Cover Story

To my colleagues in the foreign affairs community, known and unknown, I regret that the artwork of my novel about your service has misrepresented the truth. “BOO-ring," LousyBookCoversDotCom hooted. "Showing you just how dramatic diplomacy can be.” What an insult my cover must seem to those of us who serve our country. What an insult to those who've worked in … Continue reading Cover Story

Farce Within a Farce

This review captures the tenor and purpose of Two Pumps for the Body Man with incredible brevity and precision. I wish I knew more about the reader, who goes simply by "B". In some ways, that mystery (I know only that they also reviewed Soul Combat+ Ultimate Active Performance Over-Ear Headphones, Storm Black) adds to the satisfaction of having such an … Continue reading Farce Within a Farce

Review: The Brothers Connolly

Ted Prokash employs a rich, poetic voice to tell his story of middle America, giving The Brothers Connolly the quality of an epic. His narrator breaks this novel free of its small-town confines. The writing, here, is the main event. Prokash is skillful and convincing in his portrayal of life in Napawaupee, Wisconsin. He renders with equal … Continue reading Review: The Brothers Connolly

Infidelities for Valentine’s Day

It’s just like Michael Hemmingson to be gone. Just when I wanted to thank him for his black Valentine’s Day messages. There’s a world of hurt in his collection Pictures of Houses with Water Damage (Black Lawrence Press, 2010). It’s a numbed kind of hurt, the kind of pain felt after a breakup, whether you wanted to … Continue reading Infidelities for Valentine’s Day

Review: Foreign Service Fiction

Anyone who thinks diplomacy is about choosing the right fork at the right time should think again and read James O'Callaghan’s clever satire No Circuses (Tacchino Press, 2015). Forget preconceived notions of dinner-party diplomacy: keeping one’s elbows off the table, tangoing the rival into submission, and writing it up the next day in communiqués to DC. What diplomacy’s really about, in O’Callaghan’s world, … Continue reading Review: Foreign Service Fiction

The Blind Rooster Jumps to Paperback

Preston Lang’s The Blind Rooster (Crime Wave Press) is now more pulpy than ever before. It's recently been made available in paperback! Reading this dime-store crime tale is a lot like people-watching at the Laundromat: the major figures resemble coin-op types, people resigned to the vague indignity of paying to have their underwear tumble around in a public washer. And don’t … Continue reading The Blind Rooster Jumps to Paperback

Writers at Rest

Taking a break from producing fiction? A couple of reads that offer ridiculous, pathetic, sad, witty, funny--fun--looks at the fiction-writer's life include The Visiting Writer, a short story from Matthew Vollmer's collection Gateway to Paradise, and Chris Belden's novel, Shriver. The Visiting Writer delivers us into the world of literary aspiration, a lament on the lack of success, a self examination, … Continue reading Writers at Rest

Review: Gateway to Paradise

The six stories in Matthew Vollmer’s Gateway to Paradise (Persea books) plow dark furrows across the landscape, furrows at once unified yet unique, parallel channels promising individual reward. The unifying darkness is subtle, distinct, reassuring in its way. It is a darkness that blooms rather than dooms, mesmerizes rather than terrifies, reveals rather than obscures. As for … Continue reading Review: Gateway to Paradise

Review: Shriver

Chris Belden’s Shriver might be called a book about a novelist who wrote a book called Goat Time which everybody seems to enjoy but nobody seems to have read, at least not entirely, including not the author Shriver himself. Add to this nonsensical loop a few day’s worth of swarming mosquitoes, a crate or two … Continue reading Review: Shriver

Lang Speaks

Just stumbled upon Stuart Beaton's podcast featuring my old buddy Preston Lang. The conversation between the two is thoughtful and funny, a mirror of Lang's writing. If you like noir, pick up The Blind Rooster; if you like crime fiction, it's The Carrier, both released last year. As for this podcast: Do we really need a 90,000-word book … Continue reading Lang Speaks