12/15/11

Pattern recognition





Writers may not be more self-aware than anyone else but they keep better records. A body of work is the snail's trail of sensibility. But artists are as limited in their capacity for change as anyone else: no matter what they observe they will continue to make the same mistakes. This is one reason why writers tend towards melancholy: they have the data but can do nothing with it.

All by way of saying I've been reading the pulps again and trying not to drive a mental red-pen through words and sections. I finally -- finally -- made it through Dragon Tattoo. I love the images from the book and the film and I'm looking forward to Fincher remake and yes, it's sold a billion copies but boy does it creak. Pointless to rail against it, not least of all because the author is dead, but stroke of luck that the killer mastermind forgot to shut the door... The oversight would not embarrass Henning Mankell, who writes very well about Wallander drinking coffee and eating a sandwich; fairly well about the everyday nature of police investigations and terribly about crimes themselves. But Raymond Chandler's Playback is one of my favourite crime novels and that made no sense at all, so I have to give Mankell a pass... Now I'm back to Richard Price and Lush Life. Clockers was an OCD Adam 12. Maybe Lush Life will be the same. But I'm into it because of its dialogue and detailing.

In between I've been re-watching The Killing. The series has such a great setup that it can only be let down by the resolution. Not unlike the unravelling of a cheery Danish sweater... And dipping back into Twin Peaks, Hitchcock... And Californication. Nothing will be as good as Hank's first season so that's the one I return to. Again. The same decisions, the same mistakes over and over, the accrual of which becomes the author's style.

12/6/11

I took a wrong turn on the astral plane


People are raving about the posthumous Amy Winehouse album but I find it difficult to listen to, and not just because she isn't here any more. The production is too up front for her intimate, sharply sensitive vocalisations. Even if the young singer's performances were physically frail – and lord knows they probably were – it's wrong for the band and producers to take center stage, let alone put a beat box there. Winehouse is played over on 'Girl from Ipanema' and trapped by a snare drum on 'A Song For You.' It's as if everyone's pushing past her for the last piece of the limelight. Bad production, bad karma. Above: Amy in her happier unhappy days. (Update: And here, accompanied in Ireland. Recommended.)

In 2006 Bookslut – my favourite slut – interviewed Lawrence Block about his Hit Man series. The first book in the series is a crime novel I really admire.
Let's start with the new book, Hit Parade. What's next for John Keller?

Morrow will publish Hit Parade on July 4. Like Hit Man and Hit List, the book's an episodic novel, and I don't know to what extent it differs from the earlier books. It seems to me we get a little more background information about Keller, and that he's going through changes and emotional stresses. But he's still Keller.

Does Keller's distant nature lend itself to the episodic format you've employed in the Hitman trilogy?

It seems to. Most of the episodes seem to work as short stories. Playboy will be publishing one sometime this spring.

Does Keller have a conscience?

It seems to me he has both roots and a conscience. They're just a little different from most people, and he's learned to cope with them differently.

Peter Straub said that Keller reminded him of you more than your other characters. Is it hard to keep yourself out of your books?

No, what's hard is keeping myself out of jail.
Full interview is here.

12/4/11

The 47th pancake


Mr. Stratford discusses Distance Looks Our Way. When I worked at the Auckland [City] Art Gallery people always seemed to be referencing it. That, the "cinema of unease" and the Edmonds Cookbook.

You know that feeling when you sit up suddenly and a pull a muscle? I think I just did that to my brain. It's been a long week / month / year.

Meanwhile...

20th Century Fox may have leaked a photo of the space jockey. Mr. Trent Reznor and Mr. Atticus Ross have released a free sampler from the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack. (If you buy the whole three and a half CDs' worth you get their Karen O cover of 'Immigrant Song' free. Full of win!) This is Purity Ring and this is The Brighter Future. And tonight, Matthew, Sienna Miller will be Tippi Hedren. The press announcement is not wrong to describe Hedren as Hitchcock's obsession but he had more than one.