Posts Tagged ‘Skim Deep’

Come Spy With Free!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
Come Spy With Me Advertisement

Yes, it’s yet another M.A.C. Book Giveaway!

I have ten copies to give away of the very handsome Wolfpack trade paperback of Come Spy With Me by yrs truly and Matt Clemens, the first in the John Sand series. Should you win a copy, you agree to write a review for Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble (review blogs are also kosher). [All copies have been claimed. Thank you for your support! — Nate]

These reviews are extremely important (and not just from those of you who get a free book now and then). Amazon is key, because the e-book version is available only on Kindle, Amazon’s format. The trade paperback can be ordered at Barnes & Noble and other on-line retailers. I think finding a copy at a brick-and-mortar store is unlikely, at least at this point.

Wolfpack has been very supportive and even ran a big ad in Publisher’s Weekly (reproduced here).

I should have mentioned when I announced the Skim Deep book giveaway a few weeks ago that you cannot post reviews at Amazon until the book’s publication date (Come Spy With Me is out now). Those were advance copies of Skim Deep, and a few of you tried to post reviews unsuccessfully. Amazon is listing that pub date as Jan. 5, although I believe that’s inaccurate – it’s actually going to be available early December. I will try to get this corrected at Amazon, but keep trying if you’ve written your review, when we get into December. I’ll try to have updated info on the official pub date soon.

(By the way, Nate always provides ordering links when you click on the first mention of a book title in any of these updates.)

Meanwhile, Booklist has given Skim Deep a very strong review:

Skim Deep. By Max Allan Collins Dec. 2020. 256p. Hard Case Crime, paper, $10.95 ( 9781789091397)

Collins’ first novel, published in 1972, was called Bait Money and was intended as a stand-alone homage to Donald E. Westlake’s Parker thrillers, which Westlake wrote as Richard Stark. The one-off homage, however, became a series starring Collins’ version of Parker, superthief Nolan, and his surrogate son, musician and comics artist Jon.

Now Collins returns to Nolan and Jon in a new adventure, set in the late 1980s. Nolan, living the straight life as a restaurateur in the Quad Cities, has decided it’s time to marry his longtime lover, Sherry. A trip to Las Vegas ensues, where the newlyweds reunite with Jon and settle in for a long weekend of fun and frolic. Not quite. Unfortunately, one of Nolan’s pals from the bad old days has a plan to steal a week’s worth of skim from a Mobbed-up casino and to use Nolan as the fall guy. Meanwhile, trouble’s brewing back in Iowa, too, where a Ma Barker–type wants Nolan’s head in a basket (literally).

This jaunty caper novel has a definite dark side—Nolan is no ersatz antihero—but Collins, as always, mixes blood and badinage with gusto. — Bill Ott

Ms. Tree, Volume Two: Skeleton in the Closet has made the Mystery Scene Gift Guide, as assembled by the great Kevin Burton Smith of the equally great Thrilling Detective web site. Burton describes Ms. Tree as “9mmm-toting Chicago private eye, Michael Tree, who’s been pushing envelopes and taking out bad guys since 1981 (scooping Grafton, Paretsky, et al., on women’s issues and Law & Order on “ripped from the headlines” plots in the process). This volume rounds up the rest of the uncollected stories from the DC Comics 1990s run (which Collins considers ‘the best’ of the long-running series), and it’s just waiting for a whole new generation of fans. As usual, Tree and her agency take the ‘edgy route,’ dealing with homophobia, date rape, POW/MIAs and…exorcism?”

November, of course, means Gift Guide and Black Friday deals and other holiday-oriented consumerism. In these Pandemic times, gift buying has been driven indoors even more than in recent years, and it also finds us (well, me anyway) in a WTF mood when it comes to, “Should I buy this or not?”

So here are a few suggestions for yourself and others.

Kino Lorber has a Noir-vember sale that ends today – November 24, 2020 – but if you read these updates the day they appear, you have time to partake of a number of noir (or anyway noir-ish) titles. But pertinent to our interests here, they have:

The Girl Hunters (Blu-ray $12.99 and DVD 9.99). I did the commentary and the interview footage with Mickey from the Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane shoot in 1999.

My Gun Is Quick (Blu-ray $7.99 and DVD 6.99)

I, the Jury (Blu-ray $9.99) The Armand Assante version.

Among other strong titles on sale are I Wake Up Screaming, Murder He Says (among my favorite comedies), and No Orchids for Miss Blandish.

Even if the sale is over, check the prices at Kino Lorber’s site. They run lots of sales and tend to be cheaper than ordering from other on-line retailers of their product.

For Spillane completists, the low-budget 1970 production of The Delta Factor (which Mickey co-produced) is available in a decent gray-market edition here.

Be advised that I haven’t found a really good-looking copy of this film anywhere, and this one at least comes in a fun full color package. If you’re into collecting oddball stuff (like I am), this seller – J4HI.com – has a wonderful off-the-wall selection. Regular sales and new titles are always in the offing. Buying several titles at once lowers the price per disc.

Tell Mike that Max sent you.

* * *

My production has slowed down for a few weeks. A very stressful situation having to do with a copy editor rewriting me practically line by line sent me into AFib. Atrial fibrillation is an occasional side-effect of my heart trouble of a few years ago, and I had to go into the hospital briefly for what is called cardioversion. This is basically getting your heart shocked back into its correct rhythm, or, as I like to put it, getting jump-started like an old Buick.

I appear to be fine, though I’m having to take it easy, which is generally against my nature.

What I am having to deal with is more psychological than anything else. I apparently care too much about my work. I’ve expressed my general hatred for copy editors here and that came to a head with this episode. Barb has drilled into me not to get bent out of shape about this kind of thing, with a “Is it worth dying over?” mantra.

She’s right, and I am working on it.

As for copy editors, I should amend my expressed hatred, which is deep and abiding, to apply only to the intrusive ones. All writers need a copy editor to check for inconsistencies, missing words, typos, etc. But about fifty percent of the copy editors I’ve dealt with over my career have appointed themselves co-authors. There appears to be an army of young people, fresh out of college and armed with a degree in English, whose goal in life is to teach a professional writer with fifty years in the business how to do what he does.

I attach a letter to the copy editor with every book manuscript, tweaked for that specific novel; but often my missive is ignored.

Anyway, I’m doing fine.

And the battle goes on. In a lower-key fashion, but on.

* * *

Here’s a nice review of Skim Deep at Crime Fiction Lover.

Please stay safe over this Thanksgiving holiday. We are back to sheltering in place interrupted by only a very early morning grocery run every week or two.

It’s like my raging against copy editors – Thanksgiving with family and friends…is it worth dying over?

M.A.C.

Hey Kids! Free Books & Nolan Returns

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

First, here’s another interview of me by the great Andrew Sumner for Titan Books – this time regarding Nolan and Skim Deep.

Okay, show of hands – how many of you like books?

Seems to be everybody.

All right, how many of you like free books? Don’t fight!

Only so many free books are on hand, so how many of you like a really good bargain? Don’t pout! I mean, really good….

The entire Reeder and Rogers trilogy by Matt Clemens and me is on sale right now as part of Amazon’s Monthly Deals: Up to 80% off Kindle books. They will stay on sale till 11-30-2020, with [Amazon links:] Executive Order at $1.99 and Supreme Justice and Fate of the Union available at 99 cents each.

But wait, there’s more! (Look, I realize I shifted from classroom mode to infomercial, but I figure you can stay with me.)

The first of the two (so far) Krista Larson novels, Girl Most Likely (a Thriller Award best paperback nominee), is part of that same sale for just 99 cents.

Now for the free books. Don’t rush the stage! (Yes, I know, I did it again. Pretend it’s a running joke.)

I have ten copies of Skim Deep, the first new Nolan book in over three decades.

[All copies have been claimed! Thank you for your support. — Nate]

This doesn’t come out till Dec. 8, but I have these ten finished copies of the novel provided by Hard Case Crime. You’ll see me here posing happily with Skim Deep, the final Nolan novel, and the original edition of Bait Money, the first Nolan novel, published in December 1972.

That’s 48 years ago. Nolan is 48 years old in Bait Money, by the way, which at the time seemed really old to me. Those two 48-year periods represent one of those insignificant facts that take on weight in a barroom after enough time and tide has passed.

I’m going to walk you through how Nolan came to be. Some of you will have heard me talk about this, and/or write about it before, but go on reading – with my memory, it’s sure to come out different.

I started reading Richard Stark in 1967 after the film Point Blank came out, based on The Hunter, the first in a series about professional thief, Parker. Around the same time I discovered another writer, comic mystery author Donald E. Westlake, and these two were soon my favorites of then-current mystery writers. I had no idea Westlake was Stark – their books were so very different.

Westlake/Stark was the last author to have a major impact on my work. I was already reading Spillane, James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ed McBain and Jim Thompson (and a few others). I had basically trained to be a writer of private eye novels or maybe cop books, but the times they were a changin’, and P.I.s were impossible to sell and, in 1968, cops were just guys clubbing my friends at the Democratic convention.

I’d already discovered an obscure series by Ennis Willie about an ex-hood named Sand, who had much in common with Stark’s Parker, though Sand was created first. A tough guy who was an ex-hood heist artist seemed a reasonable alternative to gumshoes. Hence, anti-heroes. Crook books.

A few paragraphs ago I called Bait Money the first Nolan novel. It kind of wasn’t. The same character, originally called Cord in a book titled Mourn the Living, I’d written in junior college. It didn’t sell, but it got me into the University of Iowa Writers Workshop thanks to Richard Yates, the great mainstream novelist.

Bait Money (and the first Mallory, No Cure for Death) were written for Yates and his class, and he worked one-on-one with me even after I was required to study with a few other instructors. He landed me an agent, Knox Burger, who had been a well-known editor at Collier’s and then Gold Medal Books. Among other things, Burger was instrumental in talking John D. MacDonald into creating Travis McGee.

Yates sent Burger Bait Money and praised me as a young Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler. Burger, who was as no-nonsense as a hit-and-run driver, said, “More like a young W.R. Burnett.” Which was fine with me. In the same league as the guy who wrote Little Caesar, High Sierra and Asphalt Jungle? I understood how great that was, even if Yates didn’t.

Burger is the guy who called me a blacksmith in an automotive age. Again – fine by me.

I killed Nolan on the last page of Bait Money and Burger wanted me to un-kill him. I refused, but the book kept getting rejected. Then an editor at Pyramid Books spilled coffee on the manuscript, meaning I had to retype it (which I did, myself). Burger said, “You might as well take the opportunity to put the better ending on.”

I did.

It sold next time out and the editor wanted a series. This was a problem because I had conceived Bait Money as an homage to Richard Stark, or even a pastiche, using his distinctive method of organizing sections and using strict point of view.

I had, by this time, begun to correspond with Don Westlake. He began mentoring me, and had read Bait Money (Burger gave the manuscript to him) and professed to like it. I wrote Don and asked him how he felt about me doing a series about Nolan – I was uncomfortable because (as many of you have heard me say) homage is French for rip-off.

Don graciously insisted that the Jon character – the sort of hippie-ish comic book collecting “kid” who became Nolan’s surrogate son – made the books more human. Don also felt Nolan was more overtly human than Parker. He said by all means take the gig.

I did. The publisher was Curtis Books, an off-shoot of the same company that had published the enormously successful Saturday Evening Post. Their paperback line, however, was not enormously successful. I did four Nolan novels and the first two Mallory books for them, and they only published the first two Nolans (and neither Mallory) before Popular Library bought them out.

The editor at Popular Library put the books into inventory, while periodically insisting publication was imminent. It never happened. Meanwhile, I wrote Quarry (originally The Broker) and Berkley Books bought it and asked for three more.

In the early ‘80s, Knox Burger sold all five Nolan novels to Pinnacle, plus a new to-be-written one. They had recently lost the Mack Bolan series and apparently I was supposed to be the replacement, though Bolan and Nolan had nothing in common but rhyming.

I had to revise the first two novels somewhat, largely because Fly Paper pre-dated quite a few airport security measures. Bait Money came out and sold very well.

Then the creator of Mack Bolan, Don Pendleton, threatened to sue Pinnacle for publishing a series about somebody who rhymed with his character. So the last couple of books had Nolan’s name taken off the covers, and my contract was dropped.

My novel True Detective got some me some attention in 1983, and a few years later an editor at TOR asked me to revive Nolan, which I did with Spree. But then, for reasons not worth going into, that editor and I had a falling out and a contract to do a bunch more Nolans got dropped.

Seems Nolan and Jon led at least as perilous a life in the world of publishing as they did in fictional crime.

That was it for Nolan until, finally, Mourn the Living was published, with “Cord” changed to “Nolan.” Writer Wayne Dundee had serialized the novel in his magazine Hardboiled, and people started asking me to collect it in book form. I did. It was a hardcover from Five Star.

Felt like Nolan had come full circle, from Bait Money to the unintentional, Jon-less prequel, Mourn the Living.

Then, as is his habit in my publishing life, Charles Ardai came along. He was going to do some reprints and a few new books for his budding Hard Case Crime line. He was a fan of the second Nolan novel, Blood Money, and wanted to publish it. I felt Bait Money ought to be included, as Blood Money was its sequel. He put them together as Two for the Money.

As most of you know, I revived Quarry for Charles, who from time to time asked me to consider writing a new Nolan. I resisted, because I’d written Spree to be the last book. Finally he offered to republish all of the Nolans (two books to a volume) with spiffy retro covers if I’d do a new one.

And, so, all these years later, I have.

What was most interesting to me was that despite the many decades gone by, when I sat down to write about Nolan and Jon, bing! There they were. Waiting for me to check back in with them. I don’t know why it came so easy. It’s not like I haven’t written about other characters in the interim.

But Nolan in Mourn the Living, and Nolan and Jon in Bait Money, represented the start of my career, and both books took a lot of time. I’m known, I guess, for being able to turn out good books in not much time. But those first two novels were where I went to school, teaching myself (and cribbing from Stark and the rest).

Back then, I had to type pages over and over, because there were no photocopy machines yet and publishers got their noses out of joint if you sent a carbon copy. I would imagine I worked on Bait Money for a year and a half. Skim Deep took, I believe, three weeks. Maybe a month – I don’t really keep track.

So now Nolan has come full circle, and maybe so have I, and like Nolan, I have no intention of dying on the last page.

* * *

Here’s some nice love for the forthcoming Shootout at Sugar Creek, the new Caleb York.

M.A.C.

Ms. Tree Comes out of the (Skeleton) Closet

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
Ms. Tree Vol. 2: Skeleton in the Closet
Paperback:
E-Book:

I have not seen a copy yet, but this update will appear on publication day of Ms. Tree Vol. 2: Skeleton in the Closet from Titan.

It reprints in color the rest of the DC comics run from the early ‘90s, and is essentially a casebook – five graphic novellas often dealing with controversial subject matter (gay bashing, date rape, etc.) that unfortunately hasn’t dated at all. There’s also a flat-out horror tale that reveals the roots of the Collins/Beatty team in EC Comics.

I am thrilled that Titan is publishing these books, finally getting all the work Terry and I – influential work, I will immodestly say – in a more permanent form.

This is some of our best work. Volume Three will start at the beginning and the subsequent volumes will continue in the order of original publication.

* * *

For the first time, every person who entered one of my book giveaways – this one for Too Many Tomcats and the Eliot Ness novels – got a book. While that pleases me, it makes me wonder if I’m having too many of these and wearing you people down…particularly those of you who’ve entered and never been rewarded with a book.

The problem is that Wolfpack has been generous enough to put a whole passel of my books out over a short period of time, including Murderlized, a new one. So I don’t mean to swamp you, although it’s important to get reviews for these books out there, including the reprints. Which is the point of the giveaways – to prime the review pump. Well, Amazon Prime the review pump.

The Wolfpack e-book versions have been made available a bit before the trade paperback editions, at times; but I have received copies of most of the books by now and they are beauties. And I am very favorably impressed with the level of the Wolfpack covers. Murderlized is wonderful. So is Too Many Tomcats. And Mommy (while somewhat re-fried as Mommy’s Day) blows me away.

We have new editions coming of Regeneration and Bombshell, the two stand-alone collaborations by Barb and me, and I’m stoked to see what kind of covers Wolfpack whips up with for those.

But the most important Wolfpack release will come in December – Come Spy With Me, the first in the new series by Matthew Clemens and me. It’s set in the early ‘60s and is an unabashed homage to Ian Fleming and the Connery-era Bond films, and the whole spy craze of my youth. Matt and I are going over the galley proofs now, and we have seen the cover, which I hope to share with you soon – it’s a beauty.

I’ve made a huge investment of time and property (in the sense that my backlist titles and short story collections are properties) in Wolfpack. If those of you who enjoy my fiction in general support those efforts, Wolfpack is the rare company that will let me do what I want creatively. A series that other publishers consider “busted” I can write a new entry for. There could be a new Mallory or Disaster Novel or Jack & Maggie Starr. We are seriously considering doing Reeder & Rogers at Wolfpack and Krista Larson, too. If we have some success, Spillane material will appear there.

Consider Quarry. Quarry as a crime novel series had been dead commercially for decades. But editor Charles Ardai, the guru of Hard Case Crime, encouraged me to write a new Quarry novel many years later. No other publisher would have done that. And it has led to many new Quarry novels, an award-winning short film, a feature film, and a Cinemax TV series.

Not long ago Charles encouraged me to write a new Nolan novel. Nolan also has been “dead” for decades, but Charles liked the series and wanted a new one. Now we are looking seriously at Nolan for a TV series on a streaming service (early days, of course, and these things often tank, but…we’re talking about a series I started in 1973). And Hard Case is bringing all of the Nolan novels out again (two to a book). There will also be audios of them read by the great Stefan Rudnicki.

The new Nolan, Skim Deep, will be out the first week of December.

The support you continue to show the work that I produce, my own and the collaborations, means a great deal.

Thank you.

* * *

Here’s a very interesting look at Quarry, the novel of that title, expressing some interesting insights, as well as some thoughts on the Cinemax series.

This is one of several previews of the second Ms. Tree collection, Ms. Tree: Skeleton in the Closet from Titan.

Scroll down at this entry at the entertaining Atomic Junkshop and see a brief but very strong review of Murderlized by Matt Clemens and me – and a great look at the wonderful cover provided by Wolfpack.

This article presents the Nathan Heller novels in order of publication (includes the short story collection and the novella collection) with nice thumbnails on each. Whether this is the best order to read them in, I can’t say. But I did write them in that order, so it makes sense in terms of following my growth (or decline!) over the years.

M.A.C.

It’s a Thriller Just to Be Nominated

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Those of you who are nice enough (or possibly deluded enough) to follow these updates know that Girl Most Likely was a book that got some terrible reviews, although the vast majority were good to great. The bad reviews that really stung came from the trades, who beat me up essentially because the novel was not in the noir mode of Nate Heller and/or Quarry.

The same reaction came from self-professed “big fans” of one or both of those series who went out of their way to bemoan what a lousy job I did in their Amazon reviews. The other group (mostly in the UK) seemed to object to an old white male writing about a young white woman, and in particular that young woman have a positive relationship (and accepting help from) her middle-aged widower father.

These are knee-jerk far left complaints, in my view, which is somewhat ironic because Matt Clemens and I had knee-jerk far right complaints about Supreme Justice and its two sequels (for the same publisher as the Girl novels) on their publication.

These pans hurt the book, in spite of very respectable, even pretty damn good sales, and predominantly positive reviews. It’s made launching Girl Can’t Help It, the second book, harder than it should have been, even without the Corona Virus factoring in.

So I am pleased to announce that the Thriller Writers have nominated Girl Most Likely for Best Paperback Novel. Read about it here.

I have no illusions that I’ll win. But I feel I have a right to consider this a certain validation, particularly since it came from my peers. What’s interesting is that those who didn’t like the book often complained that it wasn’t a thriller (apparently multiple murders with a butcher knife just didn’t do it for them).

So thank you, Thriller Writers.

Thank you, actual fans (big and medium and small alike).

As to the rest of you, as Eric Cartman says, “F**k you guys, I’m going home.”

* * *

I am also pleased to see Publisher’s Weekly join in on the general acclaim for the new Mike Hammer. Here is that review:

Masquerade for Murder: A Mike Hammer Novel

Set in 1989, MWA Grand Master Collins’s competent 12th posthumous collaboration with Spillane (after 2019’s Murder, My Love) finds Mike Hammer still operating as a PI when the WWII vet would have been in his late 60s. That touch of realism allows Collins to dial back most of the extreme elements of the early Spillane novels. Outside a Manhattan restaurant, Mike spots Wall Street wunderkind Vincent Colby as he steps into the street and is clipped by a speeding red sports car. He’s only bruised, but is taken to the hospital, and his wealthy dad, Vance, hires Mike to unearth the perpetrator over Vincent’s fierce objections. Mike’s investigation, aided as always by his voluptuous secretary, Velda, soon leads to a trail of bodies, linked only by the bizarre method by which they were dispatched. Spillane fans will be pleased to see how well Collins captures the brash tone but everyman personality of the latter-day Hammer without trying to imitate the character’s infamous vigilante crusades of earlier years. Spillane (1918–2006) would be proud of how well Collins has maintained his legacy.

* * *

I have recently cut a deal with VCI and MVD (who brought out the Blu-ray double-feature of Mommy and Mommy’s Day recently) for distribution of the Mommy movies to streaming services. Mommy seems to have promptly popped up on Amazon Prime Video in some markets, but not all markets yet. Keep an eye peeled, because I think it’s free to Prime members.

* * *

All of the covers for the upcoming new Nolan (Skim Deep) and the reprint series from Hard Case Crime are gathered for your perusal right here…and you don’t even have to click a link

I have received some really fun missives from readers lately that I would like to share.

I’ll start with an actual handwritten letter from a retired police detective here in Muscatine. I will not use his name, but will say that he was the investigator on the case against my former Mommy producer, which came out favorably for us, and he appeared quite convincingly as a uniformed cop in my movie, Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

I am just starting Girl Can’t Help It. If it brings me as much joy as Girl Most Likely did, it will be great. It sent me back to my years as a police detective. The interviews were of most interest. (SPOILER ALERT) I got the feeling after the first one with the teacher, Mr. Stock, that he was much more than a person of interest. The way he said he wanted to mentor Astrid just did not sit right with me. (END SPOILER ALERT)

I have to admit you did a great job of making other persons look good for the murders. Maybe it’s my training or years of police work, but it made me feel good to know I can still see the telltale signs of a perp.

As long as I can read, I will try to get all the books the two of you right into my mental locker. Thanks for your talents when you write. Thanks for the part on the Lucas Street movie. I will always cherish my chance to serve you in the (REDACTED) case.

Here is one from a reader who signs himself RJM and who is actually (wait for it) older than me!

I loved your book (Do No Harm): my Dad was Chief Inspector of the War Department headquartered in the Terminal Tower starting in 1938. He was a Chicago guy and a newly wed navigating greater Cleveland.

In the early ‘80s I worked in the area covering three states for a company that no longer exists. So I thought I knew a lot about the area, but I learned a lot(I’ve never been in the Terminal Tower; I didn’t know about the Flat Iron Café, etc).

A great read well researched – I’m ordering True Detective and True Crime from Amazon soon. I’ve been a fan for about thirty years(I love Quarry and Nolan), but I’ve never read a Heller before. I’d love to review your books for Amazon (check out my review of An Eye for a Tooth by Dornford Yates). My only point of disagreement is Heller’s choice of beers – Hamm’s is fine but Cleveland beer in that era to me is always Drewery’s. Drewery’s had an enormous billboard ad just as you got on the highway coming up from the old Cleveland Stadium. As I kid I loved Mounties and horses and Drewery’s had both in their ads. Cleveland was probably Drewery’s largest metropolitan market. Thanks for countless hours of reading fun.

The unstoppable Tom Zappe sent me this:

I have just finished ordering what I call my “Literary Legacy” for my two grandkids aged 4 and 1.5 years respectively. They will not be able to begin to approach these books for another 10 or 12 years yet and I may well have made my trip to the gallows by then, so I’m assembling and delivering it to them and their parents within the next few weeks as they arrive from Amazon.

By and large these are books that I read [and later re-read] in my teens and later which put a distinct warp into my personality which remains unstraightened to this day. In all there about two dozen. They center mostly around the music, arts and entertainment field as especially found in New York and Hollywood in the Art Deco Era.

They include much biographical and autobiographical materiel of the likes of Mae West, Duke Ellington, Oscar Levant, Lillian Gish, Milton Berle, Alexander Woollcott, Dorothy Parker, Groucho and Harpo Marx, Fred Astaire, Louis Armstrong and one of my all time favorites Alexander King who wrote four autobiographies, three of which are well worth reading and re-reading. (Note from MAC: I loved the King bios as a teenager.)

The Mark Twain autobiographies hold a place of special esteem among these works.

Although it’s not strictly about show business, I am also including Scarface and the Untouchable in this menagerie since it so thoroughly captures the era in which so much of this happened. Being able to put things in to the proper context is Paramount [or perhaps Universal]. I sometimes feel that I must have been in Show-Biz in my previous life.

I find it unlikely that we will see the likes of these people anytime again soon. Their style and personalities were [mostly] of their own making even among the Hollywood bunch. They didn’t need a press agent or focus group to tell them who they were.

All your readers have had, I’m sure, similar literary experiences worth passing on to their perhaps yet unborn descendants. This is my approach to seeing that the things I value might yet get a shot.

As a former viola player in the St. Louis Symphony once told me “There is nothing more subversive than a book. It can sit there for years apparently doing nothing, but once opened up it can change your world.”

* * *

Here’s a nice recommendation for volume one of Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother. Apparently, however, for all these years, Terry Beatty has been a female….

And we’ll end with this nice look back at the film of Road to Perdition from the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

M.A.C.