Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ed Lin

Ed Lin is the author of several books and is an all-around standup kinda guy. Waylaid and This Is a Bust were both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively, and both were widely praised. Both also won the Members’ Choice Awards in the Asian American Literary Awards. His third book, Snakes Can’t Run, was published by Minotaur Books in April 2010; it was loved by many and also won an Asian American Literary Award, and was followed by in One Red Bastard 2012 and Ghost Month in 2014. Lin, who is of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards.

Lin's new novel is Incensed.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Lin's reply:
Joseph T. "Cap" Shaw was the editor of Black Mask during its best years but mystery wasn't the only genre he was into. Shaw's anthology of Western stories, Spurs West, was published in 1951 (one year before he died), and it included "Deep Winter," a great short story by Ernest Haycox, an author I'd never heard of.

Haycox was famous in his day. He was all over the slicks--the well-paying magazines. John Ford's film Stagecoach was based on one of his stories and another Ernest, Hemingway, was a big fan.

In the course of my research, I found that "Deep Winter" was part of a series of shorts Haycox had written about a frontier town. Originally it was the fifth of six stories, the sixth of which was never published, possibly because the editors of Collier's weren't ready for a Jewish hero.

Look up Haycox online and marvel at his output. How the hell did Haycox write that much without a word processor? I wanted to read more of his work but I knew I had to read the other four stories in that series first.

Easier said than done, of course. I didn't want to buy up the back issues of Collier's and end up with more oversized magazines for my toddler son to yank off the shelves. Luckily for me, all the stories were republished in book collections that were mostly out of print but fairly easily obtained.

I found the first story "Some Were Brave," renamed as "Land Rush," in Stagecoach, itself renamed from By Rope and Lead.

The second story, "Dark Land Waiting," and the fourth story, "Faithfully, Judith" (helpfully renamed "Prairie Town"), are in Rawhide Range.

The third story, "The Claim Jumpers," is in Prairie Guns.

Of course, the fifth story, "Deep Winter," is in the aforementioned Spurs West, which doesn't show up too often, but it's cheap when it does.

When I had all the books in my possession I read them all and savored the simple and knowing way Haycox describes people:

"Wind struck harder as soon as the train pulled away, driving her back to the wall of the small station house, pressing her clothes on her body until she felt indecently exposed."

"He was a spare young man with black hair and gray eyes and he kept his eyes on the cigarette forming in his fingers."

If you've never read a Western story, give these five a shot. They might expand your range.

I don't know Sameer Pandya but we have friends in common. I've just read his book The Blind Writer and I loved it. It's a collection of five short stories and a novella published by the University of Hawai'i Press. There's a wonderful understatement and restraint in his language, giving them an almost subliminal quality. One experiences them, rather than being conscious of reading them. The novella, of which the book takes its title, is the strongest of them. I hope that indicates that Pandya has a novel on his hard drive, ready to break out.
Visit Ed Lin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue