Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Outfit Collective Sends Prize Books My Way

Back in early August, The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers ran a mini-contest, asking for stories of corrupt towns or cities. Late last year, I had been shaken down by a town in Connecticut for property taxes (two beater cars) for a period of time after I had left the state. It seemed pretty corrupt to me. So I told the story in the 200 word maximum (Hatchetville, Connecticut--scroll down at this link), was a co-winner, and then the only one who claimed his prize: a handful of signed books from The Outfit. Noted writer Sara Paretsky organized the contest, mailed the books, and sent a nice note. At my request (or perhaps by pre-planning), she included her recent memoir/meditation, Writing in an Age of Silence. I am looking forward to reading it. Paretsky has been a strong advocate for free speech and civil liberties. I am glad that she had the chance to write and publish this book. As much as I'm a reader, writer, and fan of crime fiction, I am glad to see a writer use her success to stretch--or step out of--the genre. (It would also be fair to say that Paretsky built her success by stretching the genre.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another Month, Another Post... and Crumley

Another month flew by here at the roiling offices of Levin at Large...

In the hard-boiled crime-writing world, the chatter appropriately is about James Crumley, who died this week. Other people will be saying (and have said) more thoughtful words. I liked Crumley's books quite a bit -- I've read most, but not all, of them. I reviewed The Right Madness for the Oregonian with a very positive review (for me) -- a chunk of which ended up as a blurb in the paperback edition. It's hard to know to what extent one's fondness for a writer corresponds to a broader literary-cultural measure. Crumley appropriately received attention well outside the borders of genre: the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and other notable papers ran lengthy, celebratory obituaries. Of course, I'm sure the man would've liked more ink before his death. According to the Post, a couple of his kids live here in lovely Portland, Oregon. I had the honor of appearing in the collection Measures of Poison with Crumley. I can flatter myself that Crumley eyeballed the names of the other authors and briefly thought, "Who the hell is this Levin guy?"