SIGN UP FOR THE MULHOLLAND BOOKS NEWSLETTER for breaking news, exclusive material, and free books

Sign Me Up

Terror Begins at Home

Sep 11, 2013 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Breed by Chase NovakBreed by Chase Novak is now available as a trade paperback, and to mark the occasion, he gives us a few words on Breed and its forthcoming sequel, Brood.

It could be—and has been—argued that television is a kind of unwitting enemy of reading. And surely anything that gets in the way of reading hurts writers, too. But the current renaissance in long-form television, in which writers, directors, and actors have weeks and even years in which to develop and deepen the characters they have created serves as a kind of inspiration to writers who have created stories (and characters, and worlds) that take more than one book to fully explore.

I was not more than half way through Breed before realizing that whatever happened to Adam and Alice in that novel would not be the end of their story. Breed begins with the (extremely privileged) journey of Alex Twisden and Leslie Kramer as they struggle with their infertility, and spare no trouble or expense to have a child—a desire that begins with longing and soon becomes an obsession. Once pregnancy and birth are achieved, the novel turns its attention to the business of actual parenting—something, of course, hundreds and millions of people experience, though most of them without the added challenge of having been genetically altered and driven quite mad by uncontrollable cannibalistic urges.

The primary (and primal) terror of Breed is a child’s fear of her or his own parents. But once that story came to its climax, the further story of what would become of Alex and Leslie’s twins began to occupy my mind, and Brood was born. Brood asks: what can we do to keep the beast within in check? Brood explores how nurture will fare in a struggle with nature. And what do you do when your wishes are fulfilled and you realize you have wished for the wrong thing? In Brood, as is generally the case in life, terror begins at home.

—Chase Novak, September, 2013

2 Comments

Start Reading The Thicket

Sep 10, 2013 in Excerpts, Mulholland Authors

Today we celebrate the publication of THE THICKET, the newest novel by Joe R. Lansdale, Edgar Award winner and eight-time Bram Stoker recipient. Ron Rash says THE THICKET “earns a place on the same shelf as Charles Portis’s True Grit and Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses;” Michael Koryta calls it “Nuanced, compelling, darkly humorous, and remarkably vivid;” the Houston Chronicle says THE THICKET “reads like a dark version of The Adventure of Tom Sawyer and feels like a Coen brothers movie” and is “the perfect mix of light and dark, with plenty of humor mixed in.”

Start reading Joe’s newest below, then pick up a copy at your local bookstore or by visiting your favorite e-tailer! THE THICKET is now available in bookstores everywhere.

(1)

I didn’t suspect the day Grandfather came out and got me and my sister, Lula, and hauled us off toward the ferry, that I’d soon end up with worse things happening than had already come upon us, or that I’d take up with a gun-shooting dwarf, the son of a slave and a big angry hog, let alone find true love and kill someone, but that’s exactly how it was.

It was the pox got it all started. It had run through the country like a runaway mule and had been especially unkind to the close-by town of Hinge Gate. It showed up there as a bumpy, oozing death, and killed so many it was called an epidemic. Two of the ones that died were our Ma and Pa, and neither of them had ever been sick a day in their lives. I on the other hand was sickly all my early life, up until the time I got my health, and Lula had been kind of scrawny her whole time, but neither of us took it. I was by this time a healthy sixteen year old, and she was fourteen, and right on the verge of her bloom. That ole pox passed us by as if it was blind in one eye. It crept up on Ma and Pa, fevered them up, covered them in blisters, and made it so when they tried to breathe, it sounded like a busted squeeze box. The worse thing was we had to sit and watch them die, and there wasn’t a damn thing we could do about it. We couldn’t even touch them for fear of coming down with it. Continue reading ›

0 Comments

Joe Lansdale on the Stories that Inspired The Thicket

Sep 09, 2013 in Guest Posts

I grew up on Western movies and films. In the fifties and sixties they were as thick at the theater and on television as fleas on a stray dog. Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, Cheyenne, Maverick, and so many others. Another big influence were the stories my father and mother told about the Western era; they were older parents when I was born, so their experiences were different than the parents of my friends.The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

My grandmother who died in the 1980s at nearly a hundred years old had seen Buffalo Bill as a child and remembered it vividly. She had traveled to Texas by covered wagon, and if memory serves me, her folks had been involved in the Oklahoma land rush, but gave it up and came to Texas. She had seen Indian encampments, had run-ins with wild animals, and like my father and mother, had relatives who had fought in the Civil War. My grandfather was a horse trader and had two families, one on either side of the Ozarks, neither aware of the other until the 1970s when we met my mother’s half sister, who looked almost exactly like my mother. Now there’s a story.

My family were storytellers, and one of my fondest memories was them sitting under a tree telling stories, and me soaking it all up like soft ground under a good rain. I’m still mining those stories. There were also tales about famous outlaws they had heard and passed on to me, about country living, and day to day business. While the other kids chased fireflies, I kept coming back to sit under the tree and listen. I loved it far more then childish games, and boy, am I glad I did. I’ve made a living at it.

Later, in the seventies, I became interested in Western fiction, not just films, stories, and history. Before that, I read all manner of fiction, but very little Western fiction, and most of what I had read didn’t move me. I am still that way about Western fiction. When I like it I’m absolutely bonkers for it, but when I don’t, it leaves me as cold as a polar bear’s toes. I read The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout, True Grit by Charles Portis, Little Big Man by Thomas Berger, Last Reveille by David Morrell, and a very underrated novel, The White Buffalo by Richard Sayles. Later I read Wild Times by Brian Garfield, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, and certainly Alan Le May’s novel, The Searchers. I suppose Twain had something to do with it, as he haunts me like a happy ghost in so many things I write. But it was my main intention to tell a story the way my folks told stories, with pacing and detail and interesting asides. Toss in adventure and action, and you have all of the influences for The Thicket.

Writing it was like a satisfying primal scream. I hope you’ll love reading it.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Other Retailers

0 Comments

On Elmore Leonard

Aug 21, 2013 in Books, Industry News

Elmore Leonard

1925-2013

Elmore Leonard wrote about intelligence. He understood how characters’ aspirations abraded against the limitations of those around them, or against their lower urges. Consequently Leonard also understood that frustration, with oneself and with others, was the steadiest and readiest engine to story. His death this week means that we will never read another new character who knows exactly the next thing to say, or fumbles with his gun, or can’t leave her man. His Detroit, and LA, and New Jersey, and Old West is the world where people are just as fallible and hopeful and lonesome as you, and though it will no longer expand, it will remain self-sustaining.

In honor of the greatest and most generous American crime writer, I ask you to do one thing: find one of his books—any title—and read it for the one character who loves the world he lives in. That person is in every single Elmore Leonard novel—someone who, despite their limitations, possesses an innate curiosity. That person is you, dear reader. That person is the author. And he knows that reading a story means that you wish and look forward to more from the world. Join this man in celebrating how sharp and clever and sorrowful life can be. Love how much you wish to know.

3 Comments

Hard to Shake Off: In Conversation with Mischa Hiller

Aug 14, 2013 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

This week, Mischa Hiller’s SHAKE OFF, picked by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker as one of 2012’s Best Books, hits paperback! The following is a conversation between Mischa and his editor at Mulholland Books, Wes Miller. SHAKE OFF can now be foudn at bookstores across the country.

Wes Miller: Let me start by saying SHAKE OFF was one of those novels I just knew we needed for the Mulholland Books list as soon as I started reading it. The degree to which you bring readers into Michel’s world—a world in which almost anything is either a weapon or a tool, in which everyone Michel meets may be trying to lead him astray—is just astounding.

One of the things I’ve noticed about SHAKE OFF, rereading that evocative first chapter, is how absolutely chock-full of seemingly genuine tradecraft the opening section is. Had you done deep research into the tricks of the espionage trade in writing SHAKE OFF? Were there books or individuals (whether you can tell us about them or not) that were particularly useful in crafting such an air of authenticity? And did you always know you’d start the novel with what is practically a how-to on the art of subterfuge, or was this something that came later as you were figuring out how to introduce Michel’s world to readers?

Mischa Hiller: Well, let me start off by saying how proud I am to be published by Mulholland, whose list includes some great writers. To answer your question: yes, I did a lot of research, but was also lucky to have access to someone who had gone through this kind of training. There are books you can buy that detail surveillance and counter-surveillance but it’s the little insights that make it real, like trainee surveillance officers using dead letter drops to get their paychecks.

I felt the training was an integral part of the book in the sense that it is part of what makes Michel and explains his paranoia. A lot of spy books imply that this sort of constant subterfuge can be lived with easily, without any effect. My premise was that actually the whole idea of living a lie is quite damaging.

I should add here that it’s not just the tradecraft that’s written with such command in SHAKE OFF—it’s the sense of alienation with which Michel views his surroundings. It’s something I personally responded to in an unexpected way. You and I have never actually discussed this before, but we are both mixed race—you’re half Palestinian, half British, and I’m of Chinese, German, and Irish descent. I’m not sure if your heritage was something I knew about you when I started reading SHAKE OFF, and Michel himself is not biracial, but at least to me, the way Michel describes his sense of not quite belonging to his surroundings (something I know I’ve at times struggled with) was extremely well-taken and quite emotionally accurate.

Was cultural alienation something you’d known you wanted to write about, or a theme that grew naturally out of the genre as seen through your own particular cultural perspective? (Did you begin wanting to write a spy novel, or by wanting to write about a Christian orphan from the Sabra refugee camps?)

That’s an interesting question. This idea of belonging and identity is something that interests me, no doubt, and I recently wrote an essay on what it means to me to be of mixed race, and the challenges this poses (in terms of belonging and acceptance) and the advantages it can provide, especially as a writer, in terms of being able to look at things ‘from the side’, as it were. I mentioned in a previous blog post about how I drew on my own feelings when imparting the alienation Michel felt in the book, and of his being a fish out of water. One could say that this was a theme I wanted to explore to some extent, and indeed the outcome of the book is his way of addressing this loss of identity. As for wanting to write a spy novel or a book about someone from the camp I think both came to me simultaneously. What would happen, I thought, if an orphan was groomed for espionage and placed in an alien environment? Also, I did think, how great it would be to have a Palestinian protagonist in a thriller.

 I’ve given much thought to genre and subgenre in the years I’ve spent working exclusively with suspense fiction since the launch of Mulholland Books. I’ve heard it said that it’s often those moments outside of those expected from the conventions of the form that affect you the most strongly.  (Michael Connelly and Mark Billingham touched on this in their conversation on the MulhollandBooks.com earlier this summer—the “looking out the window” moments from Connelly’s Bosch novels being some of Billingham’s favorites—and there’s a TED talk with JJ Abrams where he mentions subgenre in discussing the unspoken reasons a film like Jaws becomes part of the cultural lexicon.)

SHAKE OFF does this better than most in the slow introduction of Helen, Michel’s flatmate, into Michel’s otherwise almost hermetically sealed life—their budding romance is the reason that suddenly this nail-biter of paranoia, dead drops, and clandestine missions becomes an almost lyrically-written love story as well. Many, many writers struggle with the idea of sub-genre and romance in particular—do you have any tips to share with any colleagues who might be reading? What would you (humbly) say about writing Helen and Michel’s story makes their relationship seem more genuine than most? And are Helen and Michel based on any people in particular or serve as amalgamates of people you’ve known?

I am pleased, as reviews and readers have suggested, that I have managed to escape the confines of the genre. To me this is the greatest compliment I can be paid as a writer. Genre can be limiting (both in terms of writing and what people will read), so if, as a writer, you can fuse more than one genre, or transcend the genre you are ostensibly writing in, without pretension or creating a horrible mess, then you may be onto something. You can appreciate this effect better in great films, as you mentioned; they are about something greater than the plot, which is often incidental.

For me, SHAKE OFF could easily be about Michel and Helen’s relationship, with some spying and politics that get in the way, rather than the other way round, and my only advice would be to give as much thought and weight to one aspect of a book as you do another. Unfortunately a lot of books, and films, bolt something on (usually the ‘love interest’) rather than weave it in, but it is obvious and therefore unsatisfying.

Michel and Helen are not based on particular people but there are aspects in each that I have observed in others and myself.

Your earlier novel SABRA ZOO focused on the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982 in Beirut, Lebanon.  SHAKE OFF is also Michel Khoury is a survivor of the Sabra massacre, an event that haunts him throughout the novel.  I believe you were living in Beirut at the time of the Sabra and Shatila massacre—what was it like, being in Sabra then? How would you describe living in cities torn apart by sectarian violence to Americans, whose almost sole point of reference would have to be the events of 9/11?

It is difficult to explain what it is like to people who haven’t experienced it, which I guess is why some of us write books about it. I suppose, therefore, people could do worse than read SABRA ZOO to get a feel for what it was like in Lebanon at that time.  But there are other fine books that deal with conflicts in a serious and sensitive fashion. A couple of years ago, after SABRA ZOO was published, I read HALF OF A YELLOW SUN by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche which is set against the Nigeria-Biafra war of which I was completely ignorant. It is a powerful book that I felt had effectively tackled the Nigerian Civil War in a way that I had aspired to do with SABRA ZOO for the Lebanon Civil War.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a crucial part of the drama of SHAKE OFF. While in a less astute writer’s hands, treatment of the conflict might have seemed more didactic and overtly polemical, because of the work you’ve done in crafting Michel as such a seemingly real and empathetic character, the Palestinian perspective (and the Israelis’ as well, through Michel’s reading and education) comes through in remarkably nuanced fashion. For me, those sections of SHAKE OFF that address the conflict head-on reminded me in a way of some of Dave Eggers’ later work—another testament to SHAKE OFF’s complexity.

Given that you’ve done such great work in depicting the nuances of the conflict—to such a degree that you’ve made even this self-professed Apathetic American feel deeply for the plight of Michel and those like him—what is your view of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict?  Fully realizing what an impossible question this is, what do you think it would take for a solution to be reached—and would there ever be one that will satisfy both ends of the negotiations?

Well, I am pleased that it has had this effect, and I’ve had emails from people expressing similar sentiments. Fiction is a great way to give narratives that are rarely heard an airing, and I thought Eggers did that brilliantly with ZEITOUN.

This is probably not the forum to propose a detailed solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, but I would start with the naïve and basic premise that everyone living there should have equal rights.

 The PLO is still active and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still unresolved. Given this, why did you decide set SHAKE OFF in 1989 before the end of the Cold War instead of the modern day? Other than the later historical landmarks that would influence parts of the story (the Madrid conference of 1991, the Oslo Accords, etc), would you say that this novel could at least in spirit be set in modern times?

Yes, it could be set now, but that was such a fascinating time – a year that culminated in the fall of the Berlin wall – with the PLO still being supported by the Soviet Union and its allies within the context of the Cold War. Also, the spying game was a lot more interesting then because it was still people-driven rather than technology driven. Intelligence officers today spend more time in front of a screen than talking to agents. A contemporary book would therefore look different, but there is certainly still plenty of political intrigue to mine.

Mischa Hiller is a winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in the Best First Book category for South Asia and Europe. Raised in London, Beirut, and Dar El Salaam, he lives in Cambridge, England. Visit him at www.mischahiller.com.

Wes Miller is a Mulholland Books editor who has been at the imprint since the launch of its first list. You can find more of his MulhollandBooks.com posts here.

SHAKE OFF, which has been praised by Charles Cumming as “a spy thriller of the highest class” and by David Morrell as “smart and tense and real enough to be scary,” is now available in bookstores everywhere.

0 Comments

Hey, Sinner Man, Where’d You Go?

Aug 09, 2013 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Today marks the three-year anniversary of MulhollandBooks.com! To celebrate where we’re going with where we’ve been, we’ll be re-featuring our very first guest posts throughout the day. Some authors we’ve gone on to publish; all of them we’ve continued to admire. What’s next? You never know what’s coming around the curve…

You’ve probably heard the song. It’s a spiritual, and it starts out something like this:

Hey sinner man, where you gonna run to?
Hey sinner man, where you gonna run to?
Hey sinner man, where you gonna run to?
All on that day . . .

In the verses that follow, we learn that ol’ Sinner Man has run to the north, the east, the south, and the west, to the rock and to the hill and to any number of other sites, and nowhere can he find a place to hide from divine judgment. Then he runs to the Lord, and that turns out to be the answer.

When you look at it like that, it sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it? I’m reminded of the truly awful actor in the truly dreadful showcase production of Hamlet. When some audience members walk out during the famous soliloquy, he breaks character and cries out, “Hey, don’t blame me — I’m not the one who wrote this shit!”

What I did write, however, was a crime novel I called Sinner Man. It was my first crime novel, though it was a long way from being my first published novel. (And it was also a long way from being my first published crime novel, as you’ll see.)

If memory serves (and I might point out that, if memory truly served, there’d be no need for me to write this piece or for you to read it), I wrote Sinner Man sometime in the winter of 1959–60. In the summer of 1957, after two years at Antioch College, I’d dropped out to take a job as an editor at Scott Meredith Literary Agency. I was there for a year and wrote and sold a dozen or so stories of my own during that time. Then I dropped in again, or tried to; I went back to Antioch, but by then I was writing books for Harry Shorten at Midwood and had sold a lesbian novel to Fawcett Crest, and I had more books and stories to write, and what the hell did I care about Paradise Lost or Humphry Clinker, let alone The Development of Physical Ideas? So at the end of the year, I went to New York and took a room at the Hotel Rio, where I wrote another book for Midwood and, as my first for Bill Hamling’s Nightstand Books, one I called Campus Tramp.

Continue reading ›

0 Comments

Live Chat with Don Winslow

Aug 09, 2013 in Guest Posts

Today marks the three-year anniversary of MulhollandBooks.com! To celebrate where we’re going with where we’ve been, we’ll be re-featuring our very first guest posts throughout the day. Some authors we’ve gone on to publish; all of them we’ve continued to admire. What’s next? You never know what’s coming around the curve…

What follows is a transcript of the live chat with Don Winslow, author of Savages, a book that I think is the literary equivalent of narcotic stimulants.

We’ll start with a few questions from me:

Sarah Weinman: – So first I wanted to talk a bit about Savages opening chapter (or opening line) and, at the risk of quoting myself – always dangerous – my sense was that “If you cackle out loud, you may proceed to Chapter 2. If not, you’re not Savages ideal reader, and it’s no great loss.” So was “fuck you” always the way the book started? Or did you have to pare things down, hack away at it, before that phrase became the book’s opener?

Don Winslow: First, Sarah, thank you for all the very kind words about the book. As a matter of fact, ‘fuck you’ was the first sentence I wrote, even before I had characters or a plot. I guess I was just in a bad mood. But then I got thinking, ‘What about it?’ Who says it? Who thinks it? The next thing I knew a 20-something Orange County woman named O was describing her friend Chon, and it went from there.

Sarah Weinman: Savages has quite the high-wire act in that it starts out as kind of high comedy – two guys and a girl, partying in the USA, so to speak, a threat nobody really takes seriously – and then things get Very Serious and it turns out that light-hearted beginning is basically a big lie. How did you make sure not to have too much comedy or too much tragedy, so that the tension between the two keeps the reader going until the illusion basically gets ripped away?

Don Winslow: Well, I like the high-wire, maybe because I’m so afraid of heights. I think life itself constantly flips between tragedy and comedy, and often very quickly and without warning, so I just wrote it that way. Frankly, if I thought something was funny, I put it in and took the chance. But as the story moved inexorably toward tragedy, the events argued against going for any laughs. Sometimes I think of story structure as a wave – it builds and builds and can do some funky things, but when it breaks, it breaks – when it crashes it crashes.

Harry Hunskicker: No memory, U wake up in a motel w/ pile of $ & dead hooker, police at the door. What fic. charac. do you call?
Don Winslow: [laughs] I call Philip Marlow, no question. But if you really are in this situation, Harry, you might want to consult a good lawyer.

Sarah Weinman: There’s a one-page narrative monologue near the end of the book that I think really delivers Savages knockout punch to American material culture and to the way boomer selfishness has not only failed subsequent generations but the country as a whole. Which is to say, you don’t mince words, and it seemed like the whole book was written from a place of frustration, if not anger, at how we ply ourselves with consumerism and are wholly ill-equipped for a world where such values don’t count.

Don Winslow: Yeah, I was pretty angry when I was writing this book. Hell, I’m pretty angry now. The widening economic disparity, the yapping, quarreling politicians who won’t address the real problems, the obsession with celebrity and cheap fame, and the endless consumerism that serves as a narcotic – really our worst drug problem. I was especially pissed off at the right-wing media bullies and congressional cretins who feel entitled to say anything, but then go running to mommy if anyone hits back. So I thought I’d take a rhetorical baseball bat to them.

Mexico's war on drugsDuane Swierczynski: Do you research before, during, or after writing a novel — like, say, Savages, which is full of tons of sharp insights into drug cartels, grades of marijuana, etc.? (Then again, it is entirely possible you’ve run a cartel at some point, and research is a moot point.)

Don Winslow: Thanks Duane! You know, I do a fair amount of research before and during. And so, it’s funny because you don’t know what you don’t know until you have to write it and so you think you’ve done enough research and then you’re writing and you realize there’s something you don’t know.

Afterwards, I try not to, I try to forget it and move on to the next book

Kathy Roberts: What’s on your iPod?

Don Winslow: Steve Earle, Robert Earle Keen, lots of Springsteen, James McMurtry (like in Larry McMurty’s son), Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane and a surf reggae band called Common Sense out of Laguna Beach

Cort McMeel: For me, The Power of the Dog was a seminal work of fiction. You wove an extremely complex plot with a lot of uninventable details of the Mexican drug trade while painting an in depth portrait of a whole gallery of characters. My two questions:
1) In your research did you interview any actual DEA agents, drug cartel members, Mexican police and/or prostitutes? 2) If so, who was the most interesting to you personally, and why?

Don Winslow: Thanks for the kind words, Cort. I have to be really careful about this. Suffice to say that I did a lot of research, including talking to people. Beyond that, I think I’d better be discreet. You know, they’re all interesting in their own ways.

Continue reading ›

1 Comment

Batman is my Mr. Miyagi

Aug 09, 2013 in Guest Posts

Today marks the three-year anniversary of MulhollandBooks.com! To celebrate where we’re going with where we’ve been, we’ll be re-featuring our very first guest posts throughout the day. Some authors we’ve gone on to publish; all of them we’ve continued to admire. What’s next? You never know what’s coming around the curve…

I write mysteries. I love writing mysteries. And I also write comic books. So when I was recently at Comi-Con, someone at one of the panels asked me how comics have influenced and/or seeped into my mystery and novel writing. Indeed, one of the editors at Mulholland Books asked if the action-packed nature of comics helped develop the action and pacing I use in the novels.

So let me tell you the answer.

Yes.

Duh.

And the best part? I had no idea I was doing it.

You see, when you do your first novel, it goes out, and you hope people read it. Same with your second. But by the time you hit your third, people start looking at all the books together. It was then that the smart readers stepped forward. One e-mailed me through my website and said, “I’ve now read three of your novels. What are your issues with your father?” And later, someone else wrote about how reading my novels was like seeing the underbelly of the pacing in a comic book: short chapters and a cliff-hanger, short chapters and a cliff-hanger.

To be honest, I was surprised. But the moment I heard it, I knew it was true.
Continue reading ›

0 Comments

Making Sense of Nothing and Making Nothing of Sense: A Maundering on the Taxonomy of Writing and I Forget What Else

Aug 09, 2013 in Guest Posts, Mulholland News

Today marks the three-year anniversary of MulhollandBooks.com! To celebrate where we’re going with where we’ve been, we’ll be re-featuring our very first guest posts throughout the day. Some authors we’ve gone on to publish; all of them we’ve continued to admire. What’s next? You never know what’s coming around the curve…

“Fair is where you go to see the pigs race.”
— James Luther Dickinson

We are uncomfortable with works that can not be placed comfortably into a category. The English-speaking literary establishment has embraced the French word genre since the eighteenth century. We would do well to remind ourselves that the term, via the Latin genus, is a cognate of another French word, générique, whence the English generic. And, for example, noir, given generic catch-all meaning by American critics in the 1940s, is but another blanditude that consigns to the supermarket-aisle school of literary values many books whose unique qualities are thus obscured.

As George Eliot said in her 1856 essay on Heine: “In every genre of writing it preserves a man from sinking into the genre ennuyeux.” The “it” refers to wit, and the French phrase displays her own subtle wit: “the boring genre.” And it is true that most books consigned to one genre or another belong to the far-encompassing genre of boredom, even if there are no Boring sections designated as such in bookstores.

Most best-selling books belong to one genre or another—espionage, crime, horror, suspense, romance, mystery, self-help, ghost-written political memoirs that take the genre of boredom to a ghastlier realm. Best-sellers that perfume themselves with a contrived literary air fall short of what good genre writing offers. What, after all, was The Name of the Rose but a bad mystery whose plot-workings could not be believed at any turn? I actually read that one. We speak of putting the wounded out of their misery. I have now long felt the same about semiologists. As for something like The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which was said to far transcend the romance genre, I would never read a book with such a pretentious title so like the whine of a moon-calf. Semiologists and moon-calves aside, even straightforward attempts at genre by real writers of true greatness often fail dismally: William Faulkner’s 1949 volume of mystery stories, Knight’s Gambit, is one of the worst books he did.

I am not saying that any genre writers, be they scriptomanic pulp hacks or masters of their corner of the marketplace, could ever beat out, except maybe financially, the few writers of our time who have doomed themselves, or been doomed, to the lower-paying racket of greatness.

But what of the latter, the great, or of those who walked the edge of greatness, who have been relegated to the ranks of the former? That’s what I want to talk about here.

Specifically I want to talk about Patricia Highsmith and George V. Higgins. Why these two? As I’m not auditioning for a creative-writing teaching job—I’m too old to look up girls’ skirts and fill them with the unbearable lightness of being—I’ll tell you the truth.

Continue reading ›

0 Comments

Weekly Links: Weaponized Edition, Part II

Aug 02, 2013 in Mulholland Authors, Weekly links

Contrasted ConfinementWhat better way to cap off a great launch week than with a roundup of the fantastic features and amazing content to date for Nicholas Mennuti and David Guggenheim’s Weaponized?

Us Weekly included Weaponized on its Buzz-o-meter of the top five things that have them talking this week! And US Weekly isn’t the only one talking—on Barnes & Noble, one reviewer raves, “Thrilling, exciting, could not put it down. There is one twist after another, and the action never lets up. This has movie potential.” On Amazon, another reader adds, “The fact that I am writing this review so soon after this book came out is saying something! I started it yesterday and literally could not put it down. The action scenes were insane and the story kept throwing curveballs at me. It reads like a really fun action movie!”

Good news for all those reviewers noting Weaponized‘s cinematic quality: as Deadline noted, film rights have been acquired by Universal Pictures, which means Weaponized: the Movie can’t be far behind!

On pub day itself, “11 Movies that Inspired Weaponized went live on the Scott Moyer’s Go Into the Story, the official screenwriting blog of the Black List—if you’re looking for some great film recommendations, look no further.

Right here on MulhollandBooks.com, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting Mennuti in conversation with Alan Glynn, author of Graveland and Limitless, adapted into the film of the same name. It’s a true meeting of the minds as two of our best paranoid thriller writers come together for one epic conversation.

For more, check out the WEAPONIZED Spotify playlist, or start reading the novel right here. And if you’ve got questions for Nick on Weaponized or anything else, ask him at the discussion group on Goodreads!

More: The Lineup: Weaponized Edition, Part I

0 Comments