In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

In 1947, an excellent thriller needed only four characters: two women, one a respectable policeman’s wife the other a woman of questionable character, and two men, one a police detective the other a serial killer.  With these four characters and a small supporting cast, Dorothy Hughes created an excellent noir thriller In A Lonely Place that can more than hold its own against any of … Continue reading In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Man, what a ride! Back when the giant “Hollywood” sign still ended in”Land,” Walter Huff, long time agent for a small time Los Angeles insurance company stops at the Nirdlinger home to get Mr. Nirdlinger’s signature on a routine renewal form.  Nirdlinger’s wife Phyllis informs Huff that she’s alone.  The two quickly begin an affair that ends with a plot to kill Mr. Nirdlinger and … Continue reading Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Of Flesh and Fur by Duncan Barlow

It’s not easy to find these books.  Small, very small, independent press books each of them clearly a labor of love at every step of the way. I found The Cupboard Press at a writer’s and writing conference in Los Angeles last year, two young people sitting at a table in the vast exhibition hall.  I liked their little books, each small enough to fit … Continue reading Of Flesh and Fur by Duncan Barlow

Americans and the California Dream by Kevin Starr–Chapter I: Prophetic Patterns 1786-1850

This doesn’t count as a resolution, but on New Year’s Day I finally embarked on reading Kevin Starr’s history of California which currently stands at six volumes, last time I checked. A few years ago I read his single volume history California and loved it.  Entertaining and informative, a clear eye-ed history of the state written by a man who’s been in love with the place … Continue reading Americans and the California Dream by Kevin Starr–Chapter I: Prophetic Patterns 1786-1850

Top Ten Favorite Reads for 2016.

I’m going to stick to my guns here, enforce my long time rule for selecting the top ten list which is “Do I want to read this book again someday?”  The answer must be yes to qualify. Which means there are many books that I loved reading that will not make the list. Lots of books are great books, great reads, but not something I’ll … Continue reading Top Ten Favorite Reads for 2016.

Tournament of Short Stories: Bret Harte vs. D.H. Lawrence and Leo Tolstoy

This little tournament has force me to read the volume of Bret Harte’s Gold Rush era short fiction C.J. and I bought a few years back while visiting Nevada City, California.  I’ve enjoyed them.  They are old-fashioned stories.  Mr. Harte does have fine characters but the plot is really where it’s at with his work.  I’ve enjoyed them all and I enjoyed the two I … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories: Bret Harte vs. D.H. Lawrence and Leo Tolstoy

Season of the Witch by David Talbot

What struck me, most about David Talbot’s history of  San Francisco was just how violent the times were. Season of the Witch concentrates on the years between the Summer of Love, 1968, and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s.  The 1970’s are largely remembered today for disco and very, shall we say, creative fashions but this was a period of violent upheaval in America, certainly … Continue reading Season of the Witch by David Talbot

Tournament of Short Stories: Kelly Link vs. Raymond Carver

I hope Kelly Link won’t be mad at me. Kelly Link has had several stories featured on my favorite short story podcast, Podcastle.  If you’re a fan of fantasy/science fiction or just a fan of good, entertaining stories, you should be subscribing to Podcastle.  I loved her featured zombie stories “The Hortlak” and “Some Zombie Contingencies Plans” neither of which is really about zombies. So when I … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories: Kelly Link vs. Raymond Carver

Bret Harte Defeats Ernest Hemingway – Tournament of Short Stories II

This week in a stunning, surprise upset victory Bret Harte’s “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” and “Miggles” defeated Ernest Hemingway’s “Three Shots” and “Indian Camp.” I call this an upset victory because I am a big, life-long fan of Ernest Hemingway.  Yes, I know.  Don’t bother going there, I know all about it.  And I’m still a big fan. I’ll go to my grave arguing that all American fiction, … Continue reading Bret Harte Defeats Ernest Hemingway – Tournament of Short Stories II

The Santa Monica Review vs. The Pinch: A Tournament of Short Stories II Post

Last spring I attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference in Los Angeles where I was very impressed by the quantity and the quality of small literary journals in the exhibit hall.  There’s far more of them out there than you probably suspect. I had nearly no money to spend, no cash that is, and very few of the small presses … Continue reading The Santa Monica Review vs. The Pinch: A Tournament of Short Stories II Post

Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin

I didn’t feel right at home when I began Mary Ann in Autumn.  I thought I would. I expected to.  I always have before.  Each new addition to the Tales of the City books felt like bumping into a bunch of old friends I hadn’t seen in a while.  All of us grabbing a cup of coffee together so we could have a chance to … Continue reading Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin

Raymond Carver vs. Francis Wyndham

My little tournament of short stories came down to the final round this weekend–a match up between Francis Wyndham’s The Ground Hostess and Raymond Carver’s  A Small, Good Thing.   Because, after quite a few rounds of reading, both Mr. Wyndham and Mr. Carver have become two of my favorite authors, I had no idea who was win going into the final round.  I love them both. I … Continue reading Raymond Carver vs. Francis Wyndham