Monday, April 20, 2015


Keith Rawson's Shelves

The real deal-Keith's shelfie

What books are currently on your nightstand?

For pure pleasure: Kill Fee By Owen Laukkanen and The Heart Does Not Grow Back By Fred Venturi. For book review: Find Me By Laura and den Berg and A Head Full Of Ghosts By Paul Tremblay.

Who is your all-time favorite novelist?

This seems to change month-to-month, but right now its James Ellroy, Roberto Bolano, and Denis Johnson.

What book might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

I have a small mountain of Anne Rule true crime paperbacks. True crime is kind of like my sleazy romance novels aka my guilty pleasure.

Who is your favorite fictional hero?

Big Pete Bondurant from James Ellroys Underworld USA trilogy.

What book do you most often return to?

The Ecstasy Of Influence By Jonathan Lethem. Im not a huge fan of Lethems novels, but his short fiction and his critical essays knock me on my ass. Whenever Im having a little difficulty getting myself writing, I usually pop open The Ecstasy Of Influence, read an essay, and then Im usually good to go.

Keith Rawson is the author of hundreds of short stories, essays, interviews, and articles. He is a regular contributor to He lives in southern Arizona with his wife and daughter, and you can find him at his website:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Great Music from Sixties Movies: A MAN AND A WOMAN

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, April 17, 2015

We are still shaken by the death earlier this week of Ron Scheer (BUDDIES IN THE SADDLE) and here is a tribute from Brian Busby who notes books set or written by Canadian authors. Here is another by B.V.  Lawson. They are many more if you google his name. We will not forget him quickly or easily. I wanted to post a poem for him. Most poems had mention of religion and I'm not sure how Ron felt about it. But this one leaves it open. It is slightly altered. And next a poem by a famous cowboy poet, which also seems apropos.

The time has come to say
Good-bye to all my cowboy friends.
Though our trails may be many miles apart.
May our friendship never end.

This gather's going to be my last,
For soon I'm headed South.
When spring brandin' smoke's in the air
I'll shed a tear no doubt.

You all have meant so much to me,
Of my life you're now a part.
Each one of you has bunkhouse space
That's deep here in my heart.

Good-bye to you where ere we met
For you see I'm Prineville bound.
No more my pony's feet on rocks
They'll tread a softer ground
And though I'll never ride again.
Up here where the eagles scream
I'll ride forever with each of you
Through these mountains in my dreams!

by Kendra Tyler

And this: 

Now back to Friday business:
from the archives - 

Al Tucher is the author of over 30 stories about the delightful Diana. The newest one is in BETTY FEDORA.


By George Harsh.

Since 1986 I have worked as a cataloger at the Newark Public Library, which has existed since 1883. The library has some very deep collections, and exploring them is both my job and a perk of my job. A recent project in the biography section brought me into contact with Lonesome Road, a 1971 memoir by George Harsh.

In 1928 Harsh was a rich, arrogant, idle young college student in Georgia. He and other rich, arrogant, idle young men spent much of their time discussing their superiority over the masses and the uses to which they should put that superiority. This was only four years after the Leopold and Loeb case, but it seems part of the “superman” pathology to dismiss possible lessons from anyone else’s experience. The young men in Harsh’s circle decided that they were able and therefore obligated to commit the perfect crime.

For the thrill of it they began a string of armed robberies. When a store clerk resisted, Harsh was the one holding the gun and the one who fired the lethal shot.

The police easily caught the young supermen, and Harsh was sentenced to death. His codefendants received life sentences, and the prosecutor, troubled by the disparity, succeeded in having Harsh’s sentence commuted to life. Writing years later, Harsh is unsparing toward his young self. He deserved to hang, he says, but he received more mercy than he had shown with the gun in his hand.

He spent the next several years on a Georgia chain gang that was brutal even by the standards of the time and place. Eventually, he became a trusty with a job as an orderly in a prison hospital.

Here we encounter the first of several plot twists that only reality can get away with writing. When an inmate needed an emergency appendectomy, a freak ice storm kept the staff physicians from reaching the hospital. Harsh, who had assisted at several such operations, performed the surgery and saved the man’s life. The governor of Georgia pardoned him.

The year was 1940. George Harsh felt undeserving of peace and security while so much of the world was at war. He traveled north and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Harsh flew numerous bombing missions over Germany. His luck ran out in 1942, when he was shot down. His captors sent him to Stalag Luft III.

Fiction writers, try getting away with that one. In the 1963 film The Great Escape, the character called Intelligence, played by Gordon Jackson, is based on Harsh. He was not one of the 80-plus POWs who made it through the tunnel before it was discovered, which was just as well. Only a handful made it to safety. The rest were recaptured, and the Gestapo summarily executed more than fifty of them.

Harsh survived a brutal forced march westward, away from the advancing Red Army. His narrative ends there.

His story does not. In 1945 he was in his mid-thirties and had spent mere days as a grown man neither incarcerated nor at war. In another twist that in its own way might be the strangest of all, he worked for a while as a publisher’s traveling sales representative. The experiment in freedom was not a success. The memory of his crime tormented him, and he attempted suicide. Later he suffered a stroke, and in 1980 he died.

No collaborator in the writing of this book is named. If it is Harsh’s work, it counts as a remarkable achievement. He knows when and how to make his writing as terse and urgent as Morse code in the night, and his meditations on freedom, imprisonment, violence and war come with a hard-earned authority.

Did George Harsh atone for his crime? It’s a tough call that will vary from reader to reader. Does his book deserve a place on the shelf? In my mind, beyond all doubt.

Sergio Angelini, CRIME ON MY HANDS, George Sanders and Craig Rice
Mark Baker, GRAND CANYON, Sandy Dengler
Joe Barone, PREY ON PATMOS, Jeffrey Siger
Bill Crider, DEATH ON THE CHEAP, Arthur Lyons
Martin Edwards, DEATH ON THE AGENDA, Patricia Moyes
Curt Evans, TOPER'S END, GDH Cole
Ed Gorman, BONJOUR TRISTESSE, Francoise Sagan
John Hegenberger, THE SOUND OF DETECTION, Francis M Nevins and Martin Grams Jr.
Rick Horton, BOUND TO RISE, Horatio Alger, Jr. 
Jerry House, SCALPS, Murray Leinster
Randy Johnson, TOUCHFEATHER, Jimmy Sangster
George Kelley, THE FORERUNNER SERIES, Andre Norton
Rob Kitchin, BLACKLANDS, Belinda Bauer
B.V. Lawson, MORSES' GREATEST CASE, Colin Dexter
Evan Lewis, FIVE BOOKS REVIEWED by Dashiell Hammett
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, THE GREEN ARCHER, Edgar Wallace
Todd Mason, SUPER WHOST, Margaret St. Clair
Patrick Murtha, BLIX, Frank Norris
James Reasoner, HOUSE OF LIVING DEATH, Arthur Leo Zagat
Richard Robinson, THE SAINT WANTED FOR MURDER, Leslie Charteris
Gerard Saylor, HEADS IN BEDS, Jacob Tomsky
Kerrie Smith, TRACKING NORTH, Kerrie McGinnis
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang A JADE IN ARIES, Tucker Coe

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Music from Sixties Movies: A SUMMER PLACE

Bill Crider's Shelves

What books are currently on your nightstand?
The stack on my nightstand is so tall that I can't give you the whole list.  It includes The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman, Bum Rap by Paul Levine, Not Even Past by Dave White, Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy, Summer of '42 by Herman Raucher, Comanche Trail by Ralph Compton (Carlton Stowers, in this case), 1980s Austin Gangsters by Jesse Sublett, The Mercy of the Night by David Corbett, and Sally of the Wasteland by Victor Gischler.  There might be a couple more, but I can't remember them right now.  I have a big nightstand.

Who is your favorite novelist of all time?
Favorite novelist of all time?  Impossible to say.  Way too many of them.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
You probably wouldn't be surprised at anything on my shelves.  Cold Sassy Tree is there.  So is Gene Autry and the Redwood Pirates.  Are those surprising?

Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Favorite fictional hero?  As with the favorite novelist, too many to name, starting with Odysseus.

What book do you return to?
I return to a lot of books.  Catcher in the Rye is one of them.  Leaves of Grass.  Some of Shakespeare.  The continuing them of "too many to name" fits here, too.

Bio: There's  not a lot to say.  I've lived an ordinary life. Born in Mexia (Mah-HAY-uh), Texas. Currently living in Alvin, Texas.  Taught in high school and college for many years, now retired.  Have written a lot of books, including those in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series.  Married for 49 years to the lovely Judy, whose death in 2014 I still mourn.  I have two great kids, Angela, an attorney and writer, and Allen, a musician.  I collect old paperbacks and have way too many of them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Music from the Sixties Movies: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

Fictional Deaths

This one from THE GREEN MILE just kills me. Especially the part about using no hood since he's afraid of the dark. In terms of novels, I will never get over the death of Beth in LITTLE WOMEN. What child didn't weep after reading that?

What fictional death took you by surprise or made you especially sad?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Music From Sixties Movies: LOVER COME BACK


From 1962

Seeing the previews for a US version of the recent French film 5-7 reminded me of this one. Five to Seven is usually considered the time lovers meet. But in the film by Agnes Varda it is the two hour period when Cleo waits for the results of a test that will tell her if she has cancer.

Cleo, a singer, spends the hours wandering the streets of Paris, teaming with the life she feels is draining away from her. She sees friends, none of whom offer her much solace. It is a new friend, a soldier on his way to Algeria, who means the most to her.  When she examines his possible fate, it gives her strength to face hers. She is able to see life in a more clear-headed and less self-obsessed way now.

Wonderful movie and so is the recent documentary about Varda, THE BEACHES OF AGNES.