Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A Bouchercon moderator at work, plus why Johnny Shaw is righteous

For anyone who wonders what a Bouchercon panel moderator looks like in action, that's me at right, calmly steering my "Goodnight, My Angel: Hard-Boiled, Noir, and the Reader's Love Affair With Both" panel at Bouchercon 2013 in Albany two weeks ago (seems like years ago already. I'm just about ready for Bouchercon 2014.)

The gentleman to my right is Jonathan "Bad Juju" Woods, who was part of the panel. The photo is courtesy of Rita McCauley, whose husband, Terrence, was also a panel member. Thanks, Rita.
*
I've just finished reading Johnny Shaw's Big Maria, and I admit I teared up a bit at Shaw's resolution of his three screw-up protagonists' fates. The old-fashioned virtues of faith, determination, loyalty, and staying true to one's friends and family and self are much manipulated and abused by governments, corporations, the media, and a thousand people we all meet every day to the point that's easy to mock them or to grow cynical. But irony is easy. Shaw gets a reader believing in this stuff even as that reader laughs.

Furthermore, I suspect Shaw does this deliberately. Here's a bit from near the book's end, XXX substituted for a character's name to avoid a spoiler:
"The same pit that (XXX) had imagined as his grave had become just that. Some might have found it funny, but the irony would have pissed (XXX) off. Irony is only amusing when it happens to someone else. Death isn't funny to the dead."
I'm not entirely sentimental about this book, though. Among the many things to like are Shaw's subordination. His supporting characters are just as memorable and wacky as its three protagonists, but Shaw knows when to pull them back and let the main characters take center stage. He brings those subsidiary characters part way toward resolving obstacles he had put in their way, but he avoids the monotony-inducing trap of resolving their problems as thoroughly as he does the main characters'.  Shaw has chops, and he also knows how to build a story.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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10 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

Big Maria sounds great. Bad Juju Woods looks an awful lot like my former brother-in-law.

October 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Bad Juju" is the title of one of Jonathan Woods' stories. I don't know if anyone calls him "Bad Juju Woods," but this is as good a time as any to start.

October 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Oh, I should say that I like my former brother-in-law. He's a funny guy too.

October 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Big Maria is something, a good, old=fashioned adventure story but with a thoroughly up-to-date sensibility. Lots of younger authors try that, but Johnny Shaw and Eric Beetner do it especially well. You can tell they love those old-time stories and are not just poking knowing fun at them.

I don't know what your former brother-in-law was like, but Jonathan Woods is pleasant guy to hang with at conventions. He writes zany, hardcore versions of those old-line tropical adventure stories. He has a flair for funny lines, one or two of which I quote in a post to which I link in the body of this post.

October 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm glad to hear that. "Former brother-in-law" would have certain connotations to some people. I'm glad those connotations appear to be pleasant in this case.

October 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Yeah, it's California.

October 03, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Jonathan Woods spends his time in Key West and Texas, so I suspect he has even more tales of regional peculiarities than up in his stories. And he went to school in Montreal!

October 03, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Je ne sais quoi, Peter.

October 03, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Moi non plus! But you know that a panel like this is bound to include interesting characters both on the page and on the stage.

October 03, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Oh, yeah...

October 03, 2013  

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