I will be reading at Noir at the Bar Queens, September 28th! Held at Kew & Willow Books, hosted by Alex Segura and Scott Adlerberg. They have really raised the bar (no pun intended) and run a great reading series. I’ll be reading from Riff Raff, the second Jay Desmarteaux novel, which will be released by Down & Out Books in autumn 2019. A great line-up: Kelly Braffett, Radha Vatsal, SJ Rozan, Carrie Smith, Hilary Davidson, Dave White, Wallace Stroby, Lee Matthew Goldberg, Nick Kolakowski, Hector Acosta, David Gordon, Jen Doll, and our hosts. It’s always been a good time, and a very short walk from the train.
It also looks like I’ll be reading at the New York Public Library on Halloween about writing supernatural stories–like “Truth Comes Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind” and “The Summer of Blind Joe Death” among others–and I’ll share more details once I know. Damn right, I will be in costume…
Just mailed out the swag from the book giveaway–did you miss out because you don’t get The Plucking News? Sign up here and you won’t miss the next one.
In other news, my story collection from Down & Out Books, LIFE DURING WARTIME, is coming together and I’ll have a cover reveal for you soon. It collects the best of my stories and includes a few unpublished ones, and others that were difficult to find.
This weekend, on Sunday September 17th, I will be at Brooklyn Book Festival. In the morning I will be sitting at booth #310 with the Mystery Writers of America from 10:00 until noon, and from noon until 14:00 I’ll be at the Down & Out Books table with Lawrence Kelter, and several other authors. I’ll be wearing the snazzy Down & Out Magazine polo shirt in Black(Like My Heart!) black, so I’ll be easy to spot. I’ll have books to sign and swag to give away, and I hope you’ll stop by if you’re at the festival.
I’m not on any panels, but I will be going to see Sarah Weinman moderate the Killer Crime-Fiction panel with Joyce Carol Oates, Nelson George, and Ben H. Winters, and the comics panel Shapeshifters: Novelists Write Comics! with two of my favorite writers: Victor LaValle, and Gabby Rivera. Victor’s novel THE CHANGELING is brilliant, and I am really enjoying his miniseries comic DESTROYER, a modern update slash sequel to Frankenstein (the novel, which I’ve always liked more than the Hollywood versions). Rivera’s AMERICA comic is a blast and her novel JULIET TAKES A BREATH is great as well.
He won’t be at the fest, but I am looking forward to Laird Barron’s new crime novel BLOOD STANDARD, out in March 2018. He’s one of my favorite short story writers, and his novel THE CRONING made me shiver and laugh with its bizarre mix of weird cosmic horror, fairy tales, and Pynchonian ’50s paranoia.
As for me, I’m putting the final touches on the next novel and ready to dive into Jay Desmarteaux #2, where he boogies on down to the bad blood bayou…
Join me and the fine folks of Three Rooms Press at their third Prose! Poetry! Party! on Friday December 4th, at 6pm at the Cornelia Street Cafe in Manhattan. Three Rooms Press – Kat Georges and Peter Carlaftes – are the publishers of Dark City Lights: New York Stories, which includes my story “The Big Snip.”
(You can get the book here).
Join us, I’ll be reading something new and befitting the season…
I went on a guided, behind the scenes tour of Grand Central Terminal with some crime writers during BookExpo America. Danny Brucker was our guide, a boisterous and funny character out of a Westlake novel. Plenty of photos, trivia, and lesser-known history at my Criminal Element article, ‘The Dirty, Criminal Past of Grand Central Terminal.’
Les Halles, Anthony Bourdain’s downtown brasserie, makes one of my favorite cheeseburgers: ground to order with chopped sirloin, perfectly cooked with a good sear, served alongside some of the best fries in the city. I’ve had the burger at their Park Ave. location and I prefer the John Street joint, in the Financial district. They also serve good beer, from Allagash White to Kronenbourg 1664. Not a fantastic selection, but good. The Brooklyn Winter Lager was my favorite on tap.
Their burger is good because it is simple. A solid sesame bun, some caramelized onions, tomato. And good beef. Nothing crazy fancy, no claims of “single steer” or other nonsense. They grind it from the sirloin trimmings of their many tasty steaks. This time around it felt a tiny bit smaller and a little less fatty. I suppose it depends on what they have. But it is still one of the best burgers in the City. It’s not cheap, but not ridiculous. For great cheap burgers, there’s HB Burger, Shake Shack (AVOID the awful Times Square one), and the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien (behind the curtain). Those are around seven bucks and really damn good.
The best, I am told, is at the Minetta Tavern. We have yet to try it. It is $26 for the top end burger. The burgers at DBGB, the beer & banger joint, are half that and are fantastic, one of the best. So is the roquefort burger at Spotted Pig. So it’s tough to go pay that much for a burger, even as a treat. How great could it be? If it is as disappointing as the “single steer” burger at Pig & Prince in Montclair- I’d rather have a $7 burger from Krug’s Tavern- then it’s money down the drain. But I will try it eventually, and report back to you. My standard is still the Cloverleaf Tavern. They make a consistently good burger, if you get it medium to medium rare. Sometimes the kitchen overcooks them, but when they get it right they are one of the best around, especially for the price.
Sunday night, a group of writers convened in Greenwich Village, like their kind had many times before. Not at the Lion’s Head (it’s long gone) but at Shade, on Sullivan Street, a cozy corner snug where Big Daddy Thug- also known as Todd Robinson, editor of ThugLit and a fine writer himself- holds reign. He and Glenn Gray, the Doctor Demento of Noir- called on me and a cadre of New York area noir-tistes to shake down the house with hardboiled tales, and we packed the place, to the proprietor’s delight.
Taking the cue from Jed Ayres & Scott Phillips fantastically successful Noir at the Bar in St. Louis- which spawned one of the best story collections to come out last year– Todd & Glenn invited us to read, rub elbows and shoot the unholy shit. A great time was had by all, and with the weather keeping the pub’s shutters wide open, passersby peeked in and listened while we shot the place up with short hard tales and gripping excerpts from these square objects made of bound paper that we old folks call ‘books.’ Speaking of books, Glenn Gray raffled off copies of the original Noir at the Bar collection, Scott Phillips novel Rut, Lucius Shepard’s A Handbook of American Prayer, Todd raffled copies of the ThugLit collection Blood, Guts & Whiskey, and Jason Starr gave away copies of The Pack.
I was late thanks to this new atmospheric phenomenon known as ‘rain,’ which the public transportation systems of the New York tri-state area are still struggling to cope with. I missed Justin Porter reading his story “The Headstone,” but we did get to chat. We train with the same MMA animal, Phil Dunlap at Advanced Fighting Systems. From one look at Justin, he’d kick my monkey ass six ways to Sunday unless I sat on him first. I came in while Cindy Rosmus- editor of Yellow Mama– read a bloody tale involving puttanesca sauce, which made me hungry.
We had quite a lineup- Jason Starr read from his novel Tough Luck, which has been optioned as a feature film. A Brooklyn tale of a kid caught up with mobsters and bookies, this one looks like a winner. Jason’s second novel of The Pack, entitled The Craving, hit the streets today. If you’re looking for a gripping take on the werewolf tale, look no further.
Next up was Jonathan Hayes, reading from his novel A Hard Death. I went home and ordered it. He reads the opening scene, where a kid biking along the Everglades runs into two bad men, and my beer went warm in my hand as I paused to listen to it. If you know me, you know I can give no higher praise.
Wallace Stroby read a poem of his that appeared in The Lineup, the crime poetry site; he has a followup to A Cold Shot to the Heart out, entitled The Kings of Midnight, starring Crissa Stone, whom Kirkus Reviews called “crime fiction’s best bad girl ever.” Matt Melitta, an Iraq vet and journalist, read a chilling excerpt of a novel in progress, about a soldier recovering from a comrade’s suicide. I hope we get to read the rest soon.
Todd Robbins- no relation- and author of The Modern Con Man, read several excerpts of his book on the grift, all good stuff. Who doesn’t love a good con? Jen Conley read her fantastic story of Metalhead Marty in Love, which really brought me back to my high school days. You’ve read her in Shotgun Honey, Needle, and Beat to a Pulp, where my favorite tale of hers, “Cannibals,” appears.
I read my story “Black-Eyed Susan,” which first appeared in Aldo Cacagno’s Powderburn Flash, then Johnny Shaw brought down the house with his hilarious homage to the men’s adventure tales of the ’70s, Chingón: The World’s Deadliest Mexican. If you liked Machete, you can read that at Blood & Tacos. He kindly gave me an ARC of his next novel, Big Maria, which sounds even wilder and more fun than his first, Dove Season. I loved that one, and I look forward to reading this one.
Todd finished up the night, and it took serious cojones to follow Johnny, but Todd knocked it out of the park. Todd just released a short story collection, Dirty Words, and I suggest you check it out. Todd crafts down dirty noir tales that capture New York blue collar fatalism and riddle it with humor, and often, gunfire. Great stuff.
The night was a great success, and I hope we do another one in a few months. Any writers or readers who’d like to join, visit us at our Facebook page: Noir at the BarNYC