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).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Susan Kennedy … Country Noir … Madrid 1987 … Muscle Shoals …



Susan Kennedy … another SNHU MFA graduate has some works in the pike, baby. "Nightly Music" placed third in the romance category of the Ninth Annual Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards. The contest was held last fall and the winners were announced in November. Susan was told that it was an honorable mention and would be on the list of winners, which would be announced this spring. She didn't know it had received third place until she found the webpage.

A synopsis of the story goes like this: "Nightly Music" follows protagonist Lynette Dunne, a woman in her thirties with shattered dreams and a haunting passion for ballroom dancing. Before the story begins, she leaves competitive dancing amid the scandal and shame of public betrayal by her professional dancing partner. When readers meet her, she has curled into an obscure, and what she thinks is a responsible, life that consists of a reliable day job in New Hampshire's Queen City (Manchester). But, it leaves her heart empty and her soul aching, and the betrayal has left her terrified of romantic relationships. In the apartment next door to hers lives high school history teacher Keith Nelson. His knack for seeing through facades, his honesty, and his refusal to give up finally win her trust and teach her that being "responsible" does not equal denying oneself of life's joys.

Susan’s bio as it appears in Romance Magazine: Susan E. Kennedy holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction and Nonfiction from Southern New Hampshire University. Her work has appeared in several publications, including the literary magazines Amokseag and The View From Here. Her short story "Portsmouth Propriety" is forthcoming in Love Free or Die, an anthology of fiction, in June 2014. She is a freelance editor, proofreader, manuscript reviewer, and writer. She is at work on a historical novel set in 1773 New England.

Susan’s first short story was published when I was a fifteen-year-old high school student.

The debut novel by one of Susan’s freelance editing clients is going to be published by Harper Voyager Impulse on July 22nd.

Country Noir … a wonderful article by author, Court Merrigan, in Electric Literature, comparing some classic southern and gothic noir with the new kid on the block—Country Noir. Merrigan does a wonderful job of introducing some of the best modern writers of noir around (Benjamin Whitmer, Scott Wolven, Frank Bill and Percival Everett). Some of my favorites are given kudos in the piece as well, including Larry Brown, Cormac McCarthy, James Cain and Erskine Caldwell (not to mention Faulker, Flannery O’Connor and Jim Thompson). Hey, it even comes with an organizational chart (see below) that brings it all back to a book I’ll have to read first chance I get—The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, by Mary Rowlandson.


Madrid 1987 … an interesting movie about the pairing of a cultured older man and beautiful young student. Wonderful dialogue start to finish. Miguel (José Sacristán), a famous columnist, was interviewed by a journalism student Ángela (María Valverde). She’s the beauty the professor can’t ignore. They wind up in his friend’s flat and wind up locked in the bathroom for two days. Interesting as it gets.

Muscle Shoals … a wonderful documentary about the legendary recording studio(s); how they came about and how they persevered. An all-white rhythm band? Who knew? It’s a wonderful film. Check it out. Hits up the kazooooooo!


Percy Sledge, for the Principessa Ann Marie … When A Man Loves A Woman …

A younger Mr. Sledge singing the same song.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Dogfella ...


Remember this guy? James “Head” Guilianithe Dogfella himself. James has an incredible story to tell. A story of reckless self-abuse with drugs and alcohol, plus a 10 year stint as a mob enforcer. James has done time and reached rock bottom from his addictions. One day James went to Rockaway Beach with a gun to put an end to the misery he was bringing on himself and those who loved him.

And then he met the woman who would help guide him to salvation.

Remember Lena?

One day the two of them came across an abandoned and abused Shih-Tsu tied to a Brooklyn parking meter, just hours from dying. James and Lena rescued the dog out of pocket and the start of an amazing salvation was born.

I’m fortunate enough to help James tell his wonderful story--how a guy of the streets went from a life of crime and addiction to a full time dedication to rescue animals.

And remember this guy? Dr. Salvatore Pernice …

Dr. Sal was pivotal in James and Lena’s animal rescues.

And who can forget Primo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We’re at work on the book now. So, coming next year, James’ incredible road to salvation will be available in bookstores everywhere. What else do you call a guy who makes himself available to animal rescue 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, year in and year out?

The Dogfella


Friday, May 16, 2014

In the Loop … The Complete Short Novels of Chekhov … NHL Playoffs …


In the Loop ... hilarious movie about the politics of politics … Obviously what the HBO show VEEP ripped off (and they do it well), but the movie (In the Loop) is a dozen times more hilarious because of the non-stop verbal jousting amongst and between polls in the UK and back across the pond. The issue is war … and the spin (and spinners) are all mixed up … and what a cast! James Gandolfini, Peter Capaldi, Samantha Harrington, Tom Hollander, Chris Addison … forgetaboutit … I laughed out loud a few times.

All five novellas are all worth the read, but my favorite remains Three Years, the story of a man confused by lust and love and a life of money he wants to rebuke. Leptev comes from money and old ways (and a family struggling to maintain its old ways), but falls for a beautiful young woman who first rejects his offer of marriage, but then feels terrible for the way she hurt him (and is also concerned with her own future) and reconsiders and marries the much older Leptev. It is a life of misery for both, especially once the reader is introduced to the much less attractive but independent woman Leptev had been involved with long before meeting the beauty. Constant clashes with his class and passionless marriage are the emotional adventure Leptev experiences … a wonderful read. Also wonderful, was The Steppe, which deals with the travels of a nine year old boy and the life lessons he learns from the many characters he meets along the way. My Life features another man struggling against the wealth of his own family (and the perks that come with money) as he rejects his nobility and works among the peasants … but he too falls for a beauty who is much more fickle (La Donna Mobile?) about what she wants than what she’ll stick with. This is supposedly Chekhov’s most autobiographical work and it is a beauty. The Dual features an array of characters, including a self-righteous scientist, a well-meaning but confused doctor, and a hedonistic drunk. The problems that arise over a woman and clashing ideals is often humorous. The Story of an Unknown Man is the weakest of the novellas and features a spy and potential assassin (oh, my), a Playboy and a woman deceived by the Playboy. Still worth reading.

Anything Chekhov is always recommended … get it here:

NHL Playoffs … okay, so the Rangers made it to the semi-final round … something they’ve done as recently as 2012-13 (with Ryan Callahan) … that year his stats (without diving in front of pucks/blocked shots, diving to make a pass, hustling to make a back-check … all the intangibles hockey fans love to see from their players, especially their captain) looked like this:

Season: GP = 76; Goals = 29; Assists = 25
Playoffs: GP = 20; Goals = 6 (tied for the team lead); Assists = 4

The Devils were the better team in the semi-finals (or the better team in that series) and took the Rangers out in 6 games.

And there’s this:

Whether the Rangers continue winning or not during this playoff year, one thing is undeniable so far: They’d be in no better shape without Martin St. Louis … or Rick Nash (for that matter) …

For Ranger fans who bought into the corporate talking points about Callahan being “too greedy”, Sather stated it was the “no trade clause” Cally’s agent was seeking that killed the deal. That’s called loyalty, amici, not greed. The man wanted to stay.

But one has to wonder how often the Ranger organization takes stock of some of its recent trade blunders … unless Rick Nash puts on a show vs. the Expos (and in the final should they make it), one has to wonder what the hell his net worth is … $7.8 million a year? Really?

And I’ll just bet their burning over Marian Gaborik’s scoring resurgence ….

My wife, who has remained a Ranger fan, is showing empathy (next week's book review featuring The Empathy Essays, by Leslie Jamison) with my reaction to this asinine trade and is giving me some sympathetic looks as the Rangers move into the next round of playoffs, because she knows how much this bothers me that a) Ryan Callahan isn’t there and b) I can’t root for the Rangers.

And so, amici, I hope the Expos sweep the Rangers in 4 …

On the left coast, I’m rooting for Dustin Brown (Captain) and his Kings … because he reminds me of Callahan … and wasn’t it great when they two shared the same line in the Olympics (along with David Backes)? The meat line!

As a unit, David Backes, Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan define truculence, not grace. That’s right, amici … the three of them play the entire game, not just offense, and certainly not only when they have the puck.


Snake Oil Salesmen (Glen Sather) of the world, take gas. Tell’em, Tom …

A Waits song redone by The Boss … (we were there for this, me and my doll, at Moonachie Blue/Green Stadium) …

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Boo-Dee-Bah! … The Rangers … A wonderful Polish film …


Hey, 30 years ago today, the Boo-Dee-Bah was born. Above he’s coming to America … he’s the youngest of the loins of my cloth (my wife informs me it’s actually the fruit of my loins, but I yield to idiot status whenever it helps get a chuckle from her ... and brothers and sisters, did she laugh at me when I said it visiting Momma Stella on Mother’s Day) … Dustin William Stella is as clever as they come, stubborn as a mule (I wonder where he gets that from?) … handsome and, well, his brother knows what comes next (and he didn’t get it from me—tall and thin, tall and thin!)

Unfortunately, he was sucked into being a Buffalo Bills fan (all my brats were), but I’m working on him to change favorite sports over to hockey. A working man’s job is never done …

Here he is with his brother and sister (my favorite picture of the young Stella clan).

Here he is with a hottie …

Here he is wearing my jacket …

Here he is with someone else’s jacket …

I know, I know ... get the kid a jacket of his own already!
Here he is with his hot tomata’ (Madalynn) and James (The Dogfella) Guiliani!

What can I say, he's a Super Son!
The Rangers … Of course heartfelt condolences are extended to Martin St. Louis for the sudden loss of his mother (last week) the day before the raucous Ranger comeback began. We send heartfelt condolences to all those who’ve lost a loved one at any time. Tonight the Rangers completed an incredible comeback against a team that tends to be all hype until it counts … it was good to see Brian Boyle put one in the net … and his diving to make and block passes reminds me so much of Captain Callahan … it was a great comeback and a fine win … of course it cost them a first round pick, but that’s to Tampa Bay’s credit … as much as I’m enjoying the playoffs, I await the signing of Callahan … wherever he goes, so goes Charlie and Temporary Knucksline … and now that I’m down 52 pounds (107 to go), I can finally fit into a Callahan jersey.

In the Name of … A wonderful Polish film dealing with one man’s struggle with his sexuality. Father Adam (Andrzej Chyra) had been transferred to a less than exciting parish. He is into the rough stuff during soccer games with a group juvenile delinquents. He’s good with them, but has a propensity to booze and run off his sexual frustrations in the woods. Two students become a focus of what’s to come (no spoilers) … it is a wonderful film, unless you’re a homophobe. Very highly recommended.

I watched this again today at work during lunch … breaks my heart that he’s not here where he belongs, especially during the playoffs.

Remember this one?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. America (Round 2) … Night Train to Lisbon ... Racism in Sports? … Smell the Roses ...


Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. America (Round 2) … I recently reread this gem of a novel by Richard Bausch for a simple reason—inspiration for the piece I’m working on. I remembered how much I enjoyed this book (see previous review here) and I wanted/needed to read it again. I’ve read pretty much everything by Bausch since first being introduced to his work in an MFA course a couple of years ago (or is it 3 years already?). Let me add one more WONDERFUL to the previous review … it is an engaging read that will not let you down … and for that reason, it is EXTREMELY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED …

Night Train to Lisbon … another movie I wished to hell I’d read the book before seeing, but I was glad I watched this one anyway. A fine cast, including some familiar faces playing major roles. It’s a history lesson with drama and a walk back in time as Jeremy Irons searches for the story behind a book left behind by an attempted suicide he stopped from happening. A fine movie.

And speaking of racism …


Man, fall in love with a sport and (snap your fingers), just like that, it starts to turn to shit. Not only were the racist “tweets” aimed at Montreal Expos' (I know they’re the Canadians, but I’m calling them the Expos for beating my Bolts) PK Subban as nasty as nasty gets (proving assholes follow all sports), but then I had to watch Kane on the Blackhawks do an NFL/MLB/NBA chest pounding routine, highlighted by him yelling, “Show Time” to the crowd.

I really hate that shit and wish the goal celebrations weren’t becoming as bad as the crap we have to tolerate in the other major sports. Fellas, it’s nice you scored a goal. It’s nice if you scored three goals, but how about leaving it at arm pumping and maybe a howl or two, and leave the “look at me” bullshit to baseball, football and basketball?

I’m just sayin’ …

And excuse me for not getting too excited about the latest round of schadenfreude. While Los Angeles Californians pat themselves on the back for fearlessly emoting their hatred of all things Donald Sterling, perhaps it’s time to boycott the games instead. It’s bad enough Sterling will realize about an 700 million dollar profit for being forced to sell his team, but adding coins to the bank the same week his racist tirade went public seems to me a bit of a sellout as well.

I’m just sayin’ …

Yeah, he’s a racist dick, but what I found interesting about this fiasco was the young girlfriend sleeping with the enemy (somebody say prostitution?) Not that that makes her a bad person … and then there’s wife in the background … come on, look at this guy! He looks like he’s melting … he looks like Joan Rivers! You’d have to pay ANYONE big bucks to look at him naked, never mind touch and/or insert him in some body part.

So much for money = happiness, eh?

In the meantime, remember, amici … the clock is ALWAYS running … we have but so much time before it (and we) expire … every morning we’re a day closer to the ultimate end of game (my wife hates when I say this, but it’s the truth). So, enjoy it while you can … whether you have the gelt or not (and happiness obviously has nothing to do with gelt—see Donald Sterling), make the best of what you have to work with and take time to smell the roses … read a fuckin’ book (try one of those dopey Stella crime novels if you need a sleeping aid) … see a fuckin’ movie (we review them here all the time and the one up above is a fine one) … listen to a fuckin’ symphony (country western/rock/jazz/blues) tune … and so on. Life really is way too short.

I’m just sayin’ …


Hey, Donald Sterling’s “girlfriend” …