Monthly Archives: September 2014

Hardboiled Monday: Queenpin

queenpinAs with all Hardboiled Mondays, Chris Hocking and I are working our way down the master list in alphabetical order. Details and the list are here. And other discussions are here.

Every Monday until we reach the end of the list we’ll discuss another book from the list, working our way down in alphabetical order. Any questions about the contents of the list can probably be answered on the preamble on the post about the list itself. The list was created by Hocking to lure me into reading hardboiled and noir, based on his reading in both genres for more than three decades. It worked. Being good doesn’t get you on the list; a work has to be great, keeping in mind certain idiosyncrasies that I discussed in the original post.

Hardboiled and Noir List

devil may care 1A few posts ago I mentioned my friend Chris Hocking had provided me with an amazing list of hardboiled and noir fiction. Hocking gave me the titles of the books he thought I’d most enjoy, the crème de la crème of the hardboiled and noir books he’s read over the last three and a half decades. It’s an extremely generous gift. Think of it this way: I’d have had to read for more than thirty years in the genre to find these on my own! With his permission, I’m now sharing it with you.

Before you dig in, understand that this list is idiosyncratic: it’s like a mix tape made for me by someone who not only understood my own preferences in literature but happened to have extremely similar tastes.

Hardboiled, or Noir?

black-mask-coverIt turns out that I’ve been using two related genre terms interchangeably in a whole series of related posts over the last year and now I have to cringe and confess I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Chris Hocking has introduced me to some noir, it’s true, but mostly what he’s opened me to is hardboiled fiction. While I’ve enjoyed the noir, it’s the hardboiled stuff that’s delighted me the most. I’m actually going to excerpt the Wikipedia definition of the term to define it, although I take issue with its concluding phrase, where it goes dreadfully wrong:

The Big Read

Next month I’ll be the keynote speaker at The DeKalb public library’s Big Read.

I’ll be speaking at 7:30 pm, October 6th at the Ellwood House – Visitor Center (Behind Ellwood House Museum), 509 N. 1st St., DeKalb, IL 60115.

I hope to see some of you there!

Further details can be found at this link.

Deep in Revision

busy-running-scheduleI’m deep in revision, so there may be a little radio silence here for a while.

I’m head down over the second pass of the second Paizo novel of the summer, smoothing out the rough draft and groaning at the bad stuff. Occasionally I happen upon a chunk of text I like so well I can hardly believe I wrote it, which is always a nice surprise. Will I complete it and a final, third pass, by the end of September? Will Lassie warn the firemen? Will the sherif stop the stagecoach? Probably.

Magical List of Noir

Last year Chris Hocking gave me a list of noir “must-reads” and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

Hocking, editor of Detroit Noir, writer of my favorite Conan pastiche, and all-around talented guy and great human being happens to be widely read on sword-and-sorcery but is perhaps even better read in noir.

The list he gave me is a distillation of at least thirty years of his reading in the mystery and harboiled genres — Hocking’s thoughts on the very, very best. You could use it to teach a course on what makes noir great.

Noir Masters

Over the last few months I’ve said that the books of the talented writer Wade Miller are must reads, and I thought I’d finally tell you why.

Bob Wade and Bill Miller wrote in tandem as a combination of their last two names, or as Dale Wilmer, or as Whit Masterson, up until Bill Miller’s untimely death at age 41 in 1961.The two created wonderful, twisting, unpredictable, satisfying noir. And they pulled the neat trick of delivering consistently excellent work story after story.

Meandering Mission Statement

rightSometimes I feel a generation removed from the important things that are happening in social media, and then I realize that there are plenty of people my age who ARE engaged in the arguments and concerns raging across Twitter or writer/publisher blogs. It’s just me, not my generation. I always learn about controversies and rumors weeks, months, or years later and have to explain to people I live in a hole. As much as I tell myself, “Och laddie, ye’ve got to change” (without using a terrible Scottish accent) my efforts to alter this aspect of my social behavior continue to fail.