“These eight stories cut and scar.” Knocked out by Ellis Purdie’s review of Death Don’t Have No Mercy in The Clarion-Ledger. It ran a while ago, but I’m just now seeing it.
Man. Shit. I haven’t updated this site in a long time. Have a bunch of stuff I’ve been wanting to post here since March; I hope I remember it all. A couple of other things first: I’m reading at TurnRow Books in Greenwood, MS before a presentation of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross on 8/13 at 6:45 p.m. I’ll also be on the Short Stories Panel at the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson, MS on 8/22.
1. Back in March, my second book, a short story collection called Death Don’t Have No Mercy, came out. Megan Abbott, hero and pal, had these kind things to say about it:
2. I did the Book Talk podcast with Stephen Usery in Memphis. Listen here.
3. David Bowles said some swell things about Death Don’t Have No Mercy and Broken River Books over at The Monitor. He thought the stories were “evocative of James Cain,” which means a hell of a lot to me.
4. Rob Hart, who just put out a terrific debut novel called New Yorked, made a list of Five Great Books About New York City and included Gravesend. It lifted my heart to see my book up there on The Daily Beast with books by some of my heroes.
5. For a minute there, back at the end of April, I somehow had the top-selling book in Mississippi according to The Clarion-Ledger. I’m not sure how it’s even possible, but it’s the only time I’ll ever see my name at the top of a list like this, so I’ll take it.
6. Here’s Death Don’t Have No Mercy on Jack Pendarvis’s recommendation shelf at Square Books.
7. Noir at the Bar Oxford 2 was a big success. Seems like a long damn time ago already. I have some photos from the event, more than last time anyway. I won’t post them here, but they’re on my Instagram if you want to check them out. Great night.
8. Some kind words about Gravesend from Philip David Alexander, author of Peacefield, over at Goodreads: “This is a dark gem of a book that will more than satisfy fans of David Goodis, George V. Higgins, Richard Price and Daniel Woodrell.” Full review here.
9. I was home in Brooklyn for a couple of weeks and took a lot of pictures. Most are up on my Instagram page. Here are a couple I didn’t post there. This train platform is the D station at 25th Avenue in my neighborhood, where the last scene in Gravesend takes place.
10. Here’s a picture of me, Tom Franklin, and Ace Atkins celebrating the publication of Ace’s great new Quinn Colson novel, The Redeemers, on the balcony at City Grocery last week. Pick up a signed copy here. Photo credit: Milly Moorhead West.
Noir at the Bar Oxford II. Tonight at Proud Larry’s. 9 p.m.
Also, here’s a review of Death Don’t Have No Mercy in the New Orleans Review.
And thanks to Scott Adlerberg for this review on Goodreads: “A marvelous collection of eight stories about men who drink too much, have damaged souls, and whose lives, for all purposes, may already be over. None of the main characters is all that old – we’re talking about men in their twenties and early thirties – but already they’ve made a lot of bad choices and continue to make bad choices. Still, you’ll be hard-pressed to encounter more entertaining, compelling fiction about sad people than the fiction you’ll find here. Boyle has a style of elegant simplicity that makes for compulsive reading, and his way of evoking place, Brooklyn around Coney Island, upstate New York, a hotel room in Montreal, is impeccable. Environment almost is a separate character in these stories. I could have read eight more of these beautifully told tales and look forward to what William Boyle will do next.”
Last day to enter the Goodreads giveaway for my new story collection:
These are the first lines of the eight stories in Death Don’t Have No Mercy, my most recent book, out now from Broken River. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’ve seen other people do it, and I guess I like it. I like seeing the lines away from their stories, even away from their titles. Maybe it’ll make you want to check out the book. Maybe it won’t. Probably I’m dumb. Have a good afternoon. I’m going to rest my big stupid head for a few hours. You can buy the book here or here if you didn’t blow all your money on a shitty sandwich made of processed foot cheese and horse kisses.
1. Calhoun wasn’t sure why he’d stolen the Walkman from the kid.
2. Yank Byrd addressed the letter to the editors of Broken Spoke and then typed: I hope like hell you’ll consider the enclosed story, “The Incredible Bright Life of the Snatch Pie Coeds.”
3. The poor box was pretty well-secured to the floor and it took a good push to get it loose.
4. “Don’t listen to them, Clip,” the old cut man said.
5. He had gone to the house in Phoenicia to clear his head.
6. Books got back in early March.
7. Mullen had returned to the old neighborhood for one reason: the last time he was home he’d hidden two thousand dollars in twenties in a shoebox in the crawlspace of his grandmother’s attic.
8. By the time I got to Coney Island, I’d started to worry that Uncle Harry wouldn’t be happy to see me.
Noir at the Bar Oxford 2 is going down at Proud Larry’s on Wednesday, 5/6 at 9 pm. Such a killer lineup. Gonna be fun. If you live within ten hours of Oxford, you have no goddamn excuse not to be here for it.
I’m reading tomorrow at Off Square Books in Oxford. Signing starts at 5, reading at 5:30. I won’t go long and then we can head to the bar and get hammered flat as elephant shit. Folks who aren’t in Oxford: You can also get Death Don’t Have No Mercy online via Square Books.
Thanks to Lori Jakiela for inviting me to read at the Pitt-Greensburg Writers Festival and to Lori and Dave Newman for setting up the East End Book Exchange event. I had the best damn time. Hung out with and met some great folks and was honored as hell to read with Stewart O’Nan, Lori, Dave, and Bob Pajich. I’m sure folks had a swell time at AWP, but I was really glad to be in Pittsburgh with new pals.
Also, Record Store Day is Saturday. We’ve got a lot of great stuff going on at The End of All Music (where I work part-time). Don’t miss it.
Really excited to be reading at the Pitt-Greensburg Writers Festival with Stewart O’Nan on Thursday and at the East End Book Exchange with Dave Newman, Lori Jakiela, and Bob Pajich on Saturday. Thanks to Lori for inviting me. Rege Behe interviewed me for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in advance of the events. Thanks, Rege.
I’m reading in Oxford at Off Square Books on Wednesday, April 15 at 5PM. To hell with Tax Day! Come hear me read about rotten people on the ropes. I won’t go long! 10-15 minutes tops! And then we can go get drunk!
Also, Noir at the Bar 2 is happening in Oxford on Wednesday, May 6th. 9PM at Proud Larry’s. Mary Miller! Lisa Howorth! Melissa Ginsburg! Chris Offutt! Tom Franklin! Ace Atkins! Jack Pendarvis! Derrick Harriell! Tyler Keith! Jedidiah Ayres! Jimmy Cajoleas! Me!
Here’s a Death Don’t Have No Mercy playlist I made for the Book Notes Series on Largehearted Boy. Always one of my favorite things to check out and to do. I started making notes for my Gravesend playlist the day I started the book. No shit. Same thing with the novel I recently finished. This collection was a little different because I wrote these stories over eight years and there were a wide range of musical influences and phases of listening. I also mention a bunch of songs specifically, especially in the earlier stories, so it was impossible to get to everything. Instead, I aimed for some balance between songs that impacted the creation of the stories, songs that appear in the stories, and songs that match the tone of what I’m trying to do. My great hope in making a playlist is that folks will find something they’ve never heard before and go buy records; I really hope I can be responsible for someone picking up Tyler Keith’s Alias Kid Twist or the latest Jim Mize.
I took this picture of the Terminal Hotel building in Coney Island in the spring of 2010. It was an actual hotel until the 1970s. Growing up, I was always in love with the signs and the boarded-up windows that remained (the upper floors were abandoned and the first floor was occupied by a series of restaurants). There was a bad fire in the building a few months ago, and it was demolished. The last story in my new book, “Here Come the Bells,” takes place at some mythical version of the Terminal (and takes its title from a Lou Reed song). I always looked at the place with wonder. I could go there and a whole story would just show up in my mind. That’s what I did with “Here Come the Bells.” I’m sad the building’s gone. I really loved it.