Sunday, March 27, 2016

When I was first unearthing resources into the world of paperback original novels, Ed Gorman's blog was one of the gems of my discoveries. At one point I went back and printed out all of his past entries and wow, what an education. With age and health issues, Ed continues his blog, but he frequently reprints entries from other people, or even extracts, like the one I just saw today from the introduction I wrote for Malcolm Braly's autobiography, False Starts.

With all the writing I'm doing on my own books now, I don't have the time to write the number of introductory essays I once did. This one for Braly's book is not only the most recent, I like to think it's one of my best. (I do have another one coming out for a volume of the way-too-overlooked James Hadley Chase, but that's going to be more of a revision of an earlier piece I'd written.)

Braly was a fascinating guy, one who spent half his life in prison without managing to ever do anything particularly serious. He'd break into a dry cleaners' and get sent to prison. Then he'd fall in with some guys and attempt to rob some place else, get caught again, then get a stiffer sentence. He was on the merry-go-round, one that started with broken homes and domineering parent(s), in  a day when riding the rails was considered a poor man's option to go out and see the world.

The problem was that this was also a fast track to petty crime (and sometimes crime not so petty) and a few men (like Jim Tully, another unjustly neglected author, who I write about in the essay) are able to escape. Braly's ultimate salvation was writing crime fiction, and in this, he wasn't alone. There was another inmate at San Quentin who was publishing novels for Gold Medal and that got Braly interested. At the same time, Caryl Chessman was writing his books about being innocent and on death row and the prison system in California was understandably nervous.

The success of Braly's first book ended him back in prison, so his second was written in the most secrecy he could muster. Once he finally got out, he seemed on the road to a celebrated career, penning the recently reprinted NYRB book, "On the Yard," which has been called the best prison novel of all time. And there's a movie, too....

Just when it seemed like Braly finally had a handle on this thing called life, he was killed in a car accident in his early fifties. The new volume of False Starts is the first-ever paperback version of his autobiography, also hailed as a classic of its type.

Ed Gorman's piece is here:

Take some time, visit, then check out not only False Starts but Braly's various novels. And let me know how you like the introduction. I always avoid spoilers so reading my introductions before the books themselves should never scare you off.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Noir at the Bar follow-up

I could write about the goings-on, the Garmin GPS having no clue how to get me to the entrance of a public parking ramp, hanging out with Adrian McKinty at the bar and asking inappropriate questions (e.g. Did Forsythe kill Killian at the end of "Falling Glass" or did Killian talk his way out of it?), the obtrusive methods used to remind readers of their expiring reading times, and the state police in New Jersey who ticket people from New Hampshire who don't where seat belts, but...

Peter Rozofsky covers the event better, and with pictures! Go here

and experience remorse for not being there, assuming you weren't there. The next one I'm reading at is in Boston in May, so if you're around you should come then. I haven't heard if I'll be reading in Manhattan before that yet, and like the Glenn Close, the mistress from "Fatal Attraction" I am being ignored about appearing in Minneapolis this summer.

I should organize a Noir at the Bar in Northern New Hampshire. Let's see.... um, yeah, no one lives up here. Never mind.

But go check out Rozofsky's blog and read the comments. Find a Noir at the Bar near you (unless you live where I do)  and go--you'll have a good time. Promise.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Go to Philadelphia

Go. Go now. We can race. If you leave now, you might beat me. The Noir at the Bar events are always great, but they'd be better if you were there. Yes, you, I'm looking at you.