Friday, April 19, 2024

FFB: Hollywood and LeVine, Andrew Bergman


 Reviewed by Randy Johnson in 2014

18697864I’ve written about P.I. Jack LeVine before.

It’s 1947 and Jack LeVine runs into an old college friend he hasn’t seen since before the war. Walter Adrian had made a career in Hollywood writing screenplays. One LeVine had loved, another not so much.

Adrian looked terrible, worried about something. Laying one false story on LeVine, he finally admitted he was having contract problems and wanted His friend to come to Hollywood and find out why. A new contract was in negotiation and Warner Brothers not only wasn’t offering him a raise, they wanted to cut his pay.

LeVine heads for Hollywood and goes to Warner Brothers where Adrian was working late on a script, only to find him on the back lot on a western set hanging from a scaffold.

The police call it suicide, but LeVine was suspicious. The trapdoor he’d been standing on that killed him when he fell through didn’t allow Adrian to hit the lever that opened it. Bot to mention the lump on the back of his head.

LeVine decides to look into it.

But no one wants him doing that. Shots are taken at him, the police are warning him off, and the meeting with freshman Senator Richard Nixon reinforces what they consider the problem.

Remember this is 1947 and Nixon is heading up the west coast version of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

LeVine keeps plugging along. The highlight of the story is the finale, a long car chase and shootout with LeVine aided by none other than Humphrey Bogart doing the driving. Lauren Bacall was left behind at the party where it started.

A fun read.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Short Story Wednesday: "Late Love" Joyce Carol Oates, THE NEW YORKER


This story started out as a story I might like: an older couple is newly married but both have previous marriage that ended in death or divorce. One night, the husband thrashes, groans and grunts with a bad dream. And it happens again. And again. When the wife confronts him with it, seeking to comfort him, he denies he was dreaming and accuses her of being the one that had a bad dream. This goes on and on and on. Leeches enter the plot. It morphs into horror. Has he killed his first wife. The second wife can find out little about her even from people who should know the story. The reader doesn't know if she is mentally ill or if he is trying to kill her. It ends ambiguously and is apparently part of a longer work. 

This was so, so long. Although the writing was good, I just don't care for horror stories on the whole. You can listen to JCO read it on THE NEW YORKER website. If you dare....

Jerry House


George Kelley

Kevin Tipple

Monday, April 15, 2024

Monday, Monday


Been trying hard to produce a new piece of writing for my group on Thursdays. What was once so pleasurable is agony now. But there's no point feeding them old stories twice a month.

Watching a lot of movies lately. I especially enjoyed UNDER THE SAND from 2001 with Charlotte Rampling and THE AMERICAN FRIEND with Dennis Hopper and Bruno Gantz. But the best movie of the week was FRIDA, a film using her own words and artwork. Just gorgeous. Although it is streaming, this was as part of the Detroit Free Press Film Festival.

Also watching RIPLEY, SUGAR, and still NORTHERN EXPOSURE.  

Starting THERE, THERE by Tommy Orange. And the new book by S.J Rozan is waiting at the library. 

What about you?

Friday, April 12, 2024



Tracy K Smith is mostly a poet but this is her memoir. It's a story about a mother and a daughter and the religion that bound them together and nearly drove them apart. Although I have read many novels about Black girls from poor and abusive families, this one is not that. Tracy's family is middle-class, her father is in the military for most of her childhood. The five children are well-cared for and loved. They don't face the kind of bigotry that many Black children face. But, of course, it is always there to some degree. (A white friend calls her Black Girl).

This was an amazingly honest and forthright book. Ms. Smith does not shy away from telling you about many facets of her life that most writers might skip over or at least dull the impact. She spends a lot of time on her religious life and how she grew away from it. I found it interesting and am going forward to read her poetry

She is in Michigan this week, speaking at the Marygrove Conservancy. Each year, it hosts a Black writer of note. Marygrove, a mostly Black college on the fringes of Detroit, no longer exists as a college. But the Conservancy has preserved some of its institutions.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Short Story Wednesday: Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, ed Sarah Weinman-A Case of Maximum Need, Celia Fremlin


This is pretty much the last story I read in this collection. I have read two of Celia Fremlin's novels and especially liked her first novel, (which won the Edgar) THE HOURS BEFORE DAWN. This story originally appeared in Ellery Queen Magazine in 1977. 


“No, no telephone, thank you. It’s too dangerous,” said Miss Emmeline Fosdyke decisively; and the young welfare worker, only recently qualified, and working for the first time in this Sheltered Housing Unit for the Elderly, blinked up from the form she was filling in.

“No telephone? But, Miss Fosdyke, in your–I mean, with your–well, your arthritis, and not being able to get about and everything…You’re on our House-Bound list, you know that, don’t you? As a House-Bound Pensioner, you’re entitled–well, I mean, it’s a necessity, isn’t it, your telephone? It’s your link with the outside world!”

And indeed it is, but not in the way you expect. Not many 87-year olds can hold our attention but Ms. Fosdyke does once the telephone's installed. A fine end to a fine collection. 

George Kelley

Kevin Tipple 

Jerry House

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Happy Birthday, Josh

 May this be the year the Detroit Tigers brings you as much joy as the Detroit Lions did in the Fall.