Friday, February 22, 2019

FFB - Rogue Males, Craig McDonald

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.


14 comments:

George said...

I have a copy of ROGUE MALES around here somewhere. After reading your fine review, I need to find it and read it!

Mathew Paust said...

I shan't quibble with Crumley's line as most praiseworthy, but most memorable, for me, anyway, came from the soul of Mr. Spillane. It's so simple no one who's read it can forget it. You know it, but for those who've not yet seen it (this is your last chance to turn away before it implants itself on your hard drive forever): "The guy was dead as hell." It's from Vengeance is Mine. I read it in a paperback I'd plucked from my dad's little bookshelf next to his living room "easy" chair when I was 9 or 10 or thereabouts. My dad laughed when he saw me reading it. I went on to read everything by Spillane I could find.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Much more succinct!

Mathew Paust said...

Perfect for my afflicted attention span!

Todd Mason said...

Looks good. Hope he did or will do further volumes taking on other sets....

Friday's Forgotten Books and More: the links to the reviews

Hennessy said...

One of my favorite books. If a similar book were published today featuring women crime writers who would be some worthy candidates?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sara Paretski, Laura Lippman, Karen Slaughter, Sophie Hannah, Val McDermid, Megan Abbott, Tana French. Among others...

Todd Mason said...

Marcia Muller, Liza Cody, Marijane Meaker,...alas no Kate Wilhelm nor Kit Reed/Craig nor Sue Grafton to ask any more. Talk TO other sets (of writers) including the the women, is what I meant to writer. Talk with you. It does seem odd that no one has put together such a book that I remember, nor see in a lazy search. The MYSTERY SCENE folks alone could extract a fine one from their back files. Ed Gorman did have at least two good interview anthologies from MS that mixed up all the kinds of writers they enjoyed highlighting.

Todd Mason said...

Meant to type, anyway. My fingers will do their own type-ahead, at times, with certain words, and "writer" in for "write" seems kind of common for me. Anyone else find themselves doing that?

Mathew Paust said...

Happens all their time...oops.

Craig McDonald said...

Some of the women crime writers named here, including Liza Cody, Karin Slaughter, as well as J.A. Jance and Tami Hoag were in my first interview collection, ART IN THE BLOOD. A third volume was in the offing, but derailed twice as two publishers went belly-up. That one had additional interviews with Slaughter, with Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, Anne Rice, Elizabeth Kostova, Robin McKinley, Candace Bushnell, Elizabeth Berg, Earlene Fowler, Rita Mae Brown, Laura Lynn Drummond and Valerie Hemingway, and some further interviews with Woodrell, with James Ellroy, Connelly and James Sallis, among others. In the end, it seems, these sorts of books are just very hard to place with a publisher.

Todd Mason said...

Good to know, and better luck...a specialist or university press should be champing at the bit for that, if larger commercial publishers pass, but justice is only occasional.

Craig McDonald said...

Thanks, but I've moved on long ago, focusing on my own novels, and wouldn't release it now under any circumstance. The interviews are at this point extremely dated. Many of the career trajectories are also vastly different from what they were at the moment of the interviews and our culture has shifted in a way that would add spurious or unfair retrospective weight to some comments made "in the day" by a few of the authors. Some of the others I didn't reference above have also passed and are already out of print.

Anonymous said...

I love that first line, Patti! It is a classic, isn't it?