Guest Post: Patti Abbott

Shot in DetroitI’m happy to host Patti Abbott today to talk a little bit about the writing process behind her second novel SHOT IN DETROIT. The book has been generating a lot of buzz, building on the fine reputation of CONCRETE ANGEL.

BLURB: Violet Hart is a photographer who has always returned to cobble out a life for herself in the oddly womblike interiors of Detroit. Nearing forty, she’s keenly aware that the time for artistic recognition is running out. When her lover, Bill, a Detroit mortician, needs a photograph of a body, she agrees to takes the picture. It’s an artistic success and Violet is energized by the subject matter, persuading Bill to allow her to take pictures of some of his other “clients,” eventually settling on photographing young, black men.

When Violet’s new portfolio is launched, she quickly strikes a deal, agreeing to produce a dozen pictures with a short deadline, confident because dead bodies are commonplace in Detroit and she has access to the city’s most prominent mortician. These demands soon place Violet in the position of having to strain to meet her quota.

As time runs out, how will Violet come up with enough subjects to photograph without losing her soul or her life in the process? A riveting novel of psychological suspense, Patricia Abbott continues to cement herself as one of our very best writers of the darkness that lies within the human heart

Do you consider genre when you write? Did you write SHOT IN DETROIT as a crime novel? How about CONCRETE ANGEL?

I lack calculation, or perhaps better phrased as control, which is probably a bad thing for someone trying to find success in writing. I am a pantser rather than a planner. And when I sent Shot out for the first time (it was initially titled Raising the Dead) the very kind editor who agreed to read it, said, “My God, woman, forty pages have gone by without a body?” This was from Hard Case Crime and I clearly did not understand the demands of that genre. The body count in the their books is high and the bodies fall quickly. I should have been aware of it after reading many of their books. I should have calculated or exercised control over what I needed to succeed with them. But instead I went merrily along writing the book that I seemed to only work out on a subconscious level.

And as someone who does little planning or outlining, I also never think, “Hey, it’s time for another murder.” It may happen, but I never planned it. I am as surprised as a reader might be when it does, wondering when my character came up with that idea. When did he get so angry?

Getting back to the question of genre, when and how does a story find its way into genre fiction? If there is any murder at all in a novel, is it then crime fiction? Well, that would widen the gates considerably. We’d have to usher in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, THERESE RAQUIN. I would instead say that crime cannot be incidental to the plot in genre fiction. It has to be the focus of it. What we are most interested in, maybe even to the diminishment of character.

With Mr. Ardai’s critique in mind, I decided to begin the second novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, with a murder. But it’s a bit of a cheat because Eve Moran is not your typical murderer, and her first and only murder was an accident. But throughout the book she engages in most other crimes. A crime novel? I was not sure and called it domestic suspense. In many ways, her crimes are the result of mental illness. And if I was able to control or even outline a novel, I probably would have added another murder along the way. Her father might have made a good victim. Her husband?

Shot in Detroit veers even further from the definition of genre. We are not much interested in who killed the people who die in the book. Hopefully we are interested instead in what being around murder or death, in even being invested in it as a photographer, does to a woman like Violet Hart. How it both softens and hardens her over six months. But if twelve men die, it can rest easily on the shelves of crime fiction for me.

So have I written two genre novels? Are both crime novels? I would say yes.

Visit Patti’s blog for all kinds of interesting discussion, including her weekly round-up of Friday’s Forgotten Books.

FFB: The Expendable Man by Dorothy Hughes


THE EXPENDABLE MAN
Dorothy B. Hughes
NYRB Classics
Afterword by Walter Mosley

Synopsis: “It was surprising what old experiences remembered could do to a presumably educated, civilized man.” And Hugh Densmore, a young doctor driving his mother’s Cadillac from Los Angeles to Phoenix, is eminently educated and civilized. He is privileged, would seem to have the world at his feet, even. Then why does the sight of a few redneck teenagers disconcert him? Why is he reluctant to pick up a disheveled girl hitchhiking along the desert highway? And why is he the first person the police suspect when she is found dead in Arizona a few days later?

This is a much too overlooked classic. Hughes is a master stylist and brings to vivid life the increasing precariousness of an innocent man surrounded by common evil, pervasive prejudice and good intentions gone very very wrong. In short it’s brilliant. As Sarah Weinman writes, “Hughes didn’t just pre-date Jim Thompson, she also pre-dated Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell, and other so-called Masters of Psychological Suspense or Noir. And her writing style stands up to the test of time.”

I’m writing an essay on the book for a special issue of the journal TEXT called “Crime Fiction and the Creative/Critical Nexus” so consider this just a preview of that longer piece. What I appreciate about this book — indeed most of Hughes’ writing — is her ability to subtly squeeze all the air out of a situation to make you and her protagonist squirm and begin to panic. Hugh Densmore has every reason to be a happy man, but a moment of kindness hurls him into a hell he cannot escape.

The book is an insightful exploration of American culture in the 1960s, a bubbling cauldron of conflicting notions of hope and destruction. As Walter Mosely notes in his afterword, “A white woman writing of a young black man’s problems with the law was certainly a kind of gamble” but she succeeds with “a poet’s eye for detail and feel for language.” Presumably she wasn’t a ex-war pilot serial killer either, but she embodies Dix Steele with a stark reality too. Hughes examines all the layers of racial interactions: there are outright bigots of course, but it’s all the nuances in between like the calculating law man who holds back his most rabid officers because, “this isn’t going to be any race affair” only because he doesn’t want to have to deal with “bleeding hearts” and the NAACP.

It’s not just the omnipresent undercurrent of racial tension that Hughes observes in Densmore’s story, but also the collisions caused by intersections of class and gender. He’s too conscious of the differences between his life and the woman he falls for at his sister’s wedding, her father a judge and her DC style much cooler than his own. Much as he longs for Ellen, he’s also afraid to put too much on her, feeling chivalrous for doing so. Like most of those who people noir tales, the young doctor makes foolish choices at times because he feels trapped by the limits of his situation. In Hughes’ hands we find his decisions entirely plausible even as we bite our nails waiting to see if things turn out as badly as we fear.

Check out the other overlooked books at Patti Abbott’s blog. Todd’s blog.

FFB: Highsmith – A Romance of the 1950s

Marijane Meaker’s memoir of her romance with Patricia Highsmith reads like one of her novels. Racy, pacy, fun – with characters larger than life. At times it’s hard to remember they’re real people. While Joan Schenkar’s fat biography covers a whole lot more, Meaker’s book offers the first hand insight and anecdotes that makes it sing.

Not that she spares herself: who but a real neurotic could make a go of things with the singular Highsmith? At times Meaker almost outpaces Ripley’s creator in the crazy stakes: obsessing madly and far too quick to start snooping and drawing wild assumptions. She admits that before they even met ‘Pat had become my idol’ so she worked up the courage to go across the bar and introduce herself to the woman who ‘looked like a combination of Prince Valiant and Rudolph Nureyev.’

Meaker doesn’t mention that she’s living with someone and quickly the two become mutually infatuated, soon living a folie à deux like…well, like two characters in a Highsmith novel. It’s clear Meaker is as much enamoured of the writer as the woman. She knows the restaurant where O. Henry wrote his stories, envies Highsmith’s literary friends, stalks some of her exes, and longs to write a hardcover book to get a little more literary credit. ‘It didn’t occur to me that I would lose Kit,’ Meaker writes, ‘I would lie, talk myself out of blame, something.’

But Highsmith was so open about her affection, it wasn’t something that could be hidden long — especially with all the drinking. While Pat cooked, Meaker would make her a “cooking drink” but mentions she also had her “dressing drinks” and “argument drinks” and “sleepless night drinks” as well. The drinking didn’t help. Nor did the fact that Meaker in her own words ‘let it all hang out’ which Highsmith found wounding at times.

Far too soon they decided not only to move in together, but to do so out in the wilds of the Pennsylvania countryside. There were the usual negotiations of living together with the added strangeness of country life after Manhattan’s swirl. They find ways to order their very different work habits but there are lots of little things:

‘I think it was also why she often left things unsaid: She didn’t want her mind cluttered with bad feelings. She knew anything she brought up…would be endlessly defended by me, with my working it around somehow so that Pat was to blame for whatever we were discussing. She would not have made a good debater. I was a champion.’

Or when discussing why only Highsmith’s cat Spider and not Meaker’s five brought rabbit carcasses to the door: ‘”Because Spider’s a natural killer. He’s a Highsmith.” It was supposed to be a joke.’ Ouch!

Not that Pat was any picnic: her drinking and her racism (and anti-Semitism seemed to take off to higher levels, slowly at first but then sharply as she seemed to feel trapped. The images of her sneering at Lorraine Hansberry and walking around the house trimming the plants with a switchblade while she grumbled. Meaker refuses to consider traveling abroad, but complains that ‘Pat always made me feel that I was holding her back.’

They almost break up several times, then cancel even as the movers fill the vans (rather comically, they have to keep looking for movers ever further away because they cannot face the same ones for yet another aborted move). Almost 30 years later they get together for a short visit. Highsmith has ossified in both her drinking and her misanthropy to a level that shocks Meaker despite what she’d heard.

This is a fun and interesting read, if more than a little cringe inducing at times because Meaker really does let it all hang out and two neurotic creators have some very creative madness. Oh, I didn’t even mention the letters from Highsmith’s mother — wow.  Fascinating!

Read all the overlooked gems at Patti’s blog.

FFB: The James Bond Dossier by Kingsley Amis

All the

Among the vintage Bond titles where I’m house-sitting, I found this volume which I had actually forgotten about. Signet packaged it the same as Fleming’s originals so they make a nice set.

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‘As a recently retired university teacher, I can’t help being slightly drawn by any form of writing that (like science fiction) reaches no part of its audience through compulsion. One volunteer is worth ten pressed men.’ Amis is a fan and it shows in his being most delightful and on his best behaviour throughout.

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I love the implication of sexy revelations — including the advert for Jan Cremer’s ‘scandalous’ tell-all of his sexual escapades.

The ToC promises more of the same; Amis sneaks in some Spillane for the Appendix on Sadism.

The ToC promises more of the same; Amis sneaks in some Spillane for the Appendix on Sadism.

Perhaps the best line in the book, which I like to quote ad infinitum, though I’d forgotten where I first got it, is ‘All literature is escapist.’

See all the overlooked books at Patti Abbott’s round-up.

FFB: Carol by Patricia Highsmith

Carol (or The Price of Salt)
Patricia Highsmith
1952

‘I like to avoid labels. It’s American publishers who like them.’
~ from the afterword

I finally got around to reading this book originally published pseudonymously by Highsmith. Because I read the Bloomsbury edition it’s called Carol instead of the original title, but I wanted to be sure to read it before I got to see the film. Even if you haven’t read it you’ve probably heard the one important thing is that unlike every other exploitative and/or heartfelt lesbian novel at the time, it has a happy ending. But this is Highsmith, so she keeps you wondering until the last few pages.

“The novel of a love society forbids” offers a lot of classic Highsmith: there’s an uneasy undercurrent of suspense that keeps you dreading the worst. The naive Therese seems destined to make a mess of everything and the cool sophistication of Carol almost makes you think she’ll turn out to be a killer or a psychopath, particularly when the two women discover a private investigator is tailing them.

Superb, surprising and pure Highsmith.

Some quotes:

It was the dress of queens in fairy tales, of a red deeper than blood…she wished she could kiss the person in the mirror and make her come to life, yet she stood perfectly still, like a painted portrait.

She looked at Richard’s face in the flare of his match. The smooth slab of his forehead overhung his narrow eyes, strong looking as a whale’s front, she thought, strong enough to batter something in…she saw his eyes open like unexpected spot of blue sky in the darkness.

The milk seemed to taste of bone and blood, of warm flesh, or hair, saltless as chalk yet alive as a growing embryo…Therese drank it down, as people in fairy tales drink the potion that will transform, or the unsuspecting warrior the cup that will kill.

How was it possible to be afraid and in love, Therese thought. The two things did not go together.

See all the overlooked gems at Patti Abbott’s blog.

FFB: Picnic at Hanging Rock

PicnicathangingrockPicnic at Hanging Rock
Joan Lindsay (1967)

I think I may have vaguely known there was a novel behind Peter Weir’s 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock, but I suspect not. So stumbling across it at the Oxfam Book Shop I was at once intrigued. My Vintage edition has a sedate, sepia-toned photographic cover that emphasises the genteel girls at the centre of the tale. I like how the first edition cover captures the fractured narrative. Weir’s film does a brilliant job of capturing the narrative, too.

I don’t know if I thought I’d find more answers than there are in the film; I love that the film doesn’t spell things out. At the heart of everything are many unknowable mysteries. What happened to the girls on that rock in 1900 is not as important to Lindsay as how the people around them cope with the mystery — or fail to do so. It’s not a spoiler to say that the girls’ disappearance is only the start of events.

The tale has the same leisurely pace as the film and much of it unspools with the same beauty and menace:

Miranda was looking at her so strangely, almost as if she wasn’t seeing her. When Edith repeated the question more loudly, she simply turned her back and began walking away up the rise, the other two following a little way behind. Well, hardly walking — sliding over the stones on their bare feet as if they were on a drawing-room carpet, Edith thought, instead of those nasty old stones.

The hostility of the English to the mysteries of the Australian landscape permeate their reactions, whether they’re trying to recreate a little homey countryside or just exploit the resources before leaving the land behind.

Of course the darkest parts of human nature show themselves in the wake of the disappearance. The hostility is sudden and strong, and the ripples of horror keep spreading.

As always, in matters of surpassing human interest, those who knew nothing whatever either at first or even second hand were the most emphatic in expressing their opinions; which are well known to have a way of turning into established facts overnight.

The one girl who is rescued imagines that her friends will be glad for her narrow escape, but when she returns to the school, their greeting is chilly to say the least:

There were no answering smiles, no hum of excited greeting. In silence the ranks broke to the shuffling of rubber-soled feet on the sawdust floor. Sick at heart, the governess looked down at the upturned faces below. Not one was looking at the girl in the scarlet cloak. Fourteen pairs of eyes fixed on something behind her, through and beyond the whitewashed walls. It is the glazed inward stare of people who walk in their sleep. Oh, dear Heaven, what do these unhappy children see that I do not?

It’s a slow build that gradually gathers speed, force and is ever so chilling. If you have the patience for the leisurely development, the payoff is several hard blows of horror that linger long after you’ve closed the book.

Just like the film.

See Patti’s blog for a round up of forgotten gems.

FFB: The Blank Wall – Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

the-blank-wallTHE BLANK WALL (1947)

I taught Sanxay Holding’s novel in my crime fiction class this term. It’s amazing to me that the author Raymond Chandler called “the top suspense writer of them all” could be so neglected in our time. The Blank Wall demonstrates well Sanxay Holding’s skill and subtlety as well as her ability to tighten the noose of suspense.

The Blank Wall follows the fate of a wife on her own, trying to protect her family while her husband is away in the war on an aircraft carrier. The family has been moved to the wilds of the Connecticut shore and Lucia Holley is having a hard time adjusting to the isolation of suburbia. She’s also concerned about the sleazy older guy who’s putting the moves on her art school daughter. Holley is that most neglected of characters: the housewife. Her contempt for her own unremarkable nature is reflected by her family. Her father who still wishes he were back in the RAF; her daughter who thinks the worst possible fate is to end up like her mother and her exasperated fifteen year old son who condescendingly tries to boss her around.

When Lucia is thrown into a dark world of murder, blackmail and gangsters and nearly drowns. She gets lifelines from her black housekeeper Sybil and Donnelly, an Irish gangster who wanted to be a priest, but her family does its best to destroy her. In the midst of crisis, Lucia gets a startling glimpse of the privilege she nonetheless maintains when she discovers that Sybil is not only married, but to a man who’s spending 18 years in prison for hitting a man that hit him. She, too, married a sailor, dreaming of travel: “And Paris. Bill told me it’s all true about Paris. Colored people can go anywhere, see all the sights.”

Some great quotes:

If only I was one of those wise, humorous, tolerant mothers in plays and books.

She was looking now for a half-remembered place, so far from nice that no one would be likely to go there. It would be dreadful if a child were to find him, she thought.

I’m just going to take a little drive with a blackmailer, she thought. It’s–hard to believe.

It made her want to cry; she did begin to cry a little. But that had to be stopped. Someone would come and see her. Someone always came. There was always a knock at the door. Everyone had a right to come to her; that was what she was for, that was her function, her reason for being. There was never an hour that belonged to her.

Let the children be shocked. Let them be exasperating, and offensive, anything at all. Anything was better than that they should know the truth.

Good heavens! Can’t I even go into town, without all this silly fuss? I’m not a child or an idiot. I’m not a slave, either.

I wonder if there are any women prowlers?

He gave her a quick sidelong look. “No,” he said. “You could not kill anyone.”

“There is nothing I would not do for you,” he said. “Nothing in the world.” She lowered her eyes, not to see the look in his face.

I’m  like a doll, she thought. I’m not real. As she sat at dinner with her family, this sense of unreality became almost frightening.

“Holy Mother of God!” said Donnelly. “There was never another like you in the world.”

You get to the end of the tether, but nothing happens. The rope doesn’t break; it doesn’t choke you to death.

The book has been filmed twice. I’ve see this version and it’s good though it has quite a few changes :

A great write up of Sanxay Holding’s work by Jake Hinkson

Check out all the overlooked books at Patti Abbott’s blog

 

Noir Classic: Ride the Pink Horse


Ride the Pink Horse
Dorothy B. Hughes

I do not understand that Mysterious Press cover. Is it some weird attempt to sell the book as ‘chick lit’? Because too many ‘modern’ men are going to be terrified of a book with ‘pink’ in the title already. This is a gritty and atmospheric novel that showcases Hughes skill at rendering lost men struggling to find their way without the traditional cultural handholds. As usual, she’s brilliant as she allows the downward spiral to snake all the way down. But you knew that, right? Chandler told you.

hughes pinkSailor is a hood from Chicago, thrust into the wild frontier of New Mexico, looking for his boss, the Senator, who betrayed him while setting up the murder of the Sen’s wife. He discovers that he’s not the only one following the boss: Mac, a cop from the Windy City, has made his way to this desert town, too. But is he after Sen — or Sailor?

The desert and its people confuse Sailor, but his habits of thought give way to new discoveries — and new alliances — without understanding why. The fiesta with its ritual observances casts an almost uncanny shadow over the town for this Catholic boy. His confusion about what’s right and wrong — and who is really a friend — demonstrate his confusion and anger. He has chances to avoid his noirish fate; he almost takes some of them.

Like all Hughes novels, there’s a boatload of awesome quotes. Here’s a few:

In destroying evil, even puppet evil, these merrymakers were turned evil…Fire-shadowed, their eyes glittered with the appetite to destroy.

He didn’t know why giving her a ride had been important…whether it was placating an old and nameless terror. Pila wasn’t stone now; she was a little girl, her stiff dark hair blowing behind her like the mane of the pink wooden horse.

And standing there the unease came upon him again. The unease of an alien land, of darkness and silence, of strange tongues and a stranger people, of unfamiliar smells, even the cool-of-night smell unfamiliar…The panic of loneness; of himself the stranger although he was himself unchanged, the creeping loss of identity.

‘Only the Indians are proud peoples…Because they do not care for nothing. Only this their country. They do not care about the Gringos or even the poor Mexicanos. These people do not belong to their country. They do not care because they know these peoples will go away. Sometime.’

And the rage was eating him again.

The Sen said something to Iris Towers and she slanted her eyes up at him and the smile on her mouth was the way you wanted a woman to smile at you. The way you didn’t want a woman to smile at a murderer.

The whole town was a trap. He’d been trapped from the moment he stepped off the bus at the dirty station. Trapped by the unknown, by a foreign town and foreign tongues and the ways of alien men. Trapped by the evil these people had burned and the ash that had entered their flesh.

Another dance. A warrior dance, the dancers lunging at each other, without warning letting out startling whoops. It made him jumpy. Then it was over, the dancers jingling away on soft feet, the drum beating away into silence. The crowd broke, speaking silly things to exorcise the spell.

And I could have gone on and on. Hughes is a great stylist who captures an unsettling sense of tension and dread incredibly well. Not enough people read her. They’re missing out.

Catch up with all of Friday’s Forgotten Books over at Patti Abbott‘s blog this week at BV Lawson’s blog.

FFB Review: Money Shot and Choke Hold

choke hold money shot

Hard Case Crime launched these two titles a couple of years back: unlike the recent lamentable effort from Stephen King, Christa Faust‘s two novels offer text book examples of the sub-genre and deserve the slickly sexy retro covers. These are brutal noirish tales of murder and revenge that will grab you by the throat, shake loose every screw and leave you crumpled by the side of the road.

Money Shot kicks off the adventures of Angel Dare, former adult film star, now running an agency to help young women joining the industry avoid some of the mistakes she made herself. Angel’s feeling her fortieth year with a little self-pity, so she’s flattered to be invited to return to film with up and comer Jesse Black. Instead of an ego boost, she winds up left for dead in the trunk of a Civic. Too stubborn to die, Angel crawls away from the grim reaper and starts piecing together what happened — and how to nail the bastards who did it. A heady mix of San Fernando’s porn world, human trafficking and good old-fashioned double cross, Money Shot keeps the surprises coming and the twists gut-wrenching.

 Choke Hold picks up not long after Money Shot ends, timewise it’s maybe less than a year. It’s not been easy time, though. Angel Dare has been in and out of the Witness Protection program. While there are some flashbacks to fill in what’s happened in the meantime, the one thing you’ll notice about this book is the pace. You know how people say things like “thrill ride” and “rollercoaster” and usually you just yawn? If Money Shot was a wild race, Choke Hold is desperate dash through a war torn bomb corridor. It simply doesn’t let up for more than a breath now and then. And it’s so noir you could black your shoes with it. Hope you never meet Angel Dare, because you’re not too likely to survive it. When I finished this book — and believe me, I barely put it down once I picked it up — I went back and re-read quite a bit of it, picking apart just how Faust did what she did. Superb stuff.

Check out all the overlooked books at Patti Abbott’s blog links at Evan Lewis’ blog and of course, check out the rest of Faust’s catalogue.

Friday’s Forgotten Books: In a Lonely Place

Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart in Nicholas Ray's IN A LONELYThis book is superb. While Jim Thompson’s later (1952) The Killer inside Me holds pride of place for many noir fans as an early dissection of a very bad man, Dorothy B. Hughes’ 1947 novel may be one of the finest ever written. It’s been eclipsed to a great extent by the popularity of the Nicholas Ray film, which is strikingly different. Humphrey Bogart plays Dix Steele and Gloria Grahame at her most radiant plays Laurel Gray. The changes made to the narrative in the film deserve a whole essay themselves, which I may be writing at some point in the nearish future (because I need to add to my to do list).

From the first pages we know we’re following the path of a serial killer; these days even your granny knows all about serial killers. Everyone has seen or at least knows about Silence of the Lambs (I won’t digress into the effect of labeling a film ‘thriller’ rather than ‘horror’…), but this novel offered insight into a killer that few had seen. It’s masterful. And riveting: you may not sympathise with this terrible man, but you will be completely fascinated by his attempts to pass for human.He understands human behaviour, he tries to ape it – and he tries not to kill but in the end he can’t really see how not to do what he feels compelled to do. How best to masquerade? He pretends to be a writer. Hughes has him name-check the masters: Chandler, Hammett, Gardner, Queen and Carr. “It should be a bestseller if you could combine all those,” his pal’s wife Sylvia tells him.

I have a dog-eared No Exit Press copy. There are so many passages that shine with crystalline perfection. Here are some:

They had happiness and happiness was so rare…More rare than precious things, jewels and myrrh. Once he’d had happiness but for so brief a time; happiness was made of quicksilver, it ran out of your hand like quicksilver. There was the heat of tears  suddenly in his eyes and he shook his head angrily. He would not think about it, he would never think of that again. It was long ago, in the ancient past. To hell with happiness. More important was excitement and power and the hot stir of lust. Those made you forget. They made happiness a pink marshmallow.

She wasn’t beautiful, her face was too narrow for beauty, but she was dynamite. He stood like a dolt, gawking at her.

He finished his drink. “I don’t like mornings either,” he said. “That’s why I’m a writer.”

Laurel’s eyes took stock of Brub in the same way they had taken stock of Dix on the first meeting. Thoroughly, boldly, despite Sylvia’s presence. It might be Laurel knew no better, it might be unconscious. The only way she knew how to look at a man.

Fear wasn’t a jagged split of light cleaving you; fear wasn’t a cold fist in your entrails; fear wasn’t  something you could face and demolish with your arrogance. Fear was the fog, creeping about you, winding its tendrils about you, seeping into your pores and flesh and bone. Fear was a girl whispering a word over and again, a small word you refused to hear although the whisper was a scream in your ears, a dreadful scream you could never forget. You heard it over and again and the fog was a ripe red veil you could not tear away from your eyes…

Hughes should be getting more hero worship: words like these should raise goosebumps with their uncanny grace.

See all the FFB choices at Patti Abbott’s blog.

You can watch the film online (no guarantees on quality).