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William Lashner's PI-Writing Blog

A FILTHY BUSINESS - Kindle in Motion

Friday, April 28, 2017

Just a quick note about the new book, A FILTHY BUSINESS.

The book has been coolly illustrated with videos and photographs by a smoking production company in Seattle.  You can read it without the illustrations if you choose, but if you read your Kindles on an iPad or a Kindle Fire or any other tablet or computer, including your phone, you can turn on the Kindle in Motion and get the illustrations for no extra charge.

I was involved in working with the production company every step of the way. The key, I thought, was to enhance the story instead of pulling the reader away from the story, and I think the stuff in this book does just that.  There is no sound in the videos, which would be distracting, but, for example, when Phil talks about a wild drug fueled orgy, the left margin of the page shows a stream of pills and joints falling in an endless loop, which gives a nice hallucinatory sense to the words.

There is one moment in the book when Phil discusses his grandfather's death and he remembers eating ice cream and watching cartoons on television and being perfectly happy even though his grandfather had just died because, well, because he was eating ice cream and watching cartoons.  As he relays this we see a little video of a bowl of ice cream set on a tray before a television spooling a little cartoon. That's my favorite image in the book and the video slays whenever I see it.

So there it is.  Give it a shot and let me know if you think the illustrations enhanced the experience of the book.

 





 




A Filthy Business - Now Out



Hey Guys, the new book is coming out on May 2 and I think its a hum doozy.

So, imagine the worst bar in America, a dusty desert shack with a lachrymose barkeep and the smell of death in the air. Imagine you’re a reporter hunting for the story that might make your career, and that maybe you’re also hunting for something like revenge. And then imagine the man who could get both things for you, the glorious career jolt and the revenge you seek, walks into the bar. But he is not what you imagined him to be at all.

The man’s name is Phil Kubiak. He was once handsome and athletic, a perfect specimen of a certain type who spent his days running the most appalling errands for the appalling rich. Now he’s a shell of his former self, physically broken and on the run from operatives on both sides of the law. As a reporter you fully expected to use this man any way you could, because that is what reporters do, but suddenly, with one look, you have doubts.
A physical ruin, he can't enact your vengeance or grace the cover of the glossy magazines you write for. All he has for you is a story, but it turns out to be a hell of a story. His rise, his fall, his redemption -- and all of that stuff comes before he even starts working for an organization called the Hyena Squad. It is only after he becomes a Hyena, and finally learns exactly what kind of creature he is, that the real fun begins.

It turns out his story is all about change, how he turned from one thing to another, and as you listen, recording every word on your trusty digital recorder, you find that you start changing, too. And you begin to wonder who is using whom, and why.

But cheer up, in the worst bar in America the beer might always be warm and the picked eggs might bite back, but the Scotch is surprisingly brilliant and the story, the story, will sear your soul.
Well, at least that was the idea.  give it a read and let me know what you think.
 




NOIR AT THE BAR - Don't miss it.

Friday, October 23, 2015






Sunday, October 12, 2014

Getting ready for Bouchercon.  Our panel is all about bar and barhounds and bartenders. You'll probably stagger out singing old pop songs at the top of your lungs before collapsing in a gutter.  Not to be missed.


 




My Visit to Hemingway's Toilet.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

So this winter vacation I found myself in Key West and of course . . . .


 
I love Hemingway's writing without loving the whole Hemingway mythos, but still, in Key West it was a must see for me, and so I spent the money and took the tour and saw the rather lovely Hemingway house:
 
 
and the Hemingway bed (shudder):
 
 
 
(notice the guide with his obligatory white Hemingway beard), and the Hemingway toilet (Oh the stories it could tell!):



and the Hemingway pool, with its cement elephants to hold the Hemingway drinks:

 
 
and the Hemingway pond (it is the obligatory writer thing to have a pool and a pond, I suppose):
 


and the Hemingway grounds:

 
and the Hemingway shrines:



and the famous Hemingway six-toed cats:

 

 
and I have to say I enjoyed it all more than I thought I would.
 
Hemingway lived in Key West with his second wife, after divorcing his first wife and leaving Paris.  (An interesting novel about that time is THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain, which I enjoyed.  The prologue of the novel is beautifully written and you get a sense of Hemingway's time in Paris, though I must admit it absolutely ruined THE SUN ALSO RISES for me.)  After his Key West time, and after divorcing his second wife, he moved to Cuba with his third wife, to a house called Finca Vigia.  My collection of Hemingway's stories, which I think might be the best collection of stories anywhere, is the Finca Vigia Edition.  Hemingway seems to have been as attached to his houses as to his wives.
 
We seem to have a fascination with writer's lives, as if that gives us an insight into the beauty of their work, but I think it's a false insight, and Hemingway is the prime example.  He lived his life as if he were putting on an act of what he thought a writer should be, and most of it was unpleasant.  (Another example is Eugene O'Neil, whose plays are transcendent, especially "Long Day's Journey into Night" and the "The Iceman Cometh" but whose life is full of outright nastiness.)  All of Hemingway's boxing and macho showing off and trading wives and brutal competitiveness turns a lot of modern readers off, but some of his stories and novels are just sublime.  I think "Hills Like White Elephants" is as close to a perfect story as I've ever read - it moves me every time I read it and I read it often - and I do love A FAREWELL TO ARMS with its brilliant first paragraph.
 
Which brings me to the one holy place I found in Key West.  Hemingway's writing studio was atop an outbuilding to the house (you can see it here behind the main house):
 
 
There are steps now leading up to the studio, but in Hemingway's day there was a kitchen building between the two buildings and Hemingway built a walkway atop that building so he could take the dangerous walk from the house to the studio without ever touching the ground. It is as if in the course of that walk Hemingway would strip away the whole of the  personality he wore like a mask and become what he truly was.  In that room he wrote A FAREWELL TO ARMS, and FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro."  And I must admit , it was a pretty terrific setup:
 
 
I could imagine him pounding out his sweet and simple sentences on the manual typewriter, forefinger by forefinger, as the mounted animal head looked on.  He can have the rest of it, the estates and the wives and the boxing matches, I'll just take those few moments when the words felt right and thing within the pages started coming alive.
 
 










New for the New Year

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I've got a lot of things I want to write for the site, a short review of Rachel Kushner's incandescent THE FLAMETHROWERS, which I just finished, maybe a short essay on MOBY DICK, just because I keep thinking about the thing, and a report on my recent visit to the Hemingway House in Key West, with pictures of cats, and more cats.  The guy loved his cats.  But first I need to let you know about a few new items of mine that have finally ripened:

First, my new novel, THE BARKEEP is currently for sale as a Kindle First promotion on the Amazon website.  Even though the publication date is Feb. 1, you can buy the book for your Kindle at a reduced price of $1.99 for the month of January.  If you're a Kindle user you should jump on it.  It's what I call a novel of Zenspence, since there's a little Zen mixed in with the usual murder, mayhem, drinking and sex.  Some of it is based on THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD, which I remember from my dad's little pile of night reading, which, when I think about it, is a little weird.

Also, I wrote a short Victor Carl novella called "A Bite of Strawberry" published through an Amazon imprint called StoryFront, which provides writers a chance to publish their shorter fiction for the Kindle.  It's an exciting time for writers to be able to pick and choose their platforms, and this seemed like a good platform for what I was trying to do.  As you might know, there is a new Victor Carl novel coming out later in the year, and I used the novella to get my head back in the Victor game.

So that's the news.  I'll put up the Hemingway pictures shortly.  Let me tell you, once you see the Hemingway toilet, it stays with you.

Happy New Year.
 




On The Road

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I've got a new book coming out in May called THE ACCOUNTING, which I'll talk about later, but I have a few events coming up where I'll be talking about it and some other topics.

(1) On March 13, I'll be speaking at the University of Pennsylvania on a Continuing Medical Education panel entitled "The Detective Novel and the Search for Forbidden Meaning."  I'll be talking a little bit about Dashiell Hammett, his novel RED HARVEST, and the Flitcraft case from THE MALTESE FALCON.  There will also be a psychiatrist and a literature professor on the panel.  Should be interesting.  I'm hoping to learn something.  That will be at Cohen Hall, Room 402, 249 S. 36th Street from 7:00 to 9:00.

(2) On March 20, I'll be reading from the new book and talking about writing at the Chestnut Hill Hotel, 8229 Germantown Ave. in Philadelphia, starting at 7:00.  I'll of course be taking questions; hilarity will ensue.  And if not hilarity, then certainly wine and cheese.

Hope to see some of you out there.




Humpty Dumpty

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

As I made my breakfast this morning, I was thinking about the greatest eggs in all of literature.  For me there are two eggs I've always remembered, two eggs that will live with me for as long as I crack a shell and fry up something to place gently over the potatoes.

Number one all time is from KING RAT by James Clavel, a very good book with a brilliant piece of eggmanship.  This scene takes place in a POW camp where all the inmates are crazy with hunger except for King Rat, who has plenty of food, including this repast he is cooking to sway a new inmate to the dark side.  Notice the sound, the scent, the sizzle.  I cook my over-easy eggs on a very high temp now because of this passage:
The King broke the eggs neatly and dropped them into the heated oil.  The yolk was rich-gold and its circling jelly sputtered and hissed against the heat and began to set and all at once the sizzle filled the hut.  It filled the minds and filled the hearts and made the juices flow.  But no one said anything or did anything.  Except Tex.  He forced himself up and walked out of the hut. . . . . “Jesus H. Christ,” Byron Jones III said to no one, choked.  “I wish it would rain.”  No one answered.  For no one heard anything except the crackle and the hiss.  The King too was concentrating.  Over the frypan.  He prided himself that no one could cook an egg better than he.  To him a fried egg had to be cooked with an artist’s eyes, and quickly – yet not too fast.”
My second favorite egg passage takes place in Hemingway's GARDEN OF EDEN. Hemingway was always good with food, but this passage was like a revelation.  "Oh," I said first time I read it, "so that is how they should be eaten."  It's actually good, too, though I think you need to eat them at that very cafe, at that very time of day, while in the midst of a similar type love affair:
He loved her very much and everything about her and he went to sleep thinking about her cheek against his lips and how the next day they would both be darker from the sun and how dark can she become, he thought, and how dark will she ever really be?

"You know I haven't done anything bad to us. I had to do it. You know that."

Be careful, he said to himself, it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.

At the cafe he found the morning paper and the Paris papers of the day before and had his coffee and milk and the Bayonne ham with a big beautifully fresh egg that he ground coarse pepper over sparsely and spread a little mustard on before he broke the yolk.