Sunday, November 27, 2011

A very Odd review...

‘Odd and Odder: A Collection of Sensuality, Satire and Suspense’, by K.S. Brooks and Newton Love is a book with a long name.  It is a book that, despite the names of the authors, is neither about trout nor cakey cookies.  It’s a book, alright?  Lots of words, put together into sentences and paragraphs.  Some prose, some poetry.  It’s the kind of book that approaches from the shadows and you don’t know what it wants.  Maybe you’re about to get the best ass-kicking of your life.  Maybe you’re about to get laid.  Maybe you’re about to encounter the heroin addiction that will follow you for the next decade, as your life crumbles around you.
‘O&O’ is the kind of book that makes readers glad they never gouged their eyes out with screwdrivers.  It makes writers feel like they got gut-punched.  It is the kind of book you can’t put down, especially if you superglue that shit to your hands.  Makes it damn near impossible. 
I happened across this book when it fell out of the sky and hit me smack on the top of my handsome head.  Well, actually, it fell out of the sky in the form of electrons or some shit and landed in my Kindle.  You get the idea.  The book came to me.  I sat down.  I used my eyes to transfer the words into images and thoughts and I liked what I read.  Hell, I like liked it.  My kindle hasn’t operated the same since.
‘O&O’ is the kind of book you read if you want to be entertained.  It’s not stuffy or pretentious.  Not like me.  I’m pretentious, and I stuff.  Usually a sock.  Gets the ladies’ attention.  Argyle especially.  Don’t ask me why.  I’m not here to talk about my prosthetic penis, I’m here to talk about a book.  The kind of book that makes you want to kick yourself in the face, drink two beers, and call and order pizza.
It keeps you jumping, this one does.  It’s like Muhammad Ali.  First a story – bam, to the gut.  Then a sprinkling of lyrics – a flutter of jabs to the face.  Then some satire – a hard right to the temple.  Not like a Buddhist temple.  That would be stupid.  I mean the side of your head.  Where it can kill you.  Bottom line, this book can, and probably will, kill you.  Whatever you do, don’t buy it.  Steal it.  Wait, don’t steal it.  Buy it.  Buy two copies.  You never know when you’ll be running from the house naked.  And you want to cover your ass.  But you can’t have your junk all flopping around.  I had to buy a second Kindle.  But I did it.  And you should, too.
In all seriousness, I’m going to be serious now.  Seriously serious.  This book is funny, touching, brilliant, and many more adjectives or adverbs or whatever they are.  Okay, now I’ll be serious.  What you have here is a collection of excellent writing.  Some of it is hilarious (Dark Alley is one of the funniest stories I have ever read).  Some of it is emotive – and hits damn close to home.  Brooks & Love (should start a country band?) have come up with a collaboration that gives you everything you want out of a collaboration.  The pieces don’t fight each other – they compliment each other – and complement each other.  The satire is raw and funny and fresh.  The verse is heartfelt and begs for an old guitar.  And there are surprises around every turn.  
There are books that scare and disgust.  There are books that leave you on the edge of your seat.  There are books that teach you how to knit in easy steps that anyone can follow.  There are not nearly enough books that you finish, with a smile on your face, thinking, ‘Damn, I’m glad I just read that’.

 "Odd & Odder: A Collection of Sensuality, Suspense & Satire" brings together the creative, off-beat minds of published authors K. S. Brooks and Newton Love. From short stories befitting The Twilight Zone, to lustful verses of poetry, to thought-provoking flash prose: "Odd & Odder" is consistently fresh, sometimes outlandish, and truly entertaining.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Case of the Missing Plot Bunnies...

My friend Stephen Hise graces us with his literary badassery today.  In this piece, he spars with the monolithic NANOWRIMO (national novel writing month)...which challenges writers to enrage their significant others every November.  Check out his blog: to keep tabs on what is going on in the indie scene.

It was one of those days at the office – long as a Sunday sermon and half as fun. I hadn’t had a case in weeks and I was down to my last packet of Ramen noodles. The name’s Spade –Marlowe Spade. I’m a private dick. Well, private ever since that one unfortunate incident at the park.

I was just about to close up shop for the day when she walked in. Except for the dark circles under her eyes, the vacuous stare, the mismatched shoes, and the disheveled hair, she was just my type.

She plopped her pretty little bottom down in the chair across from my desk like a pile of old pastrami on the stale rye bread served at Gino’s Deli on Tuesdays. Why Tuesdays? Because the Health Inspector comes on Wednesdays.

“Mr. Spade? You’ve got to help me,” she said in a breathy voice.

“I know, sweet cheeks. How do you like NaNo?” I asked. Her eyes showed the first spark of life since she’d come in to the joint, but that spark disappeared like a sailor’s paycheck the next instant as she burst into tears.

I wasn’t sure whether she was crying because I’d seen right through her or she finally realized she was still wearing her bathrobe, but I’d seen it all before. Big NaNo picks these fresh-faced kids up right as they get off the bus. He promises them fame and fortune if they work for him. You wanna be a real writer, don’t ya baby? Well then you gotta put out for me – show me what you can do. Before they know what hit ‘em, they’re on the hook for fifteen, eighteen hundred words a day. A lot of those kids break, and even a lot of the ones who make it are never the same. Happens every year about this time.

“Show me what you’ve got,” I said. She fished a couple of pages out of her robe pocket. I pulled the wadded up chewing gum off it and took a look. I started reading it. It looked promising at first−her female character was taking a shower, but somehow little Miss Writesalot managed to write the shower scene without any steam. I tossed the crumpled manuscript on the desk.

“Baby, I’m gonna tell you straight. You don’t need NaNo to make it in this town. The big six mob is busted, they’re dead and don’t even know it yet. If you wanna write then do it, but on your own schedule. You don’t need Big NaNo to call the shots.”

“Do you think I can, Mr. Spade?” She looked hopeful as a cocker spaniel at a Thanksgiving table.

“I know you can do it doll face. Indie is the way to go these days. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise,” I said.

“Oh, Mr. Spade! How can I ever repay you?”

I looked at the calendar on my desk and saw it was Tuesday. “Why don’t we go grab a pastrami on rye? You can buy. Then, let’s you and me go re-write that shower scene.”

Another case closed and another satisfied client.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Apostle Rising' by Richard Godwin

A little change of pace, here's a review of a book you should definitely, definitely purchase immediately.

            Apostle Rising, by Richard Godwin is an extremely good read.  It is also extremely hard to categorize.  It defies categorization.  This is one of its  many strengths.  It is a detective novel.  It is a mystery.  It skirts the edges of gothic horror.  Some of it is written (brilliantly) in verse.  It is dark.  It has depth.  It gives a nod to Noir.  It is so well-wrought and complex that it is almost like two novels in one. 
Did I mention that it is dark?  So dark that parts of it are hard to stomach, but it is well worth the trip into hell.  The prose is beautifully written.  Godwin certainly knows what he is doing.  The story is tight, with enough twists and angst to satisfy the most critical ‘crime novel’ fan.   It is a book that will stick with you.  The beauty of the words resonate long after you have read the last page.  And the darkness will tug at you, reminding you that the world is full of lots of different kinds of people.  And some of them are intensely frightening.
            Our protagonist is Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle.  He is of the old school…the kind of cliché we love so much he’s not a cliché, but an archetype.  He drinks too much (whiskey of course).  He is incapable of feeling joy.  He is, in fact, haunted by a string of murders that almost drove him insane (the ‘almost’ is questionable).  The Woodlands Killer nearly drove him mad, but he hung on, only to find himself up to his eyeballs, years later, in copycat killings that are so much like the old cases that it would make any hardboiled detective dive into the bottle. 
Castle is aided by his partner DI Jacki Stone, a tough woman who is faced with the toughest case of her career.  Meanwhile her marriage is falling apart due to the stresses of her work and her inability to leave it at the office. 
And then there is Karl Black, a sociopathic, religiously obsessed manipulator who played a large role in driving Castle insane with the original investigation and gets Stone in on the act with the new one.  He is a fantastic character.  He is evil, yet his charm (and his ability to get under the skin of Castle and Stone) make him a pleasure to visit.
            There are more characters of course, and they are well rendered and interesting, but I don’t want to give too much away.  So, we have our cast of characters.  And we have death.  Dead hookers and dead politicians, brutally murdered by…who?  Some of the murders match the MO of the Woodlands killings.  Some don’t.  Some are clearly biblical taunts.  Some are attacks at the establishment and political corruption.  All are vivid and terrifying.  London is literally covered in corpses.  (A personal note here: I am often accused of writing ‘Dark’ fiction…Godwin’s murder scenes are enough to make the darkest thing I have ever written piss itself and run in fear.  This is not a critique.  It is worth noting, though.  The murder scenes are so vivid and real that you might not want to read them if you are alone in the house.)
            The genius of this book is that Godwin plays with so many forms (and with such a light touch), that it defies cliché in what can easily become a clichéd form.  Crime novels can enter the realm of cliché very easily.  This one never does.  Godwin is undeniably well informed about religion, compulsion, corruption, and delusion, and the way he weaves them all together is truly impressive. 
            There are people who read books and want to figure out “who dun it”.  I am not that kind of reader.  I like to be surprised.  But, even if I was that type of reader, I would have been shocked at the eerily twisted conclusion to this novel. 
            If you like crime novels, you will like Apostle Rising.  If you like horror novels, you will like Apostle Rising.  If you are interested in religion and human psychology, you will like Apostle Rising.  Hell, if you like well written books, you will like this one.  Godwin is a gifted writer who knows his craft, knows when to play the right cards, and he will get inside your head…just like Karl Black.

Author Bio: Richard Godwin is a widely published crime and horror writer, whose work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including recently Pulp Ink. Apostle Rising, in which a serial killer is crucifying politicians and recreating the murder scenes of an unsolved case, is his first published novel. It has received excellent reviews and is under offer for two foreign rights acquisitions. You can find out more about the author at his website:  His Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse are popular interviews he conducts with other writers: