Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cork, The Inferno, and some very gritty noir

Just back from the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival in Cork, Ireland. The city sponsors this great fiction fest--five days of  readings, panels, and the best after-reading parties anywhere (I know, I've attended/crashed many a Lit party).  I went to do a reading and a panel, but, more importantly, I was there to scout out good reading for the Moe's customers.  Readers included Tess Gallagher and Ben Greenman, Dutch sensation Nyk de Vries, and also a few writers that may be new to you.  Check out Mattaponi Queen by Belle Boggs (Graywolf Press) and St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Vintage) by Karen Russell.  Fresh new writing--funny, human, lots of depth.

O/R press doesn't like to sell to bookstores. They're a download/print on demand outfit, but unlike the others in this category they publish established authors--and high quality books.  I had to contact them to order copies of Eileen Myles new novel Inferno.  Troubling to a bookseller--especially since books like this are what keep Indy stores in business, and separate us from the chains.  Excuse me while I rave about this book:  Inferno should, could, may, be a book of On The Road proportions.  Admittedly I'm a sucker for the young artist comes to the city to find fame/love/a place in history novel. I've read Balzac's Lost Illusions three times.  But, really, Myles tells the old story very well. Mostly she's a poet, with an ear that's as good as Kerouac's. Read this book, there are sentences that will carry you to another planet--really!  And please, treat it the way you would treat (did treat) On The Road.  Buy the paperback (at a bookstore!), put it in your "rucksack", beat it up, buy a second copy for a friend.  If this book doesn't inspire a generation I may lose hope for American letters.

OK, Benjamin Whitmer is a "stable mate". We're both published by PM Press in Oakland. But--he's written one of the toughest noirs around. Pike is fast and hard, but it also has heart. Like all the PM Press titles there's a political thrust--but it doesn't get in the way of the action.  Benjamin will be reading around the bay area in October, and will be at the Bouchercon mystery convention over at the Embarcadero Hyatt. He's reading at the Moe's post Bouchercon party--labeled Hardboiled for Hard Times--October 18th.

Owen Hill

(reposted from 9/29/2010)

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