Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Last Night: "Another Day in Paradise" by Eddie Little

Last Night: ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE by Eddie Little, 1987, 9780670872176.

Recommended by an instagrammer account I follow, olnoirtown. I forced myself to finish this. The writing did not speak to me. Little's life story is juvenile crook, drug addict, adult crook, con and ex-con, drug recovery, crime recovery, drug relapse, crime relapse, new indictments. The story is presumably based off  real-life experiences.

14-year-old Bobbie lives in an unnamed Midwest city in the 1970s. He left his abusive home and family a couple years ago and gets by on small time crime. His girlfriend is a couple years older and was sexually abused by everyone in her family. Bobbie squats in a drug house and has a few crook and drug friends.

Bobbie's idea of a big score is hitting a college laundromat and robbing all the cash changers and machines. He's caught by a security guard, has an epic fight, almost kills the guard, and stumbles home with serious injuries. A pal calls his uncle, a former med school student and Army commando, to patch Bobbie up. The Uncle, Mel, takes Bobbie under his wing. Mainly because Mel needs a small guy to work a pharmacy burglary with him.

Things happen. Bobbie brings along girlfriend Rosie and they follow Mel and Mel's girlfriend Syd across the Midwest and to Denver. Mel has crook connections and ex-Army-crook connections. They burglarize the pharmacy. Set up a to sell the drugs. Get into gunfights. Meet crook-friends of crook-friends. Plan scores. Get tipped on scores for a percentage to the planner. And shoot more and more and more heroin.

Hey, this is a novel. It's fiction. It's written by an ex-con bullshitter who was later indicted for financial fraud. The plot has a 14-year-old on the road, committing murder, and getting his 17-year-old girlfriend pregnant. Sure, it's possible. But, it goes a bit far for me with Bobbie joining this loose association of crooks and druggies dodging the cops/prison, fighting ripoffs from other crooks, and moving city to city.

Anyhoo. Like I wrote earlier, the writing did not grab me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Paperback: "Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers" by Grant Naylor

 Paperback: RED DWARF: INFINITY WELCOMES CAREFUL DRIVERS by Grant Naylor, 1989  AND 1992, 0451452011.

I wanted to rewatch RED DWARF the television program. I could not find the program on any of the streaming services I use. I checked the library catalog for DVDs and found this paperback. I mostly enjoyed it.

Stop reading if you've not seen the TV show. You won't care.

The story is something of a prequel with Lister living in a storage locker on some slummy moon (planet?) and joining the space company as a way to make his way back to Earth. Rimmer is alive and annoying and ends up Lister's roommate. Lister acts up as a way to be sentenced to suspended animation so he can just wake back up after a few years when the ship arrives at Earth. Rimmer is killed when the rest of the crew are killed.

Lister is woken and I don't recall why. Rimmer essentially lucks out in being a hologram rather than the thousands of other people. (There are more explanations of all this stuff, you can read the book if you want to know.) 

Kryten is discovered when the ship runs across Kryten's abandoned hulk on a planet. And we learn about cat's long geneaological heritage.

Comic Novel: "The Black Monday Murders" by Jonathan Hickman

 Comic Novel: THE BLACK MONDAY MURDERS: VOLUME 1: ALL HAIL, GOD MAMMON by Jonathan Hickman and a bunch of artists, 2017, 9781534300279.

I heard about this somewhere. I enjoyed the artwork and the story.

Plot: The world's financial markets are controlled through dark magic or the will of gods. Seven different organizations control their own markets. Important events require blood sacrifice.

More plot: A controlling member of the Caina family is murdered in New York. He sits on the secret controlling board and must be replaced. His long-gone - banished, mainly - sister is recalled from Europe to take his place. 

Time skips back on forth of the decades. Some characters live loooong lives due to power and magic. We get: 

  • occult symbols
  • power that makes people immune to anything
  • family drama
  • sexy sexy sex
  • occult symbols and ancient languages
  • more sexy sexy
  • familiars
I enjoyed it.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

DNF: THE OCTOPUS by Frank Norris

 DNF: THE OCTOPUS: A STORY OF CALIFORNIA by Frank Norris, 1901, 2005?, 1404322949.

Decently bound hardcover with no LOC cataloging-in-publication information. Odd, that is why a guess of 2005 for this print.

I read LAWN BOY a few months ago - not sure if I yet made any notes about the book here - and the narrator lists a number of books he is reading. OCTOPUS was one of those books and I decided to give it a try. 

Wealthy farmers with large land parcels in California have to ship their grain. The only shipper is the railroad which has a stranglehold. The railroad sets the rates and has the legislature and any Fed commissions in their pocket. The farmers have pushed back over the years with no success. I left the book when the farmers are meeting and trying to form a league to fight the railroad.  

I've had the book a long time and only read a fifth of the book. An interesting enough story but the older writing style requires a more relaxed reader than me. I did really enjoy how the shifting narration would take on the personality of each character. The quirks, the tics, the interests. One guy has a fear/desire for women that drives aggressive behavior. An older guy will talk forever and never stay on topic. 

Anyhoo. I quit it.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Audio: "Black Leopard, Red Wolf" Marlon James

 Audio: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, 2019, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

Mother. Fucker. The print edition has a fucking map. That's one thing I hate about fantasy books on audio: no maps.

A fantasy novel that, like the best fantasy novels, is a mix of genres. Western. Conan-type adventurer. Mystery. Political thriller.

Excellent narration. Lots of slashing with swords. hewing with teeth. Supernatural beings chasing the heroes. Tragic characters. Sex. Shapeshifting. Awful fathers. Abused children. Casual murder by the wealthy and powerful.

EDIT on 11-17-22: Finally posting this after it sat in draft status since February, 2022. Second novel in the series released shortly after I finished this. 

I wonder if James still teaches. I doubt it. Get enough success and focus on the writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Hardcover: "Stray Bullets" by Robert Rotenberg

 Hardcover: STRAY BULLETS by Robert Rotenberg, 2012, 9781476757773.

Police procedural set in Toronto. A 4-year-old is murdered by a stray bullet in a Tim Horton's parking lot. 

Straight forward and enjoyable procedural. Kinda relaxed without chases, car wrecks, fistfights, shoot-outs. Emphasis on the police investigation, witness interviews, forensic investigation, suspect interviews, and prosecution and defense of the case.

Not much else to say. A fair amount of Toronto talk but not a tour of the city and neighborhoods.

Good stuff: "The Butcher's Prayer" by Anthony Neil Smith

 Good stuff: THE BUTCHER'S PRAYER by Anthony Neil Smith, 2021, 9781914475160.

I took a while to get around to reading this one. I enjoyed it. Smith explores some far South religion, and murder, and family dynamics in coastal Mississippi.

Rodney was a dirtbag slob, became a holey roller, got married, had kids, backslid, and is now living with a friend from his dirtbag days. Rodney's wife, Rachel, kicked Rodney out over his booze use and ungodly watching of R-rated films. Rodney's pal, Charles, is a small time drug dealer, stupid, and paranoid. Charles murders his drug wholesaler while Rodney is there and things go downhill FAST.

Hosea is a police detective and brother-in-law of Rodney. Hosea used to be a  holey-roller preacher. His father and brother still are holey-rollers. We follow along as:

- Charles turns into a spree killer.

- Rodney goes on the run after using his butcher skills to try and conceal the murder of the wholesaler.

- Rachel thinks, "What the fuck did Rodney do?!"

- Hosea and his partner chase investigative leads during the manhunt and Hosea conflicts with his preacher brother and father. 

There are murders. There are close calls. There is desperation. There is religious zeal besting law and family. There are bad haircuts. There is religiously forced behavior and lifestyle.


1. 1996 setting with cell phones had me trying to remember how widespread cell phones were in '96.There must be some anachronisms in here. But, I'm not sure. I did not get a cell phone until 2001 or so.