Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cover preview

It won't be out until January, but here's an early look at the cover of the new novel (due out Jan. 19.), courtesy of the good folks at St. Martin's/Minotaur. Thoughts?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mann's world

Over at THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR (and originally at the Museum of the Moving Image site), Matt Zoller Seitz concludes "Zen Pulp," his five-part series of video essays on the work of director Michael Mann. The final installment is devoted to my favorite pre-WIRE TV crime series, CRIME STORY.

Matt's entertaining and incisive essay (which, in full disclosure, I did contribute to slightly and I mean slightly) looks back at Mann's retro crime drama, which ran only two seasons in the mid-'80s, but whose multi-episode story arcs helped pave the way for shows such as THE SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD and the above-mentioned WIRE (echoes of it can also be seen in Mann's own HEAT).

The show made a star of Dennis Farina (above), and rightly so. As Chicago Major Crimes Unit Lt. Mike Torello, Farina brought just the right combination of charm and toughness to the role. In general, it had to be one of the best-cast series ever. Both seasons were packed with actors who went on to major careers, including Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, David Caruso, Gary Sinise, Ving Rhames, Lili Taylor, Michael Madsen and dozens of others. And, of course, the two-hour pilot (startlingly violent for network TV at the the time), was directed by the great Abel Ferrara.

I used to own the entire show - both seasons - on VHS. A few years back, during a bad attack of the flu that left me wiped out and sleepless for more than a week, I watched almost all the episodes back-to-back from my living room couch. I think if my downstairs neighbors heard "Runaway" one more time they were going to kill me.

I'd always hoped there would be a follow-up two-hour TV movie tying up the show's loose ends (the second season ended with a silly cliffhanger that felt like it belonged in a 1930s serial), but it was not to be. All we're left with is a not-so-great DVD set with poor picture quality, almost no extras and some of the original music removed for legal reasons. Hopefully, someone will get around to doing this right someday. It deserves it.

Matt's previous entries in the series look at MIAMI VICE, Mann's iconic male heroes, the role of women in his films, and Mann's use of doppelgangers and mirror images, especially in his film MANHUNTER. If you're even a moderate Mann fan, they're all worth checking out.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New short story

My short story "Heart" appears in the new (Aug. 2009) issue of INSIDE JERSEY magazine, currently on N.J. newsstands and home-delivered (in certain zip codes) with today's (7/19) copy of the Newark Star-Ledger. Individual copies are also available by calling (800) 876-2326.

The story is a prequel of sorts to the new novel, GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER, which will be published Jan. 19 by St. Martin's/Minotaur. They both feature Morgan, an aging enforcer for a Newark drug gang. "Heart" is set at N.J.'s Monmouth Park during a summer stakes race. It's accompanied by a terrific illustration from artist Andre Malok.

Readers with good memories will recall an earlier version of a short story with the same title that appeared in Maggie Estep and Jason Starr's excellent anthology BLOODLINES a few years back. The new version is much improved, albeit slightly cleaned up in terms of violence and profanity. Many thanks to INSIDE JERSEY editor Rosemary Parrillo for taking a chance on it. It's the first piece of fiction the magazine has published, though hopefully not the last.

And totally unrelated:
There have been many great interpretations of the songs of Bruce Springsteen. But this one, from actress Mary-Louise Parker, has to be among the best. She does leave out a few verses though. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thought for the day ...


... from the new album, "Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women," featuring Alvin and seven of America's premiere female folk musicians and songwriters. The lyrics are from Alvin's soulful version of "These Times We're Living In," written and originally recorded by the late singer/songwriter Kate Wolf:

If I could, I'd tell you now,
There are no roads that do not bend
The days, like flowers, bloom and fade
And they do not come again.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sisters in crime

For those in the N.J./N.Y. area, two of the brightest new voices in crime fiction will be hosting a launch party/signing event Tuesday, July 7 at 6:30 p.m. at New York's Mysterious Bookshop. Appearing will be Megan Abbott, author of the new BURY ME DEEP (Simon & Schuster), and Theresa Schwegel, whose novel LAST KNOWN ADDRESS (St. Martin's Minotaur) is just out as well. Both are Edgar Award winners (Abbott for Best Paperback Original for last year's QUEENPIN, and Schwegel for Best First Novel for 2005's OFFICER DOWN) as well as being lovely and charming. The Mysterious Bookshop is at 58 Warren Street in Tribeca, a short walk north from the WTC Path station. (212) 587-1011.