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, July 24, 2010

Late Rain by Lynn Kostoff ... Joe Barton II (Kenneth Feinberg) ... the DOC ... then the DOC again ...

“Masterful writing, spot on dialogue and insight to the human condition more often associated with literary works than crime fiction, Lynn Kostoff’s Late Rain is one of those rare novels that transcend genre fiction; it is writing at its very best, brilliant from start to finish.” —Charlie Stella

That’s my blurb for Lynn Kostoff’s latest, Late Rain, a great read from a great writer.

I’m a long time Lynn Kostoff fan. We go back to the year I was first published at Carroll & Graf about the same time Lynn’s The Long Fall (a truly terrific read) was published by the same publisher. Lynn has since become even more literary in his approach and we get into some of that in an upcoming Crimeculture Interview so I won’t repeat it here.

I recently commented on a crime writing blog that dealt with “good writing” vs. “bad writing” and how commercial success often has nothing to do with either. Well, for what it’s worth, Late Rain is GREAT writing. I’ve reread it twice already ... and like reading Steinbeck or Dostoevsky, it only gets better.


The background: A woman (Corrine Tedros) with a past she’s running from has met and married (all in 3 weeks) the nephew of a soft drink company about to go national. Her hubby is a soft touch and a bit of a bumpkin, but the uncle is anything but. He’s in his 80’s but sharp as a tack and he spots Corrine for what she is and what she’s after. The big brands want to buy him out and if he sells, the family will be rich beyond Corrine’s dreams. But the old man (Stanley) is also old school and concerned for workers who’ve been loyal to him from the get-go. It’s a moral dilemma for everybody but Stanley; he ain’t a sellin’. Corrine sees light at the end of Stanley’s tunnel and resorts to the ways of the wicked. A female Raskolnikov or just another opprotunist?

Then there’s Ben Decovic, the protagonist haunted by ghosts of his own; his wife was randomly killed by a nutcase out on a killing spree. That was in his Ohio detective days, after which he started boozing and eventually quit the force to move to fictional Magnolia Beach, South Carolina. He’s a patrol officer now and still can’t sleep and is forced to mark the beers he drinks on his wrist to remind himself of the count.

Rounding out the essential players are Anne, Paige and Jack Carson (daughter, granddaughter and father). Jack has Alzheimer’s and he witnesses a murder, how on earth does one pry the information from him?

Lynn Kostoff has written a wonderful novel about life’s desires and the choices we make in pursuit of them. One of the most literary of all crime novels I’ve ever read, Late Rain is laced with intelligent, beautiful prose ... like these (for instance):

At that moment, Anne’s smile held the promise that March made to April and May collected on, an old promise that unexpectedly opened onto an earthbound grace which arose simply from the business of living.

Half a page later:

He was needed, and being needed was both an aphrodasiac and sacrament. Ben and Anne finding each other in the dark each night, an urgency of hands and mouths and breath and flesh, and on the other side of the bedroom door, three lives and now a fourth that were joined in an equally fundamental way.

Flesh and family.

He’d found a place in both.

There’s a two page paragraph (a Hemingwayesque Kostoff trademark) at the end of the book that is equally as beautiful and somewhat more powerful, but that would be providing a spoiler of sorts and I’m not about to do that. It is truly magnificent writing, real writing (something I couldn’t reproduce with a gun to my head).

Lynn recently had a reprint of one of his earlier novels, A Choice of Nightmares (reviewed here). Credit New Pulp Press with the smarts for reprinting this terrific read.

If yous buy a summer read, amici, Late Rain is the one to purchase. I’ll say it again:

“Masterful writing, spot on dialogue and insight to the human condition more often associated with literary works than crime fiction, Lynn Kostoff’s Late Rain is one of those rare novels that transcend genre fiction; it is writing at its very best, brilliant from start to finish.” —Charlie Stella

And now back to the stuff that makes my stomach turn ...

No, not my fantasy connections, amici … POLITICS … focking POLITICS.

If this clown in the White House could be any more late out of the gate, or absolutely out of touch with those out of work, it’d be near impossible to tell. Just when I thought it was safe to avoid political blogging at all costs, one of The One’s hand-picked CZARS goes and gaffs ala Joe Barton. Whatever Barton handed the Dems with his apology to BP, Kenneth Feinberg passed the baton right back to the Republicans with this:

U.S. "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg on Friday declined to request 17 financial firms that doled out $1.6 billion in "ill advised" executive compensation to return the excessive payouts, saying to do so would be unfair to the companies and could trigger private lawsuits and additional Congressional investigation.

What a CZAR he is … this joker pissed me off when he started double talking on the $20 billion rip-off fund BP put in place (to see their stocks skyrocket the day after President Clueless accepted it). But this one (below) almost equals my obsession with the Fredo Administration’s excusing bailed out companies $38 BILLION in tax revenue (while my wife and I had to pay an extra $26K last year – because I was stupid enough to work 7 days a week the year before and she worked full-time and did a lot of OT so we could put up some bucks for a down payment on a house and help in some small way with my daughter’s wedding). Let’s see, nobody gave us any “bail out money” we “wouldn’t have to pay taxes on as income” but Goldman Sachs, et al, got to take OUR money and NOT PAY tax on the profits they made from it.


This was the party of the people that permitted that, am I right? This was the Change We Could Believe In Party? This was the YES WE CAN man … too bad he didn’t provide the other half of the sentence. To wit: SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS.

When, I ask (again and again), is the so-called "left" going to realize the Democratic Party is a planet away from what they claim to seek? Would it really make a difference if they broke away to join the Green Party (or any other party) to force the Democrats to quit IGNORING them? Has this president acted any differently to the money powers that be than the last president? This one was against earmarks the day after okaying 9,000+ of them ... he added 33,000,000 customers for insurance companies who can take a $100 a day fine for refusing pre-existing conditions (as opposed to paying millions for the coverage they need), he enacted half-assed regulations against Wall Street nearly two years after giving away the store and neglecting to protect the American worker ... and now his Pay Czar feels it would be unfair to ASK bailed out companies to return some of the "ill advised" bonuses they rewarded themselves with (again our money). Feinberg is HIS Czar … and although Obama took Bush’s lead on bailing out banks/firms that gambled and lost (and brought it to the outer limits of reason), this statement was every bit as insensitive as Joe (the pin cushion for big oil) Barton’s apology to BP. It is just absurd. Obama and his party represent the working man? Really?


From here on out, the DOC’s trademark name wins out. Here at TK President Obama is now officially President Fredo.

“UNFAIR” to bailed out companies? Subjecting them to another Congressional investigation is UNFAIR?

President Fredo …

Oy vey, Amici ... oy fucking vey ...


The DOC and his delayed deadline …

Well, we went to some stupid water park yesterday even though I have a freaking 17,000 gallon pool in the back. Then today the babysitter's family dropped by (all 5 of them) and Natasha couldn't survive without them, so they get treated like royalty.

Finally, the blockbusters don't debut on Sunday afternoon.

And who are you to talk? You wrote nothing last week. You published an email of mine that began with "I've got nothing"

And finally, finally I'm reading "Angela's Ashes" you should be checking up on me every few hours. I read another 20 pages... another dead baby. This morbid fuck is running out of characters. The last 100 pages must be a monologue.

But I have been thinking about my retort. Be patient. The amicis aren't like us. They have lives.


And FINALLY, the DOC says …

You know, Chaz, every time I hear you outraged about how the Dems screw the little guy I wonder how you ever survived the mean streets of Canarsie. When you were in street finance did a lot of guys pay you off with hundred dollar bills with Joe Dimaggio’s picture on it? The Bamster has surrounded himself with Goldman Sach’s guys. I don’t know how they get away with it, but Wall Street donates most of its money to the Dems, and yet the Reps are the “party of big business”. It’s the same way when a Rep jaywalks the Dems demand that he resign… and he does. Charlie Rangel is being investigated for 9 different offenses. There is no talk of him stepping down.

Moving on to more pressing issues.

Can you believe Fredo is selling tickets to his birthday party at $30,000 a pop? I mean really, Chaz, what kind of a weenie charges people to come to his birthday party? That said… I really want to go. I was thinking if each reader of Knucksline sent in $1 we could have our own delegate present. Okay, I’ll get more realistic. If each reader of Knucksline sent in $10,000 I could go. How cool would that be? I could be the Minister of Information of Knucksland. Bear in mind this is the president who visited 57 of the states and still had 3 to go. I’m sure that muppet would claim that he had been there. I might even be able to sell Michelle on those diet shakes that rocketed you down from 335 pounds to 333 pounds in only 6 months.

Have a good week