27 February 2014

XXX: 99

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall . . .

Just crossed the threshold of 100 days before I retire. Countdown is now at 99. At noon on Graduation Day (Saturday 7 June), I'll be done. Then I turn into a pumpkin. Anyway, I hope to turn into something. Just not sure what yet. Mostly I'll no longer be Mr. O'Connor. So that's addition by subtraction!  The very fact that I won't be something that I was means I will be something that I wasn't. No wonder they made me a math teacher.

Alas, it is still a lot of days, and the anticipation has made a mess of me. I had no idea it would be so hard. I thought I'd cruise through these last few months. I don't mean to complain, and I deserve no sympathy, it's just weird. I didn't expect to feel so worn down. Not just tired but mentally spent. I feel like a squeezed-out sponge slowly drying, down to its last few drops of water, aching for a cool dunking.

If one of those bottles should happen to fall . . .

10 February 2014

Remo Went Rogue

Plot summary:

Remo is a big-shot lawyer.
Remo is an asshole.
Remo has evil scumbags for clients.
Remo fucks over said scumbags.
Scumbags go looking for said asshole.
Chaos ensues.

Mike McCrary writes with a brisk, jabbing style reminiscent of Ken Bruen, and combines it with a visually-rich descriptive power that makes Remo Went Rogue a hell of a read. My lovely bride and I like to read books out loud to each other, swapping chapters. You find out pretty quickly which writers are suited to the spoken word. Crime fiction, in general, works wonderfully. (I hate to label anything. "Crime" fiction is just another box to to put a writer in--I'd rather just have a "good" box and a "bad" box. Or perhaps "more of this" and "less of that" boxes.) Mr. McCrary sounds great out loud and he sets a blistering pace that keeps you turning the pages. Remo Cobb is a particularly repulsive character, but the degenerate Mashburn Brothers that are his antagonists are even more heinous, and so you find yourself rooting for him despite his panoply of character flaws. A wildcard--one of the Mashburn gang that changes sides, sort of--is also part of the mix and plays a key role in the explosive showdown near the end of the story. Said showdown is written with a clinical precision that makes you feel like you are right in the middle of the hail of lead and spray of blood. Without giving away too much, Remo gets his chance at redemption, like any good noir anti-hero ought to, and the book has a satisfying sense of closure. McCrary doesn't tie up all the loose ends, though, and you are left with a tantalizing bit of unfinished business. Sequel, anyone?

Remo Went Rogue is a new title in the ever-increasing catalog at my favorite publisher, Gutter Books. This one is labeled as an Out of the Gutter release, a new imprint under the GB banner. Everyone talks about the decline of the independent business, and the ever-increasing hegemony of the corporate machine, but nobody does anything about it. Am I right? You want to do something about the hard-working little guys? You want to fight the big guys? Then support independent publishers and authors! I know a great place to start: Gutter Books.