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  • Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    by Craig Terlson

    A collection of short stories where the humour runs dark and the slipstream bubbles up.

     

    ...imagine if Raymond Carver called up George Saunders and Joe Lansdale, and they all went drinking with Neil Gaiman.

  • Correction Line
    Correction Line
    by Craig Terlson

    “… it's clear that Terlson is way ahead of the curve in terms of crafting an engaging premise that reaches for elevated territory and reinvents enduring archetypes of action and suspense.”  J. Schoenfelder


    "Sometimes brutal, often demanding and always complex, this novel will repay the reader who likes their assumptions challenged and is happy to walk away from a book with minor questions unanswered but the big ones definitely dealt with! It’s likely to satisfy those who enjoy Hammet and/or Philip K Dick and who like their fiction very noir indeed."   Kay Sexton

     

    "I love a novel that you can't put down, and this is one of them."  L. Cihlar

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Tuesday
Mar202007

Nearing the finish

After a lot of deliberation and deep soul searching... well, sort of deep... I think I am near completion of The Plate Spinner. Very near.

I know I will still be tweaking as I go along, but I wrote the first draft of a query letter yesterday, and it seems the time to start releasing it to the wild. Or at least to agents.

Wish me luck.

Monday
Mar192007

Tough guys, tough talk.

01N05FEx.jpg Once again, the weekend movies provide thought for fiction writing. (More about Joe Lansdale later). Another guilty pleasure of mine is westerns - I shouldn't say "guilty' because some very fine movies come to mind when I think of Westerns. The works of John Ford, the Samurai Westerns of Kurosawa, and one of my all time personal favorites, Sam Peckinpah.

Last night, I was watching a western that had this crisp dialogue, really much tighter than a lot from that era - I had tuned in late and had not caught the name of the film, but I could tell it was probably from the 60's (I also had a hunch about the name).

There was also an edge to the dialogue, something that came late to most westerns. What I mean is that many of the older westerns were so busy talking about honour, loyalty, loving your gal and your horse in equal measure, that they seemed more operatic than real drama. Even Peckinpah was known to wax eloquent on the changing times. Later with movies like Unforgiven, there started to be that revisionist view of the west, the blood, the dirt, the guns that exploded in your hands and all the mean drunks.

The movie I saw on the weekend was decades away from this revision, yet the dialogue had a definite edge, people got shot and not in pretty ways. But more than that it had this clipped style that I recognized. Less than halfway through the movie, I knew what it was. Hombre, starring Paul Newman and written by none other than Elmore Leonard. As I listened to the dialogue it was almost like I was seeing on the page, rapid fire back and forths, short sentences, probably a few "he saids" and "she saids", no long speeches, none. Of course before Leonard was writing lines for Chili Palmer he was writing Western pulp novels. I've never read any of them, or seen Hombre. But the style is unmistakeable.

(imagine the following said by gangsters or cowboys)

Russell: Hit something, Mendez, first the men, then the horses.
Mendez: I don't know. Just to sit here and wait to kill them?
Russell: If there was some other way, we'd do it.
Mendez: Maybe we can keep going and try to outrun them.
Russell: If you run, they're gonna catch you, they're gonna kill you. You believe that more than you believe anything.
Mendez: All right.
Russell: And try not to puke. You may have to lie in it for a long time.

Leonard has a lot of fans across the genres, including some hi-falutin ones like Martin Amis. If you've read him you know why. I'd recommend Hombre or my other favorite Leonard treatments, Get Shorty or Out of Sight (based on Rum Punch and probably the best of the lot.)

More quotes from Hombre

Elmore Leonard's 10 Tips on Writing (not that I agree with them all)

Thursday
Mar152007

Smokin'!

cover16.jpg

To be honest, the whole reason this blog began:
My story, "Night Birds" is in the new issue of Smokelong Quarterly, just released today.

Woofreakin-you know...

Have a gander here:
Night Birds

and read the interview here:
SLQ Interview with C. Terlson

Drop me a line and tell me what you think.

Wednesday
Mar142007

Waiting for Clint

eigersanctionlc3.jpg

Speaking of pace...

Wait for it...

We can be an impatient bunch, us humans, I mean. As I said in my last post, the other weekend movie that got me thinking about pace was The Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood. I have seen this movie many times, it seems to pop up on TV quite a bit. As a kid, I remember loving it, but I loved all the things Eastwood - even weird stuff like Paint Your Wagon, where Clint and a furry Lee Marvin warbled about Maria.

The Eiger Sanction is full of cheesy lines, misogynist overtones (lots of girls getting slapped on the butt) and some not so subtle racist jokes. It is not primo Eastwood - but there is something that entices. I think it is the way the story unfolds, for an action film it is quite leisurely (as a lot of action films were in the 70's - certainly compared to now). Even the climactic sequence on the ice covered mountain is a bit on the slow side. So why is it so compelling? I think it has a lot to do with the character development that has been allowed to happen. We care about Clint, we want him to get the bad guys and the girl, we want him to figure it out and go back to his swinging art pad with Jemima Brown (like I said, not so subtle racism).

The key is you gotta care. I think if I care enough about a character the pacing of a story is ALMOST inconsequential. That is an important "almost" because pace does matter. I am thinking of Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer winning novel, Gilead. The pace of that book makes you feel yourself aging. It was also the most compelling book I read last year and contains a character that will resonate with me for years.
Simply put, you gotta care.

Next time on pace - more about Lansdale. Now that's a different pace!

Link to Eiger Sanction Trailer - you gotta watch this one just to hear the voice over. You know this guy, he did all the voice overs back then.

Monday
Mar122007

Pecking out a story

TSavalasB.jpg I watched a couple of movies over the weekend that got me thinking about pace - both in film and in books.

I have a few fave networks, AMC (Amercian Movie Classics) and TCM (Turner Classic Movies), I'm a classic guy. My favorite era is the 70's, a golden age for American Films. But the one that really got me thinking was Birdman of Alcatraz from 1962, with Burt Lancaster. As I am watching this biopic slowly, and I do mean SLOWLY, unfold, I am increasingly drawn in. It's a fascination different than modern movies, which employ fast editing and character arcs on steroids - sometimes, I feel a move is over before it begins and I feel like I have had a cinematic one-night stand.

The part that really gets me in Birdman is this scene where a canary egg is about to hatch. The camera zooms in on the little nest (inside of Stroud's prison cell) and we wait. And wait. And wait some more. Until finally, peck by peck, a little bird struggles to emerge. Remember, this isn't part of a discovery channel doc, where you would expect the camera to linger - it is a Hollywood blockbuster. I couldn't believe the tension and the eventual joyful release when the bird makes it out of the shell. What filmmaker takes the time to do that now?

Same goes for some fiction that moves at that car-exploding cinematic pace - sometimes, I am totally in the mood for that. But often, halfway through this sort of read, I start thinking, why am I wasting my time with this? It's a bit like getting halfway through a big bag of popcorn, and realizing it tastes like cardboard dipped in motor oil.

I am not ranting about these type of books, I hate being a book snob - I say if you like it, just read the damn thing. But for me, disappearing into a well paced story that pecks it's way out of a shell is heavenly. And yep, they still do make them that way. Richard Ford and Don DeLillo come to mind - especially DeLillo's The Body Artist. Not his best book, but I will always remember the opening dialogue between husband and wife. Reading it was like listening to it happen in real time.

Next time, pace and my other weekend movie - The Eiger Sanction.

Link to a bio on the real Birdman, not nearly as charming as Burt Lancaster.