Thursday, December 28, 2023

When I Was a Kid

 I always got sick after Christmas. Guess what? Sorry for no links yesterday and probably no FFB tomorrow. Be well.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: The Wife on Ambien, Ed Park


I love flash fiction stories. Occasionally one seems too short, underdeveloped. But on the whole I like to meet new authors this way. If I like their flash fiction, I will probably like their short stories and novels.

Ed Park has been all over the publishing field in the last twenty years (editor, publisher, teacher, writer). His most recent novel is called SAME BED, DIFFERENT DREAMS. A great title and concept, no?

This flash piece is all about the activity of a wife on Ambien. Ambien (which I take too) is known to induce nocturnal behavior in some that use it. I hope I am not one of them. Nothing seems amiss in the morning anyway.  And it's the only way I can sleep. 

Hope you all had a good holiday.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Short Story Wednesday "The Possibility of Evil" Shirley Jackson


First published in 1965 in the Saturday Evening Post, a few months after Jackson's death, "The Possibility of Evil" won the Edgar for best short story in 1965. A self-satisfied spinster in a small town is especially proud of her roses, which she never allows people to cut. As she walks through town, her thoughts condemn everyone she passes. We learn that for the last year she has been sending poison pen letters, often ones filled with lies. When she is exposed at the end, her roses pay the price for her evil.

Now this story feels more familiar than it probably did in 1965. What makes it better than most of this type of story is the detail and the care put into laying out her life, her misdeeds and how she is caught out. It is only six pages long and there is not a wasted word. Although it is not on a par with "The Lottery" you recognize the mind it came from.

The Possibility of Evil 


Kevin Tipple 

George Kelley 

Jerry House 

Casual Debris 


Todd Mason

Monday, December 18, 2023

Monday, Monday

 No one told me the Lions were playing last night so I missed the game but instead enjoyed THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, which is probably one of the movies I have seen the most times.The chemistry between Steward and Sullivan lights up the screen. She had a rather tragic life, ending in suicide. So much better than YOU'VE GOT MAIL.

I also saw MAESTRO this week, which I liked except I wish they had used more music in it. And this thing of having characters talk overlapping each other is driving me crazy. But well acted and directed. 

On TV I am watching SLOW HORSES still. Such a great series. Also watching the last series of DOC MARTIN, which is long past its sell -by date but I have to finish it out. JULIA is charming and more meaty than it had to be. I started SCIENCE FAIR: THE SERIES on Hulu about various high school teams preparing to enter a Science Fair. These kids are scary smart.

Remarkable weather for December. 

Megan's book (BEWARE THE WOMAN) was recommended on PBS WORLD NEWS on Friday. All the texts I got about it were from people over 70. Does anyone under 70 watch the news anymore? 

I am reading but nothing you need a title for. A long time since I read a real knockout book. 

I will probably skip this next Monday since it is Christmas. Have a good one.

Friday, December 15, 2023

FFB: Jack Livinston books


Joe Binney was a deaf detective starring in four books (maybe more) in the eighties. I enjoyed the challenge of using his deafness in interesting ways in solving crimes. I think the most well known was DIE AGAIN MACREADY. He also wrote THE NIGHTMARE FILE, A PIECE OF THE SILENCE and HELL-BENT FOR ELECTION. I could not find out much about the author, Jack Livinston, but I didn't have the time to really pursue it. But I remember enjoying them at the time. My library bought them but they are long-gone now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Short Story Wednesday

(from the archives)

Sarah Weinman reviews mysteries for the New York Times. This review predates that as well as her many non-fiction books on true crime. 


Thom Jones: The Pugilist at Rest: Stories. This short story collection is 30 years old and it feels like it was written this past year. It blew me away with its searing depictions of army members in the midst of cracking up, women caught in self-destructive relationships, and other people locked into patterns that are destined to repeat themselves and produce worlds of hurt. Jones lived and hurt for years before he produced the stories that made up this 1993 collection, and even though a couple more volumes of stories followed, it really feels like he's been off the radar for years. Hopefully he'll be back soon with more tales of the dark side of reality.


Todd Mason 

George Kelley 

Jerry House 


Casual Debris 

Monday, December 11, 2023

Monday, Monday

After a brief cancer scare, I am feeling almost back to normal. (It was cancer two years ago and I have been taking hormone-blocking drugs since. So there will always be the possibility of a return). I have to visit an oncologist twice a year and the surgeon once.

Love, love, love this season of SLOW HORSES. I didn't know how they'd top Season 2 but so far they have. Mick Herron is a wonder at keeping the pace up, the humor up, the character development going. Also love DAGLIESH season two, which I get through my library. 

Saw THE BOY AND THE BLUE HERON yesterday, a choice of my movie group but it's not for me. I did enjoy SPIRITED AWAY a few years back but this was too much about warfare.

Heard a fabulous concert at the DSO on Friday morning. A crew of elementary kids sat behind us and applauded at every break in the music. Thankfully they left at the intermission before Pathetique. It has been playing in my head ever since.


Been watching Jane Austen movies to calm my nerves. I thought LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND (AMAZON) was credible if not as good as the book. Maybe too much showing. But the book was a real favorite of mine a few years ago. 

Anyway, what's up with you?

Friday, December 08, 2023

FFB WHITE CROSSES, Larry Watson, reviewed by Ron Scheer

WHITE CROSSES by Larry Watson(by Ron Scheer)

Not sure if this novel from 1998 counts as "forgotten." Not even sure if it was ever much known. Anyway, I found this story of mid-century small-town life and its fascinating character study hard to put down. 

The novel begins with a car accident and the deaths of two people - thus the "white crosses" of the title, those roadside markers where lives have abruptly ended.  Written with elements of crime fiction, it's an ironic account of how a well-meaning county sheriff's cover-up attempt leads to a series of worrisome complications and finally to fatal consequences.

Everyone has their secrets and is guilty of something, the sheriff has come to believe, and he is no exception. As author Watson probes deeper into his character, we find the weaknesses and moral ambiguities hidden within an otherwise likable man who happens to represent law and order. The author's frequent digressions help us to know him inside and out, which turns out to be important.

Watson is a fine writer with a gift for illuminating the inner worlds of what seem to be predictable and ordinary people. They seem to fill him with a sense of wonder. Like the pair of bachelors, identical twins, drinking at a bar, or a cantankerous rancher who believes, with scant evidence, that his cattle are being rustled, or the widow who reports that her S&H Green Stamps have been stolen. There is much to be known about them that will never be known - and will go with them to the grave.

Watson has a couple other books written with sheriffs as central characters in this same western town of Bentrock, Montana: Justice and Montana 1948. I've read all three and liked them. I believe they are all still in print. 



Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: HARD-BOILED

Graveyard Shift" by James Reasoner; "The Long Silence After" by Ed Gorman

Browsing in the Dawn Treader bookstore in Ann Arbor in January, 2009 I grabbed a book from the shelves entitled HARD-BOILED. It was an anthology published in 1995, edited by Bill Pronzini and Jack Adrian, and published by Oxford University Press. I took it home and was delighted to find stories by two friends, but that isn't why I'm choosing these two stories today.

Although the stories are quite different, they share a theme: men attempting to redress the loss of a wife through criminal action. Though the outcomes are different, both stories are rich in atmosphere, tension, and character and a quality I love: uxoriousness. They rise above many short stories that depend almost totally on plot. Within a few pages, we know these men---or think we do. I highly recommend both stories as primers on how to write a short story as well as stories to be enjoyed. 

Casual Debris

George Kelley 

Jerry House 

Todd Mason 

Steve Lewis 

Kevin Tipple 


Monday, December 04, 2023

Monday, Monday

 Did not care much for SALTBURN. It was just too cruel for me although the acting and look of it was good. I did enjoy rewatching MANSFIELD PARK on Paramount. Also started THERAPY by Sebastian Fitzrek on PRIME, continuing with JULIA, FOR ALL MANKIND, FARGO. And about to begin SLOW HORSES. 

So much rain. Should be grateful it's not snow but the fog is scary. 


Not a bad year for TV. Nor for movies. It's books I have been hard pressed to find. I am reading Dwight Garner's book on READ, EAT, EAT READ. 

How about you?

Friday, December 01, 2023

FFB: From 2007


I made this photo extra large because it is hard to read. Soon I will work my way out of my room and into the living room, which has books in much better condition but perhaps not as interesting to you. Anyway HARDBOILED has fabulous stories by Ed Gorman and James Reasoner in it as well as many from other true greats in the crime fiction field. I have read some but not all of them.

LAURA, I read years ago and it is one of my favorite noir movies. I don't think it was this copy I read though because it is very fragile. 

I really love Grace Paley stories. I think I have another collection somewhere.

THE MALTESE FALCON-I saw the film recently on a big screen and wondered again if I had read the book. Not sure. (Maybe I am more of a movie person than a book person) Liked Wilkie Collins' THE WOMAN IN WHITE more, but THE MOONSTONE is the one I own. I read both when Masterpiece Theater did them way back when. They have done them again since.

Love THE THIN MAN and because I saw the movie first, of course, I picture them as William Powell and Myrna Loy. Asta is pretty much the same in either version. You can see what horrible shape this one is in. When they are this bad it is because I saw them in a used bookstore and couldn't resist. I am not that hard on books although I do eat lunch reading so there is often mustard on them.

THREE BY FLANNERY O'CONNOR include WISE BLOOD and THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY but also my two favorite shorts by her: "A Good Man is Hard To Find' and "The River." Have read everything in this collection at least once.

THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY, Charles Willeford. This is my least favorite Willeford and set in the world of art. I think there is a recent film made of it. Not sure why it didn't work for me. Maybe because it wasn't funny like the Hokes or scary like some of the rest.

DREAM STORY is apparently the novel from which Stanley Kubrick drew inspiration for EYES WIDE SHUT. I can't remember if I found that to be true. But since my interest in the work of both Cruise and Kubrick faded, I don't much care now.

I had a friend that loved the works of Orwell and he kept after me until I bought these two books. I am sure they are great but I never read them. But since my friend is gone and I miss  him I feel like I might need to try these some day.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, James Cain. One on my favorites, for sure. Seen both movie versions too, but the book is far and away the best. There is a coldness the movies couldn't capture, I think.

What's on your shelf this week? Which of these have you read?