Wednesday, September 28, 2011

James Ellroy:Destination Morgue

Destination Morgue by James Ellroy. I really wanted to like this book. But no dice. It is a compilation of true crime pieces, personal essays and three novellas. Again, I really wanted to like this. I mean it's James Ellroy-- he's the "Demon Dog". It just couldn't hold my interest-- with the exception of his essay, Where I get my Weird @35$*. That was interesting because in his mixed up way, he talks about his inspiration for his stories which came from all of the crime novels he read and his environment which was 1950's LA in all of it's sleaziness. I guess I liked that one because I love to listen to writers speak about their influences both literary and other, and I like hearing them talk about the craft of writing. But the rest of the writing in this book was lost on me and here is why.

Ellroy, is famous for this short hand style of prose. In the case of novels like White Jazz  it works, in that the writing style becomes the character and is perfect for his antihero who is a dirty, and brutal L A Cop; it gives him a stacatto and rough voice and provides you with insight into how his mind works--simple and efficient.

Unfortunately, this technique doesn't work for his other novels and basically dry-gulched Destination Morgue. It was a real nuisance to read and looked like texting.

Again, I like Ellroy. And if you want to read some good stuff by him I would recommend my all time favorite of his, Brown's Requiem.   It's a straight PI novel written in the traditional style, but with all of the Ellroyesque flourishes we have come to know and love.

Along with this, read Hollywood Nocturnes, another compilation of novellas; my favorite being Dick Contino's Blues, about an accordion player who gets involved in  a government conspiracy. Hmm, sounds a little like Huey Dusk? Nah!

Anyway, I did not write this to pan Mr. Ellroy. I have the utmost respect for him in that he is a student of noir and crime fiction as well as the sun-baked mean streets of LA. I also appreciate his willingness to share with us his pain over his mother's murder(read his memoir My Dark Places, I have an autographed copy). He is a man with still  many demons to excorcise and contines to influence alot of fledgling writers such as myself. I just wish he would get away from this "LOL shorthand style" he invented and move onto something more readable.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cross Referencing

Right now I am listening to the book on tape version of The Cut  by George Pelecanos. One thing I enjoy about Pelcanos is that he cross references his stories with each other; mainly he does this with his characters. For example, in The Cut, his character Spiro Lucas mentions another PI character named Derek Strange from his books Right as Rain and Soul Circus to name just a few. He also alludes to his most famous character Nick Stefano. He is not the only one that does this. Michael Connolly also brings in his character Harry Bosch in the book The Brass Verdict  which is about Mickey Haller the lawyer in his now famous book The Lincoln Lawyer.

To me this makes the stories that more enjoyable in that it is fun to see your favorite characters through other characters eyes; like how Derek Strange doesn't quite trust Nick Stefano. Or, how Mickey Haller thinks Harry Bosch is an @#$%^.

This is what I plan to do in my own stories and in fact have already done it in the yet to be published  Pandora Case; a story where I have  Joey Pantera interact with a young, crazy, hoodlum clown named Huey Dusk who is trying to cut his teeth with the local crime syndicate.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Brief Thoughts On The Movie Drive

Yesterday my wife and I went to see the movie Drive. I thank her for indulging me since it was a flick I really wanted to see. Well, as of right now I will hold off on commenting any further until after I have read the book which has been sitting so patiently on my shelf  all these years.(I think it is time to read it). I will end this dispatch by saying I hope the book will give me a better perspective on the movie.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Huey looks like

I want Huey Dusk to resemble either Mickey Spillane or Michael Madsen; that square jawed alpha male type, big and burly. He smokes his ubiqitous cigar which I've settled on being a cheroot with a frayed tip.

In the beginning, I dressed him in a ten gallon pork pie, a polka dotted trench coat and a large polka dotted tie.

In the second story I had him dress a little like Bogey with his purple trench coat and purple polka dotted tie and purple fedora with a polka dotted headband. I did this because in this tale he was acting more like a traditional hard boiled gumshoe.

The third story is even more gritty and has an urban street feel to it. To make ends meet  he has become a sleaze ball bounty hunter. So, I dressed him a little like Kid Rock with another ten gallon pork pie, a greasy buckskin jacket, a big gold cross on a "blingy" chain that he wears over his giant polka dotted tie. Also, in a tribute to Tom Waits, I gave him snake skin Stacy Adams clown shoes and a burgundy shirt.

I want Huey's clothes to reflect the times and situation he is in. Also, I get bored with having him dress a certain way.

Huey Dusk has been a very fun character to write about. I plan to be cranking out stories about him for a long time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Huey Dusk: The Clown, The Legend

Since I have renamed this blog Huey Dusk's Lounge and Clown Room, I think it is only fair to introduce you to the clown behind the name.

Huey is a character that I created and is the star of my novella Huey Dusk. He is a tough clown molded after the likes of Mike Hammer. He pals around with a maniacal mime named Marcel who he worked with at a spy agency called Langley. Together they created a very dangerous and murky history; such is the case with spies.

Huey through subsequent stories has evolved into a private investigator/ skip tracer. He often does some work for questionable and nefarious clients. But, deep down inside, he has a good heart and in the end tries to do the right thing.

He didn't start out that way.  I originally portrayed him as a cereal snorting psycho clown with a handy piece of piano wire in the very first flash fiction piece I wrote about him. Well, as time went on I decided that psycho evil clowns are a dime a dozen and besides, I like clown's too much to make him bad. But this change happened gradually.

I started the transformation by giving him a soft spot for children(keep in mind that even though he likes children, he is not always the best influence for them.) Then I gave him a past with the government and a strong dislike for government corruption.

So, in most of my stories he is always getting caught up in a Langley conspiracy which he sometimes doesn't know how to get out of. Usually he seeks the help of a fair and beautiful female operative to take down the bad guys in the end. But even though they kill all of the villians and set things mostly right, there is always evil still lingering out there.

Huey Dusk has been my most inspired creation and there are plenty of stories left about him and the universe he inhabits.

In the future, look for a second story Huey Dusk: The Case of the Sad Luck Dame to go live at But while you are waiting, you can still buy the original, Huey Dusk, at the same address.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dave Zeltserman: Outsourced

Today I just finished Outsourced by Dave Zeltserman and let me tell you this book is great! It's a heist novel and the twist is that the robbery is pulled off by computer geeks who were the victims of downsizing. 

This book is noir through and through. And even though it is it's own beast, it is clear that Mr. Zeltserman studied all of the hardboiled greats. In fact, for those of you who are Richard Stark fans needing a Parker fix, this should do it. Jim Thompson enthusiasts won't be disappointed either.

Like Thompson, Mr. Zeltseman does a great job of writing some very grotesquely human psychopaths. The examples in this story would be the characters Gordon and Joel, who even though they are dangerous and crazy,  both have a very relateable world views and backstories.

The other thing that Mr. Zeltserman does a very good job with is sense of place. He is reminiscent of George V. Higgins especially in his novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle.  Like Higgins, Zeltserman paints a very sepia-toned washed out atmosphere in his portrayal of Lynn Massachusetts.

Mr. Zeltserman has said he has been offered a movie deal. If Hollywood does make this into a film, I would hope to see someone like William Friedkin directing.

David Zeltserman is one of the best comtemporary crime fiction authors out there. I would put him on the same level with the likes of James Ellroy. His novel Outsourced backs up that assertion.