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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Woo-hoo! Another great review

The eminently sensible book-review blog BookNAround has declared An Age of Madness to be "riveting," or more precisely, "surprisingly riveting" -- not sure where the surprising part comes from, but hey, I'll tke it. The reviewer in question, a discerning reader of impeccable taste named Kristen, said other nice things about the books, calling it "fascinating" and declares that "the reader can't help but be caught up in wanting to see past the obfuscation to the uncontestably true core, to finally know the whole story." This is of course music to my ears.

For more details and nice things, check out the entire review here. And thanks a million, Kristen!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Red Hen Press books getting some good reviews & attention

Take a look here at the reviews page for Red Hen Press, and you'll discover that quite a lot of positive attention is being heaped on somf of their recent releases. i tend to think of RH as a "literary" press featuring quality fiction (ahem) and poetry, but there is at least one zombie/horror novel called Fade to Black that sounds kind of awesome.

Besides this, there are reviews of other novels, short story collections, books of poetry and even a couple of links to my own An Age of Madness. It's a fun collection of stuff that bears looking into, so stop by and browse around for a while...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New Bettye LaVette tune

Uzee and I saw Bettye LaVette play on Long Island back in 2008, and it was one of my top three concerts of all time (the other two were Baaba Maal in Rabat, Morocco in 1996 and Jane's Addiction in 1990 in Tucson). Bettye has a new album coming out soon, and has released a sample, to be found below: "Dirty Old Town," originally by Ewan MacColl and later covered by The Pogues.

It looks like the new record will be a collection of cover tunes, which isn't as totally awesome as original songs would be, but as it reportedly contains stuff by Dylan and Neil Young, I'll certainly give it a shot. And listen! If you ever get the chance to hear her live, run don't walk to buy those tickets...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A quick overview of upcoming events

September is nearly upon us, and that means the events for An Age of Madness will soon be underway. Here's a quick reminder / go-to list for the upcoming months:

Friday, September 14, 7:00pm: Book Thug Nation, Brooklyn, NY. I will be on my own for a massive, two-hour event which will feature a reading, Q&A, and an introduction from The Next Best Book Club's very own Lori. I'm not quite sure how we'll be filling up the time... Juggling maybe? Arts & crafts? we'll think of something. Books on sale for ten bucks.

Sunday, September 16, 7:00pm: KGB Lit Bar, New York, NY. Another two-hour even but one I'll be sharing with Kathleen Alcott. I think the plan is that we'll each read for a ltitle bit, answer a few questions and sell some books. Again, ten bucks a pop. Lori from TNBBC will be introducing me. My understanding is that KGB Lit Bar really is a bar, so if a few drinks helps to wash down the fiction, well, that'll be available.

Sunday, October 14, 1:00pm: Wordstock Literary Festival, Portland, OR. No details yet as to the exact venue. I will be reading and doing a Q&A. Wordstock sounds like quite the party, so if you have the chance to check it out, I'd recommend it. 

There may be more events on the west coast, including (possibly) appearances at Elliot Bay in Seattle and City Lights in San Francisco. As yet these details have not been confirmed. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 17: Mystery surprise event that I'm not allowed to reveal yet. Ha! I can reveal that it's another New York gig, however.

Friday, October 26, 7:00pm: New England Mobile Book Fair, Newton Highlands, MA. (A bit southwest of Boston). This is yet another reading/Q&A that I believe is scheduled for an hour but if it stretches a little longer, that's okay. NEMBF is a grand old bookshop that has been around forever and will be selling my book, in case you haven't picked it up yet.

Please note: the reading at Millrace Books in Farmington has been postponed due to the shop closing. It may or may not be reschuled at a later date.  Also, I'm contionuing to try to add further events, including something at the UConn bookstore in Storrs, CT. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Don't Open That Door! X the Unknown

Hey kids, the ninth--can it really be the ninth, already?--installment of my PopMatters column, Don't Open That Door!, is up and running. This week sees us visiting a nicely crafted little piece of pre-Dracula Hammer Horror called X the Unknown, released in 1956 and characterized by typical British finesse and aplomb. To quote myself:

"When a platoon of British soldiers discovers a subterranean source of radiation somewhere in a desolate Scottish moor—hey, what the hell is a moor, anyway? I can never remember—it’s different from a down, right? What about a glen? Man, this British landscape stuff just kills me. It’s not a loch, though, I know that much. Lochs are watery, I’m pretty sure—anyway, things get ugly fast. But not nearly as ugly as the soldier who discovers the thing, and the guy who tries to save him, both of whom come out of the experience suffering varying degrees of burns and, um, death."

And so on. There's much more, as usual, including the best line of dialogue, a suitable party game, and the moral of the story ("Radiation doesn't kill people. People with radiation kill people.") You can read the whole column here. And as always, Facebook Likes and Tweets are appreciated. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thrift store score, part II: The Metal Years

Following our  lava-lamp thrift store haul from a few days ago see below), Uzee and I hit a Goodwill shop in Hadley and walked off with yet more loot:

For the record, that's a previously unworn (though I'm wearing it as I type this) New England Patriots T-shirt. In case you're wondering, I know it's unworn because it still had the "official NFL product" sticker attached to it. Damage: $1. Also, a pair of stylish coffee mugs, one brick red, one florally adorned. Damage for both: $1.53. (Not sure how the girl at the counter came up with that figure, but okay.) And finally, the grand prize: Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 300,000+ entries. Damage: $5.

The rug, unfortunately, was not found at Goodwill, and so cost considerably more. Worth it, though. Not sure how many secondhand rugs I want in my living room...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Country fairs and border collies

Yesterday Uzee and I drove an hour or so to take in the Heath County fair, a truly down-home experience involving goat competitions, rabbit hutches and home-made maple syrup. Far and away the best part of the fair, though, was the border collie domonstration, which featured a trio of completely undisciplined dogs and another trio of utterly bewildered ducks.

This is a picture of Maude, the least utterly-undisciplined of the pooches, but still very much a girl with a mind of her own. As you can see, she keeps her eyes on the prize -- in this case, a duck -- even as the ducks do their best to elude her. In theory, Maude wa ssupposed to herd these ducks around the ring, through a wire tube, up a ramp and down into a wading pool. In actuality, this never happened.

But it was fun to watch...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What came in the mail yesterday

Yup... got my author copies of An Age of Madness, and I have to say, it looks pretty amazing. Red Hen did a nice job and the book is a pleasure to hold and leaf through. (And, I hope, to read, but that's another story.) These are the exact copies I'll be selling in New York on September 14th at Book Thug Nation in Brooklyn, and on the 16th at KGB Lit Bar. Ten bucks each! Can't beat it!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Scoring big at the thrift shop

So, Wednesday night was my first night at the new job, working overnights at a group home, which is the kind of thing I did years ago (and which, ironically enough, fed directly into the writing of my latest book, An Age of Madness). The shift went great, the guys living in the house are terrific, my co-workers are impressive, and the house itself is beautiful. So that's all great.

I went home and crashed out for an hour or two before reviving myself and tooling off with Uzee to nearby Turners Falls, hoping to score a couple of funky mugs for our breakfast tea/coffee. We had our sights set on a thrift store in town which we'd been told harbored no shortage of funky stuff, and we informed correctly. To wit:

That's right: You are looking at not one but two Lava Lamps, the first a handsome blue filled with glittering silver stars that twirl hypnotically, and the second the more familiar magenta/pink that gurgles with vaguely organic lumps of waxy substance that rise and fall in the reddish murk. They are both totally awesome. I'll put mine (the red one) in my study once I get some furniture to put it on, and Uzee plans to relocate hers to her office at work. Damage: $8 each.

Careful observers will note also the set of 6 pristine beer steins in the foreground. These are made of wafer-thin glass and I think had never been used -- they still had their manufacturer stickers on them. We cleaned them up nicely and, uh, tried them out last night. And they do a fine, fine job of holding beer in place long enough to consume it, which is pretty much everything you want in a beer stein. Damage: $2.

We are looking for more thrift stores in Amherst today. This is a mighty fun way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Terrific review for An Age of Madness

The Next Best Book Blog has seen fit to deliver a five-star review to the new book, which I appreciate trremendously. Click the link to see the whole review, which does contain something of a spoiler, but which is awful sweet nonetheless.

I'm glad TNBBC like the book, as they are the sponsor of my upcoming events in New York City, on 7/14 at Book Thug Nation in Brooklyn and on 7/16 at KGB Lit Bar in Manhattan. TNBBC's head honcho Lori will be there at both events, and will say a few words, so if you can stop by you can not only say hi to me but also to her, and you can tell her what a fine job she's doing on her blog. And she is indeed doing a fine job, recently receiving tweets from literary bigwigs such as Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood and Christopher Moore.

Clearly, Lori is on the verge of something big here. I think it's safe to say you can trust her judgment, in this as in all things lit-related. Of course, I'm biased...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I've gotten some timely details from the fine folks over at Wordstock, the big literary fair/festival in Portland, OR this October. I will be participating with a reading on Sunday, October 14, at 1:00 in the afternoon, and I'll be reading from the new book, An Age of Madness.

I'll be sharing my hour-long time slot with a fellow named Gregory Spatz, who has written a mighty interesting-looking book called Inukshuk (even the title's a killer), which you can read about on Amazon. This sounds like a pretty trippy book, and it will be fun to meet Gregory and hear him read.

So if you're going to be in the area, please stop by and say howdy. I am still waiting on confirmation/details about other events in the NW/California area, but this seems definite now and will serve as sort of the anchor for the rest of my time out there. Hope to see you somewhere along the line...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

An Age of Madness reading at New England Mobile Book Fair

First of all, you're probably as confused as I was. But "Mobile Book Fair" is a misnomer -- NEMBF is actually a bricks & mortar book store in Newton, Massachusetts, that has been around for a very long time. In the old days they used to send trucks out to different neighborhoods, or something. Hence the "mobile." Or something. I admit to being slightly confused (slightly?), in this as in so many other things.

You can read more about them on their website here.

BUT: The important thing is that I will be doing an event there on Friday, October 26 at 7:00pm. Mark your calendars, etc. I gather NEMBF is a pretty rocking place -- they claim to stock over 1,000,000 books, all new, all discounted, and they seem very enthusiastic about what they do. So even if the thought of hearing me read from my totally excellent new novel leaves you shrugging, you should come check out the place anyhow. It sounds pretty majestic.

On a less-thrilling note, my event at Millrace Books in Farmington, CT (aka "my hometown") has been postponed. This is because the shop itself is closing up/has closed up. After 40-odd years, the lovely Jan Owens decided that keeping the place open was just not viable anymore. BUT! The space is still home to Jan's other project, the Farmington Valley Literary Arts Council, which continues to host events and workshops every month. It is very possible that I will be able to do some sort of Madness-related event there in the fall or winter. It's just a question of working out the logistics. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A triple-shot of Don't Open That Door!

With all the frenetic activity engendered by moving several thousand miles, from Hawaii to Massachusetts, I have been sadly lax in keeping loyal readers up to date with my offerings over at PopMatters. My weekly column, Don't Open That Door!, has racked up three new entries since I last highlighted it here. To wit:

1955 space opera This Island Earth, which features, among much else, decent special effects and blazing-hot color! Followed by:

Another John Agar camp-fest, The Mole People, showcasing not one but two species of semi-humanoid underground dwellers; and finally,

the ultra-awful Prehistoric Women, which isn't quite as funny as it should be but is nonetheless fascinating in a weird, awful, watching-a-car-crash-in-slow-motion kind of way. This is the 1950 movie, by the way, not the 1967 entry.

So take a look, Like 'em and Tweet 'em and G+ 'em and whatever else you like to do. I'm having great fun with these & I hope you are too...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The coolest folks in Millers Falls...

(...well, apart form us, of course...)

...must be the fine guys over at Element Brewing Company. Pictured below is the ever-helpful Dan, who kindly welcomes Uzee and myself into town the other other day, set us up with a few mightily tasty beer shots, gave us an impromptu tour of the brewery (a converted Post Office, I believe) then chatted with us for a while before sending us on our way, burdened only with a couple of bottles of excellent dark beer and a seasonal oatmeal ale. Plus a couple of T-shirts. It was, in all, a terrific little interlude and a sweet way to feel slightly more at home here.

In fact, there seems to be piles of great beer here, much of it produced by tiny little hole-in-the-wall microbreweries, which have their own devoted followings: The People's Pint in Greenfield, the Berkshire Brewing Company, and many more. Not sure what's contributing to this density of breweries in such a small area, but believe me I'm not arguing.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Our first week in Massachusetts, and a nice review for Age of Madness

We're still in the process of settling in here in the sometimes-sunny northeast, but we have the good fortune of living in a town with its own microbrewery (more on that tomorrow).

Meanwhile, the sensible folks over at the Not Another Book Review blog have seen fit to give An Age of Madness a fairly stellar review, despite calling it "thinking woman's chick-lit" -- um, okay -- and saying that "Maine has written a commercial novel by blasting the formula." I think that's a compliment. That's a compliment, right? Elsewhere, the reviewer states: "The author's brilliance is to show not just the tortured conscience of this profoundly ethical woman but her unexpectedly generous heart." Hey, that's definitely a compliment!

Many thanks to NABR for the generous review. I recommend the site to anyone seeking out thoughtful reviews of serious books, as this person seems to take the whole writing/reading/thinking about stuff seriously...