I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m taking this literally, not picking out my favorites of all time or friends that I want to promote, but what’s actually on top of the stack next to my bed. My usual practice is to read more than one book at a time. Some of them drop out as I lose interest, but also I move back and forth, in the mood for one and then another. Of course, when I get a new novel by Jason Starr or Megan Abbott, I can’t tear myself away. But they can’t write fast enough to keep me happy!Hendricks' short story "ReBecca" appears in Best American Erotica 2000, and "Stormy, Mon Amour" appears in the 2002 collection Tart Noir. The short story "Gators" is included in Flesh & Blood published in 2001. Other stories include “Purrz, Baby” in Deadly Housewives (2006), “Must Bite” in Dying for it (2006), and “Boozanne, Lemme Be” in Miami Noir (2006).
Right now I’m about to finish a fascinating and sad work of non-fiction, The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman. She has extrapolated from the memoirs of Antonina Zabinski, who, with her husband, helped many Jews to escape the Nazis during the occupation of Poland. It is a bittersweet tale of Antonina’s love of animals and people, and gives an insightful view of the Nazis and their beliefs along with the amazing and down-to-earth details of how people and animals thrived together under despicable conditions. Ackerman’s prose is delectable and vivid. I ran across this book at the Miami Book Fair and it will stay with me for a long time.
As the extreme opposite, The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin is the coarsest deck of sandpaper between two covers that I have ever seen. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying it! It was recommended on Rara Avis by John Williams, my editor, and since he likes my stuff, I generally like what he likes. I love it when I get a new name in noir. I’m halfway through, and if I hadn’t been interrupted by the book fair, I would have finished. The author is a musician in an “internationally acclaimed band” and I’m betting it’s gotta be hard rock. I don’t know how he learned to write like this in his spare time, but it’s original and fast-paced — don’t you just hate those multi-talented guys? — with a main character Frank who can only be less down and out than his brother Jerry Lee. So far, there is no intentional crime, but an unfortunate accident has taken place whereby drunken Jerry Lee kills a boy on a bicycle and spirals down from there, taking Frank with him. I love those spiral-downs.
I picked up several other books from the Miami Book Fair, which are on top of the stack. Pat MacEnulty’s From May To December looks extremely promising. She’s a friend, but I am happy to say, that I would want to read the book regardless. I just might not have heard of it. She read a sexy, entertaining scene of a woman teaching drama writing at a women’s correctional institution. Pat spent some time in such a place in her youth, so her portrayal is intriguing and real. She read with Preston Allen, another one of my favorite friends and writers. He’s got a novel about a school bus driver who is a desperate gambler. I don’t think Preston ever drove a school bus, but he has plenty experience in the other area. He read a brilliant and funny scene that captured the emotional roller-coaster ride of winning and losing. I can’t wait to get started on that one either.
Oh, this one’s not out yet, I don’t think, and it’s not on my stack anymore, but I have to mention Christa Faust’s The Money Shot. This is porno-star crime/noir soon to be published by Hard Case Crime. I did a blurb for it, and believe me, it’s hot. She really knows of what she speaks.
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