2015 started off with a bang, a slew of outstanding books, a handful which qualified as the book of the month.
Book of the month: Stay God, Sweet Angel by Nik Korpon tells the story of a romantic, sad character with a past he wants to remain hidden, a girlfriend he wants to keep, ambition that threatens his present and future, and an escalating sense of paranoia. The writing is fantastic. Korpon’s writing reminded of Will Christopher Baer.
Baer is not a household name, but among those who’ve read his work, he’s highly-regarded. He’s published three books (known a the Phineas Phoe trilogy), Kiss Me, Judas; Penny Dreadful; and Hell’s Half Acre. His writing is violent, captivating, stunning, and unique. Hell’s Half Acre hit the shelves in 2004 and since then… nothing. At one time, there was a listing for a fourth novel, Godspeed, but it’s never seen the light of day and no one seems to know why. In the Internet era in which we live, it’s almost impossible for a person to drop off the face of the earth, but Baer has managed to do so. Nobody seems to know what happened to him, where he is, what he’s doing, or even if he’s writing. His amazon biography identifies him as a teacher as the Memphis College of Art, but a perusal of their faculty names doesn’t list Baer. Google his name and you can find a couple of forum threads where people ask what happened to him. Regardless, he wrote three phenomenal novels.
The Deepening Shade by Jake Hinkson is a collection of previously-published noir short stories. Most deal with the south and fundamentalist religion. The stories are outstanding. I wrote a piece about Hinkson here.
Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer by David Roberts is the non-fiction account of the young American explorer who disappeared and has never been found. I’d never heard of Everett Ruess or the controversy regarding him. The first part of the book covers Ruess until his disappearance. The second part of the book revolves around his parent’s efforts to find him and the people who took advantage of the family. The last part of the book explores the possibilities of what might have happened to Ruess. Fascinating story.
When the Light Bulb is Bare by Barry Graham is an excellent collection of essays on noir and fiction. Kill Your Self: Life After Ego by Barry Graham is a series of short essays on Zen Buddhism. I’ve read ten or so books on Zen before, but Graham’s book helped me understand Zen Buddhism in a way I hadn’t before. He clarified a lot of misunderstandings I had about Zen Buddhism. I also read two noir novels by Graham, How Do You Like Your Blue-Eyed Boy and The Wrong Thing.
Other books I read this month: Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura, Lamentation by Joe Clifford, The Cleanup by Sean Doolittle, and Tussinland by Mike Monson
TV & FILM
January means cold, wet weather, which leads to me watching lots of TV while riding the indoor bike.
Hidden, an entertaining 4 episode show from the BBC. A solicitor was involved in a crime years as a young man and his past is catching up with his present. The Fall (Season 2), another series from the BBC available on Netflix. I’m usually out on anything having to do with serial killers, but this one works. My only complaint, they could’ve done without the last 15 minutes of the finale.
Gone Girl is hard to judge having read the book last year. I knew the story hook, so the movie lacked the tension for me. Still, I enjoyed it.
I’ve also started Justified, season 6, and The Americans, season 3. So far so good on those.
I finally sent the latest draft of Taken For Granted to a couple of readers. They gave me some great feedback on the story and I’m incorporating their thoughts now. While waiting for them to read it, I launched into another novel and I have written about a quarter of the first draft.