Conversations and Confrontations about the Writing Life.
I think a second subtitle might be "with Alpha Males." Because the writers interviewed here are certainly that. All were popular when the book was written in 2009 and remain at the top of their profession 10 years on. The writers include: Crumley, Leonard, Woodrell, MacLeod, Ellroy, Collins, Cannell, Holden, Dexter, White, Russell, Friedman, Sallis, Bruen. I bet you didn't have much difficulty in identifying any of them. Leonard, McLeod and Crumley are gone, I hope all the rest remain.
He begins with Crumley and, of course, quotes what is probably the most praised first line in crime writing. "When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonora, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring day." This line is in THE LAST GOOD KISS and may never be outdone. It is perfect in that the language is plain but the image is not.
Mcdonald's questions to these men are just what you would have liked to have answers to and their responses are generally succinct. Leonard talks most about his ten rules for writing, which had just come out then. He proclaims THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE as the best crime novel written.
All of these men come across as writers who take their work seriously. They read widely and think about their characters. I often think that people who read most literary novels believe that genre writers (and I use these terms strictly for quick clarity) don't write beautiful prose or create memorable characters. If that is true they need to meet: Jack Taylor (Bruen) Lew Griffin (Salis), Train (Dexter), Ree Dolly (Woodrell), Nat Heller (Collins) and so on.
This is a really fun book. Pick it up.
TODD MASON is now hosting FFB.