Thanksgiving Thoughts

November 25th, 2014 by Max Allan Collins

Thanksgiving has become to some – perhaps to many – a sort of speed bump on the way to Christmas. It’s long had the capacity to be annoying – no presents and football all day, which for the greedy non-sports fan is a kind of nightmare. I remember with a weird combination of vivid and blurry the years when Barb and I had three Thanksgiving meals to attend in one day due to a family split. And if you have a large dysfunctional family, there isn’t enough turkey in the world to put you to sleep through it.

This marks the first year I’ve seen Thanksgiving (always tough to market) skipped the moment Halloween slipped into its annual grave. Christmas trappings for sale, decorated downtowns, store sound systems pumping out carols and pop Xmas stuff inside and out. We’re talking November 1, people.

To some degree, of course, Black Friday is to blame, and it’s spread more like Black Plague, not only to Thanksgiving itself but the several weeks leading in. I appreciate a good buy (and I get most of mine online, checking for blu-ray, CD and book bargains) but the only thing Black Friday really makes me thankful for is the news footage of people getting trampled at Walmart seeking a flat-screen TV for twenty-five bucks.

Jean Shepherd

Our Thanksgiving looks to be the delight it’s been in recent years. Typical turkey dinner in the company of my wife, my son and daughter-in-law. A movie at the local theater. Probably more movies at home, including “The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski,” the Jean Shepherd Thanksgiving story aired on PBS last century, inexplicably never (legally) marketed on home video, despite the cult of “A Christmas Story.” Black Friday shopping will probably be limited to on-line hijinks. I will be walking my granddog no matter how damn cold it is. I may even set aside the Heller novel I’m writing for a few days.

But let’s stop, shall we – as the creator of Quarry gets sniffy and sentimental – to do what the word Thanksgiving suggests: be thankful. May I share a few of the reasons why I’m thankful with you? Feel free to grind your teeth.

I married a beautiful girl in 1968 and am still married to her, though somewhere along the way she turned into a beautiful woman. That tops my thankful list, followed close by my talented son and his terrific wife. Barb and I are in good health, we own our home, and live in a pleasant Midwestern city where the cost of living is forgiving, the restaurants aren’t bad, and a new movie theater offers a bunch of screens. If you have not guessed, we are simple souls.

My career, in a tough field for anybody who hasn’t become a household name, is doing fine. There’s TV on the horizon for Quarry and maybe Heller, and I have a small, hearty group of publishers and editors who are keeping me busy and able to purchase blu-ray discs at will. (I’m also thankful that those blu-rays are deductible.) I had a genuine bestseller in SUPREME JUSTICE. I’m doing Quarry again after all these years, and Heller has a home for new novels and another home for all the old books. Most of my novels (excluding tie-ins) are in print or will be soon. This generates income resembling the pension money I’d be getting if I’d put money into a fund and not spent a lifetime buying movies, books and girlie mags. I also have three collaborators in Barb, Matt Clemens and the late Mickey Spillane who make my creative life easier and very rewarding. If this sounds like money is important to me, I remind you that I am the creator of Nathan Heller.

But in truth money is important to me only in the sense that I can continue doing what I immodestly feel I was put here to do: tell stories.

And if you’ve read this far, you are almost certainly among the not huge but very loyal audience that has kept me afloat in my goal of never having a real job.

So most of all – thank you.


15 Responses to “Thanksgiving Thoughts”

  1. Bill Crider says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to the Collins Clan!

  2. Paul.Griffith says:

    Hoping you, Barb, Nate and his bride enjoy a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving. I am thankful to you Max for all of the stories and characters that keep me busy reading and watching and anxiously awaiting new releases! Enjoy the time off me friend.

  3. stephen borer says:

    On behalf of us readers, much gratitude to Al & Barb for sharing their talent and humor and patience over the years. Danke schon!

  4. Joe Menta says:

    You’re actually my hero, Max, and I live vicariously through your posts. In many ways we live parallel lives: I’m married to a pretty blonde, too, and we’re always doing the restaurant and movie thing, and- speaking for myself now- I buy a lot of comics, books, and movies (though lately I’ve been streaming and “e-booking” a lot). However, I’m able to do all that stuff via having- uggh- a regular job- and not through writing, which I’ve always had an itch to try (well, I write for my job, but it’s not THAT kind of writing). But it’s great to know that you’ve been able to follow the dream. Anyway, have a great Thanksgiving, too, and keep your news and opinions coming.

  5. Well said, Max — Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

  7. John "Chris" Christensen says:

    Nice thoughts Al, and it seems like you’ve got the kind of love and success all of us creative “simple souls” want. Have a terrific Thanksgiving family Collins! Maybe we’ll get to play some rock and roll sometime soon good buddy!

  8. Max Allan Collins says:

    Such great comments, with some of my closest friends and collaborators mixed in. I am writing this at the end of a fun, calorie-filled Thanksgiving that included some Mystery Science Theater 3000 (THE SCREAMING SKULL!).

    I am very aware that I am lucky to be able to write fiction for a living. Not a day passes that I don’t marvel at how lucky I’ve been. But what I do remains a job, and a hard one, so it’s very helpful and thoughtful of readers who comment favorably on what I do. Now that Barb is writing (she’s been at it quite a while actually), she has discovered that sad but true fact: the writing itself never gets any easier. Matt Clemens will tell you how often I call him about some minor writing problem.

    Chris, very cool to hear from you. Chris is my gifted SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT bandmate and the composer of scores for my documentaries MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE and CAVEMAN, as well as the short Quarry film, “A Matter of Principal.”

  9. Happy Thanksgiving to a delightful Bouchercon panelist. One of my regrets is that the panel did not allow discussion of the Quarry novels, of which I read all of them in about a week before the panel. I look forward to the new one!

  10. Max Allan Collins says:

    Peter, you did an outstanding job. The other panel I was on was more free-wheeling, which was fun, but I liked your organizational approach. You were extremely conscientious and that aided the panel incredibly.

    My thanks to you on your comments about Quarry. QUARRY’S CHOICE is coming!

  11. Peter says:

    Thanks for the kind words. Dang, and here I thought our panel was pretty free-wheeling, with all the jumping in you and Gary and Sarah did, much to the benefit of the discussion. I may be anal retentive, but I’m pretty flexible as such people go.

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