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Blood, Kin and Structure: A Conversation between Andrew Vachss and Joe R. Landale, Part II

NsameMissed Part I? Read it here.

Joe Lansdale: It changed my life. Reading books and going to libraries. I mean we have so much that’s online now, but when I was growing up and you were growing up, libraries were very import, especially if you couldn’t afford books. And a lot of times I couldn’t. So I would spend a tremendous amount of time in libraries and books like Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird all changed my life, and not just in the way of teaching you certain things and reinforcing things you were being taught.

But there was a kind of magic and beauty and almost mythological element to those books, and I know that what I was striving for to some extent was to give this sort of excitement and suspense and to talk about the things that you and I have been talking about, but also bring this sort of beauty and magic to things that were sort of dark and enchanting at the same time.

Andrew Vachss: How big was the library that you had access to as a child?

JL: The original was a book mobile, and you know how big a book mobile is. It was essentially a little bus or van that came around that had books and you’d let kids come in one or two at a time and walk down the aisles and check them out, and then it came back a week or two later, whatever the time was, and then you returned that book and got another one.

And so that was my first one, and the second one was a library that at the time I thought was big. I mean I look at it now and I know it wasn’t. But I read every book in there that I possibly had an interest in, and then I went to the Gladewater Lot Library, which was a little bigger. But to me, I read anything that I could get my hands on. I mean if I found books in the garbage or if I found magazines . . . you know my mom picked up things for me when she could. But the original thing was the size of a small van.

Continue reading “Blood, Kin and Structure: A Conversation between Andrew Vachss and Joe R. Landale, Part II”

Blood, Kin and Structure: A Conversation between Andrew Vachss and Joe R. Lansdale

mJoe Lansdale: First of all, I love this new book, That’s How I Roll, by Andrew. And I was telling him this, in an earlier conversation, that I never read any of his books so terrifically well constructed. They all are, but man, this was is like a bomb builder putting something together very, very carefully, because if you go just a little to the left or right or cross the wrong wire, the whole thing blows.

And the way that this is put together also makes it difficult to talk too directly about it because if you pull one wire here you blow the whole thing, so I got to be very, very careful about that. But I think that everything you do well is in this book, Andrew. I believe that, not only the writing—Andrew always says the writing is all right—but that’s bull, he’s a terrific stylist, he’s a beautiful stylist. And if you doubt that, you should also read his poetry; he also writes Haikus that are just beautiful, and this, everything that he writes to me is like an extended Haiku.

This is an example of that—where it’s just beautifully constructed. And I think a lot of people will say it’s grim, and it is grim. But it’s also beautiful.  I would say—not to give anything away—I would say when you get to the end you have it come to—this grim story—you actually have it come to be an uplifting story. And I think that’s important, because that’s a part of Andrew’s life, because here’s a guy who has actually changed the laws to protect children. Not just one or two, he’s changed the very view of how people look at child abuse. You see it everywhere in the air now. But I’ve now Andrew for many, many years, and I know that when he first started trying to make people aware that this was going on, and the struggle about it, it wasn’t received that way. Am I right, Andrew?

Andrew Vachss: You could not be more right.

JL: I know you don’t want to brag about yourself, I’ll do the bragging for you.

AV:  I’m not bragging.

JL: But them is the facts Jack, right?

AV: Oh, yes. Continue reading “Blood, Kin and Structure: A Conversation between Andrew Vachss and Joe R. Lansdale”

Noir Seal of Approval

As a contributor to LA Noire: The Collected Stories, we asked Andrew Vachss to give us his thoughts on noir. Read Andrew Vachss’s story “Postwar Boom” in LA Noire: The Collected Stories.

Available free (for a limited time) from your eTailer of choice. | | iTunes | Sony

I learned, a long time ago, that people can read for entertainment and come away with enlightenment, so long as the vein of truth runs throughout and doesn’t detract from the narrative force. I understand there are those who believe “noir”—or “hardboiled,” or whatever term they prefer to lavish upon themselves—writing shouldn’t be cluttered up with “that other stuff.” As if littérature engageé is only acceptable in “magical realism” novels translated from original Incan scrolls. All these “outlaws” who want me to live by their rigid little rules … good luck to them. I understand I am too “pulp” for the literati, and too “literate” for the pulpsters. Lost a lot of sleep over that. I’d rather burn a bridge than crawl over it, and genre- worship isn’t one of my disabilities. Apparently, as with all religions, some people believe they can dictate definitions. I don’t ask these self-appointed high priests for the “Noir Seal of Approval” that only they (think they) can grant.

Andrew Vachss has been a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social-services caseworker, and a labor organizer, and has directed a maximum-security prison for “aggressive-violent” youth. Now a lawyer in private practice, he represents children and youths exclusively. He is the author of two dozen novels, including The Weight, his latest. To read an excerpt from this crime-fiction novel about Sugar, an old-school professional thief, visit

Mulholland Books and Rockstar Games

We’re thrilled to announce that we will be publishing, in conjunction with Rockstar Games, a series of short stories some of which are based on characters and cases from the world of L.A. Noire, Rockstar’s forthcoming new video game. “L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories” will be available for digital download on June 6, 2011 through all major eBook retailers.

Authors with stories in the anthology include such renowned writers as Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Joe Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Francine Prose, Jonathan Santlofer, Duane Swierczynski and Andrew Vachss. 1940s Hollywood, murder, deception and mystery take center stage as readers reintroduce themselves to characters seen in L.A. Noire. Explore the lives of actresses desperate for the Hollywood spotlight; heroes turned defeated men; and classic Noir villains. Readers will come across not only familiar faces, but familiar cases from the game that take on a new spin to tell the tales of emotionally torn protagonists, depraved schemers and their ill-fated victims.

Read Megan Abbot’s story “The Girl” on

Read the full press release here.

Preorder from | iTunes | Amazon

Ken Bruen reviews The Weight by Andrew Vachss

Andrew Vachss’ novel The Weight hits bookstores on November 9th. Read an excerpt on Keep reading for Ken Bruen’s thoughts on this latest entry in the Vachss canon.

A.V. has long been among my essential reads.

No question, he brings out a book, I buy it.

Few other authors in this category for me.




Have I been disappointed.

A stunning kaleidoscope of books in almost every genre.  From children’s books, through
numerous standalone’s, to the legendary Burke series.

To date, I have my own favorites, that I return to, time after time, for sheer entertainment and

To learn.

Two Trains Running rivals the best of Ellroy, takes a staggering risk in its style and juxtaposition of time frames.

I still gasp when I return to it.

Why isn’t Vachss a household name?

He has no interest in that.

And while you’ve heard it before, from lesser writers, who watch their
Amazon ratings with something close to addiction.

He is respectively

A warrior

Dark poet

Tireless campaigner in his crusade for The Protection of Children.

His CV reads like the stuff of legend.

It is.

His new book

The Weight

May be his finest hour to date.

This novel, more so than any others, shows, an analysis of collective and individual

But Vachss as always, and he rarely gets credit for this, in The Weight, especially, demonstrates,


And empathy.

Few novelists, especially in the confining restraints of the Mystery genre, have probed the multi-culturalism and globalization  leading to an ever escalating tension.

Stephen Knight, in his essay, discussing the subversive potential of detective fiction, would have
relished The Weight.

Continue reading “Ken Bruen reviews The Weight by Andrew Vachss”

As the Crow Flies (Part II)

Halls Of HorrorAndrew Vachss uses storytelling to teach, to protect, and to make the world a better place. Today,we celebrate the publication of his new novel, The Weight, with part two of his original story “As the Crow Flies,” continued from yesterday.


I knew who he was. Just like I knew Alfred Hitchcock hadn’t been his first one.

I didn’t need his name, because I had his path. His kind, they always move in straight lines. You may not know where they’re going, but you always know where they’ve been.

The local paper keeps the crime reports on a separate page. Not big crimes, like an armed robbery or a murder. Around here, something like that’s so rare it would make headlines. The “Crime Beat” page is just a printout of the entire police blotter. Drunk driving takes up most of it, with some domestic violence sprinkled in. Lately, a lot of meth busts, too. But you also see things like shoplifting, disorderly conduct, urinating in public . . . any petty little thing you could get arrested for.

The library has a complete archive, going all the way back for years and years. I read three years’ worth. Found seven little notices that qualified: five “animal cruelties”–no details; it wasn’t that kind of newspaper–and two fires they called “arson, unsolved.”

After I marked the locations on my close-terrain map, I could see they were all within a two-and-a-half-mile area. You wouldn’t need a car to cover that much ground, no matter where you started from.

I began leaving the door of my den open all the time, even when I wasn’t around.

Under the bookshelves, there’s a cabinet. It has a lock built into it, but I sometimes forget to use it. You can tell that by looking–the key is still in the lock, sticking out.

There’s magazines in there now. All kinds, from Soldier of Fortune to Playboy to the stuff I bought on that last visit to the city.

It took a couple of weeks for one of those new ones to go missing. Whoever took it would never notice that I had removed the staples and replaced them with a pair of wire-thin transmitters.

Those transmitters were real short-range, but I was sure I wouldn’t need much. I knew he was close. Continue reading “As the Crow Flies (Part II)”

As the Crow Flies

pitbullAndrew Vachss uses storytelling to teach, to protect, and to make the world a better place. This week, we celebrate the publication of his new novel, The Weight, with an original story and much more to come.


Alfred Hitchcock is dead. He’s lying there dead, and I don’t know what to do about it.

I wasn’t surprised when I found him dead on the ground. The woods behind our house are wild—-a country where Darwin makes the rules. I’m no philosopher to be saying that; it’s just that I’ve been in places like that myself, so I know how they work.

Alfred Hitchcock was one of those crow-raven hybrids you see around this piece of the coast all the time–too big for a crow, but without that classic thick raven’s beak. You couldn’t miss him, even at a distance. He had a white streak along one side of his head, like the fire-scar a bullet leaves when it just kisses you on the cheek as it goes by.

He hadn’t shown up for a few days, but that didn’t worry Dolly. She loves all her animals, but she doesn’t regard them as pets. “They have their own ways,” is what she always says. Continue reading “As the Crow Flies”