Christmas Royale

December 31st, 2013 by Max Allan Collins

Christmas here with son Nate and daughter-in-law Abby was festive fun. We open our presents Christmas Eve, where among the gifts were a MURDER SHE WROTE complete series collection for Abby, a ZATOICHI blu-ray set for Nate, Marilyn Monroe books/blu-rays/calendars for Barb, and the boxed multi-volume Hefner-written PLAYBOY history set from Taschen for me. Very cold here and we went out only a few times, including for a movie on Christmas Day (47 RONIN – more on that below).

Nate and I were both burrowed in working around and even on the holiday. He was wrapping up a BATTLE ROYALE manga translation, and I was working hard to get QUARRY’S CHOICE up and running, after a nasty bout with flu that put me behind deadline.

Nate had only recently completed the biggest (and in my opinion best) translation of his career thus far – he has done a new translation of BATTLE ROYALE, the prose novel, for Viz. It’s an enormous book, and an important one, and he’s done a fantastic job. I was the in-house proof reader and can honestly say (having read an earlier translation) that he has knocked it out of the park.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with BATTLE ROYALE by Koushun Takami, it spawned a film that was a world-wide success everywhere but America, where its plot of junior high students killing each other on an isolated island in a government-sponsored game ran smack into the Columbine tragedy, getting the work essentially banned in the USA. In the meantime, another suspiciously similar work – the HUNGER GAMES novels – came along. Whether coincidence or homage (French for rip-off), HUNGER GAMES sparked interest in BATTLE ROYALE and the BR film (and its lesser sequel) are widely available here now. For a Japanese-to-English translation, BATTLE ROYALE is about as good as it gets. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Here’s a brief rundown of films we saw over the holidays, including quick critical takes: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is much better than the first entry in the Trilogy, moving much more quickly than that original, which was more slog than Smaug; ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES, a very funny ninety minute movie that is unfortunately over two self-indulgent hours long; 47 RONIN, a much underrated and visually poetic tribute to Asian films of both the samurai and fantasy genres; and SAVING MR. BANKS, a shamelessly manipulative and highly inaccurate infomercial for the dreadful “classic” MARY POPPINS, somewhat redeemed by Tom Hanks’ sincere performance.

I approach New Year’s Eve with mixed emotions: Crusin’ will be making its last regular performance as we end a five-year run of playing bars and clubs on a two- or more times a month schedule. We will be on “hiatus,” during which we will consider only event performances, such as class reunions, weddings, county and state fairs, founder’s day celebrations and the like (mystery cons definitely on that list).

* * *

THE WRONG QUARRY reviews are streaming in, all lovely so far. Here’s one from the Celebrity Café that’s been picked up around the Net.

Here’s Books Are For Squares on THE WRONG QUARRY.

Ron Fortier, a wonderful writer in his own “write,” also likes THE WRONG QUARRY.

And here’s a late entrant among the reviews of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

Finally, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT is on this list of the best five crime novels of 2013 (that makes three M.A.C. novels this year to make such lists – ASK NOT, COMPLEX 90 and now SEDUCTION).


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3 Responses to “Christmas Royale”

  1. Joe Menta says:

    Happy New Year to you and yours, Max, and thanks again for taking the time to do these weekly updates. I enjoy the small break in the office every Tuesday to see what’s on your mind.

  2. Thanks, Joe. It’s Nate (Collins, not Heller) who has pushed me to do this, and it’s nice that some people out there are enjoying it. I’m trying to make these updates about more than just what book is out and links to what reviews have rolled in. Sometimes, when I’m on a book, I do a little bit less here. But we haven’t missed a Tuesday morning post since we started doing them — what, two years ago?

    Happy New Year.

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