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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


The Bottoms

the_bottoms_lansdale.jpg I did say earlier in the week that I was going to talk about Joe. R. Lansdale and pacing. Recently I read, no "tore" through his novel, "The Bottoms". I have read a few of his books now. I first heard of him through a friend (and reader of woofreakinhoo) who commented on my style being similar to Lansdale's.

The only thing I had heard about Lansdale was that he had wrote the story which became the movie, "Bubba HoTep". I wondered what I might have in common with a guy that wrote stories about Elvis and a black JFK battling an Egyptian demon who is sucking souls at a seniors home. Just look at that sentence and imagine that hitting an editors desk in the form of a query letter. "Say... that's different."

Now having read Lansdale, I do see some of the similarities - and I could only hope to come close to his amazing storytelling ability. That was what I was going to mention about pace. His plots move, sometimes they rocket! He has created, for me, some of those "I can't put the damn thing down" moments. But I have felt that sometimes the books and the characters have lacked a bit of depth or resonance. It is there, you might have to read a few of his Hap and Leonard books to see how that relationship is about a lot more than the crazy adventures, shotguns and dwarves. And his book Sunset and Sawdust was a rollicking dark tale. But again, missed some of the resonance that I like to see.

Don't get me wrong, I love this guy's work, but something has been missing. That was until I read The Bottoms. This, I believe, was his most critically acclaimed book, winning The Edgar Award and being named a New York Times Notable among other awards. It is rightly compared to "To Kill a Mockingbird" book, both in the child narrator, views on racism and southern setting. They also say it is like Faulkner - that's a bit of a stretch. Maybe Faulkner if he made more sense. Some Faulkner has blown me away, but only when I have had time and the mental energy to sift through the dense language.

Within the Bottoms is a tale of mystery through a child's eyes. It is about a serial killer but so much more. It is about racism in Texas during the depression. And at its deepest level it is about familial relationships, most notable between a father and son. It's a book that resonates deep with me, and visits some of the themes that I ponder. Themes of redemption and how you pass on your beliefs and morals to your children.
If you find this book in the mystery section and you don't read mysteries... buy it and read it. Go now.

Lastly, I don't know of anyone in my circle of friends that reads Lansdale, in my city I mean. I get talking about him and eyes glaze over. But a while back I went into one of those mystery book stores that specialize in whodunits and such. I don't go there much as I don't read in that genre. I went looking for Lansdale (very hard to find around here). When I asked the store owner about Lansdale, her eyes lit up. It was like she had finally found someone else who knew this secret.

Spread the word, this guy needs to sell more books. But maybe he is selling a ton and I don't know about it. He is getting a huge award this year - I need to look that up and recall what it is.

More next time.


The Days are Numbered

I added another fiction link to a favorite story of mine (oh, aren't they all favorites). You can go to the terlson fiction links over to the right there.
Or just click here if you haven't read my story on obsession.

The Days are Numbered at Cezanne's Carrot.

Great mag, Cezanne's Carrot, celebrating their one year anniversary, I believe.


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.


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)




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.