I shoot and read at Noir at the Bar
|Austin S. Camacho|
© Peter Rozovsky 2015
"Because Murder is More Fun Away From Home"
|Austin S. Camacho|
"Guiterrez came out of the kitchen in a cloud of steam and slapped the heavy metal swing door violently shut behind him. He was a tall man with a dark, bitterly disillusioned face. He was wearing a white jacket and a white apron, and he had a chef's hat crushed down over his right ear. There was a towel wrapped around his neck, and he wiped his forehead with its frayed end, glaring at Latin.You're a sterner reader than I if you can resist that.
"`What was the matter with it?' he demanded."
"Spillane's fever-dream Manhattan is never as real as Lewis's London, and while [Mike] Hammer is a good guy who defeats bad guys with their own methods, Carter is simply a bad guy with methods."Maybe that bleakness, that deadpan is what makes so many of Carter's observations so unsettling and so funny at the same time, including this, about the two gangster bosses for whom he is an enforcer and planner:
"The room I am in is all Swedish. It's a big room, low-ceilinged, and when Gerald and Les had it built on top of the club they'd let a little poof called Kieron Beck have his way with the soft furnishings. Everything about the room is dead right. The slightly sunken bit in the middle lined with low white leather settees ... the curtains that make a noise like paper money when you draw them—everything is perfect. The only things that look out of place are Gerald and Les. So much so that they make the place look as if you could have picked all the stuff up at Maple's closing-down sale."Jack Carter's Law is bleaker and wittier than the just about anything in the great Richard Stark's bleak and witty Parker novels. And it has the style that modern-day makers of gangster movies such as Guy Ritchie can only dream about.
"(S)he was not fond of mystery stories. Nobody in them ever seems to feel sorry about murders, she had said. They're presented as a problem, m'dear, her father said. What's more, they generally show the murdered person as someone you can't waste any pity on. I'm sorry for them, she said. I hate it when they're found with daggers sticking in them and their eyes all staring from poison and things like that."That's from Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's novel The Blank Wall, included in the new collection Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels in the 1940s and '50s, edited by Sarah Weinman for the Library of America. That paragraph will catch the eye of readers today, I suspect, and it makes a good starting point for discussion of the entire collection. What makes these eight writers different from their predecessors? From their successors? From their male contemporaries? What traits do the eight share with all those groups? It might also make for interesting comparison with Raymond Chandler's famous assessment of Dashiell Hammett's contribution to crime writing in "The Simple Art of Murder."
"I have never stooped to the narration of a mystery story. At the risk of seeming somewhat less than modest, I shall quote from my own works. The sentence, so often reprinted, that opens my essay `Of Sound and Fury' is reprinted here:
"`When, during the 1936 campaign, I learned that the President was a devotee of mystery stories, I voted a straight Republican ticket.'"
“When I was 14 or 15 I read Hammett's The Thin Man (the first Hammett I'd read) and it was a defining moment. It was a sad, lonely, lost book, that pretended to be cheerful and aware and full of good fellowship, and I hadn't known you could do that: seem to be telling this, but really telling that; three-dimensional writing, like three-dimensional chess. Nabokov was the other master of that.”
"not only introduces us to Chinatown's newer Fukienese arrivals, with their wide ideological separation from the neighborhood's longer-established residents, but [Chang] portrays dangerous criminal rivalries among these relative newcomers."Then, as now, Chang's work led me to reflect on an aspect of Dashiell Hammett I had not thought of previously. That's timely because I'll be talking about Hammett with Julie M. Rivett and Richard Layman next month at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The session is called "Inside the Mind and Work of Dashiell Hammett," and it happens Saturday, October 10, at 8:30 a.m. There's still time to register, so I'll see you there, and I may even buy you a cup of coffee after the panel.
"The San Francisco papers had been full of her affairs for a couple of days. They had printed photographs and diagrams, interviews, editorials, and more or less expert opinions from various sources. They had gone back to 1912 to remember the stubborn fight of the local Chinese—mostly from Fokien and Kwangtung, where democratic ideas and hatred of Manchus go together—to have her father kept out of the United States, to which he had scooted when the Manchu rule flopped. The papers had recalled the excitement in Chinatown when Shan Fang was allowed to land—insulting placards had been hung in the streets, an unpleasant reception had been planned.
"But Shan Fang had fooled the Cantonese. Chinatown had never seen him. He had taken his daughter and his gold—presumably the accumulated profits of a life-time of provincial misrule—down to San Mateo County, where he had built what the papers described as a palace on the edge of the Pacific."
"Jones limped slowly along, his rubbers making an irregular squeak-squish sound on the wet cement of the sidewalk."Is that slapstick (squish-squish), or is it gritty urban realism? In Davis, it's both. When you get to the end of this tale of murder and deception, you'll find the story has come full circle.
Labels: Bouchercon 2015, comic crime fiction, Humor, Jordan Foster, Just Plain Jones, Kevin Burton Smith, Laura Lippman, My Bouchercon 2015 panels, Norbert Davis, Sarah Weinman, Thrilling Detective Web Site
Labels: Bouchercon 2015, Dashiell Hammett, Declan Hughes, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Julie M. Rivett, Michael Koryta, movies, My Bouchercon 2015 panels, The Hunter and Other Stories, what I did on my vacation
Labels: Dashiell Hammett, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, Jordan Foster, Julie M. Rivett, Kevin Burton Smith, Laura Lippman, My Bouchercon 2015 panels, Norbert Davis, Paul Cain, Richard Layman, Sarah Weinman, Ted Lewis
|I don't know his name, but he did|
yeoman-like double duty as bartender
|Jen Conley (Have I mentioned|
|Chuck Regan, who read a mind-exploding|
science-fiction/fantasy story and designed
the poster you see at the top of this post.
|I wish this guy were a trucker in his day|
job so I could give him the nickname
"Semi." He is Angel Colón.