The best observation on online dating well before there was a thing called online dating. Courtesy of the astute New Yorker Dubliner, Maeve Brennan, 1962, Midtown.
‘As he was fitting her chair in under her, the man said, evidently continuing their conversation, “All right, if you must have a definition, I am a socialist who is interested in lust.” I was fascinated, but he sat down and his voice dropped with him, and I heard nothing more from him until their lunch had been served, and then he said, in a loud voice, as though he were astonished, “The potatoes are very good here.” Another disappointing man, I thought…’
Sometimes I wonder about the sweetly maudlin characters from older novels compared to the overtly disenchanted characters in more contemporary works of fiction. This excerpt from ‘The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.” seems to typify the older approach to handling broken characters who seek something beyond the everyday structure of the norm. (and btw, Robert Coover’s novel is unlike any baseball novel you’ll ever read…as if Flann O’Brien wrote a novel about America’s pastime.)
“I’ll think I’ll go to church,” Hettie announced.
“Which one do you go to??” he asked, hardly caring.
“Don’t matter. First one I come to.” She sighed, spraying crumbs.
“Absolve your sins?” he asked, feeling a little contentious, but meaning no sarcasm.
“Sins? No, I ain’t got any feelings about that,” she said. “I just want a place where I can go and mope in company without bothering nobody.” She started glumly into her coffee at the brown reflection of herself. “Let’s face it, I’m getting old and ugly, Henry.”
“Listen, Hettie,” he said. He dug into the billfold, found another twenty. “Here. Go buy a new hat or something. Flowers on it.”
“Flowers are for Spring,” she argued.
“Well, old dry leaves then. Anything. A new girdle or some fancy drawers, I don’t care. I just want to see you happy.
She smiled, patted his hand gently. “Ain’t that easy,” she said. “But thanks, Henry. That’s nice.”
“Three o’clock in February. All the sky was blue and high. Banners and bunting and people bunched up between. Greetings and sadness.”
“I was lost, it was already dusk, I had been driving for hours and was practically out of petrol.”
“Some places are too evil to be allowed to exist.”
“Above all, the darkness of the river was what impressed Dr. Sanders as he looked out for the first time across the open mouth of the Matarre estuary.”
“Music school? Are you kidding? I learned to play the sax in Pontiac Reformatory.”
“When Frieda Schwartz heard from her Shmuel that he was (a) marrying a black girl, the blood soughed and staggered in all her conduits as she pictured the chiaroscuro of the white-satin chuppa and the shvartze’s skin; when he told her that he was (b) dropping out of school and would therefore never become a certified public accountant – ‘Riboyne Shel O’lem!’ – she let out a great geshrei and dropped dead of a racist/my-son-the-bum coronary.”
“There is no warning of daylight here.”
Great article about this summer’s crime releases. Honored to have ‘We Were Kings’ listed alongside such great novels as Michael Harvey’s ‘Brighton’ and Megan Abbot’s ‘You Will Know Me’. Cheers to J. Kingston Pierce and Kirkus Reviews.
“Thomas O’Malley and Douglas Graham Purdy’s initial historical grabber, Serpent in the Cold (2015), somehow escaped my radar. The same won’t happen with its equally Boston-based sequel, We Were Kings. After the icy, desolate winter that back-dropped Serpent, we’re offered here the skin-peeling heat wave of 1954, when “currents of lightning sparked and raced” across the sky without inciting rain, and Scollay Square—a once-vibrant urban quarter, fallen on seedy times—was being razed in a racket to make room for today’s Government Center. Tipped off that a ship bearing contraband intended for Irish Republican Army partisans will land at the Charlestown docks, local police lock down the harbor, only to turn up an empty vessel and an unidentified body tarred and feathered, perhaps left behind as a warning to other prospective IRA “rats.” Homicide detective Owen Mackey, worried about Beantown turning into a conduit for Ireland-bound armaments, asks his widowed cousin, Cal O’Brien—a former cop, now heading a private security outfit—to infiltrate the Irish community, see what can be learned. O’Brien, in turn, recruits his ex-heroin addict friend, piano player Dante Cooper, and together they dig among the city’s clubs, funeral parlors, and underworld dives until they expose a terrorist scheme of no small import…”
Read the full article here.
Just when you thought the neighborhood had lost all its character, you meet an elderly gentleman wearing a psychedelic Muhammad Ali t-shirt and a captain’s hat. We struck up a conversation about the importance of having many hats, how picking a certain hat helps set the tone and mood for the day. He has 4 fedoras (his favorite from France, bought in Paris, 1957, for $30), six cowboy hats, three captains hats (a white one with gold trim for when he vacations in Long Island), two sombreros, a variety of scally and skull caps, and many, many others. In total 74.
Not sure about the lesson here, but I wish some people shut the fuck up about nonsense, and paid more attention to what hat they’re wearing. It might just make us all a little bit more interesting.
4 examples of hats on jazz legends.
SERPENTS IN THE COLD paperback comes out tomorrow, May 24th.
Noir meets historical crime fiction in a dark tale of redemption during the worst winter on record.
Critics and authors praise SERPENTS IN THE COLD:
“Brutally realistic . . . The authors give us one last, lingering look at the good-bad old days.” Marilyn Stasio, New York Times
“This is a bone-crunching, gut-wrenching novel.” Kirkus Reviews
“Serpents in the Cold is a startling work of art, a beautifully rendered, atmospheric tale of crime and punishment set in mid-twentieth century Boston.” Reed Farrel Coleman, award-winning of Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot
“[The authors] have delivered a love-letter to a Boston that’s long gone.” Publishers Weekly
“Serpents in the Cold lovingly revisits the hardboiled noir.” Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset
“Serpents in the Cold is a great addition to the canon of gritty Boston street fiction, a no-punches-pulled look at a bygone era.” Chuck Hogan, author of The Town
“Melancholy as a lonesome train whistle, beautifully written, as well as thrilling, Serpents In The Cold is a tight little gem of characterization and suspense.” Joe Lansdale, author of The Thicket
“Purdy and O’Malley resurrect the neighborhoods of 1950s Boston in faithful, brutal detail — and in language so lush and gorgeous that you’ll fall in love with reading it all over again.” Elisabeth Elo, author of North of Boston
In one week, the paperback of ‘Serpents in the Cold’ comes out – 5/24/16. With a sweet new cover, I hope the novel pulls in some new readers. Noir is a term thrown around a lot these days, but Thomas O’Malley and I think our novel justifies the term (or at least we hope so).
Alan Glynn (author of Limitless) says, “There is a classic noir sensibility at work in Serpents in the Cold, complete with its uncannily rendered sense of time and place, but the novel is also suffused with a thoroughly modern understanding of loss, pain, damage and the price of loyalty. It’s not often you get to pair gritty with lyrical, but you certainly do here.”