Friday, March 7, 2014

Bruce DeSilva

Bruce DeSilva's crime fiction has won the Edgar and Macavity Awards; has been listed as a finalist for the Shamus, Anthony, and Barry Awards; and has been published in ten foreign languages. His short stories have appeared in Akashic Press's award-winning noir anthologies. He has reviewed books for The New York Times Sunday Book Review and Publishers Weekly, and his reviews for The Associated Press have appeared in hundreds of other publications. Previously, he was a journalist for forty years, most recently as writing coach world-wide for The Associated Press, editing stories that won nearly every major journalism prize including the Pulitzer. He has worked as a consultant for fifty newspapers, taught at the University of Michigan and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and lectured at Harvard University's Nieman Foundation. He and his wife, the poet Patricia Smith, live in New Jersey with two enormous dogs named Brady and Rondo.

His new novel is Providence Rag, the third in his crime series featuring Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter at a dying Providence, R.I., newspaper.

I recently asked DeSilva what he was reading. His reply:
When I’m writing a novel, I rarely read anything but newspapers, and I make a special point to avoid crime novels. If I read them, my writing begins to mimic their voices instead of sounding like my own. But when I finish writing a book, I take a break from work and binge-read novels and American history. Last night I tore through Cold Storage, Alaska, the fourth novel by John Straley, who also works as a criminal investigator for that state. Straley’s publisher markets him as a crime novelist, and crimes certainly do occur in his books, but I see them as novels of place. The setting for the new one is a tiny village on the Alaskan coast, where it always seems to be raining--except when it snows. Hemmed in by mountains on one side and the sea on the other, it is an isolated place, the supply plane that flies in when weather permits it’s only lifeline to the outside world. Straley peoples this vividly-drawn landscape with the sort of quirky characters one might meet by wandering into the wrong small-town Alaskan bar. There’s Mouse Miller, a drunk who’s in love with a long-dead barmaid. And Miles McCahon, a physician’s assistant (the town doesn’t have a physician) who talks to his outboard motor. And Miles’s brother Clive, a former drug dealer who hears animals talk to him. And Little Brother, an abused brindle fighting dog that Clive rescued. They are the sort of characters the great Howard Frank Mosher (Waiting for Teddy Williams) would create if he wrote about Alaska instead of his native Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. The characters and setting are so compelling that the plot barely matters, but the book has a good one. To learn about that, you should read it for yourself. I think you’ll love it.
Visit Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Rogue Island.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva and Brady.

The Page 69 Test: Cliff Walk.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Rondo and Brady.

--Marshal Zeringue