Two stories just out this month, both inspired by my travels in Slovenia. ‘These Toys Are For Tough Boys’ was the title Renato Bratkovič gave me as I was treated with great food, Lasko Noir and Alibi wine at Bar Grega and Gora pod lipo. Want a story from me? Fly me to an alpine location and give me good stuff to eat and drink. Boom! 6K story in a day.
‘Somewhere in Slovenia’ over at Near to the Knuckle looks at the potential problems of being unilingual in post-Brexit EU. Footie fans beware 😉 heh. Also a song by Slovenia’s premiere punk band, Res Nullius.
I’m woefully behind on reviews, having more or less come to the conclusion that I will never catch up and therefore must stop agreeing to try. Here are a few in brief that I can’t help mentioning.
IT’S ALL TRUE (ALTHOUGH IT MAY NOT HAVE HAPPENED): Bratkovič has a collection of stories that offers a noir take with a lot of mordant humour. His protagonists usually manage to cock things up through their best efforts to succeed and by wanting more than their abilities can produce. My favourite is probably ‘The Tribe’ in which a messianic leader wreaks havoc in a mental institution. ‘The Tie’ and ‘The Bicycle Thieves’ make the most of the blackest of black humour. Check it out.
BUFFALO AND SOUR MASH: Richard Godwin, known best for his sleek and sexy thrillers tries something new here: a Western! Well, sort of a western because the rodeo comes to Surrey. Now if that doesn’t already intrigue you, there’s also his usual mix of psychotic violence and sexual obsession as well. Murphy has a single-minded plan to bring the rodeo to the UK until he finds a new obsession to get racy Rhona to be its star — but Rhonda has plans of her own. If you like Godwin’s style, you’ll be intrigued by his appropriation of the western.
DARK MINDS: I’m only a few stories into this collection but I wholeheartedly recommend it. Solid quality and a good cause: All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Hospice UK and Sophie’s Appeal. There are forty authors here, some the top of the field, many are exciting newcomers (and yeah, folks I know but then I only hang out with quality). In hard times we turn to crime: at least keep it fictional, right? Because we have enough crime to deal with in the government 😉
RAISE THE BLADE: Tess had a fab story in an anthology I edited so I was really pleased to see her publish a novella with Caffeine Nights. Then I decided to save it up for when I could savour it — and forgot! So I’ve cracked it open and it’s just as terrific as I knew it would be. In fact it’s been hard to tear myself away from it to do the things I need to be doing, but I highly recommend it. Tess has a great style that’s deceptively easy-going until WHAM! Pick this up.
Thanks to Renato Bratkovič while attending Alibi-Fest.com I got to see writer Zoran Benčič and producer Tomi Matič present their new crime film, Psi Brezčasja / Case:Osterberg on Saturday night at Kino Slovenska Bistrica. Although my Slovenian is practically non-existent and there were no subtitles, I had no trouble following the story because the visual storytelling was so good. It’s the directorial debut for Matej Nahtigal, who teamed up with Benčič, the frontman of the seminal Slovenian rock’n’roll band Res Nullius, to adapt his 2012 novel with the same name. Nahtigal did so much with what was a ‘no budget’ film (many big name actors worked for nothing): the neo-noir style was spot on and it looked far more assured than you’d expect from a debut.
Vrhovec brings a dogged determination to Rok Osterberg as he stumbles down the dark alleys and grimy streets of the city. He can’t really trust anyone, of course — this is noir! — and violence breaks out at the drop of a hat, portrayed in all its wincing painfulness. There’s a switch of perspective about 2/3 of the way in: a tough thing to pull off and yet it’s done effortlessly. Fans of noir will not be disappointed. Indie filmmakers will be impressed: it raises the bar. If you can catch it on the circuit, do.
Synopsis: This is the story of Rok Osterberg (PRIMOŽ VRHOVEC), who returns to his hometown after years of living abroad to find out who had killed his brother and why. Rok’s personal investigation into his brother’s murder leads him through the underbelly of the city, where he has to face friends and enemies, old and new. He finds that Katarina (BREŽE), his ex girlfriend, is now the wife of the leading candidate for the town’s new major. The murder of Maks Osterberg is mystery to everyone, especially to the police and Rok realizes that the way to solving it stretches out of the dimly lit streets of the underworld up to the highest echelons of society.
Po knjižni predlogi/ inspired by novel: Zoran Benčič, Psi Brezčasja
Režija/director MATEJ NAHTIGAL
Zgodba /Story ZORAN BENČIČ
Izvršni producent/executive producer TOMI MATIČ
Rok Osterberg PRIMOŽ VRHOVEC
Katarina VIDA BREŽE
Inšpektor Kramer/inspector Kramer IVO GORŠIČ
Spaski IVO BARIŠIČ
Đango PREDRAG PEĐA MITROVIĆ
Inšpektor Polak/inspector Polak BLAŽ SETNIKAR
Kovač starejši/ Kovač senior RADKO POLIČ RAC
Aldo AKIRA HASEGAWA
Pavel BORUT VESELKO
Roksana VALENTINA PLASKAN
Lili ANDRIJANA BOŠKOŠKA BATIČ
Odvetnik Bernard Lam/lawyer Bernard Lam PRIMOŽ PIRNAT
Inšpektor Štajner/inspector Štajner MARKO UJC
Inšpektor Holz/inspector Holz EMIL CERAR
Marcel Bach VLADO G. REPNIK
Ivan DEJAN HERMANN
Polakova spremljevalka/Polak’s companion on bal: MARINA GREGOREC
Obritoglavec 1/skinhead 1 TOMI MATIČ
Obritoglavec 2/skinhead 2 LJUBISAV LJUBO ŠTICA
Taksist 1/ taxi driver 1 GORAN PETRAŠEVIČ
Scenarij/ screenwriter’s: ZORAN BENČIČ & MATEJ NAHTIGAL
Supervizor montaže/supervisor editor: ANDRIJA ZAFRANOVIĆ
Asistetnt supervizije montaže/assistant editing supervisor : PETER BAN
Montaža/ editors: MATEJ NAHTIGAL & ZORAN BENČIČ
Direktor fotografije /director of photography: VLADAN JANKOVIĆ
Producentka/producer: ŽIVA ČONKAŠ
Asistentka režije/assistant director: NINA TRATNIK
Tajnik režije/director secretary: ŽAK DAKOTA LEKŠE
Mojster luči/gaffer: DRAGO JARIČ
Asistent osvetljave/best boy: JURIJ VIŽINTIN
Scenografija/production designer: URŠKA MAZEJ
Kostumografija/ costume designer: SANJA GRCIĆ
Vodja scene/ grip: IVO PETRETIČ
Filmska tehnika/film equipment: FS VIBA FILM, ARRI ALEXA XT
Tonska tehnika/sound equipment: FS VIBA FILM
Hey, cool band I just found out about thanks to Renato Bratkovič and Alibi-Fest.com (which was an amazing experience, more about it later). Lead singer/novelist Zoran Benčič and producer Tomi Lignit presented their new crime film, Psi Brezčasja / Case:Osterberg on Saturday night, then chatted with us at the legendary Bar Grega. I got the latest CD too, Prekletih bazar. Good stuff; here’s a taste. And yeah, more about the film in a bit, too.
Check them out on Facebook. I translated the name in my rusty Latin, but I didn’t realise it was a legal term, ‘nobody’s property…[and] includes wild animals and abandoned property.’ Heh.
The all new version of Exiles: An Outsider Anthology – now published by Artizan– is out now!
A powerful short story collection was edited by the Bukowski of Noir, Paul D. Brazill. Exiles features 26 outsiders-themed stories by some of the greatest crime and noir writers, K. A. Laity, Chris Rhatigan, Steven Porter, Patti Abbott, Ryan Sayles, Gareth Spark, Pamila Payne, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel, Carrie Clevenger, David Malcolm, Nick Sweeney, Sonia Kilvington, Rob Brunet, James A. Newman, Tess Makovesky, Chris Leek, McDroll, Renato Bratkovič, Walter Conley, Marietta Miles, Aidan Thorn, Benjamin Sobieck, Graham Wynd, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, and an introduction by Heath Lowrance.
Grab it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and every other Amazon.