Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lou Berney

Lou Berney is an accomplished writer, teacher, and (if he is to be believed) liar. He is the author of the novels Whiplash River and Gutshot Straight, which was nominated for a Barry Award and named by Booklist as one of the best debut crime novels of the year. His short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and the Pushcart Prize anthology, and he’s written feature screenplays and created TV pilots for, among others, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Focus Features, ABC, and Fox. Currently he teaches writing at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University.

About a month ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
A couple of weeks ago I finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo, one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s an incredibly moving, funny, and harrowing non-fiction account of life in one particular slum in Mumbai – an examination of both global capitalism and the human spirit (every aspect of the human spirit, good and bad).

Right now I’m reading The Rules of the Game, by Neil Strauss, one of the preeminent “pick-up artists” in the world. No, I am not reading this book to sharpen my skills at meeting and dating attractive women (I am already happily married to an attractive woman, at least until she discovers that I’m reading The Rules of the Game). The book is interesting to me because of the socio-psychological jambalaya behind the so-called Game, and how it applies to everyday human interaction. Not to get too yoga about it, but I think Strauss’s book – if you read it with the right frame of mind – helps one become more present in the world. (And if that doesn’t work for me, at least I’ll have a lot of useful information to use for a pick-up artist/con-man in a future crime novel.)
Visit Lou Berney's website and blog, and the Whiplash River Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Gutshot Straight.

--Marshal Zeringue