Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Great Action Flick--Hanna

I don't normally see Hollywood action movies anymore because they're all the same.  The plots are way too contrived and yet still predictable, the action is non-stop and too blurry to follow, and the soundtrack is like a Burlington Northern Flier full of airplane fuel barreling down a steep, endless downgrade only to pile up in a rocky canyon.

But this movie about a sixteen-year-old female assassin is refreshingly unique and unpredictable, and one hell of a lot of fun to watch.  It almost renews my faith in the movie makers out in Hollywood, though I doubt very much we'll see another movie like this one for another six, seven years.  Accidents like this just don't happen that often out there.

HANNAH is the best movie I've seen all year.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Bruiser by Jim Tully

I'm not a great fan of boxing but I do like boxing books.  And this is one of the best I've read, right up there with W.C. Heinz's THE PROFESSIONAL.

This book is not only about boxing but about the desperate heart of a man trying to carve out a life for himself in the Depression-racked '30s.  Here you'll find great scenes of the life of the Depression-era hobo, as well as the sweat-and-leather smells of the time's low-rent boxing dives.  At its heart, THE BRUISER is a book about survival against nearly overwhelming odds, something that Jim Tully knew just a little bit about, having been a hobo at a very young age himself...after leaving an orphanage.

What I love best about this book is the style it's written in.  Tully sentences here, as in his best books, are like strong right jabs.  Voice and image is everything to me--to me, an otherwise good book written in a flat style is a bad book--and Tully excels at both.  People call him hardboiled, and I've never really understood what they mean by that.  True, he writes short, sinewy sentences about tough men and tough women in tough times, but the writing is also packed with emotion and poetry.  It even borders on sentimentality, which is another thing I like about it.  Jim Tully is just a damn good novelist, and I don't think trying to shove him into the "hardboiled" notch does him justice.

Here's the opening that sets the tone and mood of the tale:

It was raining fiercely.  The clouds roared with thunder.  Water fell in long silver slivers.  There was no escape from the driving water.  Under the projecting roof of the section house, Shane Rory stood and gazed at the water splashing on the rails.  His clothes were wet and wind-whipped.

He was about eighteen, and had not reached full growth.  In spite of the rain, his hair still curled at the edge of his cap.  A large blue scarf was tied about his neck.  His coat collar was turned up.  His hands were deep in his pockets.  His jaws were set, his forehead wrinkled as he tried to penetrate through the rain-splashed air.

Engines shrieked about the railroad yards, their headlights burnishing the falling water.

Tully has long been overlooked, but I think it's time readers revisit this terrific writer's wonderful, colorful contribution to the literature of the first half of the last century.  That's easy to do now that Black Squirrel Books of Kent, Ohio is reissuing almost all of his work in very handsome trade paperbacks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Claudia Cardinale

Claudia Cardale is like a Chagall painting.  Or the firmament on a crisp, clear night in the mountains around Tin Cup, Colorado.  Or a truckload sale of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cut to half price when the truck skidded off an icy road in western Kansas.  No words do her justice.

Not that I or any man needs to justify posting a picture of the most beautiful woman from one of the best westerns ever made.  Or needs to make a fool of himself trying to wax poetical about her.

Tonight, when I'm done wasting time here and get my 2k quota of words in on the next Yakima Henry--DEAD MAN'S TRAIL--I'll be watching a movie I picked up at a Redbox this afternoon while out shopping for chicken livers, gizzards, and hearts for Stella and Thor.  (My less than elegant life will never be confused with that of Harold Robbins or Sydney Sheldon.)  Looks like a sure-fire winner--a little horror flick called DONNER PARTY.  I'll post about that tomorrow.

Till then, don't forget to scrub the drool off your keyboard...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lone Wolf McQuade

I defy anyone to come up with a better movie to watch when celebrating the purchase of a new suitcase of PBR.  Sorry, it just ain't out there.  But I do recommend drinking at least seven, with a whiskey chaser, before punching it into the ole VCR.

Even then, you'll want to run full-tilt and head-first into your brick-lined den wall several times without a helmet on, but if you have half a brain left after that, you'll appreciate the line delivered by the truly great L.Q. Jones better than anything Sir Lawrence recited from Shakespeare, when he and Lone Wolf McQuade (Chuck Norris)--no, not Sir Lawrence or Shakespeare--first see Barbara Careira on horseback.

"Hey, how'd you like to bite that in the butt, develop lockjaw, and be dragged to death?"

Excuse me while I fetch another beer.  I have it paused just before the grand finale!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Next Cuno Book!

This Cuno Massey .45-Caliber book will be out in April...

Fugitive Cuno Massey is recruited to hunt down a gang of gunrunners who stole a wagon of weapons, intending to sell them to a Mexican general waging war against Yaqui Indians. To even the odds, Cuno forms an alliance with a Yaqui queen as savage as she is beautiful. With so much firepower and so many deadly players on the warpath, Cuno knows he's sitting atop a powder keg with a sizzling fuse...

This has a sort of female version of Navajo Joe in it.

I started this book at a horse camp in Sundance, Wyoming.  Sundance doesn't figure in...except that I wrote the first couple of chapters there, and I really like Sundance, Wyo....

Put a grin on my dogs' faces and pre-order your copy today!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Review of Dust of the Damned

Here's a nice review:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dust of the Damned now weirdly available!

My sci-fi/western--or weird western--is now available from Berkley, who put a damn nice-looking cover on it.  This is an action-adventure tale set in the Old West that involves the bounty hunters Uriah Zane and Angel Coffin, and a whole pack of werewolves that Lincoln hired to win the Civil War.

They did win the War...and now they're doing so much more, including running wild with a beautiful Mexican witch in the American Southwest!

Can Zane and Angel run the ghouls to ground, with the help of fellow ghoul-hunter Jesse James?

This is my pulp-style homage to some of the writers from both the sci-fi and western genres I most admire, including C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Henry Kuttner, Karl Edward Wagner, Gordon D. Shirreffs, T.V. Olsen, and H. A. DeRosso.  I should also mention Terry Harknett, aka George G. Gilman who wrote the wonderfully grisly EDGE books (and is writing them again now!) as well as the great Laurence James, who started the DEATHLANDS series for Harlequin under the name James Axler, and remains one of my very favorite action-adventure writers.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starting the New Year Out Right

With my favorite short story, "To Build a Fire" by Jack London.

I first read this when I was a wee little lad, and it captivated me like few others have since.  I usually reread it around this time of the year and did so again last night before drifting off to sleep and into the new year.  I love the mood of this story, the grittiness, and the location--the frozen Klondike.  I'm sure you've all read it, but go ahead and read it again and be reminded what a consummate craftsman can do with words.  This one leaves you feeling cold in a good way, and happy to be near a fire.  At least heat of some kind.

I'm reading another of my favorite Jack London tales, another I first read as a lad:  MARTIN EDEN.  For winter reading, you can't go wrong with Jack...