Sunday, 13 March 2011

"There's worse places to hole up in than a carny."

This weekend's film viewing consisted of just one film, but it was a good one - Tod Solondz' HAPPINESS. I love books and films with ensemble casts, and this is one of those. It tells the tale of three sisters - one of them apparently has a perfect family life, one is a successful writer - adored and wanted by all, and one of them is a lonely, mousy woman with a knack for picking completely unsuitable men. Dark, dysfunctional and often very disturbing, this is also a very touching black comedy that definitely won't be for everyone (Dad - that means you and Mum - forget I ever mentioned this film).

Of my two new pastimes - the Kindle and the gym - I'm loving one and tolerating the other with gritted teeth. I'm sure I don't need to tell you, dear Reader, which one is which. Let's face it, I ain't ever gonna be skinny. Anyway, on the Kindle front, I downloaded several editions of Crimefactory Magazine to my Kindle and have been dipping in to one of those this week. And I'm now going to declare my undying love for the genius that is Jimmy Callaway (well, his prose, anyway, which I am sure will be a great relief to him). Not only does he write stories like this, which get turned into films like this, but in Crimefactory #2 volume #2 he has the most brilliant essay on William Lindsay Gresham - author of NIGHTMARE ALLEY (one of my favourite noirs - which was turned into a film that was almost as good). Mr Callaway - I think it's about time for a novel. Get onto it, pronto. Thanks. Appreciate it. But make it quick, OK?

And, by the way, that's not the only great thing about this particular edition of Crime Factory. It also has an essay by one of my very favourite people - Reed Farrel Coleman - about his transformation from poet to mystery author, and his inspirations in the genre, a great part story by Kieran Shea that I want to read more of, and some excellent short fiction - my favourites being SOME DAY WE'LL ALL BE FREE by Ray Banks and HAMMER AND NAIL by Josh Converse. All that plus interviews and film reviews.

I had to miss Tony Black's recent book launch, but some lovely person recorded it for me. Well, not for me, obviously, but they recorded it. And Tony guest blogs over at Paul Brazill's place.

A review of BONE MACHINES by John Dodds and, if the review intrigues you, the book is available as a free podcast here, read by the author. You can listen to the first episode as a taster. Nice idea.

I've downloaded it - it will make a nice change from the German language podcasters I'm currently listening to, to prepare for a trip to Berlin (three weeks - yippee!). Isn't it weird, though, that the only words which seem to stick are ones that you know you're never going to need in a million years. Like midwife. And ratcatcher. I'm hoping I don't need either of those. Especially the ratcatcher.

Philip Kerr will be appearing in St Louis on April 19th.

A review of Ian Rankin's THE COMPLAINTS. And, if you're in Milwaukee, you can catch him here on March 19th.

Well, many apologies - this post appears to be light on Scottish crime fiction, and heavy on twaddle. I shall try and make up for it during the week. In fact, I know I will, since I have a special guest blogger on Wednesday.

Keep your fingers crossed for me this week, dear Reader. I'm hoping to hear if I've been accepted on the Masters degree course I really, really want.


  1. Donna - You don't need luck; you've got brains and talent. I'll think of you as you wait to hear whether you're accepted or not.

  2. Fingers are crossed, but you don't need luck!

    Oh, and thanks for linking to Tony Black's launch video. Lovely bit of eye...err...I mean ear candy. ;-)

  3. You're spot on about Callawy. He's a brilliant writer. He get the bittersweet of life perfectly.

  4. Fingers and toes crossed, and high hopes for your hearing you're accepted! As another says, you've got brains and talent, and I say those plus a bit of luck, and off you go towards your dream!

    Enjoy that kindle, and good luck at that gym! And coincidentally, I'm reading a book by Kate Atkinson where there is a carny and someone's hiding there....and then she pulls a knife on our hero. Very small part of a much bigger plot, but made your title today really hit me. And it's a Scottish author--what interesting circles we turn, as readers. :-)

    Better than thinking about German midwife ratcatchers, probably.


  5. Frankly I'm a little disturbed that ratcatcher even came up in conversation for the podcasters. I'm 43 and don't recall ever using that word in conversation...

    Fingers crossed for your acceptance. I'd do my toes too if I could but they're particularly short and stubby and uncrossable

  6. Thanks for giving Bone Machines a plug, Donna, I appreciate it. If people want the ebook, the new version is published through, at:

  7. Twaddle is nice.
    Can I type every now and then and re-cross fingers afterwards?

  8. I think I blushed so hard just now, it was audible.

  9. hah, bookwitch, i can type with my fingers crossed

  10. Margot - aw, thank you!

    Tania - and thank YOU, you wicked woman ;o)

    Paul - he does indeed.

    Bobbie - a midwife ratcatcher...hmmmm, what a thought!

    Bernadette - you never know when you'll neeed these things...actually, there is a really good Scottish film called Ratcatcher, so I HAVE used it. However, I'm sure I will never have the chance to use the word Der Rattenfänger...oh, wait, I just did...

    John - you're welcome!

    Ms Witch - I think that would be fine - thank you :o)

    Jimmy - LOL. I thought I heard a strange redness in the air. And I mean it, by the way.

    Dorte - do dsm o (and there's the proof :o) )