undergoing a resurgence in popularity across France. Amazon.fr orders have increased 50-fold. Copies have been laid alongside the flowers honoring the deceased. Social media movements such as #jesuisenterasse or #everyonettothebistrot call Parisians to continue to get out and live the life that their unique city offers. Everything the book celebrates, and Paris represents, is here in these words of Hemingway’s:“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”

Vive la France! I’m with you! Thanks for showing us how it’s done.

Nothing makes the heart sing like the resilience of the human spirit. By maintaining the comforting rituals we enjoy, immersing ourselves in the minutiae of daily life, we will conquer the worst of it.karl-lagerfeld-it-felt-like-there-was-a-black-veil-over-the-city-body-image-1447693364

This LOVE created by Louis Vuitton in the wake of the attacks might arouse the cynicism of those blinkered types who decry it as corporate logoing of a tragedy.

Not me.

Get out and shop, it says. Treat yourself to something nice, something you’ll love forever.

In fact, grab a copy of Hemingway’s fifty-year-old love letter to Paris, put on your most scandalous frock or loudest britches, don a hat, put the Chihuahua in your purse, and set off promenading to the nearest boîte. No, the ostrich boa isn’t too much.

Hats and Cocktails         Fashion Week! 2

I almost moved to the city once but life took me to a neighboring fashion capital instead. But it has always represented my two passions, fashion and literature, and with the two simple gestures mentioned above, Paris has assured me that it will be ok. Better than ok, it will be a feast.

 

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Jackie Mallon, author of Silk for the Feed Dogs

http://jackiemallon.com/2015/11/22/well-always-have-paris/

Take a Dip: Literary Greats in Their Bathing Suits

June 12, 2015

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Summer is coming!

 

Flavorwire

[Editor’s note: Your devoted Flavorwire team is taking Memorial Day off, but we’ve left you with some of our favorite summer-related features that you may have missed the first time around. This post originally ran June 26, 2011. Enjoy!]

We don’t know about you, but now that it’s officially summertime, we want to spend as much time in our bathing suits as humanly possible, and so, it seems, did many of our favorite writers. After all, even the moodiest of authors needs a little sunshine now and again to chase the pain away. Whether that works or not is a whole other story. Click through for our gallery of literary greats in their bathing suits, but be warned — they’re not all pin-up shots. Sure, Sylvia and Anne are bathing beauties in addition to being quality wordsmiths, but old Ernest looks decidedly doughy around the edges. Oh well…

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