Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Good stuff from Canada

I am delighted to announce that John McFetridge's new novel, Tumblin' Dice, is on its way, with an interesting distribution offer from its publisher, ECW Press: Buy the book, get the e-book free.

Whatever the format, how can you resist an opening like:
"The High had been back together and on the road for a couple of months playing mostly casinos when the lead singer, Cliff Moore, got the idea to start robbing them."
Or this, part of which I've quoted before, but is worth quoting again:
"Cliff said, `What the fuck?' and the soccer mom looked up and said, you don’t like it?, and Cliff said, no, it’s good, honey, `Really good. I’m almost there.' When he finished, he signed another autograph, the mom saying the first time she saw the High was in Madison, must have been ’78 or ’79, her and her friends still in high school, sneaking into the show ..."
followed shortly by
"Cliff started to follow, felt a hand on his arm, and looked around to see two very hot chicks, had to be teenagers, but maybe legal, looked exactly the same — long blond hair, tight jeans, low-cut tees, like twins, same serious look on their faces — and he said, `Hey, ladies, looking for some fun?' 
"One of the girls said, `No, we’re looking for our mom. She was talking to you before.'”
Read the first chapter of what looks to be a funny, exciting, coming-of-middle-age crime story on the publisher's Web site. (If you're not in Canada, do what I did and order Tumblin' Dice from The Book Depository.)
***
Another landsman, Howard Shrier, weighs in with Boston Cream, his third novel about an ethical but tough Toronto private investigator named Jonah Geller. Shrier's first two books were called Buffalo Jump and High Chicago, and each won an Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada.

In naming his novels for American cities close to the International Boundary between the United States and Canada, Shrier leaves himself 5,525 miles to prolong the series all the way from Port Angeles to Presque Isle. And, if the opening pages of Boston Cream are any indication, he continues to do a fine job of portraying the life of a P.I., who, in addition to using computers every day and killing if he absolutely must, is thoroughly secular yet aware at every moment of, and reasonably comfortable with, his Jewish identity.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I love the cover for Tumblin' Dice. Colors, typefaces, arrangement of objects within the cover's frame. They all make me want to pick up the book and see what's inside. (I'll also have a shot of whatever's in that shot glass.) But the cover for Boston Cream, in spite of its tasty title, has the opposite effect. The slightly off kilter but still center-of-the-frame author-title, the superimposition of three or more photographic images of dark (read, noir) streets, + the beyond-tiresome-cliché of the shadowy male figure running away from the viewer all combine to say: You've read this one before. Is that, perhaps, the publisher's intent? Along the lines of: If you like the many other books with a cover like this, you might like this one? I know I'm not supposed to judge a book by its cover but I can't seem to help it. Maybe it's the art historian in me. Boston Cream might be a fantastic book but its cover suggests otherwise. Unless this cliché cover type is a surefire winner for publishers, I think they are doing a disservice to authors by perpetuating it.

February 01, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Both these covers are of a piece with those of the authors' previous books, at least in their Canadian editions. Shrier's covers are part of a World of Crime series that his Canadian publisher puts out, and I think all the series' covers adhere to a similar format. For me the patch of green at upper left works nicely with the colors of the title lettering and alleviates the possibility of tedium. You mentioned the cliched male figure. I guess I noticed the form rather than the content, old formalist that I am.

McFetridge's cover looks a little bit like a still life by Carravaggio, doesn't it? (And you already know, I presume, that i like his writing. i've also mentioned that he's from Montreal and is almost exactly my age, within months. So when the rock band in Tumblin' Dice talks about its cover version of "As Years Go By," by Mashmakhan, I felt the decades melt away.)

February 01, 2012  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Read the McFetridge. But only if you like funny, thrilling, interesting, intelligent and want to be entertained. If you don't like any of that stuff you should probably skip it.

February 01, 2012  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

OK, I see Shrier's novels have had similar covers. But I still think they're dull. Would I read the books? Maybe, probably. But the covers don't compel me to.

McFetridge's cover Caravaggesque? Yeah, kinda. Or that of his greatest interpreter, Georges de la Tour. The booze and gambling theme. Yep, I always notice the subject / iconography of a work.
But I did have a solid formalist foundation.

Mashmakhan? Never heard of 'em. Some Montreal bar band? But perhaps they are akin to Seattle's best bar band, The Heats. Instant nostalgia hearing one of their old tunes.

OT... Do you like Jan Vermeer? I'm abstracting the technical chapters in a recent German book on his The Art of Painting. I remember the first time I saw it in person. I think I tiptoed up to it holding my breath. Mesmerizing. I can't think of any painter who handled paint on canvas any better than he did.

February 02, 2012  
Blogger Dana King said...

All I can say about TUMBLIN DICE is, it's about damn time. Been too long since LET IT RIDE.

February 02, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I should add that some of the laughs in Tumblin' Dice will come at unexpected moments, if the man's previous books are a reliable guide.

Thrills, laughs, intelligence, and entertainment, plus a big nostalgia trip for ex-Montrealers, rock and roll fans, and Mashmakhan lovers everywhere!

February 02, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, the colors and forms remind me of the Caravaggio Bacchus The colored lights and the crescent of light below them look an awful lot like a fruit bowl. And those touches of series-identifying color on the World of Crime books remind me of the similar color-coding on Penguins (the birds, not the books).

Mashmakhan was a Montreal band that had a huge Canadian hit in 1970 with "Years Go By." McFetridge's book is set in our time or close to it, and he has the band in the novel talk about its cover version of the song. I have a hunch that McFetridge, exactly my age and having grown up in Montreal, remembers the song as fondly as I do and went out of his way to get it in the book.

I love Vermeer and have stood mesmerized before both "The Little Street" and "Het meisje met de parel." i saw the Vermeer exhibit at the National Gallery in 1994 when it was the only thing open in town because Newt Gingrich had shut down the government. That meant the show was like a bloody sardine can. But some of Vermeer's early paintings were a real surprise: religious works colored like Andrea del Sarto. A few years before I was in bed on the eve of a vacation for which I had yet to make plans. I was flipping through a book of Vermeer, and I thought, "This looks nice," and I flew to the Netherlands two days later for a visit that included Amsterdam, the Hague, and, I think, Haarlem as well.

February 02, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, he needs to write novels more the every two or three years. Someone needs to pump some caffeine and speed into the guy.

I anticipate this one eagerly.

February 02, 2012  
Anonymous solo said...

So when the rock band in Tumblin' Dice talks about its cover version of "As Years Go By," by Mashmakhan, I felt the decades melt away

Are you sure it was just the decades, and not a few of those grey cells, that were melting away? I've just listened to As Years Go By, and I, er, well, never mind, great weather we're having at the moment, isn't it. You were, what, early teens when that came out? I wouldn't want anybody to judge me by what I liked at 13 or 14.

Thankfully, Canadian bands have improved somewhat since than.

February 02, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ah, I'm not sure I want to shatter my own golden recollections. Maybe I won't listen to the song. If it came out the year I think it did, I was 11 at the time so therefore not responsible for my own actions.

February 02, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

OK, here goes.

Ah, come on "As the Years Go By" is not that much worse than other psuedo-psychedelic shite that polluted airwaves and K-Tel records at the time.

February 02, 2012  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

...the Caravaggio Bacchus

I've always wanted a hat like that young gunsel is wearing. The jewel-toned, autumnal colors are indeed similar to those found on the McFetridge cover.

"Years Go By." OK, not to be confused with "As Tears Go By" (as sung by Marianne Faithfull, whose hair style I faithfully copied in the mid-60s.) We all (well, maybe not solo) have songs in our memory banks that, when hearing them now, have the power to transport us not only back in time but to a particular place, a particular hour. Aural memories are as powerful as olfactory ones.

Het meisje met de parel. Yes, that painting pulls you in and in. "Gazing" at his paintings for a long period can induce a feeling of complete serenity, as though powerful endorphins are being released into one's system. It's uncanny. Did you see the movie? The re-creation of 17th c. Dutch life was very fine. The purchase and manufacture of pigments and paints was very accurately depicted. "Technical art history"! Yes, his early paintings are almost Mannerist in color and the subjects are those which any young artist of the time might have selected for his "portfolio." Here on the West coast it's too difficult to get over to Europe in an afternoon (lucky you!) but I did see his paintings in the Mauritshuis (ex. View of Delft--all those little dots! "Prefigures"--I loathe that word--pointillism). I didn't see the 1994 exhibit but I have seen the Vermeer paintings in the NG--don't they have the largest collection of his works outside the Netherlands...?

February 02, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You, I, and a select group of other will smile safely at the reference to Caravaggio's gunsel.

In re Vermeer's dots, I always want to rush out for a good, crusty bread with sesame seeds whenever I look at "The Milkmaid."

February 02, 2012  

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