New review of The Silverberg Business along with a podcast interview conducted by Rick Kleffel.
Silverberg, Houston, Texas, and an Interview
New interview up here.
While I was in Houston for my reading at Brazos Bookstore, I went to my old neighborhood. The house I grew up in was demolished and replaced with a big ugly thing sometime in the last ten years. I knew that, so no shock. Fortunately, Three Brothers Bakery is still where it has been since 1960, on the banks of Braes Bayou in Southwest Houston.
The brothers (Sigmund, Sol, and Max) survived the Holocaust and opened their bakery in 1949, in a different location. At their current building, they have survived multiple floods, fire, covid lockdowns, and losing their Kosher license.
An article about how they’re doing appeared in the Houston Chronicle a few days before my trip. I only had time for one visit and a coconut custard danish. I had meant to go back the next morning but ran out of time.
Arthur Machen’s The Chronicle of Clemendy
Tomorrow (August 23, 2022) is the official release day of The Silverberg Business. Today, I’m writing about some of the book’s interconnected underpinnings.
My main character is a Jewish detective named Shannon (family name originally Chanun, Americanized by immigration). He’s from Galveston, Texas and lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. Most of the book takes place in Texas.
Allan Pinkerton founded the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago in the 1850s. I chose Chicago as Shannon’s home and made Shannon’s boss a former Pinkerton agent.
The writer Dashiell Hammet worked for a time as a Pinkerton agent; I used Hammet’s Continental Op character as a base when I began formulating Shannon.
I love the weird fiction writing of Welsh author Arthur Llewellyn Jones, who wrote as Arthur Machen. I decided to name Shannon’s boss Arthur Llewellyn.
Scottish-born Pinkerton was a Chartist. Before reading about Pinkerton, I hadn’t known about Chartism, which was a working-class political reform movement in Britain from around 1838 to 1857. In 1839, the Newport Rising occurred, in Newport, Wales. Police arrested Chartists, protests followed, soldiers shot miners. (This is an oversimplification; for more information on the Newport Rising, please look elsewhere, including the book listed a few paragraphs down.)
I decided that my Llewellyn was a former Chartist who moved to the U.S. after the uprising. As fellow Chartists, it would make sense for him to have worked with Pinkerton.
Jon Langford is Welsh, from Newport, and lives in Chicago. His skull-head art was one of the formative elements for the novel and he created the Silverberg cover art.
Bringing more elements together, Three Impostors, a small publisher based in Newport, Wales, has been publishing special illustrated editions of Arthur Machen’s work. In March 2022, they released The Chronicle of Clemendy, first published in 1888, with ten illustrations by Langford.
Lovely editions of many Machen books are also available from Tartarus Press.
Three Imposters also published a book, Render the Chartists Defenceless: John Frost’s Voyage with Dr McKechnie to Van Diemen’s Land in 1840, by Les James, about the transportation to Tasmania of the leaders of the 1839 Newport Rising.
Is it coincidence that The Chronicle of Clemendy came out the year that The Silverberg Business is set? I doubt it.
Book Release Day
Which is a followup from the previous stack of books post.
Today is the official release day for the paperback and ebook editions of my novel, The Painting and the City. The book originally came out in 2009 as a limited edition hardback from PS Publishing. This new edition is brought to you by Steve Connell of Verse Chorus Press and his new imprint The Visible Spectrum. Paperbacks are available from independent stores everywhere, Bookshop.org and Amazon, and ebooks from various places.
I will read from the novel Tuesday, August 10, 7 pm, at the Emporium in Yellow Springs, with guitar accompaniment by Kurt Miyazaki. We’ll be doing a live stream from the Emporium’s Facebook page.
Local store Dark Star books will sell copies at the event.
I’ve been busy working on The Silverberg Business and setting up as a free-lance book designer. The website for that is here. I wasn’t ready to go 100 percent free-lance, but the day job became something I couldn’t do any more.
Helen Marshall Quote
Read this interesting bit in an interview with Helen Marshall:
One of the odd things I’ve found as a writer of the fantastic is that the longer the story, the more the story is forced into realism, even if it has an absurd or fantastic core. Long fiction is about tracing a series of consequences, and so it must be tied together by a believable reality. Short fiction…not so much. It doesn’t have to be sequential. It doesn’t have to be consequential. You can get away with so much more, and that makes it particularly good for horror stories. Horror, to me, is about confronting the fact that we live in a world that doesn’t actually make much sense.
Perhaps the reading brain can only handle total unreality in smaller doses.
I’m considering her statement in relation to an unpublished long story of mine called “Mountain.” I think that in the case of my story, what I was doing required a certain amount of realism and length, though it’s set in an unreal environment, and it ends in unreality. I have lately tended to write longer, but am drawn to the type of story she describes.
Read the whole interview here. Here website is here. Here books are published by the wonderful ChiZine Publications.
Greene County Library Saves My Ass
I consume a lot of research material. I like to follow whims. My current novel-in-slow-progress (NISP) is a strange/historical/western/Texan/detective story set in 1888. I’ve needed books about the Texas Gulf Coast, the cities of Victoria (see older post here) and Galveston, TX, Texas Jewish history, the Texas Rangers, ranch/pioneer life, slavery, post-slavery African-American life in Texas, Mexican-American life, period firearms, dance, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Charles Siringo, a Montgomery Ward catalog, the Gilded Age, gambling, poker, western and detective fiction.
Sorry, I’m out of breath. Rest a bit here and think about blue skies, and….
See a reference in a book of hard-boiled fiction about Leigh Brackett’s Chandler-esque 1944 novel No Good from a Corpse? Library gets it. Decide I want to read Allan Pinkerton’s 1874 book The Expressman and the Detective? Yep, library. Most recently, I requested the University of California Press 4-volume book The Codex Mendoza (which as you can see here, the least expensive hardback on Amazon is $2000 and paperback is $164).
Sometimes I get things for fun, too, like the collected-in-book editions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, music CDs or a movie on DVD.
The library gives me access to everything in the county system, a search-Ohio public libraries system, an Ohio college libraries system, and WorldCat inter-library loan. Sometimes the book I want only exists in a few libraries, but it’s rare that there is something I can’t get.
Books, reference items, yes all that, but also, for me, a place to write. Because of my work schedule and home life, about the only time I have for writing during the week is my lunch break. I can spend anywhere from ten minutes to half and hour at the nearest library branch (usually Fairborn, because I work in Fairborn but sometimes I get crazy and go to the Yellow Springs branch), then back to work to eat something. It isn’t nearly enough time, but it’s what I have and I manage to make progress on whatever I’m working on.
The point—was there a point?—the Greene County Library saves my ass. Whatever I think I might need to see, they get for me. Right now, there’s a levy up for renewal. The state, as usual, is planning to cut library funding, again. Because, you know, if people read, they might vote, and if they vote, they might vote for someone else. Or, they might vote for the levy.
If the levy doesn’t pass, the library will have to reduce services. That will hurt me and everyone who uses it. And when it passes, the library will work with the state to prevent further loss of funding. So that maybe someday they don’t have to renew the levy. The whole point is: We need a stable library system here (and everywhere).
Please go here to find out more: http://stronglibraries.com/
Rich Needs To Become A Famous Solo Artist; Let’s Help Him Out
Old friend Rich Malley, drummer for a multitude of Austin bands, Kamikaze Refrigerators, Scratch Acid, Happy Family, The Horsies, has recorded a new album, as ManChildATX. It’s called My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10M and is sure to provide long-lasting entertainment.
He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for pressing, packaging, and promoting. Those are three important Ps.
This is his second album. The first was digital-only, Kickass Tunes for Jamming Out, and is exactly what the title says. And how many things these days can have such honest labeling? He’s funny and he’s serious. He’s funrious. And that’s just one of the reasons to support his music. You can order Kickass Tunes here, and his Kickstarter page for My Mouse Finger is here.
Being a drummer, Rich has spent most of his career sitting at the back of the stage, with nothing to look at but the posteriors of his band-mates. It takes some chutzpah to push that drum kit aside and move to the front. Let’s help him stay there.