Wednesday, May 31, 2006

(Don't) Paint It Black

Web pages that have pale text on a dark background... Am I the only bod on the web who just cannot get along with that? Nothing aesthetic, purely the fact that my eyes go funny and I get a headache after reading them for a few seconds or more. Is that just me? We're not meant to read stuff that way, surely. It goes against nature. What I do (because some of you bastards out there are guilty of this) is I copy the text and paste it into notepad, where I can read it in more civilised environs. You see the lengths I go to, just so you can have a cool dark background? You see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass? (I know, I know... wrong photo.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fags, Fog, and Flesch

Good news for potential readers of FAGS AND LAGER who are not confident in their reading ability: has given it a readability "Fog index" of 5.5. That is good. It scores well also on the "Flesch" and the "Flesch-Kincaid" indices, meaning that it is in the top 4% of all books, readability-wise. Less intelligent readers will also be cheered by the news that only 3% of the words are complex, which puts it in the top 3% of "simple" books. And that's not all...

Clean-living, pure-minded punters will be cheered that the blameless word "bit" occurs a whopping 327 times, trouncing the paltry 201 occurrences of "fuck", which is a nasty word. (However, as a fair man I should also reveal that all permutations of "fuck" total 567 occurrences, which might be of possible concern.)

So what does this mean? This means good news for you, the potential punter. It is safe to take the leap, and dive into the world of FAGS AND LAGER. And if that's not enough, bear in mind that FAGS AND LAGER is the number one bestselling book with "fag" in the title, beating FAG HAG by a country mile (at time of press).

Turn that bloody blimey space invader off

Read some superb stuff lately. BUST by Ken 'n Jase is a pure miracle. I say that as someone who has never truly believed that collaborations can work. OK, so I was blown away by THE TALISMAN as a teen, but since then I've not really seen much else... until BUST.

But wow, does it work. Although the book is set in Starr's usual New York territory, the cool thing is that the writing personalities of both authors come out, with no visible seams. At no stage are you aware of who is writing what bit, you're just throwing yourself into this tear-jerking, heart-warming* story of a forbidden passion between two starred-crossed lovers, Max and Angela, whose bid for freedom is ruthlessly thwarted at every turn by a bloodthirsty Irish zen-master and a gun-crazy psycho in a wheelchair. Always the same: love blossoms, mayhem steps in. Ain't it a shame. Buy the book and read all about it. Not sure? Maybe Entertainment Weekly can persuade you.

And then there's Paul Meloy, whose short stories quite simply remove me from the face of this planet of ours. Meloy lives and writes in the hinterland between dreams and reality**, which is the perfect place to set up a desk and typewriter, if you ask me. Reading one of his stories is like getting a beautiful kick in the subconscious. Of course, I'm teasing you. This is a guy, one of the best writers in the world, who has nothing published in book form. (Most of his stories so far have come out in TTA. It's well worth tracking down back issues down just for the Meloy material.) But that will change one day. Oh yes, you will know about him in time. And remember: you read it here first. When you finally discover the awe-inspiring visions of Paul Meloy you can come back here and thank me. And buy my books.

* Anyone who reads this blog will know who Starr and Bruen are, and that they are not romance authors (in the conventional sense), and that I am talking shit here.

** Cambridge.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I See a Red Door

This is just to get the word "anus" off the top of the page. Nothing much else to say, really. I'm at the "between novels" stage right now. I've got ideas staggering around my head like homeless drunks, rummaging through old memories, looking for something usable. Soon I'll be all tooled up and psyched up and running at the first page, my crack team of homeless drunk commandos behind me, screaming "We're goin' in!"

Friday, May 12, 2006

Anus Linguistics

The eye-catching title of this post is in honour of the person who, earlier today, plugged it into a google search. How he found my site from it, Lord knows. I only hope he found what he wanted. Why am I assuming it's a "he"? In my experience, it's mostly females who study languages.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Royston Blake, a lone crusader in a dangerous world

People have sometimes asked me who would best play the role of maniac doorman Royston Blake, should any of the "Mangel Trilogy" ever make it to the silver (or small) screen. For me, that is a silly question. It's obvious. There is only one actor capable of this role, and any casual reader of the books would know that. David Hasselhoff.

However, it seems that the Hoff will be tied up for a while with more important things. But that's OK. Mangel will wait. Blake will be the role of Hoff's life, and it's not going anywhere.

Hoff is a work of art, by the way. He exists on a plane of his own, independent of any earthly projects he may have touched, such as Knight Rider, Baywatch, or The Love Boat, or Fags and Lager. Hoff is a work of art. Hoff IS art. Art transcends space and time and reaches an ethereal dimension wherein dreams are born and truths are known. This is Hoff. Hail Hoff.

Monday, May 08, 2006

And when they met, it was Murda...

I am proud to tell you that a new short story of mine, entitled FIVE BAGS OF BILLY, will be in issue #2 of MURDALAND. This new mag has been getting a lot of buzz around the place, and will debut later this year. The line-up is under-wraps but I managed to get editor Cort McMeel drunk (via email) and sat back while he reeled off an eye-watering list of names. Not just big names, but interesting names. Ah, I wish I could tell you more, but if I do I'd have to watch my back. Keep an eye out for a new website for the mag coming up soon, which should give you a bit more of a preview. In the meantime check out Cort's "mission statement":

Currently, the predominant "mystery" magazines are two lame, staid, old fogey establishment publications: Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Both are put out by the same publisher and stuck in a timewarp of 1950's schlock. They even have mystery crossword puzzles catering to nuns living sober lives in the cornbelt.

Murdaland will not be kin to this kind of writing or experience. More risk taking in nature, possessing the kind of vision and rebellious attitude as such rogue presses as Olympia (Naked Lunch, Burroughs), our mission will be to free American crime fiction from the cage of civility where it now rots. Murdaland is a beast of three parts: part literature, part rabid dog, part sad whiskey shot spilled on the barroom floor. The final result will be in the tradition of crime writer David Goodis (Shoot the Piano Player), as he was once described by Kerouac: "the poet of the losers."
Looks like I'll fit right in there. Hey, I'm on a short-story roll here. I've got them queued up for MURDALAND, BULLET, BEST NEW NOIR, and THE FLASH. I've got one more to write before I start my next novel, and I'll announce it here if it turns out good. Why am I crowing about this? Because before this year you'd have to go back to 2001 to find my last short. So I guess it'll be 2011 before my next flurry.

Pig Sounds

Could you resist a Belgian/French movie with the tagline "Royston Vasey meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre"? No, nor could I. So I bought it and went home and watched it. End result: CALVAIRE (English title: ORDEAL) is the best film I've seen in a long time. I'm going to have to get a few more miles on it before I get a proper handle on it but at first view (to someone like me) it has so much.

A small time cabaret singer blows his engine in the sticks and goes for help to a local inn, the owner of which turns out (eventually) to be insane, driven that way by the loss of one "Gloria". From there, no summary would suffice. This film has that fragile, rare quality of being all over the place and yet holding it all together so well. It's weird like Lynch but linear, and tight plot-wise. Obviously writer/director Fabrice Du Welz is a big horror fan, because references to genre classics abound (most notably Texas Chainsaw Massacre - the whole dinner with Grandpa scene). But none of it jars or veers to the generic (OK, maybe the dinner with Grandpa scene just a little). The dreary backwoods setting of Southern Belgium is made for this kind of movie. Tim Burton couldn't have made it better with five years and 50 million dollars. Plus it contains that all-important ingredient in a backwoods horror movie: pig sounds. Lot of pig sounds, some of porcine origin, others not.

Just watch this movie. And prepare yourself for the music/dancing sequence.

Oh, and the director interview. One of the most entertaining I've come across. Fabrice Du Welz is so into his work, and manages to point out the fabric of the film without dispelling the mystery (as so many directors manage to). But why has he been involved with nothing since Calvaire? I want to see what else the guy can come up with.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

He knows so much about these things

Please check out Ray Banks' first column at Mystery Circus. True to form, Banks goes straight for the jugular question of British crime: Why is so much of it shit? And he answers it, in his non-resolutory kind of way. Anyone who says "I don't think we have enough Edward Bunkers in Britain" is, quite simply, barking up the correct tree. Banks is the harbinger of doom for the middle-class monopolisation of crime fiction in the UK. He is the jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place, thank fuck. Someone give him column space in one of the nationals. (Sorry John R.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Meat of dubious provenance

I really like this review of FAGS AND LAGER. Not for what it says, but the way it says it. Check out some of the other stuff at Reflection's Edge. Looks like a nice place.

Apparently FAGS AND LAGER has just gone on sale in the US, so you hopefully you'll be able to pick it up over there somewhere. Check out some other reviews if you're in two minds.