Imagination Running Wild


The new Tyler Keith and the Apostles record, Do It For Johnny, dropped on 9/9. I wrote the liner notes. Here they are:

You’re in a movie. In the movie is where you feel right. All the women look like Diane Lane, like they’ve just come from a sock hop or had a cherry soda at the drive-thru. All the men have knives, combs, leather jackets. In the movie, you’re in a bar. The bar is called a man’s name. Rufus’s. Gus’s. Something like that. Pool table, skanky bathroom, graffiti on the walls. There’s a house band: Tyler Keith and the Apostles. They V out on the small stage like something that’s come to do you harm. They’re drunk, and they tear into their songs. The action bends to the music. Your life in the movie is just beginning. The music is what you needed. Now you can fight, love, maybe die.

Do It For Johnny peels off the line like that primer grey ’55 Chevy from Monte Hellman’s Two Lane Blacktop. It’s gritty and raw and muscled up, punk country noir at its best. When I live inside these songs, as I do often, I live inside a perfect movie. A dark dream. Hellfire and hot rods, pool cues and switch blades, doom-drenched desire on the mystical slick side streets. I feel menaced. I feel damned. I feel like I’m being yanked around town by Jerry Lee Lewis and Jim Thompson. It’s criminal that these songs aren’t on every last radio in the savage, whiskey-loosened American night.

Buy the album here:



No Sleep ’till Brooklyn

Thanks to Sebastien Bonifay for these kind words about GRAVESEND.

Postcards from Hell

Publié cet année auréolé de l’honneur d’être le numéro 1000 de la prestigieuse collection Rivages/Noir, Gravesend est un premier roman, signé par William Boyle. C’est également un chant funèbre, une ode désenchantée à un quartier de Brooklyn devenu le tombeau des espoirs de ceux qui y sont nés. On peut sortir un homme du quartier, on ne peut pas sortir le quartier d’un homme..

View original post 647 more words


Thanks to Scott Montgomery for interviewing me over at the MysteryPeople blog. Really excited to be back in Austin a week from today.

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

I’m looking forward to introducing our readers to William Boyle this upcoming Tuesday, August 2nd, at 7 PM at our New Voices of Noir panel discussion. Boyle joins Bill Loehfelm, Alison Gaylin, and Megan Abbott for the panel discussion. His short stories and Gravesend, his first novel, feature hard-luck people stuck in life. To give you an idea of him, here’s a quick interview we did.

MysteryPeople Scott: Gravesend is an ensemble novel, set in a decaying working class part of New York that is a character itself. Did you start with the idea of the place or the people?

William Boyle: I grew up in the neighborhoods of Gravesend and Bensonhurst. I knew I wanted to write about the place. I’ve mostly lived away from Brooklyn since college, though my family’s still there—I’ve spent time in the Hudson Valley, in Austin, in The Bronx, in…

View original post 826 more words


MysteryPeople Q&A with William Boyle


Thanks to Douglas Graham Purdy for these kind words.

Douglas Graham Purdy

‘Gravesend’ is a sad, downtrodden ballad to Brooklyn. No tongue-in-cheek subversive commentary about the new trendified and gentrified borough – that self-mocking shit can take a hike. This is hard life in earnest: stories of losers, chumps, and failures. The tales within come from a place where Hubert Selby and David Goodis inhabit – the no-exit school of storytelling – but Boyle makes the tragic template his own. ‘Gravesend’ is a deceptively simple novel that spits in your face, layers in a heartfelt desire of becoming somebody you’re not, whether abandoning your neighborhood in hopes of bigger and better things, or trying to make an old high school crush fall in love with you. But second chances don’t reach that far into the grid of Boyle’s Brooklyn, where certain corners, blocks and storefronts slightly change, but the characters stay the same – lives of stasis and carrying the same hand-me-down…

View original post 75 more words


Gravesend: Some Kind of Sad


No. 1000


Man, I’m really excited about this. Gravesend is coming out in France on March 30th from Rivages (translated by Simon Baril, who has also translated Peter Temple and Marilynne Robinson). They’ve chosen it to be #1,000 in their noir collection, which coincides with their 30th anniversary. #1 was Jim Thompson’s Recoil. #100 was James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia. I’m honored beyond words. I’ll be in Paris for the release and Lyon for Quais du polar right after. I’m really not sure what to say. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me as a writer and one of the things I dreamed about right after Eamon was born when I was plugging away on Gravesend in the mornings before work and in whatever little spare time I had.


Sick of Doing Straight Time

One of my favorite movies, STRAIGHT TIME, is on TCM tonight/tomorrow morning at 1:30 a.m. Eastern (h/t Kent). Here’s a piece I wrote about it a few years ago.

Goodbye Like A Bullet


William Boyle

Directed by Ulu Grosbard and based on Edward Bunker’s novel No Beast So Fierce, written while Bunker was in prison, Straight Time (1978) is meandering and quietly brilliant in a way that’s representative of the movies we’re concerned with here.

Dustin Hoffman plays paroled criminal Max Dembo. Fresh out of prison, Dembo aims to live honestly, but he’s thrown off course by shitty parole officer Earl Frank (M. Emmet Walsh). At an employment agency, he meets Jenny Mercer (Theresa Russell), who helps him find work and is charmed by his honesty. Dembo catches up with an old pal, Willy Darin (Gary Busey), a decision that stomps out his efforts to live straight. Willy shoots heroin in Dembo’s room and leaves behind a book of matches that Frank finds on an unannounced visit. Frank accuses Dembo of shooting up even though there’s no…

View original post 1,729 more words


My Favorite Music of 2015

Julien Baker, Sprained Ankle (6131)
Beach Slang, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us (Polyvinyl)
Sufjan Stevens, Carrie and Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
Andrew Bryant, This is the Life (Sleep)
Craig Finn, Faith in the Future (Partisan)
John Moreland, High on Tulsa Heat (Old Omens)
Jake Xerxes Fussell, s/t (Paradise of Bachelors)
Advance Base, Nephew in the Wild (Orindal)
Kurt Vile, B’lieve I’m Goin Down… (Matador)
Kamasi Washington, The Epic (Brainfeeder)
Leon Bridges, Coming Home (Columbia)
Hop Along, Painted Shut (Saddle Creek)
Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free (Southeastern)
Ryan Adams, 1989 (Pax-Am)
Mount Eerie, Sauna (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Sharon Van Etten, I Don’t Want to Let You Down EP (Jagjaguwar)
Dave Rawlings Machine, Nashville Obsolete (Acony)
Will Johnson, Swan City Vampires (Undertow)
Destroyer, Poison Season (Merge)
Little Wings, Explains (Woodsist)
Built to Spill, Untethered Moon (Warner Bros)
Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom & Pop/Marathon Artists)
Sir Richard Bishop, Tangier Sessions (Drag City)
Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night (Columbia)
Sun Kil Moon, Universal Themes (Caldo Verde)
Joanna Newsom, Divers (Drag City)
John Carpenter, Lost Themes (Sacred Bones)
Velvet Underground, The Complete Matrix Tapes
End of All Music releases: Barry Hannah LP + Plume cassette
Bonnie Prince Billy “Raglan Road” 7”
Scott Fagan, South Atlantic Blues
Ryan Adams, Live from Carnegie Hall
Bruce Springsteen, The Ties That Bind box set
Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy 10th Anniversary reissue
Mount Eerie, No Flashlight reissue
Marah, Kids in Philly reissue
David Lynch and Marek Zebrowski, Polish Night Music
The Complete Them: 1964-1967
Westerberg & Hatfield singles
Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink reissues
The Gunshy covering Elliott Smith’s “King’s Crossing”
Springsteen ’87 L.A. bootleg
See End of All Music reissue list for a bunch of other favorites

Pillar of Fire

On December 16, 1960, two commercial airliners crashed over NYC. My stepdad was a student at St. Augustine’s, a school in Brooklyn right near where one of the planes came down. I grew up hearing about the crash and got to be pretty obsessed with it, reading old newspapers and searching out images. Here’s a story I wrote about it, one that I’ve been working on for a few years now.