Sunday, January 27, 2008

Before the Devil Knows that You Can't Keep Up a Blog

A few weeks back, I caught Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. I have a few misgivings about it, but generally I'd say that it is necessary viewing for crime film enthusiasts (it involves a jewelry store heist). It's really bleak, and in that sense, is ultimately an exercise in brightly lit noir. Also, the writer (Kelly Masterson) and presumably the director (Sidney Lumet) spent some time thinking about traditional -- Greek and Shakespearian -- tragedy. (To emphasize the point, there is a scene with a children's school play -- it's King Lear, I think (which would never be performed by young children).) Of crime films at the end of 2007/early 2008, I liked Eastern Promises better (November 25 blog post) than Devil, but I'm supposed to see No Country for Old Men soon.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Shocking! Another Post... Mystery Writers of America

For a mixture of reasons (pride, self-motivation, seeking pragmatic information and guidance), I joined Mystery Writers of America (paid my $95) once my story "Wilson's Man" hit the stands in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. It is a professional organization, and I qualify because I have been paid cash money by a third party for crime/mystery fiction. I appeared in the January 2008 "Fresh Blood" section (a list of new members) of MWA's newsletter, The Third Degree. I am also automatically a member of the Northwest Chapter, though its activities seem to take place almost exclusively in Seattle (which would mean a three-hour drive for a dinner meeting). I may try to go to the main MWA symposium and banquet in New York in late April/early May. My unlikely goal would be to finish a draft of a full-length caper that I have been working on in advance of the event.

For me, the jury is still out on MWA. I am hoping that it will provide more opportunities to submit to anthologies (I have a few good stories completed and waiting in the wings). I am on one MWA listserv and can get on another (I just have to contact the national office). The organization seems active and positive, a real community--more rewarding than the National Book Critics Circle to which I pay dues as well. Many of MWA's active, visible members seem to be more accomplished versions of myself: published by smaller presses, active as writers in their communities, etc., but not well known and usually without a major publisher.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Blog of Death... and News Coverage

Okay. I shouldn't be a blogger. Apparently, to misquote Flannery O'Connor (from "A Good Man is Hard to Find"), I would be a good blogger if there were somebody here to shoot me every minute of my life. My Borsalino is off to good, regular bloggers.

My 15 minutes of Ellery Queen fame are over -- the next issue is out. The Oregonian (the state's main paper and, incidentally, owned by Advance Publications (The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, etc.)), however, ran a cute story about me, my story, and the difficulty of finding Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine on the newsstand. Here it is, with the paper's three headlines; it's part of a longer neighborhood round-up, so I hope this constitutes fair use; thanks too to Oregonian freelancer David Santen for his legwork:

Rose City Park >>

Mystery writer's work... vanishes

Northeast Portland resident Doug Levin earns his bread by writing: annual reports, ghost writing, the occasional book review for The Oregonian -- the stuff that pays the bills.

But in each life lies a little mystery. For Levin, it's "Wilson's Man," appearing in this month's issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Levin stands in good company on the table of contents, alongside works by Dashiell Hammett and Joyce Carol Oates.

The obligatory "on newsstands now" line should go here, but a cursory search of shelves at Broadway Books, Murder by the Book and The Press Club finds the venerable publication MIA. Thus: on newsstands somewhere. -- J. DAVID SANTEN Jr.