Friday, November 18, 2011

Crime candy

(Photo by your humble
blogkeeper)
I bought the  chocoloate bar at right  this afternoon, an appropriate offering for a cafe/restaurant next door to Lower Manhattan's Mysterious Bookshop.

After the pre-opera meal where I bought that rich, enticing, sweet, yet ultimately bitter candy, I repaired to the bookstore and, for the first time in my several visits, saw owner Otto Penzler on the premises. I bought novels by Hans Werner Kettenbach and Thomas Pynchon as well as The Best American Noir Stories of the Century, edited by Penzler and James Ellroy.

But my three favorite bits of reading today are all from Fowlers End by Gerald Kersh (also the author of Night and the City):
"A Greek barber called Pappas cut up his girl friend in the barf, and put the pieces in a crate. Didn't have the common savvy to gag her first. Nobody paid any attention. Little tiff, they thought. 'Come Up and Saw Me Sometime' they called 'im later. That's the class of people they are, rahnd Fowlers End."
and
"Fowlers End is a special kind of tundra that supports nothing gracious in the way of flora and fauna. Plant a cabbage here in this soured, embittered, dyspeptic, ulcerated soil, and up comes a kind of bleached shillelagh with spikes on its knob. Plant a family, a respectable working-class family, and in two generations it will turn out wolves."
and
"He was a quick, hideously ugly little man, cold and viscous about the hands, with a gecko's knack of sticking to plane surfaces."
I'll be quoting that last line for years.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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13 Comments:

Anonymous kathy d. said...

I once had a gecko, and he would stick to the living room wall. I would come out there late at night and jump when I saw him there.

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

That last line really is great. I think I've known folks like that.

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Thomas Pluck said...

I found Gerald Kersh from Harlan Ellison's recommendation, and Fowler's End is an amazing read. He also wrote Night and the City and many terrific short stories.
Fowler's is on Kindle for 99c, amazingly enough.

November 18, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

I'm not fond of Otto Penzler, who has a very snide way of turning down books.
Of course, the book shouldn't have been offered to him in the first place. I never claimed to write "noir".
However, I see my latest French translation of THE CONVICT'S SWORD is being released by Belfond Noir. It is a very dark novel. Note that I wouldn't call it it noir, though.

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, the image of human doing that is lovely, isn't it?

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, that's the great thing about the image. It's highly unlikely, highly novel, and positively weird, yet if hits home instantly. We all know someone like that or think we could.

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thomas, I don't remember what put me into Gerald Kersh, but I found Fowlers End for that Kindle price you mentioned.

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., Otto Penzler may not radiate, warmth, kindness, and compassion, but he's done a hell of a lot for crime fiction through his excellent store and, perhaps even more, by bringing all manner of classic old crime writing back into print through Mysterious Press and its new electronic incarnation.

November 18, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Sorry, I have to look at this from my perspective.
And besides, people can learn to turn down a book politely.

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No would expect otherwise. I've never done business with the guy, so I can speak only from experience.

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Those passages were very good, really gives the reader vivid images. And that chocolate bar looks so damn delicious. Espesso and chocolate, what a twosome.

November 18, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder if the bar's name is evidence of noir's popularity as a cultural notion, or whether dark chocolate is called noir in French.

Those passages ... this book is like nothing else I've read, absolutely dense with atmosphere and description. I have no idea what the main plot will be.

November 18, 2011  
Anonymous solo said...

I'm not fond of Otto Penzler, who has a very snide way of turning down books.

I wouldn't like to ask IJ to betray any secrets but I must confess I'm curious about this rejection. I hope (naively, perhaps) IJ will give us the juicy details.

It has got me thinking about infamous rejections, though. Some interesting ones I've come across online, about whose veracity I can say nothing at all, are:

It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA (Animal Farm)

If you insist on rewriting this, get rid of the Indian stuff (the first of Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police stories)

Evelyn Waugh got a lot of stick for his old-school response to one of the publishers of Catch 22:

I am sorry that the book fascinates you so much. It has many passages quite unsuitable to a lady’s reading

I think his response to the book was a little more sophisticated than this excerpt would suggest. Still, such idiotic sexism can make a man look very foolish.

November 19, 2011  

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