Saturday, January 21, 2006

Jim Hansen, the Muppet guy?

Okay, I was talking before about Joseph (NOT Jim) Hansen, who wrote the acclaimed series featuring private eye Dave Brandstetter. These were simply some of the best P.I. novels of the seventies and eighties, possibly the tightest, most terse P.I. novels this side of Hammett. Hansen had a way with tight-lipped prose you hardly ever see these days. The fact they're out of print is, well, almost criminal.

Of course, the same could be said for writers like Michael Collins, Stephen Greenleaf, Jonathan Valin and a slew of others, but I can't help but wonder how much more it hurts the books' reprint chances that Hansen's P.I. was openly and unapologetically gay. But it gets worse -- not only was he gay, but he was also (and this may be what really scares some folks) normal and well-adjusted and could pass for any middle-aged guy on your street. No nipple clamps, leather diapers or feather boas for Dave.

I suspect that publishers, always a skittish lot, think a lot of people these days are uncomfortable with (or even terrified of) the idea of a gay protagonist who isn't a lisping, scenery-chewing leather freak caricature straight out of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. I'm not so sure, though -- after all, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN ain't exactly hurtin' at the box office.

Could it be that Americans in real life are a lot more tolerant and accepting and adult than some Jesus-humping politicians and news channels give them credit for? Or is BROKEBACK just a good movie?


Bill recommended Walter Satterthwait's PERFECTION as "a different take on the serial killer novel."

Well, it was different -- it was more imaginative than most -- but there was a disapointing predictability that crawled into it after a while, and the potential for a blackly humourous look at our obsessions with food and weight and body image were largely dropped after a glorious start, resorting to the same old alternating viewpoint cat-and-mouse between cops and killer, and all the goatee-scratching psychobabble from profilers we've come to expect in the genre. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed the book, but I feel Walter just scratched the surface of a great premise.

I guess I'll have to wait for the big Broadway musical to come out.... with such showstoppers as "The First Cut is the Deepest" and "Tonight I Met the Girl I'm Gonna Murder" and the big dance number "Mind If I Cut In?"


Canadian beer?

Where? What kind?

I must admit, my last trip back home had me trying to consume as many quality microbrews as possible, but now that I'm back in the land that God Gave to Rattlesnakes and SUVs, the closest to a Canadian brew available is Labatt's Blue, Moosehead or Molson Canadian. The local Vons used to carry several of the Unibroue microbrews (straight outta Chambly, Quebec where I grew up) but that was pre-grocery strike. Now they carry, almost literally, shit.

Okay, Blue, Moosehead et al aren't really that bad (and as Spenser once opined, "Any beer in the fridge when the stores are closed is good beer"... or something like that). Decent beer but hardly really exciting stuff. My favourite generic sorta Canadian beer was Molson Export which, ironically, they don't export anywhere. It's not a real heavy ale, but it's a good reliable "split a 2-4 during Hockey Night in Canada and let's order an extra-large all-dressed" beer.

In fact, it's sorta sad that Molson, North America's (and possibly even one of the world's) oldest breweries, was recently bought out by Coors.

But by god I'd love a "gros Mol" right now. Or a St. Amboise or a Boreale Rousee or a Griffon or even a Blanche de Chambly...

Hmmm... anyone contemplating going to Bloody Words, the Canadian Mystery conf in Toronto this June? I'm on the fence about this one... convince me.

Oh, and for those of you who can't get enough of me... get a life!!! What's wrong with you?

Or tune in to DetecToday next Sunday, January 29th, 2PM Pacific / 5PM Eastern for a live chat.

Topics, according to Gerald So, Detec's own He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and TD's two-fisted fiction editor, will include "the new issue of Thrilling Detective, all Kevin wanted for Christmas, crime fiction, TV, movies, and (my twin) Tom Selleck."

I'll supply the cyber-beer. Someone else should bring the cyber-munchies, though...

And what have you guys been reading?


Blogger Graham Powell said...

What about cyber-babes?

You're right about Hansen. He wrote as if being gay was common and unremarkable (with the exception of a few straight characters). His prose was sort of quiet, without a lot of sturm und drang, but it packs a hell of a punch.

My favorite current gay character is Joe Lansdale's Leonard Pine. When one character wonders aloud if he's homosexual, Leonard replies, "I fuck men. That clear it up for you?"

6:41 PM, January 21, 2006  
Blogger glen davis said...

Right now I'm on a major George Harmon Coxe kick.

Around here, we drink Sierra Nevada.

3:37 PM, January 22, 2006  
Blogger Confessions of a Starving Mystery Writer said...

I'm reading older Dennis Lehane and William Kent Keuger.

Don't get me started on beer company consolidations. Thats why when I can afford it I buy local microbrews...they don't mass-market make it like that any more.

5:12 PM, January 22, 2006  
Blogger Cap'n Bob said...

Agree on Hansen, but it should be noted that Brandstetter was an insurance investigator, although his m.o. was indistinguishable from a regular PI's.

8:18 PM, January 22, 2006  
Blogger Dave White said...

What have I been reading? Lolita... for a long time. But I'm getting there.

6:58 PM, January 23, 2006  
Blogger Tania said...

Bloody Words seemed like a real success last year, and attracted a good crowd. That being said, I'm like you - trying to decide whether or not to go this year. Of course, if you did go, you could get your hands (and whatever other body parts you'd like) on as many bottles of Molson Ex as you could handle. I'm partial to Canadian Club myself, but to each his own. :)

I'm about halfway through Drive by James Sallis, and am blown away by the writing. Wow.

8:59 PM, January 23, 2006  
Blogger Stephen D. Rogers said...

Laura Lippman and the Hard Case McBain.

6:17 AM, January 24, 2006  
Blogger John DuMond said...

Currently reading Farewell My Lovely, by some guy named Chandler.

10:11 AM, January 24, 2006  
Blogger Mystery Dawg said...

DOPE by Sara Gran. This is a great read.

12:50 PM, January 24, 2006  
Blogger David Terrenoire said...

I'm reading Steinhauer's Bridge of Sighs. Next up: Wignall's For the Dogs and Swierczynski's The Wheelman.

And if I see a copy of Dope I'm snatching it up.

3:56 PM, January 24, 2006  

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