Monthly Archives: November 2007

Boom Chaka Laka

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When I fly, I like to leave enough time to stop by the Waterstone’s bookstore at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield and say hello to Jim Ross, manager of the location. Jim’s a personable devil and it’s always nice to chat.

On the relatively long list of people you wouldn’t expect to run into at the Waterstone’s bookstore at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield, American satirist Christopher Buckley might be somewhere near the top.

Yet that’s exactly who happened to be browsing the shelves one afternoon several weeks ago, when I stopped by the store on my way out of town. Mr. Buckley had been in Omaha speaking to a group and was killing some time, waiting for his own flight out of town. Years earlier, on a plane somewhere else, I’d read his novel Thank You for Smoking and enjoyed it very much. I thought the film adaptation was pretty good, too.

Anyway, Jim was nice enough to introduce us. Buckley was nice enough to buy a copy of The Cleanup, which I signed for him. I was nice enough to buy a copy of Buckley’s latest novel, Boomsday. . .except that Jim happened to be freshly sold out at the time.

I attended to the matter upon returning home and have now finished reading Boomsday, which involves an ambitious, indignant young blogger named Cassandra Devine. In the novel, Cassandra proposes a tax credit for baby boomers who voluntarily off themselves before reaching retirement age (thereby helping to allay the projected collapse of the US social security system). Hilarity and catastrophe ensue.

I enjoyed the book a great deal. If you like your novels smart, very funny, completely preposterous, and yet alarmingly plausible, I highly recommend Boomsday.

Ironically, due to a mixup at the cash register, I somehow left Waterstone’s owing Christopher Buckley, a baby boomer, 57 cents.

I’m not going to worry about it.

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Losses

First Norman Mailer, then Ira Levin. Now comes the sudden news that Emerson Lasalle has died.

I was a big fan of Emerson Lasalle, both the novelist and the unreconstructed literary figure. One of my favorite Lasalle stories holds that the legendary pulp writer, in the mid-1970’s, sucker punched Theodore Geisel outside a men’s room in La Jolla, California. This incident is said to have occured after a long day drinking at the track during a rare fallow period in Lasalle’s career. According to legend, a disoriented Lasalle told police officers, “I thought that was Armi Kuusela.”

As a writer, what I like most about this story is its addendum:  Lasalle’s Nebula Award-winning The Mutants of Dr. Zeus was published just six months later, ushering in what scholars consider to be Lasalle’s third Golden Age.

 It’s been a dark week for American letters.

Three Amigos

Now for some news and doings from three top-shelf writers I’d recommend even if they weren’t good friends:

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Mad Dogs, the long-awaited second crime novel from hard-writing hero Brian Hodge, is finally available. And there was much rejoicing. A struggling actor is mistaken for the criminal he recently protrayed on an “America’s Most Wanted”-type show. Blood is shed, complications ensue (and compound), pages fly by. Booklist says:  “Horror fans know Hodge’s dark fiction … but he’s a new name to most crime-fiction readers. That deserves to change.” I couldn’t agree more.

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John Rector writes some of the most tightly-crafted, hard-hitting short fiction around. Check out his latest if you don’t believe me. (Top menu, Fiction/John Rector)

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Anthony Neil Smith is a Harry Crews for the new millennium, and Bleak House Books is one of the finest indie presses out there. Now these two great tastes will taste great together, starting with Yellow Medicine in 2008. I’ll be waiting. . . . 

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Sure, it takes a long time to build a house this way. But nail guns seem so impersonal.

Farenheit 449

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Now that the tricks are tricked and the treats are treated, let’s turn our attention to society’s true monsters. I’m talking, of course, about editor John McNally, writer Will Clarke, and this unspeakable book.

It seems that Clarke’s contribution, titled “How To Kill A Boy Nobody Likes,” has dusted up a ruckus in Rhode Island. Apparently, a number of concerned parents have mobilized around their shared objection to the “vulgar content” in this essay, which was offered as an elective, optional reading assignment to students at Cumberland High School.

As a concerned parent myself, I’d like to thank Lori Drew for protecting me and my family. “I feel it is my duty,” Drew affirms, “to ensure that not just my child is never handed this kind of vulgar material, but (that) your children never receive it as well.”

But seriously, all kidding aside, what is wrong with these people? Did they not read Tod Goldberg’s story?