Showing posts from April, 2011

Shane Stevens Saturday: A Final Question

Originally, I had thought to do these posts on Shane Stevens until my critical/investigative work actually saw print. However, I think this will be my last post for a long while. Shane Stevens has long been an influence on my own writing. Researching his life, re-reading his work with a critical eye, and preparing my article have deepened that influence. I believe his novels stand as a testament to the true strength of crime fiction as a genre with a purpose and a voice, not merely entertainment and a celebration of the worst humanity has to offer.   In his novels, Stevens confronted rascism, poverty, greed, inequality and injustice.  Like Warren Ellis recently said,  crime fiction is social fiction . Or, at least it should be. Remembering this has empowered my own writing. You see, for the longest time, when I wrote it was only under artistic pretensions. I started getting somewhere when I finally put those aside, told the muse to go fuck herself, and hit this thing hard lik

Love The Wrong Way

Since my wife is such a big fan, we streamed an Adrien Brody movie neither one of us had ever seen. Love The Hard Way is a little-known indie that sat on the shelf for a couple years until Brody won his Oscar. We almost didn’t make it very far. We’ve never had a complaint about anything we’ve watched through Netflix until this film. The audio was fucking awful. A far-off whisper until I cranked the volume up to about 50. But we persevered. After Hollywoodland , Adrien Brody in a crime drama was enough for both of us to see it through. In the film, Brody plays Jack, a chain-smoking hustler who secretly wants to be a writer. Jack and his roommate, Charlie, run an illegal betting operation for college students, but score real cash with the help of two “actresses” and a front desk man who looks like a reject from a Bauhaus video. As a group, they run a badger game scheme out of a fancy hotel downtown. The two roommates dress as cops to blackmail businessmen before the "actress

Shane Stevens Saturday: Privacy and The Writer

The one thing that can't be disputed about Shane Stevens is that he is a private man. I think that's a difficult idea to process. We live in a different world now. Today, information on anyone is much easier to find. Not so in Stevens day. You could go through life without leaving much of a trace. And when you combine that period with someone who is as naturally secretive as Stevens, you get...nothing. You get his meager Wikipedia entry. Yet, beyond how our world has changed, the writing game has shifted. The nature of the industry now seems to require every writer, whether established or just beginning, to be on Facebook and Twitter, maintain a blog, sign fans up for their mail list and hold contests. Shane Stevens didn't have to do any of that. At all. Is this a good thing? I mean, for us, as writers? Wouldn't we all be writing more if we didn't have to do this? Does are visibility make it more difficult to separate the writer from the writer's work?

Dispatches from a Dead Brain

We’ve had one less person at work. I’ve being doing the job of two people during one of the busiest times of the year. For months now, I’ve been working on my investigative/critical piece on forgotten author, Shane Stevens. I finished it up a couple of weeks ago and it’s currently being looked over by someone whose opinion I value. Consequently, my brain has been fried. I’m lucky I still remember how to type. I fully expect my brain to remain offline for the next couple of weeks. But I plan on going do swinging until April dies the death it deserves. So, updates— Head over to Spinetingler where I’m featured as part of their Conversations with the Bookless series. I probably run my mouth too much, but I believe everything I say and at least I'm saying something. Shotgun Honey has only been around for a couple of weeks, but they’ve burst on the scene with the force of an 8-gauge blowing through clapboard. In a couple weeks my own voice will add to the boom. In roughly two

Shane Stevens Saturday: Author Photo

There is only one thing that's harder to find than information on Shane Stevens. His photograph. And I have one. John Legg wrote a book almost 15 years ago called Collecting Shane Stevens . The slim volume included a tad bit of biographical info and a short bibliography while focusing on tips and ideas, pre-Amazon and internet explosion, for collecting copies of Shane Stevens' novels. I spoke to Legg and he sent me a scan of the author photo from the back cover of the hardback printing of Way Uptown In Another World . That photo was taken by a man called Alan Caruba. I spoke to Caruba and obtained his permission to include the photo with my own article. When it appears, you'll finally see a photograph of the most elusive man in crime fiction.


A botched bank job gets his brother killed and the Driver thrown into prison. For the last ten years he's planned his revenge. On the day of his release, he foots it to a junkyard where a car and a gun are waiting for him. He hits the road in fifth gear, ready to make the crew that murdered his brother pay in blood. Two men follow. One a junkie cop hoping to fumble his way through the case and into retirement. The other an unbalanced hit man with his therapist on speed dial. They chase the trail of bodies and burnt rubber as the Driver unravels the mystery of who set him up. Faster is almost a perfect piece of hardboiled noir. It's beautifully paced. Plot constantly moving forward. Revealing bits of backstory and new clues to the doublecross with no wasted movement or dialogue. The film strikes a very nice balance between gritty realism and Hollywood escapism with very little of the over-the-top frills most audiences have come to expect. The cast is good. Carla Gugino ma

Shane Stevens Saturday: Ellery Queen

Shane Stevens didn't write very many short stories. He limited his shorter works to nonfiction pieces, essays, and book reviews. However, I do know of one short story publication I desperately wish I could find since it's a surprising one. The February 1969 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine includes a rare short by Stevens. It's a story called "The Final Adventure" and it's about Sherlock Holmes. That's right, Shane Stevens wrote a Sherlock Holmes story. Of course, he wrote it on his own terms. An issue of The Baker Street Journal called Shane's Holmes pastiche, "sacrilegious and rather gruesome". An impressive feat to accomplish in a mere 5 pages of fiction.

Voting Opens Today

 No relation.  Voting for the Spinetingler Awards opens today.  The categories are all stacked with quality nominations. I voted already, first thing is the morning. I had a hard time deciding...well, except for one category. The Spinetingler Awards