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, May 26, 2012

The Doc is back!


Before getting into the return of le doc ... we at TK feel a need to address the Devils victory over the Rangers last night in Newark. TK has little to say except the following: Fuck hockey and Go Bills!

Now, the Doc is back!

For those unfamiliar with us here at TK (Temporary Knucksline), we’re a non-profit (boy are we non-profit) equal opportunity annoyance, but we do our best to amuse and promote as many of the arts and artists as we can. Included in our policy of equal opportunity annoyance is giving voice to a terrific writer and all around ball-breaker, Jim (Doc) Nyland. Somewhere right of Ghengis Khan, he’s been on a drinking sabbatical of late (yeah, no shit?) ... but today he’s back (to haunt me and Obama ... and I don’t even like Obama) ... here now, the Doc (his email to me last night):

So what’s happening, bro? I missed you.

It’s always nice to take care of the pleasantries up front.

I go away for a weekend of soul searching and perhaps some light cocktailing and return five months later to find this!

TK is covering literature and HOCKEY. Pray tell, what market are you shooting for… Toronto librarians? Granted they are a polite bunch and generally disease free, but unless you can somehow weave Wayne Gretsky into the narrative of the five New York crime families your book sales are going nowhere with this.

It’s only May, but the Bamster is in full campaign mode. He’s out there selling his wares like a Dublin hooker on the week before Lent and TK is covering hockey games!!!

I also noticed that you are getting prepared for your Summer solstice with a bevy of college co-eds on the deserted island of NoTellMotel, Maine. One of these days you have to explain how you get this to fly with the Principessa. I once suggested it as a way to improve my literary skills to my betrothed, the Ayatollah, and within seconds I was ducking sharpened steel faster than a shrimp at a sushi shack.

I have more on my tiny brain, but I thought I would keep it short after my recent sabbatical. Besides you have no idea the racket keyboard keys make when dealing with a five month hangover.

And how about a tune that was not written before they invented soap.

Take care, brother

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bagged: One Serial Line-Spacing Felon ... Editorstein (The Angry Editor) … A precious pit bull … Lunch with the King … Rangers-Devils ...


Bagged: The Line-Spacing Felon ... It looks like the ugly Knuckster will doing one more perp walk before the year is out. Last week I was bagged and tagged by my MFA mentor, Jessica Anthony ...

Each month we have to submit 30 pages of new fiction for analysis/comments/edits, etc., and while some might try and S-T-R-E-T-C-H what they produce, the ugly one understands the value of a buck (i.e., tuition) ... Originally Jessica thought I had used 1.5 line spacing, but that would’ve been too easy to catch. I used EXACT line spacing instead (you can cheat even more this way) ...

I usually get away with 2-3 extra pages per submission with my word processing skills (line spacing and solitaire I’m really good at) ... but this time, figuring it was our last submission of the semester and I was kind of on a writing roll, I squeezed some extra extra text in there ... when double-spaced (the way they’re supposed to be submitted), the total felonious assault on poor Jess’s eyes turned out to be 7 extra pages (37 in total).

She’s got a gift (my friends) ... She saw that there was something I was trying to do and she figured that out ... God bless her, she’s got a fuckin’ gift ... She’s good ... she’s very good.

Now I can consider shutter island my sentence ... not being a slave to fashion, I’m not sure what I can wear ...

The Angry Editor … boy has the Principessa Ann Marie come a long way. No longer content to offer manuscript suggestions to the ugly one (moi), she now hurls them my way (with attitude). She started the first round of edits on the Jimmy Mangino (Shutter island/MFA crime novel) novel and said, “I have a lot of problems with this … that … and the other thing.”

Madonna mia, she’s become Editorstein! I’ll be rewriting Jimmy Mangino according to the boss’s “suggestions” starting this weekend.

How sad/touching is this?

Read about it here.


Saturday we’ll be having lunch with Corky and Dana King at casa Stella. Good timing, too … the wife has hired a new landscaper to try and make our barren front yard look like the rest of the lawns in Fords. It was up to me, there’d be one neat looking concrete slab with a park bench, water fountain and card table out there instead. Lunch will be much better than the lawn, that’s for sure. We got lots of eye-talian stuff coming from our favorite Pork Store ... and some sfogliatelle and cannoli ...

A very cool side benefit for me (with Dana) is learning hockey; he’s a genuine fan, I’m a novice. Co-worker Sue Bennett gets the bulk of the credit for getting me to watch the Rangers at the start of the playoffs (and I haven't missed a game since) ... it’s a great sport (especially during the playoffs) ... hopefully the Rangers will recover from the deveastating loss the other night (their best game of the playoffs thus far, except King Henry had an off-night and we seemed to run out of gas with six minutes left in the third period.

Dana has a new novel out on kindle, Worst Enemies. I had the pleasure of reading this one a few years ago and it’s terrific. I'm actually rereading it now. Just about everyone who’s read him (certainly all those I suggested read him), have fell in love with his writing (a touch of Elmore Leonard, another of John McFetridge and his own distinct style make him one of the very best around. Here’s an interview TK did with Dana just last year ...

Buy Wild Bill here ...

Buy Worst Enemies here ...

Rangers-Devils ... Friday night our guys kick some Devil ass start to finish and bounce back for one more game 7 ... Rangers break out with a 5-2 ass-whooping ...


Music for a serial line-spacing abuser to prepare doing his time ...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Wettest County in the World ... Rangers-Devils-Kings ... the Heat is on ...


The Wettest County in the World, Matt Bondurant ... This is a hell of a novel, as hardboiled as it gets and yet equally as poignant.  It is a fictionalized version of a true story that involves the author’s family (his grandfather and granduncles).  Hard men living in hard times doing what it takes to get along; what the people of Franklin County, Virginia have been doing forever—making white lightning and then running it for sale; backwoods entrepreneurs handling production and distribution.

The similarities to Cormac McCarthy are there, as are some touches of Faulker (who is mentioned by the fictional Sherwood Anderson, a character in the novel in Franklin County working a newspaper piece and getting nowhere fast).  There is some wonderful history told in this novel; reflections on the depression and a particular rain drought that makes tough times a lot tougher, but it is the story of the Bondurant Boys that is most engaging.  The sons of Granville Bondurant are Forrest, Howard and Jack.  Each is haunted by different demons that involve guilt of one kind or another, but it is an iron will to survive at the core of these men.  For the eldest two, violence is the skill by which they persevere; a determination to live free and unhindered by laws and/or the machinations of a moonshine mafia; a group of men seeking tribute for protection.  The youngest, much less inclined to kill and/or partake in the violence necessary for vengeance, flirts with the desires of the material world (purchasing clothes & cars with each new score), but there is a need of something greater that ultimately drives Jack, a life with love.
No spoilers here, but the suspense is heightened by back and forth jumps in time and writing that speaks to brilliance.  The Anderson character’s several hints about the dissolution of an American society hell bent on progress; the diminishment of man’s creativity born of passion and sweat as he is forced to join assembly lines and the marching drone of progress.  One cannot help but see how this will ultimately lead to a society ruined by credit default swaps and derivatives; ultimately, a loss of self to industry in the name of progress.
This was a wicked good read, Amici.  It is highly recommended.

Here’s the trailer:

Rangers-Devils-Kings ... I just finished watching the first period of the Rangers-Devils and it’s picked up where it left off; the Devils obviously wanting it more than the Rangers (certainly playing harder).  I’m thinking it’s gonna take somebody on the Rangers to drop Kovalchuk ... or put some step in their skates (?) ... hey, what do I know.  I know football, not hockey.
So somebody was listening and Prust took a wicked cheap shot at Kovalchuk ... the Rangers responded with some fire ... but still no score and how many times do we really think Kovalchuk will miss some of those wide opens shots he’s finding?  Period three starts soon ...

And what’s all this hockey “one timer” speak.  A “one time” (drop the “R”) to moi is center of the craps table prop bet (2, 3, 7, 11, 12) or any combination thereof (i.e., aces, snake eyes, ace-duce, yo ’leven, boxcars and BIG RED ... or, if you prefer, Hi-low, any craps, horn and a world bet).
Bottom line, from what I’ve been watching throughout these playoffs, I don’t see anybody beating the Kings ... hopefully our guys (Rangers) will get their act together and start playing with some desperation (rather than waiting until they lose and go down 2-1, then 3-1 and are truly desperate).

And isn’t it fun watching the Heat take it on the chin?  I doubt the Pacers will hold serve again domani, but I’ll sure be rooting them on.


Sing it, Francis Albert ...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Richard Bausch ... Laura Nyro ... The Rangers ... The Knicks ... video tributes ...


Usually when I’m asked which writers have had the most influence on me, I point to those who did so in the area I’ve been published—the crime genre.  George V. Higgins was the most influential, no doubt.  His first three books (The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Digger’s Game and Cogan’s Trade) were masterpieces by any standard (in any genre).  Higgins was a master of dialogue with a wealth of material from his days serving as an Assistant U.S. attorney for Massachusetts and later a defense attorney and a journalist.

 One of the many blessings of the MFA program I’m enrolled in at Southern New Hampshire University (and I have to assume would be the case in any MFA program for someone like me), has been the introduction to authors I’ve never read before; an eclectic reading list from semester to semester that has proved every bit as important and influential as Higgins was to me some 36 years ago. 

I’m at the end of my second semester in the program and for the second time one author has not only awed me with his brilliance, he’s regenerated the juices that make this stuff so much fun.  He’s also a master of dialogue and although I was first introduced to him during the first semester as a master of the short story, I’ve now come to appreciate his novels as well.  One, in particular, has kept me up nights (reading, thinking and writing).

A religious, idealistic, polite, naive young man with Presidential dreams comes to terms with an America in the 1960’s he’s managed to view with blinders for nineteen years.  From his desire to be good and liked and to help others and never want to hurt anyone, he awkwardly steps into a marriage proposal he immediately resents.  He’s in love with another woman, a German woman he’s met at a school he attends nights.  This woman he purposely asks to marry him, because he’s sure he’s in love with her.  The dilemma will hold your attention for the length of the novel and the resolution is an eye opener. 

Both women are a bit older than he is, both come from different backgrounds and both are much less naive than the young man.  He’s going to school nights to become a broadcaster, except he’s already decided he doesn’t want to do that once he’s graduated.  He lives with his mother who likes her tea spiked with any cordial on hand and she’s created a dilemma of her own; she’s going to marry a man she doesn’t love and the young man can’t respect (her boss at work).

There are civil rights issues in the background and the aura of Camelot.  The young man wears his hair the same way as the fallen president and often practices JFK’s speeches.  This is going on during the escalation in Vietnam under Johnson and the race riots that marred both the landscape and the ideals of a nation born of freedom.  The book’s title comes from the Walter Winchell phrase and is most appropriate, I thought.

It’s a great novel, amici.  Bausch is a great writer.  There’s nothing to do but read him and learn; whether it’s his craft you admire (as a writer) or what he has to offer as a novelist (to his readers).  This is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, novel.  I have Mitch Wieland and Jessica Anthony to thank for introducing me to Bausch.  That in itself, has been worth the price of admission, amici.

Bausch has officially joined my personal club of “most influential authors” and takes his place alongside Mr. Higgins.  His writing, to put it mildly (and in my Knuckesian way) has put a rocket up my ass.  It may well fizzle at some point, but for now it’s a beautiful thing.  I haven’t worked this hard (at writing) and enjoyed it so much in forever.

Laura Nyro ... Last week I learned I had to produce 40 pages of new fiction within six days for our two peer groups in the MFA program.  Apparently I wasn’t paying attention to the school emails.  That plus I was finishing up the draft of the Star (shutter) Island book, Jimmy Mangino (the ten year sequel to Jimmy Bench Press).  So I’ve been to bed late nights (even working between periods of the Rangers games) and up extra early to catch up.  I even took off Friday from work to make some more headway.  I do love deadlines, but considering the fact I have my last semester’s packet to get off before May 26 (30 more pages of new fiction plus two craft essays), this was kind of pushing it.

So Thursday night I needed to take a break for at least a few hours.  I watched some of the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions on HBO (a repeat, I guess).  It’s always fun (and scary) seeing some of the groups I enjoyed as a kid get up on stage.  There were a few inductees I can’t even remember one day later, but I enjoyed the Freddy King presentation and then was completely mesmerized by the Laura Nyro induction (by Bette Midler).  Who knew one person could’ve written so many wonderful songs?  Truly amazing.  Talk about terrific writers, amici.  How’s this for list of songs/hits (with my favorite of the bunch from the induction)?

Sara Bareilles performing Laura Nyro’s Stoney End ...

Songs written by Laura Nyro.

 1."Wedding Bell Blues"
 2."Blowin' Away"
 3."Billy's Blues"
 4."Stoney End"
 5."And When I Die"
 7."Eli's Comin'"
 8."Stoned Soul Picnic"
11."The Confession"
12."Captain Saint Lucifer"
13."Gibsom Street"
14."New York Tendaberry"
15."Save the Country" [mono single version]
17."Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp"
18."Beads of Sweat"
19."When I Was a Freeport and You Were the Main Drag"
21."Sweet Blindness" [live version]
22."Money" [live version]
23."Mr. Blue"
24."A Wilderness"
25."Mother's Spiritual"
26."A Woman of the World"
27."Louise's Church"
28."Broken Rainbow"
29."To a Child"
30."Lite a Flame (The Animal Rights Song)"
31."And When I Die" [live version]
32."Save the Country" [live version]

Another of my favorites (and some very nice words about Ms. Nyro):

The Rangers ... Oy vey, my new love of playoff hockey has been interesting.  Providing breaks from reading and writing (and permitting me to ignore baseball), I’m really getting into this stuff.  I love the protocol after a series whereby two teams that have beaten the shit out of one another shake hands.  I like it.  I like it a lot.

As for the Rangers ... they seem to be begging a disaster.  How they didn’t show up in D.C. the other night with a bit more determination than they showed was too much like the way they handled the Ottawa series; not playing hard until they had to.  We all know the problem with that.  You (they) may get surprised.  In game 6, the Capitals played with desperation and determination and deserved the win.  Ovechkin is a holy terror to the Rangers, as is Chimera.  I’d like to see the kid, Kreider, on the ice a lot more (I’m a big proponent of speed in any sport) and this kid has it.  Holtby has played right there with Lundqvist.  Christ, I just realized I’m memorizing their names.

They better show up tomorrow night or they’ll disappoint a lot of fans (old and new).  I’ve actually watched a few other teams and right now if I had to make a prediction, the In Knucks We Trust Bucks would go squarely on either the Kings of L.A. or the Devils of New Jersey.  The Rangers still have something to prove—consistency.

The Knicks ... well, at least they took one game, and it was a very gutsy performance, so kudos to them.  The Heat managed to completely obliterate the Knicks 3-point game, rendering Steve "Novacaine" Novak pointless on the court.  Barren (the turnover King) Davis went out with a nasty injury, but the Knicks responded.  Game 5 was going to happen no matter how hard what was left of the Knicks showed up.  As for next season, I vote for retaining Mike (Tone Loc) Woodsen and staying with young Mr. Lin.  The Knicks won’t be good enough to win it all next season and trading a young Lin for an old master like Steve Nash won’t guarantee them anything but another first or second round washout.


No opera today, amici ... here’s Ms. Nyro’s herself with one of her MANY hits ...

And one more, this time by the Fifth Dimension ...

And since Etta James passed last year, here’s Mr. and Mrs. Knucks-Principessa’s wedding song:

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Convalescent … ART, Caliendo Style …Cinco de Mayo … Quattro la Saints …


Darwin is quoted often in this raucous romp of parallel stories; one a historical account of the Pfliegmans (the rise and fall of them) and the other the final days-to-days of the last of the Pfliegmans, Rovar. He’s a small, hairy fella who has spoken a word since childhood. He keeps weird insect pets (Rovar = Insect in Hungarian, by the way) … he lives an isolated life and expects nothing but the worst (as is his Pfliegman destiny). He sells meat from a bus on a Virginia countryside road (close to a river) and his life is pretty much one misery (whether it be insult or physical debilitation) after another. If things don’t change (change being a key word here, amici) Rovar is doomed to be the final Pfliegman … extinction is all his. (as he expects his mother to say at one point in he novel: all of this terrible life is your fault). The political hints as they relate to Darwin and the plight of the Pfliegmans are wonderful. My favorite passage has to do with Rovar’s dilemma of explaining to his love interest (Dr. Monica) his believed destiny:

How could I explain to her that the reason for my illnesses both is and is not biological? That my body is chained to a legacy of a thousand other crippled bodies that lived and died over the last millennium? … Weren’t the Pfliegmans, in that sense, actually necessary for their success? Isn’t it for the protection of the weakest members of our race that all good change happens in the world? Isn’t it true that if we do not care for the least among us—no matter how filthy or backward or solipsistic—we will become a race of monsters? What some historians and other official-sounding officials try to call “progress,” all the while asking themselves whether history should be written this way or that, we Pfliegmans have never asked, knowing full well, deep within our rotted cores, the sacrifice that we must make for the survival of the greater good.  “Throughout nature,” Darwin writes, “one species incessantly takes advantages of, and profits by, the structures of others —”

If I didn’t mention that this novel is hilarious, I will now. It is hilarious. Whether reading the historical Hungarian story or Rovar’s in the moment pursuit of love, you will be smiling page by page. Isaac Asimov makes an appearance, as does Carly Simon (she and her very wide mouth) make a few actually. The fun starts early and doesn’t stop until the Kafkaesque ending. And it was at that time when the music began playing in my head … specifically a few lines toward the end that came to mind, but you’ll have to read the book to figure it out and/or catch the clue given in the video below.

I can’t give away the ending, but it was a beautiful idealistic vision … the kind I suspect we all need to maintain any hope.

A side note to the novel: I was so happy to read a reference to the Nixon-Kissinger illegal secret bombings of Cambodia in this novel. I did a political science thesis on the Khmer Rouge and how they came to power—exactly because of the Nixon-Kissinger connection and their secret B52 raids over a neutral nation state during the Vietnam “conflict”. What had started as operation Breakfast quickly turned to Operation Menu and more bomb tonnage was dropped on Cambodia during our attempts to get the so-called Vietcong sanctuaries along the border than the US and all its allies dropped in all of WWII.

And let’s not forget Dr. Atkins (that cocksucker) … Like Knucks recently, Árpád (one of the Hungarians in the historical story) was merely a man desperate for his carbohydrates. I felt my brother (Árpád)’s pain and abandoned that diet after 16 days of pure torture (and really bad breath).

All hail Rovar!

All read this novel!

Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review of The Convalescent: Jess Anthony's compulsively readable debut novel stars Rovar Pfliegman, who sells meat out of a bus in Virginia. Rovar is a peculiar, troll-like man: he is short and hairy, has not spoken since childhood, keeps a pet beetle and lives in the same broken-down bus that houses his meat business. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Rovar is his precarious singularity. He is the last of the Pfliegmans and, by his own account, he is falling apart. Although he halfheartedly seeks treatment for his various ailments, he seems far more bent on fulfilling the destiny of self-destruction all Pfliegmans (according to Rovar) are subject to. Rovar's explanation of his family sprawls deep into the past, probing beyond his chaotic childhood all the way back to the origins of the Pfliegman clan in premedieval Hungary. Along the way, the narrative nods to all sorts of greats—Kafka, Rushdie, Darwin and Grass, to name a few. But Anthony's style—funny, immediate and unapologetically cerebral—carves out a space all its own.

Art, Caliendo Style ... check out this dude’s art photography (above--know that place? You sure should ...) He’s doing our book covers for both Shakedown and Mafiya (which we’ve recently received our rights to again). Shakedown will be going ebook within the next month or so and Mr. Caliendo will be handling the photography while Dave Terrenoire (Rough Riders) handles the actual book jacket. Pretty cool, amici, pretty cool. Anthony has special photographic talents, amici. Check out Anthony’s gallery right here.


Happy 5th of May, Amici … how cool is that I no longer give a flying fuck about my weight (at least not this week) … Friday night (4th de Mayo) we ate (and ate) at our favorite Mexican restaurant mas Tacos, mas Enchiladas

There will be four less Aints come opening day in the NFL this season … one of them (Jonathan Vilma) is gone for the entire season (and probably his career because who is gonna want him after another year?) Well, good, we say. They certainly deserve it. Knucksline only wishes those caught in cheating scandals of any kind get to wear the big ASTERISK Ravens coach John Harbaugh suggested they already have in our minds. The Saints scandal happened to fall right dab in the middle of their championship season, so let’s make sure that ASTERISK is right there with the ones the NEW ENGLAND CHEATERFACES have accumulated.

And each player from both teams wearing super bowl rings should have the following inscribed across the bottom: FRIGGIN’ FUUUUUUUUUUUUUGAZY.


And how ‘bout some magic, amici ... from the movie Amadeus (The Queen of the Night’s aria) in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute).