December will be magic again! A stone groove from Poppycock.
#Noirvember just got a little bit better: PUNK NOIR MAGAZINE is go!
The notorious Mr B has splashed out to produce an heir to the much-lamented Pulp Metal Magazine, bringing together a whirl of stories, reviews, non-fic pieces and more. Check out the cornucopia of offerings already up from a rota of DIY pals, including a BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW STORY from yours truly!
‘Rebellious Jukebox’ takes place in a slightly futuristic London where noise assaults the public into complacency. When sound is a weapon, silence is a revolution.
A preview from my forthcoming Fox Spirit collection LOVE IS A GRIFT!
#FallFriday? Nah, #FallEveryDay!
Paul D. Brazill
Near to the Knuckle/Close to the Bone
Werewolves, vampires and other creatures of the night prowl the neon and blood soaked streets in this sharp short story collection that places the supernatural in a hardboiled noir world.
Honestly, I probably have read most of the stories in here before — hell, I probably own them in other collections, but I always grab the latest from Mr B just in case there’s anything I missed. I didn’t even know how much I missed Roman Dalton, his werewolf detective, until I started reading through the stories again. Netflix ought to swoop in and bag those stories for a new series.
There’s a mix of other protagonists here, too — a variety of one-offs like ‘The Liberator’ that nonetheless fit in the same dark demonised streets that Roman roams. Like Lenny said, you want it darker? Then this is your world. Howl at the moon and watch your back.
He’s even got a playlist for the book!
Thank goodness for library book sales: or in this case, a DVD sale too. I happened across this film which I’ve never seen (in a double pack with School for Scoundrels, which one can never have too many copies of). It’s the kind of movie that could never get made now. Sim plays a bomber who assassinates folks he considers the world to be better off without — starting in childhood with a sneering headmaster. Clearly we’re meant to have sympathy for his career, which he suspends during the war years because of ‘too much competition’ :-D.
I figured I could at least link to some clips but the ‘tube is bereft of them. The BFI has a good write up and some clips, but you have to be logged in. Debut director Robert Day went on to Tony Hancock’s The Rebel amongst other things and the cast is chockfull of familiar faces from Terry-Thomas’ Lothario and George Cole’s hapless vacuum-cleaner-salesman William Blake (hahaha!), to Dora Bryan playing dim but unlucky and Jill Adams playing smart but hapless. Producer/writers Launder and Gilliat are of course best known for the St. Trinian’s films. This movie is based on their play ‘Meet a Body’ (no mention of rye).
There are mix-ups, misunderstandings, a protracted chess game, hijinks with a piano and a good bit of farce. In short, it’s great fun. As I also got the box set of St. Trinian’s films, my weekend is all set for laughs.
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.
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.
Still 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.