Monthly Archives: June 2011

R.I.P. Newton Thornburg

I just learned of the passing in early May of author Newton Thornburg, probably known best for his novel CUTTER AND BONE.  There is a longer article about him here at The Guardian.  When I was soliciting authors for blurbs, I found him in the phone book and wrote him a fan letter not knowing that his health was in decline. I hope that he knew that he had readers that were incredibly thankful for his contribution.

CUTTER AND BONE is one of the finest examples of California crime fiction that the last century had to offer.  I wrote this review for Goodreads, which does little to do the book justice:

A powerful book that needs to be rediscovered. The depth and originality of the characters is truly remarkable.

While often categorized as a crime novel (which it is), that is a far too simplistic classification for the book. Crime drives the story in a number of different ways, but that is true with plenty of “literature” that isn’t grouped in the slums of genre work.

The moral questions and gray areas of life that give the crime novel its greatest thematic potential (and so often fall short in execution) are explored to their fullest in this often jarring novel.

Never predictable, always interesting, and never pandering. To successfully tell a story filled with amoral characters and bad choices, and still pull off empathy and intrigue is a hell of an achievement.

I just reread my review and it sounds a little hyperbolic (probably all the adjectives, but it deserves the praise). Short version: This is a great read.

Mr. Thornburg’s death is a great loss.  I encourage anyone reading this to find a copy of one of his books.  They deserve continued attention.

BookExpo in NYC

Okay. So this blog’s a month late. I’m writing a screenplay and new novel concurrently, so I still haven’t found a way to keep any consistency to this new thing called blogging. If the content is going to be at all interesting, I just need more time. And more interesting. So don’t expect the content to be too interesting yet (How’s that for salesmanship?).

 

The view from my hotel room

Last month I was in New York for BookExpo America (or BEA for the super-hip).  BEA is this giant convention for publishers, librarians, booksellers, and apparently people that like to sell five-dollar bottles of water. For me, it was a chance to spread the word about DOVE SEASON. It was a 40-hour trip that AmazonPublishing was cool enough to pay for. And I had a blast. Hell, this was the first book signing I’ve ever done and I got to do it in New York, of all places. Here’s the proof.

But for all the feeling like a big-shot aspect of it, the most amazing part was the people I met.  I got to meet a lot of the people that I work with at Amazon Publising who I’ve only communicated with by phone or email. A very fun group. And a whole mess of cool writers.  Here’s me and WAHOO RHAPSODY author Shaun Morey signing each other’s book.

This is the part of the blog where I drop names.  I got to hang out and tool around New York with Shaun, Tyler Dilts (KING OF INFINITE SPACE), Helen Smith (ALISON WONDERLAND), and Charlie Williams (ONE DEAD HEN). As well as getting the opportunity to meet and chat with John Rector, Joe Konrath, Blake Crouch, Cara Black, Duane Swierczynski, Megan Abbott, and more.  Read all their books, they’re all awesome.

I even found some time to hang out and see some live comedy with one of my former screenwriting students, who is currently a producer on THE DAILY SHOW. Let it be known the world over, I take 100% of the credit for his success.  There was too much beer to take photos, but I swear it happened.

I’ll leave you with the worst spelling of my name ever.  This is the driver that picked me up at the airport.  After he dropped me off, I’m pretty sure he was going somewhere to kill James Bond.

If you can’t read it, Shaw is spelled CHAOW.

Later this week, I’ll write about my trip to Santa Barbara where I was a judge at the Reel Loud Film Festival and even gave a speech (which only included one dick joke. I had promised to keep it classy).  I bet you can’t wait.  Chaow!