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).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Print the Legend ... Sunday with Mom ... Go beat that Dead Horse ... JP ... DOC says ...


Print the Legend is available this week (February 16, 2010). Here’s a reminder why to purchase it ... on July 2, 1961 Ernest Hemingway blew his brains out … or did he? Speculation about Papa’s death has been the obsession of some ever since. Through an ingenious set of scenarios that include a 1965 Hemingway Conference of academics in Ketchum, Idaho (where Hem died) where one professor (Richard Paulson) has come to interview the widow Hemingway (Mary) and has brought his Scottish, very pregnant wife (and a wannabe writer herself—Hannah), a rogue FBI/CIA lunatic (Donovan Creedy—a writer himself) with his own Hemingway obsession and our protagonist, Hector Lassiter (a longtime friend to Hem going back to their Italy war days, a writer and a definite macho man complete with his very own FBI tail), author Craig McDonald delivers the goods once again in this third in his Hector Lassiter series.

Prof. Paulson is out to prove the widow Hemingway is the one who killed Papa. Creedy is out to ruin Papa’s literary reputation and is using Paulson to get it done. Creedy’s FBI ties go way back in Hemingway time and are a part of Director Herbert Hoover’s paranoid attempt to discredit writers he found fault with over his 48 year career—Hemingway being at the top of his hit list.

The novel starts with an incredibly gripping first chapter (Hemingway’s last day) and then bounces back and forth through some of Papa and Lassiter’s past, Hoover (and Creedy’s) ongoing grudge match with Hem and always returning to present day 1965 and the days surrounding the conference (where Lassiter is the keynote speaker). There is enough subterfuge here to label this novel a spy thriller, but it is also a crime novel and something I like to call “documentary-like fiction” (fiction based on fact presented so authentically it might as well be a documentary) … but that would do a disservice to the author because McDonald is much more literary than the average jamoke writing crime novels these days. He has both a literary and journalist background (has published two author interview books considered the standard by which such revealing dialogues are measured—Art in the Blood and Rogue Males) and, as one might’ve figured out by now, McDonald is pretty much a Hemingway expert. His three Lassiter novels are smart, intriguing and loaded with Americana I can’t get enough of.

Print the Legend is the third in the Hector Lassiter Series (behind Edgar nominated Head Games and Toros & Torsos), but the Lassiter story began with a brilliant short story in the prestigious Mississippi Review, The Last Interview. It was immediately after McDonald’s first short story was published that I wrote him something akin to: “What the fuck are you dicking around doing interviews for? You’re a great writer.” As it turns out, McDonald is a superb writer and well on his way to the top of a very competitive writing world.

Most of yous know I refuse to provide spoilers (I want yous to READ), so don’t expect any here. Suffice it to say, for those interested in anything Hemingway, the history behind much of his life, the times, the people around him (including those out to malign him), his death and what came after, the Hector Lassiter series (all three books) are a must read. For those interested in good, smart writing, ditto. For those interested in a wild ride that transverses time and continents, ditto again. And for those looking for something that will not only enlighten, but will provide some genuine background of what government can (and often will) do to those it fears, Print the Legend, as quoted by best selling author Michael Connelly (on the cover), is indeed “an epic masterpiece.”

Sunday with Mom ... the Principessa and the ugly one visit Momma Stella every Sunday. We go bearing gifts (food) and general joy and happiness. This Sunday Mom was quick to tell her sonny boy about “that novel” that had given her so much angst the last two weeks.

Momma Stella: “Oh, Jason (my cousin, the diet coach and all around great guy) called me. He said ‘I hear you don’t like the new book.’ I told him what I told you about the cursing and sex and all that dirty crap.”

Knucks: “Yeah, so?”

Momma Stella: “Well, I went back and tried it again. I went a few more chapters and thought, okay, it’s calming down now. And then I turned the page and there it is all over again. This one’s talking about a blow job, this one is grabbing that one’s ass, it was too much. I’m sorry, sonny, I can’t read it. I’ll try again in a few weeks.”

The conversation switched to Poppa Stella (Poppa Tommy) and Momma was discussing with the wife how none of the Stella men were very handy when it came to tools and carpentry and so on. This brought some ire from the ugly one.

“Don’t you talk about my Daddy like that. I remember he did the entire basement one year. He put up the cabinets and everything.”

Momma Stella: “What the hell do you know? (Turning to Ann Marie) That’s because his father helped him, my husband. And his uncle Joe. (Turning back to me) Your father didn’t know shit about being handy. (Back to Ann Marie) They did the work so Tommy (Poppa Stella) had to stay there and learn. Then he knew how to mix cement and put up the cabinets, but he didn’t know shit before that.”

At this point, the Principessa, who had been smiling through the entire dialogue, (sarcastically) chirped in.

AM: “Just like your son, Hope.”

MS: “Yeah, right. This one couldn’t put a thumbtack in the wall.”

Knucks: “How about I put one in your eye?”

Momma Stella (turns to Knucks and gives him the finger): “How about I stick one up your ass?”

Knucks (points to the 50 statues of Saints my Eucharistic Minister Mom prays to 40 x’s a day -- usually for one of us to win Lotto): “Nice. You don’t think they saw that, you giving me the finger?”

Momma Stella: “Jesus forgives me. He knows what I have to put up with with you.”

Knucks: “Oh, give me a break. You’re off the hook since I’m eighteen. Annie’s the one has to put with me now.”

Momma Sella: “Annie’s a saint.”

Well, no argument there, amici. A few of yous have told me that about the old ball and chain having to put up with me.

Anyway, Mom had eaten half of the small heart’s worth of chocolate before we left and the boss and I had an over/under side bet that she’d be finished with the chocolates before we made it back to the car.

Go beat that dead horse ... over at What Fresh Denial Is This, they're back to attacking the right on the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab situation. While we all know the right will attack any and everything the left does for the sake of partisan politics (exactly the same way the left will attack the right on all and anything it does for the exact same reason--and isn’t that a revelation?), the fact this underwear bomber issue takes precedence over all the change that isn’t (or hasn’t) happened yet, including President Fredo’s last gaff defending tax payer padded bonuses of bailed out corporate execs, his constant moving to the right on every single policy issue he’s bothered to engage in and let's not forget about half dozen or so bombs that went off in Iraq and Afghanistan last week killing hundreds of innocents and a few US troops ... attacking wingnuts is the focus of ... well, let’s call it what it is—denial.

“OK, so it's not as much fun for wingnuts as torturing him might be. But it's undoubtedly working better. And we don't have to abandon real American principles like the Rule of Law to do it.”

Once again, let us examine the second part of the above: “And we don't have to abandon real American principles like the Rule of Law to do it.”

TK has to wonder just how our American principles like the Rule of Law are served when we insist on prosecuting “criminal terrorists” here, but continue to drop bombs on them over there. Are Muslim nations really impressed with our ability to be civil here in the states while we indiscriminately kill them (without the benefit of a trial, never mind Miranda) there? It’s a valid question, we think. If they’re criminals and not soldiers, why aren’t we capturing them there and bringing them here for trial? Why are we dropping bombs on them (and the innocents standing anywhere near them--the linked article tells of 12 Afghanistan innocents killed by a misguided missile, i.e., collateral damage, except this time no terrorists (or are they criminals?) were killed). Without proving the terrorist/criminals we do kill over there guilty of crimes against the United States, how can we use terms like American principles of the Rule of Law? Is it lawful to kill without a trial? If they are criminals, aren't they being pre-judged? Aren't they supposed to be proven guilty first?

Or do those questions get in the way of that Rule of Law thingie?

We can see how Muslims around the world (not just those with a beef against the United States) might view trials here while we kill “suspected” terrorists/criminals (and innocents) there without trials as an absolute hypocrisy of “American principles like the Rule of Law."

Hell, they sure seem hypocritical to me.

TK isn’t sure which way to go is the right way, but we sure can tell the difference between rhetoric and reality. Choose one or the other and stick to your guns (or courts of law), but on this issue, What Fresh Denial Is This is just as guilty of double-speak as the wingnuts they attack (on a daily basis) when they defend Rules of Law here without insisting on them there ... or maybe they’re okay with killing (and torture?) so long as it isn’t here.

The fact that Republicans are being totally duplicitous about this (since they did exactly the same thing to the shoe bomber) proves 1) they are partisan hacks looking to make President Fredo look worse than he is ... and 2) the two parties act EXACTLY the same way ... in total contradiction to their own principles, or we’d be giving them trials over there too.

Republicans ... Democrats ... two versions of the same ...

But we'll end this post on a much happier note ... some good stuff about Johnny Porno.

HOUSTON, they'll have signed copies of Johnny Porno at Murder By the Book in April. The good people at Murder by the book made us feel like a million bucks when we were last there (Mafiya). We got to meet real to life Stella fans who we shared some New York canoli with.

Hey, Houston is a great town. I bought my DW drums from Cymbal Fusion there (ask for Eric).

"Mr. Stella is a natural. As soon as I finished Johnny Porno I gave the book to my son so we could both be wiser-guys. Now I'm going to find all his other novels. He's a true master." --Dow Mossman, The Stones of Summer

"More good words on Johnny Porno ... from the goodfellas at Men Reading Books: "While Stella points to George V. Higgins as inspiration, I see comparisons to a couple of my favorite contemporary authors who I think also excel at dialogue, George Pelacanos and Richard Price. Through Stella, you can practically smell the garlic on the breath of the wiseguys trying to intimidate, strain to hear cops jerking each other around through hot dog stuffed faces, wince at the lunacy of an ex-wife going off the deep end, and nod approvingly when someone does a decent thing for Johnny. Why Stella’s books aren’t flying off the main table at the front door of Barnes/Noble and Borders is, in itself, a crime." —East Coast Don

Read the entire review here.


And if you can't get to Houston or order Johnny Porno through Murder by the book (which you can--just click on their link right here), you can Preorder Johnny Porno here.

And the DOC says ...

Hey Chaz,

I would have gotten back to you sooner, but I had to do some major cleaning of my computer screen after I read that line about Obama's "constant moving to the right". To the right of whom? Chairman Mao? Danny Glover?

I've warned you about those other blog sites, but you just keep going back. Now, be honest, for how many days have you and the liberal deep thinkers been discussing this terrorist trial issue?

"Well, if we try them over here, then we should try them over there."

"Well, how come nobody complained when Bush did it?"

And then after 3 or 4 days of bashing Bush and Palin it will go this way:

-You'll call the blogmaster an asshole
-For about half a day you and the blogmaster will trade insults
-You'll get banned
-You'll get back on and be twice as abusive as before
-The blogmaster will write his drama packed reasons why he is shutting down the blog
-You'll try to explain how when you called him an asshole you didn't mean it in a negative way.
-In a day or two, the blog will be back and the circle jerk will continue.

Just stick with Knucksline, Chaz. You got it made over here.

You come out with your opinions. Next day, that loveable old Docster pees all over them. And then we move on. No muss, no fuss. Bada bing, bada boom.

Life is too short to dance with ugly women.

BTW, I pre-ordered two copies of Johnny Porno based on your mother's review. It better be as dirty and disgusting as she described.

Your pal,
that loveable old Docster