“I don’t read many books twice, but Jim Thompson novels, due to their concise, dirty power, their…”

 Bruce Springsteen, Jim Thompson, Lit  Comments Off on “I don’t read many books twice, but Jim Thompson novels, due to their concise, dirty power, their…”
Nov 042014

“I don’t read many books twice, but Jim Thompson novels, due to their concise, dirty power, their relentless violence and purity, can always draw me in for a second time. Some of the most psychological crime writing ever done.”

Bruce Springsteen in his widely circulated By the Book interview in The New York Times

I gotta say, Bruce has great taste in books. Have you read any Jim Thompson novels?

Sep 302014

The post Creeping Up Your Spine appeared first on Mulholland Books.

This week’s guest guest blogger is James Grady, who shares a few thoughts on paranoia. Just reading his stylized commentary has us peering over our shoulder . . .

You feel it. Paranoia.

They’ve got your number. It’s personal. You’re reading this. Looked at that. Took a chance, did something, or hell: they just think you did. You stood up for yourself. Stood out. You’re in their way: your boss who knows you know what really happened, your lover who wants you gone. Footsteps behind you. You’re in the shower.

You’re just a number. It’s not personal. It’s “just.” Like in justice. Or not. You’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A crazed Mommy in the grocery store grabs a cleaver. You’re part of the Matrix. Visiting a friend in the World Trade Towers. Ebola. Dr. Strangelove smiles. It’s not a movie witch that’s melting.

Life is out to kill you. All you want is to be left alone.

That’s the beating heart of paranoia: you’re all alone.

That’s true. You were born, nobody really knows you, you die and that is you, just you.

That’s false. It’s not just youWe all live, we all die.

Paranoia determines how we live and die.

McLuhan and the mushroom cloud moved us all into a global village, but our global compound fosters warring tribes. Yesterday it felt easier to know who “us” was. And to trust us: yeah, Big Brother, but of thee I sing.

Trust is the shimmer between prudence and paranoia. You wear your seatbelt yet strap yourself in a crushable metal box.

So how can you find the line between just being smart and being just scared?

“Facts” are not enough. “Facts” are who furnishes them. J. Edgar HooverOsama bin Laden. Fox News vs. MSNBC. The candidate who wants power. The housewife in the TV commercial. The guy who says: “Everybody knows….”

What helps you see the line between prudence and paranoia is fiction.

Fiction reveals possibilities. Fiction is our safe mirror. Fiction—in lines of prose or poetry, in the lyrics of a song, through the actors on stage or screen—is not “real.” Or so we can believe. And that belief lets us see the universal reality of a character “just like me…that happened to me.” Or “I wish that were me…if that were me….” Fiction glides us into what could be, gives us a world where we learn archetypes of who & what to trust without penalty, without pain. The what could be we experience with fiction helps us see the shimmer between factual forces and fantasy fears in our world of flesh and blood.

The “truth” may set you free, but the “lies” of fiction may be your best chance to escape paranoia, to perceive who and what to trust so you can best use our life’s terrifying freedom.

Author James Grady won France’s Grand Prix du Roman Noir, Italy’s Raymond Chandler medal, and numerous American literary awards.  A former investigative reporter, he lives inside D.C.’s Beltway and in February, will publish Last Days Of The Condor, a sequel to his Robert Redford adapted novel.

The post Creeping Up Your Spine appeared first on Mulholland Books.

Feb 262012

Vicki here today to confess that a great weight of responsibility lies on an author’s shoulders. Not only does the lowly scribe have to manage her own life, and all that that entails, but look at all the other people she is responsible for.

Romantic matters are a case in point. I am now writing the sixth book in the Constable Molly Smith series. Along with assorted minor characters there are now three couples whose love lives I have to balance. One long-time relationship and two fairly new ones.

I would dearly like to have all those relationships progress smoothly to a state of total bliss, but unfortunately that’s not what interesting books are made of. So sometimes I have to go right out and whisper sweet anti-seductions in one character’s ear or another.

In the book in progress, Molly Smith meets a guy on the ski slopes. Now, she’s a near-Olympic class skier and this guy turns out to be not only handsome and charming but almost as good as she is. So our characters zip around the slopes for a few chapters. Flirting, smiling, laughing, wondering if there’s that certain something in the other.

Why, they seem almost perfect for each other!

Can’t have that now can we?

So the author (aka the puppet master) whispers sweet nothings into his ear.

“Police! Drop the weapon!”

“You’re a cop?”

“Are we still on for tomorrow?”


But I can’t leave you on a downer, so here’s a clip of what to me is a truly great love song. It’s easy to be in love when you’re young and have met someone new. A bit more difficult as age and familiarity creep up. Kingdom of Days by Bruce Springsteen.