Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review - Nevada Blue

John Tisley's Nevada Blue is a Vegas crime thriller, played out on the bad end of Fremont.

First published in 1997, and set in the early 1970's (bow-chicka-wow-wow) the story contains a lot of well worn elements; hit men, dirty cops, mobsters with stupid names (Jimmy Jinx, oh really, come on), cheap booze and cheaper women. The whole thing feels dated rather than retro. It's like pulling on your old bell bottom jeans, only to find that now they're two sizes too small.

The clipped 'hard boiled crime' style of writing just didn't work for me and I found myself cringing at some of the tired cliché’s liberally scattered through the narrative. Tisley is an English writer and the one thing that really jarred with me was his use of common British phrases, which you just don't hear in the US. When did a LVPD sergeant ever use the word 'scarpered' or suggest that he might have 'dropped a bollock' ?

On the plus side, I know the streets on which Tisley's characters walk pretty well and I did get a faint whiff of uncomfortable nostalgia from reading Nevada Blue; either that or the sink is blocked again.

Nevada Blue is not the worst book in the world and if you can get past the hackneyed prose there is a reasonable story to be had here. I'm just not sure if it's worth the effort.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review – The Devil All the Time

Okay, I'll admit it. I loved Donald Ray Pollock's superb collection of short Stories Knockemstiff.

If you've read them you'll know what to expect from The Devil All the Time. If you haven't then shame on you!

Donald Ray touches on some familiar ground; occasionally flirting with one or two of the characters we met in the tar paper shacks of Knockemstiff, Ohio. But the brutal, deranged and down right dangerous people he introduces us to in 'Devil' are something else entirely.

The story weaves twisted strands of hard lives into a powerful tapestry of desperation, violence and sadness. Perhaps you might also find a little hope hidden in there too.

This is defiantly not a book for the faint hearted. It's a gut-punch in the underbelly of rural, post war American society. Hard, immoral and unsettlingly. What makes it not only tolerable but instantly enjoyable is the quite brilliant voice of the author.

Donald Ray Pollock writes wonderful, tight prose and humming dialogue. He carries you effortlessly through some of the most disturbing facets of the human condition and leaves you hunched over and breathless; tasting blood and craving more. This is a book that will stay with you after long after you're done reading it and for some, that may not be a good thing!

It seems to me that every new American author with a distinctive voice is instantly hailed as a new 'someone', be it Steinbeck or Bukowski. Donald Ray Pollock is not a new anyone. He is his own man and thank god for it.

If you read only one book this year, then make it The Devil All the Time.

For more information about Don, check out his website: Donald Ray Pollock

Monday, May 14, 2012

Postcards from the edge

Many thanks to Richard and the review team at Postcard Shorts for publishing
my very short – short story End Game.
It's a dark little number, but it's the kind of thing that comes to us all sooner or later.
Why not wander over and take a look?
Postcard Shorts

Monday, May 7, 2012

Downbound Train

I had a job, I had a girl, had something going mister in this world...

Dark dreams and darker realities can be found over at SYWzine!
Many thanks to Laurance Kitts for taking a ride on my new story 'Downbound Train.'
We're getting ready to leave from platform number nine, so go get your ticket and climb aboard: SYWzine!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review - Please Don't Shoot Anyone Tonight

I came across Dave Newman's first novel more by accident than design and what a happy accident it turned out to be. Please Don't Shoot Anyone Tonight is a gritty story of teenage troubles, where innocence is dipped in a sea of alcohol and hung out to dry in a haze of half-baked adolescent dreams and pot smoke.

Dave Newman shows us the darker side of growing up in small town USA as his characters teeter on the edge of an abyss, some by choice and others by necessity.

The writing is tight and well paced. The dialogue, real and believable. Dave Newman hits hard, sometimes the blows land a little below the belt but that's okay, there are no rules in this kind of fight. It's not all about girls, cars and beer; well, okay mostly it is but it's certainly well worth picking up a six pack and going along for the ride!

You can read an interview with Dave here: