The Lineup #3, Edited By Gerald So, Anthony Rainone, R. Navaez, And Sarah Cortez

Annually, Gerald So, the fiction editor at Thrilling Detective, heads up a volume of crime-related poetry called The Lineup.  As National Poetry Month draws to a close today, I thought I’d take a look at the latest issue.

The Lineup #3 begins strong with co-editor Sarah Cortez’s tale of a ride-along gone wrong.  An officer is shot, and his civilian rider is unable to call for help.  James W. Hall ponders the women found murdered from time to time, never where they were taken from.  And Carrie McGrath wonders if the crimes of men cat-calling her might cause her to commit a crime herself.

It’s Amy McLennan who provides the strongest pair of poems.  In “Prowling,” she gets into the head of a burglar who never leaves any sign of his presence, despite not wearing gloves.  In “A Life of Vice,” a woman has no regrets over her life of using lovers and drugs, even if she’s reached the end of her rope in a bus station john.

The Lineup is largely blank verse and free verse, which works best for this type of subject matter.  It’s poetry that has a spoken feel to it, almost as if it’s reaching toward the poetic prose of some of its writers.  This is especially evident with veteran poet and author Reed Farrel Coleman’s effort, “Victim’s Kiss.”  Like many of the poets in this volume, their verse reads very much like their prose.  It’s a dark eye-opener.

I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet

Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, chief flunky to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameni, thinks he knows why there are so many earthquakes lately.

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes.”

So let me get this straight.  It’s not that the regular movement of tectonic plates seems to be striking dry land more lately than under the sea where we normally don’t notice it.  It’s because women are showing off their tatas?


Kfar Saba, (C) 2011, Creative Commons

This is like letting Pat Robertson give a weather report.  It leaves me with one question.  Why does Sedighi fear tits?

I think  Sedighi’s afraid of boobs.  Why?  Straight men love boobs.  We love them.  Round and bouncy.  Yes, ladies, we know you hate it when we stare, but you know those twin orbs on your chest put us in your power.  In the Western world, this is not a problem.  We’re used to dealing with women as something more than cattle.  Mr. Sedighi, on the other hand, wants the women in his country treated exactly like that.  Why?  He’s afraid.  He fears the boob.  Boobs make him weak, hypnotize him.  They may make him do bad things.

But let us not blame boobage for the sins of magma.  After all, boobs never sheered off the top mile or so of a mountain.  Boobs don’t dump volcanic ash on half a dozen states and provinces.Boobs never shut down the air traffic in Europe.  Boobs never flattened cities in California, though many in California would mind if Pamela Anderson tried.  Boobs don’t cause tsunamis.

Instead, boobs give life.  For many of us, boobs gave us our first breakfast.  I know looking at my wife’s boobs prompts me to do things to them that make her happy.  (Note:  Don’t do things to women’s boobs without their permission.  That does not make them happy.  That only makes you an asshole.  Like Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.)  Women like to sculpt their boobs.  If they’re too big or too heavy, they get them reduced.  If they’re too small, they make them bigger.  The best boobs are boobs that make their owners happy.  And when she’s happy, everyone’s happy.

Mr. Sedighi fears boobs.  I love them.  Let us not fear boobs.  Let us give thanks and praise for them.

Boobs, a wondrous part of creation.

What Won’t I Read

Last week, Lynn Viehl posted about what sort of books she won’t read. It wasn’t so much a dis of those particular genres but how she reacts to them.

I actually had to codify that here in the review policy.  I have a limited amount of time and need to focus on certain types of books.  On top of that, I really want to read something other than what I’m being asked to review.  So what won’t I read?

  • Cozies.  I’m just not into them.  I seriously doubt you’ll find me prowling Malice Domestic.  Crime is a bloody, brutal, ugly thing, and cozies have a tendency to sanitize that.
  • Political screeds.  Let’s be blunt.  90% of them are written by screaming ideologues who don’t have the expertise to write a pamphlet about what they talk about.  Some of them are just yanking chains.  Glenn Beck?  Every tear compounds the interest in his bank account.  And the gold promos?  Designed to draw in millions from the black helicopter crowd.  Thanks, but I’ll pass.
  • Romance.  Come on.  I’m a dude.  It’s just not dude lit.
  • Hard SF.  It’s not that I don’t believe a writer needs to get his science right.  I just don’t think scientific principle should be the crux of the story.  I know gravity holds me to the Earth.  That should be a plot point, not the whole plot.
  • Celebrity bios.  I read Nick Mason’s Pink Floyd memoir.  (I kinda wish he’d gotten Syd Barrett’s input now that we know Syd would have made a day at the park of carving it up.)  Beyond that, I don’t care.  I don’t care about Britney’s breakdown or how P Diddy became the CEO he is today.  Most of these tomes are ghost-written, and very badly.  Plus, the whole celebrity worship thing drives me batty.
  • Conspiracy theory books.  I work with a proud conspiracy theorist who tries to rationalize this to me almost daily.  The problem is most conspiracy theories are put forth or followed by people with an almost-pathological inability to comprehend the premise that shit really does happen.
  • Self help books.  I had a weakness for them once.  My life has gone so much better since I stopped reading them.
  • Vampires.  OK, look, vampires suck the blood of the living.  They are anthropomorphized mosquitos.  They are not angsty, erotic tragic heroes trapped between life and death.  Seriously, the original Dracula was this dirty, filthy thing with no redeeming qualities.  All Bela Lugosi did was make a walking corpse seem charming.  His Dracula was still a monster.  Makes me want to stalk Lestat and Edward with a sun lamp.

So what won’t you read and why?

Coming Soon: Winter The Ebook!

No, I’m not going to sell Northcoast Shakedown or Road Rules on Kindle.  The rights to Northcoast are only available for an obscene amount no one will ever pay.  It’s all part of Homey’s master plan to keep that abomination out of print forever.  Road Rules was not intended to be sold, though my agent got a few good looks trying to do just that.  Unless someone makes an offer, that will continue to be a freebie.

Instead, I’ve decided not to try and sell short stories individually.  Too many writers are putting their book-length work on Kindle for barely a dollar.  With the market flooded with dollar books, who’s going to pay that for a single short story?

So instead, I will be putting together a collection of what I’ve written so far.  Look for The Compleat Winter soon, compleat with a really cool cover.

War Of The Worlds By HG Wells

This story changes with every retelling, but the basic plotline remains the same.  The protag has his life interrupted by something falling out of the sky.  It’s a spaceship that promptly starts frying anyone and everyone with a heat ray or laser or something that incinerates its human targets.  The Martians then appear in giant tripod machines and proceed to exterminate the human race.  The narrator or protag runs for his life, usually escaping by ferry as a tripod attempts to destroy the boat.  When it looks like mankind is finished, the machines stagger and come to a stop.  The Martians are dead or dying because they didn’t prepare for that flu bug you didn’t think you needed a shot for last year.

I recently read the original 1898 novel.  It’s amazing how well it holds up.  In HG Wells’ original telling, our protag is a scientist who witnesses flashes on the surface of Mars.  Almost every astronomer picks this up as guns firing something at Earth.  At the time, this was considered the most likely way to put an object in orbit or on the moon.  Within days, one object crashes in his London suburb.  Very soon, he is fleeing to London, only to have the Martians follow.

Wells’ Martians are even scarier than the subsequent movie versions.  Instead of ugly midgets with trifurcated eyes, they’re basically giant brains who feed on blood.  Reading the story in its original setting gives it a strangely contemporary feel despite the spotty use of electricity, lack of phone service, and the horses and buggies.  London is the epicenter of the invasion instead of New York.

Surprisingly, the 2005 Steven Spielberg version is closer than the 1958 Cold War classic or Orson Welles’ panic-inducing radio play. Tom Cruise’s dock worker replaces Wells’ unnamed scientist.  In that movie, the Martians collect humans for food as in Wells’ story.  He meets up with a crazed man planning to fight the aliens.  In Wells’ version, though, it’s a vicar having a nervous breakdown whom the narrator leaves to the aliens when he panics and threatens to get them both killed.  Cruise’s half-crazed victim is a blue-collar man like himself who threatens his daughter.  Both the novel and the movie have the ferry scene.

But what was spectacular in this one is the British artillery in the pre-World War I era taking out a tripod and a British warship blowing up two more in a suicide run.

War of the Worlds often reflects the fear of its time.  When originally written, Britain faced uncertainty on the Continent with the dying royalty of Germany, Russia, and Austria threatening go to war with the modern democracies.  Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater play rewrote the story for a Depression Era America nervous about the rise of Hitler and a newly belligerent Japan.  In 1958, the Cold War was in full swing, and even the threat of nuclear annihilation is imprinted on that film.  Spielberg’s updates the story, simply calling the invaders aliens since Mars has since proven lifeless.  War of the Worlds is a mirror that’s constantly held up on modern society’s fear.