Bonnie & Clyde @ Near to the Knuckle

I’ve got a crazy little yarn spun over at Near to the Knuckle called ‘Bonnie & Clyde’: two crazy kids meet and their names convince them it’s kismet. Or at least crime —

Check it out along with all the other fine crime fiction they have like Paul D. Brazill’s forthcoming Supernatural Noir. And consider entering the Black Friday Competition! Find out more at Near to the Knuckle.

Advertisements

Song for a Saturday: Bonnie & Clyde – Brigitte Bardot & Serge Gainsbourg

#inspiration

FFB: Switzerland by Joanna Murray-Smith

61vh1voxecl
Continuing the summer obsessions (although being back to campus is the painful way of telling me summer’s over) of Highsmith and Spark, I have two plays coming up: the first is Murray-Smith’s play imagining Patricia Highsmith meeting a mysterious visitor who seems rather Ripley-esque to anyone who’s read her. There was a production in Bath that I couldn’t get to which whetted my appetite and made me wonder why I’d never heard of this though the LA version of the simultaneous debut of the play starred Laura Effing Linney. Wow. I would have loved to see that.

Probably the reason I didn’t hear about it despite having an ear for any mention of Highsmith is that LA critics were mostly ‘meh’. Insane: I swear sometimes I think no one in that city understands humour (which would explain most American ‘comedy’).

This play is crackling dark fun. If you know Highsmith at all, you know how things will turn out but it is great fun seeing just how they get there. Murray-Smith clearly has a great love for Highsmith and her writing (so much so that she hints some of the author’s most repellant personal characteristics might be played up for effect, which I rather doubt but I can see the appeal of thinking so). She captures her, right down to the snails.

Edward Ridgeway (‘Was there ever a more ordinary name?’) arrives in the titular country, emissary from the publisher who wants to squeeze one more Ripley tale our of the irascible and aging writer. Sure, it will make money for them but it will seal her legacy from being ‘…varied.’ Not that she’s dying: ‘Not quite on my deathbed, if that’s what you’re looking for. But let’s say, it’s freshly made up.’

‘Happy people are just people who don’t ask enough questions.’ I don’t know if it’s Highsmith or Murray-Smith but it’s a great line. Likewise, ‘Nice people are simply excellent narrators. They’re fakes.’

Great fun and I hope to see a production some time. What fun this two-hander must be to perform.

See all the FFB gems at Patti’s blog.

FFB: A Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith

isbn9780349004570-detailStill on a Highsmith kick (when I’m not on the Spark kick) and here’s yet another unsung volume from the prolific author. A Suspension of Mercy is not a title that would fly these days. It has the allusive high-flown style that Highsmith loved in titles; today publishers prefer more direct titles (‘No, Pat. This Sweet Sickness?! People are going to think it’s a romance!’).

Highsmith doesn’t always start with murder but this novel goes a long way without a death: unfortunately for Sydney Bartleby (whose name is a dead giveaway for an unsuccessful writer) people start to assume that he has done away with his wife Alicia. The wonderful Virago cover encapsulates the suspected body disposal.

As Joan Schenkar’s lively introduction spells out, this is one of the three novels she wrote while living in Suffolk (carrying on an affair with a married woman) but the only one set there. Bartleby is a so-far unsuccessful writer married to an equally insufferable spoiled rich girl. They don’t get on and she decides to take a powder and go off to Brighton. Of course he jokes with his co-writer about bumping her off; of course he decides to bury an old carpet in the woods to see what it might be like to bury a body wrapped in a carpet in the woods, which his elderly neighbour misinterprets — and of course, this being Highsmith, things devolve in ways both predictable (duh, Bartleby!) and completely unpredictable from there.

Highsmith gives voice to some familiar writerly fears via Bartleby: Often it occurred to Sydney that he was cursed with his father’s mediocrity, doomed to failure, cursed too with his drive to write something that the world would love and respect and that would ensure his name’s being remembered for a hundred years at least, and hopefully for longer. Every creator has that hope. Sydney is actually on the brink of success when Alicia disappears and everyone begins to suspect him. Like Ripley, for whom imagined things seem more real than real things he’d rather not remember, Sydney acts the part a little too well. As he buries the carpet:

And like a real criminal, he began to feel more sure of himself with the body underground and out of sight…

As an American in Suffolk, he faces the prejudices of the locals as suspicion falls upon him for his missing wife: ‘American are violent. Everyone knows that,’ Mrs Hawkins tells his next door neighbour. There are numerous references to other notorious murders like the Christie case. The book is shot through with grim humour, as when the missing woman’s father scolds his wife for her suspicions, ‘Really, my dear, it’s too much like a detective story.’

Great fun, as always. Highsmith seldom disappoints.

Check out all the other overlooked tomes over at Todd’s blog.

Triple Threat @FahrenheitPress

Fahrenheit 13 Triple Bill – Kill Me Quick / Satan’s Sorority / Ersatz World (Paperback)

THREE AWESOME PAPERBACKS from Fahrenheit 13

Grab these three amazing books and start your Fahrenheit 13 addiction at a bargain price [BUY]

Included in this bundle

  • Kill Me Quick by Paul D. Brazill
  • Ersatz Word by Richard Godwin
  • Satan’s Sorority by Graham Wynd

Praise for Paul D. Brazill

“Visceral, foul-mouthed and blisteringly funny, Paul D Brazill creates a sleazy underworld inhabited by dodgy London geezers, Geordie hard men and the occasional shark. Highly recommended.”  – Lesley Ann Sharrock (author of The Seventh Magpie)

Praise for Richard Godwin

“Exceptional writer… crackling dialogue… dazzling. Read him.” – Luke Rhinehart, bestselling author of The Dice Man

Praise for Graham Wynd

‘Extricate blends forbidden passion and noir so seamlessly, it’s remarkable. Wynd has a very strong voice, and the prose just floats you through the story. I’m always looking for great stories that come from great writing, and Graham Wynd is someone I’m going to look out for in the future.’  -Liam Sweeny (author of Dead Man’s Switch)

CFP: Captivating Criminality (24-26 Apr 2014, Bath Spa U)

NoirNation3-695x1024

Captivating Criminality: Crime Writing, Darkness and Desire
Bath Spa University and Crime Studies Network At Corsham Court (http://www.corsham-court.co.uk/)
24-26 April 2014

How can crime writing be defined?

Although crime fiction is traditionally regarded as a distinguishable literary form, what can be considered part of this genre? The various sub-genres that are encompassed under the title of crime writing, including the ‘whodunnit’, the Hard Boiled thriller, Golden Age narratives, and the ‘whydunnit’ psychological thriller are all so variable that a defining process becomes nearly impossible. Can Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment be classed as a crime novel? After all, there are murders, crimes, mystery, punishment and redemption – key themes of the genre. How do we go about contrasting pre-conceived ideas of the genre crime writing with a larger literary discussion?

This conference aims to consider the darker side of crime writing with particular reference to the process of captivation, fascination and desire, in relation to the texts themselves and also to us as readers: why does crime writing captivate? Crime fiction regularly outsells literary fiction and this demonstrates that we hunger for what this genre has to offer. This conference will bring together a number of disciplines to investigate these key themes. The conference will provide a platform for creative writers, historians, theorists and literary scholars to examine crime writing, from Gothic fiction of the eighteenth century to the current popularity of Nordic noir.

We are delighted to announce that the Award-winning crime author Val McDermid will be joining us to discuss the world of crime. Translated into more than 30 languages, with over two million copies sold in the UK and over 10 million worldwide, she has written 25 bestselling novels; The Vanishing Point – her latest novel – is her 26th.

Our second keynote speaker is S.J. (Sharon) Bolton whose books have been shortlisted for several international awards including the CWA Gold Dagger, the Theakston’s Old Peculiar prize for crime novel of the year, the International Thriller Writers’ Best First Novel and (four years running) the Mary Higgins Clark award for best thriller (Awakening won this). Her latest book, Dead Scared was published in April 2012.   Both Val and Sharon deal with the darker side of humanity in their writing. Indeed, Sharon speaks of the fact that she writes in order to ‘face her own demons’.

We are also pleased that Professor Mary Evans will be joining us as a keynote speaker. She has been an emeritus professor at the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research since 2007 and at present is a centennial professor at the London School of Economics. Her monograph The Imagination of Evil: Detective Fiction and the Modern World, published in 2009, examines detective fiction and its complex relationship to the modern and modernity. She questions who and what the detective stands for and suggests that the answer challenges many of our assumptions about the relationship between various moralities in the modern world.

Bath Spa University and the Crime Studies Network invite scholars, practitioners and fans of crime writing to attend this international, interdisciplinary conference about the dark nature of crime fiction. Panels may include, but are not restricted to:

• Reimagining the criminal mind
• The Gothic
• True Crime
• Foreign Bodies
• Ancient Bodies
• Crime and Modernism/Modernity
• Dostoevsky and Beyond: The Genealogy of crime writing
• Fatal Femininity
• Seduction and Sexuality
• The Criminal Analyst
• Others and Otherness
• Landscape and Identity
• Justice versus Punishment
• Lack of Order and Resolution

Please send 400 word proposals to Dr Fiona Peters (f.peters@bathspa.ac.uk) and Dr Rebecca Gordon Stewart (r.gordon@bathspa.ac.uk) by 6 January 2014. The abstract should include a title, name and affiliation of the speaker, and a contact email address. Feel free to submit abstracts presenting work in progress as well as completed projects. Postgraduate students are welcome. Papers will be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. Proposals for suggested panels are also welcome.

The Crime Studies Network website is here.