Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Pitch

The Pitch by John McFetridge is one of the odder crime-fiction items floating around the market: four stories based on scripts McFetridge wrote as pitches for three potential television shows.

The stories are about an ex-con and a crime writer who team up to write the ex-con's memoirs, each slipping gradually into the other's old role; a "police procedural about narcotics cops on the Maine-New Brunswick border"; and a Montreal-based story set in 1968 with a KGB agent as the hero.

The genesis and the possible future of the projects are at least as interesting as the stories. Here's some of what McFetridge has to say at his own site:
"I've had this idea for a while to write e-books as if they're TV series -- a `season-long' story arc playing out over 6 or 13 `episodes' but each one also having a self-contained story. Maybe publishing the `episodes' once a month and then also making them available as single collection, like a TV series box set of DVDs."
If that sounds like a television writer talking, it could be because McFetridge has written for TV in addition to his own novels and, according to this collection's interesting and surprisingly upbeat introduction, enjoyed the experience. The Pitch is also a thoughtful consideration of the possibilities e-books offer authors and readers. In this case, the future sounds like a return to the old days of short crime fiction.

The Pitch is available as a Kindle e-book for 99 cents. You can't afford not to buy it.
***
McFetridge was the first person to stage an out-of-town Noir at the Bar crime-fiction reading after I started Noir at the Bar. (The gentlemanly McFetridge even invited me up from Philadelphia to host the event.)  That's why I liked it when the noir-writer co-protagonist of The Pitch's "Pulp Life" stories puts the moves on a writer of cozy mysteries by inviting her to a Noir at the Bar.

And here's how McFetridge describes her:
"Danny looked at her, realized she was taller than he’d thought and then wondered if he’d been thinking of her as a little old lady. She didn’t look little or old, really, she looked the wife in one of those Viagra commercials, smiling a little to herself." 
© Peter Rozovsky 2011

Labels: , , ,

22 Comments:

Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

"The Pitch is available as a Kindle e-book for 99 cents. You can't afford not to buy it."
Are you telling me you've finally sold out to Kindle, Peter?

November 19, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, I bought one a few months ago when a two or three titles were made available to me electronically only.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Judas!

November 19, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, I still feel twinges of guilt, though I still do good things like buying real books from independent bookshops (three this week) and visiting libraries. But I like to think e-books are helping writers, too, by getting short fiction out there that would not otherwise find an outlet. So I'm a bit like the Good Samaritan, too.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Well, I have more reason not to get a Kindle than most, but I did download a free version for my computer so that I could read some of my favorite crime writers, or at leas the books they've written that are only available through that means.

I haven't downloaded the Pitch yet, because I took the pledge not to shop Amazon for the holidays because of the worker conditions in their warehouses. Of course, now there are several things I'd like to buy.

Anyway, I'm set for the moment, because I'm currently reading John's Everybody Knows This is Nowhere and hugely enjoying it. I liked Dirty Sweet a lot, but it's only with this one that I really start to understand the milieu and have come to appreciate the fabulous voice of John's fiction.

It's a little weird getting to know Toronto only through its seamier aspects though.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

The Pitch is great. We know McFetridge as a terrific crime writer but he's a great script writer and crafter of dialogue. And what I like best about John is his sense of humour.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, what should I know about the working conditions in Amazon's warehouses?

John's Toronto is seamy, but it's a low-key kind of seaminess. And, of course, as a fellow ex-Montreal almost exactly John
s age, I share that undertone of melancholy and wonder at the shift of English-speaking Canada's center from Montreal to Toronto.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Yes, I'd say it's an enterprising kind of seaminess.

As for Amazon, although this came through one of those workers right's group, our friend Kathy D. confirms that their rather appalling warehouse practices (I untentionally almost wrote 'workhouse' practices)of keeping workers going at high temperatures and shutting them out in freezing ones has been well known for awhile.

Here's one story out of Allentown, PA.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I’m not the world’s biggest TV watcher, so I never got to see The Bridge. John does mention in passing in the introduction to The Pitch a box set of the show’s one Canadian season. That might be worth a look.

Here is another one of my favorite examples from The Pitch of John’s style of humor:

“Danny said, `Living well is the best revenge,’ and Angelo said, `What?’

“`Guy named George Herbert said it, living well is the best revenge.`

“Angelo said, `I don’t think so,’ and Danny said, yeah, `A lot of people think it was Oscar Wilde, but it wasn’t,’ and Angelo said, no, `Watching him beg and cry and piss his pants is the best revenge. And making him pay me what the fuck he owes me.”

“Danny said, yeah, `That sounds good, too.’”

November 19, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I had not known about that before. Thanks.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I take it that "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere " is named after the Neil Young (with Crazy Horse) album?
I still have my vinyl copy!

November 19, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

No, I hadn't either. I suppose I'm naive, but I thought we were past that kind of stuff.

I mean, I thought we exported that kind of stuff to foreign shores where it was out of sight, out of mind.

Great example of John's very deadpan humor. It would be great to see a show where he had free rein.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Celtic K, no, I didn't know. But that's par for the course. I have to hope I would have gotten to it somehow, but thanks.

November 19, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, Neil Young is from Ontario; John McFetridge lives in Ontario. Draw your own conclusions.

All his novels share titles with rock and roll songs, though music has little visible presence him them. (His other books are Dirty Sweet, just like the line from T. Rex's "Bang a Gong; and Swap was released in the U.S. as Let It Ride, same title as a song by Bachman Turner Overdrive. His new one is called Tumblin’ Dice, and he has written wonderfully entertaining fiction about a rock and roll band.)

November 20, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I mean, I thought we exported that kind of stuff to foreign shores where it was out of sight, out of mind.

Seana, not with the economy in its current state, apparently.

John's characters say funny things without apparent awareness that they are doing so and without distracting the reader from the story or from the gravity of the matter at hand.

November 20, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, I think we can safely conclude that it was named after the Young album, so!
And that his latest is named after the great Stones hit

November 20, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I’d say that’s a safe bet. In the meantime, once you’re immersing yourself in McFetridgeana, here’s an interview I did with him three years ago.

What I really want to find, though, is the rock and roll scene I alluded to above. It involved an aging rock and roller, two hot teenage girls, and their mother, and it is one of the funniest bits I have ever read.

November 20, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Just read The Pitch's "East Coast" segment -- melodrama of a high order. I'd use as a guide to structuring a story.

November 20, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

John deserves the praise. He's also a very nice guy.

As for selling out: I sold out when the the big houses let me down. I'm going to publish all my books (and all my stories on Kindle from here on out until publishers offer a fair deal to authors.
And they're not getting e-rights even then.
Coming on Kindle as we speak: Akitada novel # 9 and a collection of Akitada stories.
Keep in mind that in the past a short story became permanently lost as soon as the magazine that carried it went off the shelves (Usually in a couple of months). And at that point there was no way of reviving it unless someone wanted it in a collection.

November 20, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That he is.

I have all the familiar unease about e-books as a medium and as a propietary business model, bit I also recognize that a few years ago, I'd probably been unable to read a collection of stories like this.

How e-books will work for novels, who knows? It's one thing to self-publish, another to self-promote, I would think.

November 20, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Keep in mind that publishers didn't promote. The evidence is already in that midlist authors do much better self-publishing than going with traditional publishers.
Of course, it also opens the flood gates to everyone who's ever written a book and all those who never could get a contract from any publisher,

November 20, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, I have heard that publishers concentrate marketing resources disproportionately on big names (which makes little sense to me). But even though publishers may do a poor job promoting midlist authors, I have to think promotion must still be a daunting task to writers, who presumably got into the game to write books and not flog them.

Also, I'd have to say self-published e-books as well as ones published by smaller operations have struck me a less professionally presented, with more formatting and editing errors than one likes to see. I hope this is just temporary. In the meantime, I am a copy editor in my non-blogging life …

November 20, 2011  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home