Wednesday, December 8, 2010
This has been a year of terrific discoveries for me in the world of books. First I came across John Rector and "The Cold Kiss", Benjamin Whitmer and "Pike", John Verdon "Think Of A Number", and Chris Offutt's "No Heroes" and "The Good Brother". All terrific books and authors I will anxiously look forward to reading more of in the future. However, I am amazed that I had never read or heard of Blake Crouch. How did this oversight occur and why hasn't anyone I know been raving about this guy. Maybe I wasn't talking to the right people. I picked up Blake's debut novel "Desert Places" and the followup "Locked Doors" , at Murder and Mayhem and even introduced myself to Blake while I was there. It was Reed Farrel Coleman's recommendation that really did the trick and man am I ever grateful. I cannot wait to do a interview with Blake because I have alot of questions for him. The two Andrew Thomas books I mentioned previously read like lightening, & I couldn't and wouldn't put them down. My only disappointment was as I got closer and closer to the end of the second book, I didn't want it to end. These books really should be read back to back and they really read that way. After I finished "Desert Places", I immediately started reading "Locked Doors" and it felt like I had just paused and started the next chapter. I'd love to know if Blake wrote them as one book and then split them into two for publishing purposes. There are page turners and then there are "PAGE TURNERS". These books are well written and though some of the characters are serial killers and are truly evil people who do horrible things, he never gets too graphic in the kills or methods used. However, don't think for one second that these books aren't thrillers, they are downright scary, and you may think twice about settling in for your nice safe slumber next time. The Kite family can be summed up in 3 words "THE DEVILS REJECTS". My advise is to seek these two books out now, go over to your favorite independent mystery stores website or e-bay and purchase them both and read them in order..#1 Desert Places #2 Locked Doors and read them back to back. If you do as I ask you'll thank me later and I promise you a helluva ride.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: The next time your searching the web, go over to Mulholland Books and read Daniel Woodrell's newest non fiction piece posted there. It's outstanding and gives you some real insight to Mr. Woodrell's world that he so elegantly writes about in his books. Also, make sure you pick up the December issue of Esquire and flip to page 157 for a much overdue shout out to Daniel Woodrell. It looks like were not going to be able to keep him as our little secret much longer. It seems to me that William Gay can't be far behind and is equally deserving.
I was glad to see my buddies Jed Ayres and Scott Phillips made it to Fayetteville, Ar. recently to hear Tom Franklin read from "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter". Envious, jealous, but happy nonetheless, and thank God Jed has finally seen the light to the MECCA of the southern Gothic world, Oxford,Ms. You must go & you must take me with you. The folks at Square Books are just unbelievable nice folk & extremely well read and well versed and did I mention it's the home, or has been home, to Tom Franklin, Jack Pendarvis, Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, Willie Morris, John Brandon, Ace Atkins, John Grisham, Beth Ann Fennally, and some guy named William Faulkner. Oh, and you never know who will be there, actress Joey Lauren Adams of "Chasing Amy" calls it her home and just the other day singer Tom Waits was there. After you leave Oxford head over to Clarksville and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" where he made a deal with the devil, and you might run into Morgan Freeman at the "Ground Zero Blues Club".
Whatever you do when you head down to the Delta, don't overlook a couple other really cool towns like Greenwood and Jackson.
Greenwood is home to a couple icons, Lusco's Restraunt (present since prohibition days) and the beautiful 5 Star Hotel "The Alluvian". Nearby is Turnrow Books, owned by Jaime Korngay and is a must see when in Greenwood. If you have a couple extra days on your visit, head south to Jackson.Ms and check out Lemuria Books "the jewel of Southern Ms." and spend some time with John whose a treasure trove of literary tales. If you can't tell that I'm passionate about Mississippi..then you ain't listening!
My new passion in the book collecting world is an overlooked writer from the 20's, JIM TULLY, who screams out to be rediscovered. Wait till after Christmas (so I can buy all my copies) and then track down "Circus Parade", Tully's work based on his days working the circus and carnival freak show circuit's.
Hunt down the magazine "COWBOY WAY" and read an enlightening story by one of the best living folk singer's Tom Russell on author & illustrator Tom Lea. Tom Lea lived in El Paso near Tom Russell and the two legends come together for one memorable day. Tom Lea is one of the true greats when it comes to illustrating the western way of life and penned the classic novel on bull fighting "The Brave Bulls".
Posted by Rod Norman at 5:13 PM