Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reviews (books and two disturbing films ... and one from 1953 Coney Island) ... debates/speeches ... sports ...


Richard Bausch … when I embarked on my MFA journey I was equally as anxious (in a good way) to see what I’d be assigned to read as I was about trying something out of my writing league. As it has turned out thus far, I couldn’t be happier with everything about the program, from reading lists to mentors to classmates to the writing projects. It’s certainly filled my schedule during my unemployed hours and now that I’m working again, it’s kind of filled my life (in a very good way). First off, my mentor for this semester is a guy who founded and has run the MFA program at Boise State for fifteen years (Mitch Wieland). You’ve read a review of one of his books here (God’s Dogs). Not to worry, there’s no sucking up in these programs. You either do the work or you don’t; there aren’t A’s or B’s to try for … or D’s or F’s to avoid. You’re either in a program like this for a purpose or you’re not. You don’t take advantage of it, you’re the fool.

Mitch is one of the excellent staff at SNHU and I’ll be reviewing more of the staff’s works here over the course of the next year. I’ve already done so for Katherine Towler (in fact, had read and reviewed her long before I ever applied to the program), and she’s now up for a New Hampshire literary award with her latest, Island Light. While Michele Isler remains my official Godmother (and #1 fan), Katie is the Godmother of the SNHU program. Don’t make noise outside her Shutter Island room or you sleep with the fishes …

So, back to Bausch … Mitch recommended I read The stories of Richard Bausch this past month and like the epiphany I once had reading George V. Higgins (actually hearing Dave Gresham read him), Bausch’s stories have so energized me, it’s become pretty obvious that attending SNHU for my MFA has been the best writing decision I’ve made since I’m published. My original mentor (Dave Gresham) had sent me a Raymond Carver book of short stories back a few years ago, probably to give me a push in that direction (and probably because my original writings were theatre pieces about relationships). Carver’s works got me started writing short stories and I put together a collection just a few people have read. Now that I’ve read Bausch, I’m finding him more in tune with what suits me and I’m super inspired of late (i.e., I haven’t stopped writing since starting to read Bausch). 8 non-crime short stories and 4 crime short stories—10 of the 12 inspired by reading Bausch; one by a movie mentioned below and the other from a Facebook search for someone from my past. I can’t tell you how or why these epiphanies happen, amici, but when they strike, there’s just no stopping what happens next; the mind starts whirling and the fingers start typing and hopefully it’s readable in the end, but you know (you really do) that you’re on to something and you just can’t get enough of it (the reading and/or the writing). Just about everything else gets in the way.

So, yeah, buy this collection of short stories by Richard Bausch and yous tell me. I just bought one of his novels (3 novels in one) and will report back/review them when I have the time again.

Visit his website and writers pay attention to his ten commandments ...

I’m told that my Review of Frank Bill’s Crimes in Southern Indiana will appear on The Crime of It All sometime next week.
Crime Factory, The First Shift is now available at Amazon. It’s loaded with short stories from around the crime writing world. They even let me in there ... Keith Rawson was the editor and this baby features a ton of very good crime writers (the list is very impressive if you skip my name).

My short story, The Decider, (no, not the last imbecile to occupy the white house) has to do with a cancer-riddled word processor fed up with a Rodan-like Human Resources person ... Would you look at the beak on this broad (Rodan)?

Two disturbing films I watched last weekend kept me thinking about them all week. Both are Spanish. One is called Tony Manero (Chile/Brazil) and yes, it has to do with the John Travolta character from Saturday Night Fever. The other is called Battle in Heaven (Chile) and it sparked a short story I couldn’t resist writing because of the effect the film had on me. There are sex scenes in here I know Doc will have a good laugh at my expense over (since they have to do with what he claims is my obligatory opening scene BJ) but it isn’t the sex scenes that disturbed me (not fully). You’ll have to take a look-see and decide for yourselves.

Tony Manero ...

Battle in Heaven ...

Here’s a less disturbing film some Brooklynites will definitely get a kick out of. It was suggested to me by author, editor and one of SNHU’s brilliant staff, Merle Drown, The Little Fugitive.. You’ll get to see Coney Island the way it was when we were kids (The Steeplechase and Parachute Jump, etc.). It’s a beautiful thing ... plus the dialogue made me feel 50 years younger ... oy vey.

Actor Josh Duhamel is a Minot, North Dakota boy and he’s put some effort and bucks behind the relief effort there for victims of the record flooding the Magic city experienced this year. Duhamel should next give serious consideration to first buying the film rights, then starting and maybe producing Rough Riders, the next Stella novel that features a Minot local detective, a Miss North Dakota and some characters from Eddie’s World (the first Stella crime novel). My writing roots began in North Dakota under the tutelage of Dave Gresham. I’m a former MSC Beaver … and I even ate Lutafisk once. Think about it, Josh … you’re the guy I’ve been waiting for …

GOP debate … there was this bozo act this past week. Seriously, a car salesman (Romney) “held his own” and that’s something to look forward to? Reduce taxes, cut entitlements, but let’s not discuss the war (literally) or what it costs in blood and coin, but especially as regards ending ALL OF THEM (WARS) already. Let’s just figure out a way for the most wealthy in the country to “earn” more wealth while the ever widening gap becomes Death Valley for all us non-millionaires.

The President’s Speech …

No, not that one … the other one Thursday night that officially kicked off the 2012 Presidential campaign for Mr. Obama. In it he clearly defined how he’ll try and win reelection. I don’t remember when the dog and pony show these speeches have become bothered me as much (not what President Obama was doing, but rather all the posturing by the members of Congress—stand up, sit down, stand, sit, etc.), but the incredible rudeness by a few of the GOP members was pretty shameless, I thought. At least wait until the guy is finished before you giggle …

How Mr. Obama brought up collective bargaining with a straight face has to be one for the ages, but Richard Trumpka sitting in the house for the spectacle didn’t surprise me at all; it’s a literal Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for corruption, our government is.

Surely we don’t have to be forced to watch the joke it (our government) has become on national television. Couldn’t we just watch Abbott and Costello reruns instead? I love this one (reminds of sitting and standing, etc.) ... “The guy hit me.”

Louis Tiant vs. Denny McClain … this has to do with an MFA short story I’m writing based on the Strat-O-Matic baseball card game; one of the characters in the story lost a son a few years back and can’t relate to the rest of the world and thus lives in a kind of fantasy world based around the game. The story isn’t about him, though … my mind works in whack job ways.

Football is back … and my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills will shock the Chefs of KC this weekend with a 23-17 victory. Neither of the last two super bowl champions bothered bringing their defenses as yards accumulated like snowflakes in Vermont. The Pack is likely back, but it’s a long season and injuries play a significant enough roll to not crown any champions yet (just ask the Coltless who are now Paytonless … forgetaboutit).

 Our director at the SNHU program may have an unprounceable name in Brooklynese (Diane Les Becquets), but she's a hell of a writer and a Vince Lombardi reincarnation (in the best possible way) ... so TK annointed Diane "Little Vince" this week.  I read Season of Ice a few months before the program began and it was terrific (you'll feel the chill in the air she describes).  Remember Lombardi time?  Now there's Les Becquets (pronounced Le Beck) time ... don't be late!


So, since football is back, it's time to celebrate ... how else but with booze ... the brindisi from La Traviata (Libiamo = the drinking song)