Yo, Ray Boy

The Pegasus Crime reissue of Gravesend is the lead review in Marilyn Stasio’s New York Times crime column today.

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Last Sunday, the great George Pelecanos mentioned that he was reading The Lonely Witness in his New York Times By the Book feature. Pelecanos has been one of my biggest writing heroes for a while now, and it’s such a big honor to see The Lonely Witness mentioned here, especially alongside all the other incredible books he’s talking about. When I was in my early twenties, I found a copy of The Big Blowdown at a library sale in Poughkeepsie. I read it and was knocked clean out. I tracked down every other Pelecanos book–at that point, it was the Nick Stefanos series, Shoedog, the rest of the D.C. Quartet, and Right as Rain. I bought every new book after that as it came out. I loved his writing for The Wire. I read every interview with him I could find and sought out the authors he recommended. The first I ever heard of Megan Abbott was because George Pelecanos recommended her books. Same goes for Vicki Hendricks, Willy Vlautin, Don Carpenter, and Newton Thornburg. He’s also great on music and movies. I can’t even start to list the stuff I listened to because he put it on a playlist or watched because he mentioned it.

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Here’s a thoughtful-as-hell review of Gravesend by Thomas Pluck over at Criminal Element. This one means a lot. Other than older books by John Fante, Salvatore La Puma, and Pietro di Donato, I never found much about the Italian-American experience that hit me the right way, and it was important to write the book I wanted to see and to get all that right. To be mentioned in the same space as Price’s The Wanderers and Season 2 of The Wire knocks me out.

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When I was 13, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart came out. I saw it and loved it and got it on VHS as soon as I could. I also tracked down the book by Barry Gifford, and it blew me away. I didn’t really know at that point that books could be like that. I’ve got lots of favorite writers, but Gifford’s been a consistent for over twenty-five years—his bio on Jack Kerouac, his film noir essays, his novels and poems and plays, his work with David Lynch, and (maybe above all) his Black Lizard line of books, which introduced me to Willeford and Goodis and furthered my love of Thompson. Anyhow, the first blurb for my new novel, A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself, is in, and I’m goddamn floored:

“One thing to appreciate about William Boyle’s process is that, not unlike the late, great Charles Willeford, he takes his time, he doesn’t rush the reader. This is a significant trait, more important than it sounds, the method of a confident writer. He builds his characters patiently, allowing them to adjust to one another, not merely throw lines to titillate the reader. In A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself, Wolfie Wolfstein is as comfortably intact a creature as any crime writer of recent vintage has put together. I gleefully anticipate the coming of a movie or better yet a TV series in her name.” —Barry Gifford, author of Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels and The Cuban Club

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I now have an entry at the Mississippi Writers & Musicians page.

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Got to talk about dream casts for movie versions of Gravesend and The Lonely Witness over at My Book, the Movie.

 

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1. Read at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville last weekend. Hell of a good town. Had a great time. Thanks to Rachael, Cale, Katy, and everyone who came out. Thanks especially to Lisa at Nightbird. Also got to spend a little time at Dickson Street Bookshop. What a bookstore! Only had about fifteen minutes, but I found some great stuff. Impossible not to in that joint. Can’t wait to go back and spend a few hours there.

Reading at Nightbird Books.

Reading at Nightbird Books.

Haul from Dickson Street Bookshop.

Haul from Dickson Street Bookshop.

2. Thanks to John Stonehouse for this review of Gravesend, Gareth Price for this one, and Lee Durkee for this one.

3. My pal Jimmy Cajoleas interviewed Willy Vlautin over at Lent. A couple of choice quotes from Willy:

“You get beat up in life, and you get sucker-punched, and bad things happen. If you keep an open heart and don’t get bitter and you keep trying, then shit will break your way once in a while. I really try to believe that all the time. So I think the characters kind of reflect that.”

“And I tend to try to write as a fan. I’m a firm believer in being a fan of things. I try to write with blood, you know, with the things that haunt me the most.”

4. George Pelecanos is the guest programmer on TCM tonight. Showing two of my favorites, The Seven-Ups and The Outfit.

Here’s a thing I wrote about The Outfit for my ’70s crime movie blog. And here’s a thing I wrote about The Seven-Ups.

5. I’m reading Per Petterson’s I Curse the River of Time. Goddamn.

6. A few things I’m really excited about re: Record Store Day:
a) All that’s happening at The End of All Music here in Oxford (where I work part-time)
b) Songs: Ohia’s Journey On: Collected Singles
c) This 7″ from The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s new band (as well as their forthcoming LP, Colfax)

7. Jason Molina passed away a year ago yesterday. Still tears out my guts that he’s gone. Here’s an essay I wrote for The Rumpus about how much his work has meant to me.

8. Happy St. Paddy’s Day. This is just about my favorite song/poem ever. And this performance drops me every damn time.

9. Recently picked up one of my favorite movies, Rolling Thunder, on Blu-Ray. Watched it with pals Ace Atkins, Jack Pendarvis, and Megan Abbott for our movie night on Saturday. Ace’s wife, Angela, shared some North Carolina moonshine with us. Best thing I’ve ever had. No kidding. Was having some killer wisdom tooth pain and it got cured. After a killer dinner and the moonshine, we rewatched the Root Beer Guy episode of Adventure Time (Jack writes for the show and voices RBG). Then we settled in for Rolling Thunder – I think I was the only one who’d seen it before – and it was goddamn wonderful.  Shout!Factory did a great job with the Blu-Ray. John Flynn is a hell of a good director but there were times when the movie looked as beautiful as a William Eggleston photo. And Linda Haynes, well, we all got a little obsessed with Linda Haynes.

Moonshine.

Moonshine.

Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER.

Linda Haynes and William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER.