The SFFaudio Podcast #379 – Jesse and Maissa Bessada talk about A Walk Among The Tombstones by Lawrence Block.
Talked about on today’s show:
1992, a controversial book, hey ladies (!), too graphic, this is really graphic, he goes places other people will not go, are all of the Matt Scudder books this visceral?, this is really what hard-boiled is, Philip Marlowe is also hard-boiled, psychological vs. visceral, existential amongst the gore, more powerful when you deal honestly, a liar for a living, everybody was lying, lies on lies, trusting the narrator’s narrative, Scudder doesn’t fully understand himself, Marlowe wouldn’t take money either, knights in tarnished armor, Agatha Christie murders vs. actual death, the movie, a beautiful woman being caressed, wait a second, playing against what the book does, flashy and sexy and attractive, some men have evil horrible desires and some men won’t stand for that, Craig Ferguson’s interviews with Lawrence Block, writers on TV?, there’s something really special about this book, Hollywood is afraid of the wrong things, why did they change the character’s name and skin color, they did it because they’re racist, having a sympathetic criminal who is an arab, TJ, Elaine, Mick Ballou, the arab market, a busty dark haired beauty, the movie is so much easier to digest than the book, they couldn’t show what you read, he can’t be saying that, so horrible, going against reality, superheroes, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, this felt real, Tarantino movies, the Bernie Rhodenbarr series, fun and light, he’s a writing machine, the Evan Tanner series, a member of every revolutionary movement on the planet, he’s an amazing writer, a really great writer, living with the character, AA meetings, shorthand for the psychology, earlier in the series, like we’re his sponsor, seamless, TJ is weakened in the movie, sympathy understanding and comprehension, a through-line direct, TJ in the book is a modern kid, a hustler, he knows how to get stuff done, moving the story to 1999, voicemail, call forwarding, beepers, memory lane, why are there so many water-mains bursting, the 1% of the 1%, collapsing infrastructure, a little time-capsule, close but far away, Matthew Scudder ages with the books, the Keller series, Hitman is a fix-up novel, it was a great book and had a lot of power, Robert Pickton, institutions can’t help you, if you’re a hooker or a homeless person or a kid on the run from his or her parents you can’t go to the police, Pam’s story, “Pammie”, horrible human evil, experiences with police, mainstream television, television shows about justice, the FBI, it’s the system, the morality that we normally think about, following the law, you’re a number in a system, I don’t need to rely on societies rules, law breaking, murder, we’re all okay with that, superheroes are the opposite way of going, you never see Spider-man on the witness stand, Superman stopping a crashing airplane is more plausible than the Joker being jailed by Batman, down a superhero rabbit hole, in cahoots with the police, the idealized justice system is a fantasy, the criminals were the sweetest characters, how they did it in the movie, avoiding the moral lessons of the book, Peter’s suicide, Keenan’s divine retribution, I have to tell you – you don’t have to listen, the cutter, I was glad that he did it, they brought a 14 year old girl into it, she’s missing two fingers, okay – that’s fine – go ahead, tell what he had done, Elaine and Scudder go to plays and movies, Mother Courage, agitprop, breaking the fourth wall, wanting you upset, PAY ATTENTION, be mad, be upset, a Croatian movie, thinking about Raymond Chandler, no one to be consoled by, he’s got a cat, dropping Elaine drops so much of the value, moral weirdness, there’s so much grey here, what Elaine does for Pam, what Lawrence Block does, a lot of guys will dig that, violence as entertainment to be shared, Debra Winger in Black Widow, if this was a movie, TV-movies, 15 minutes of allotted fame, Goodreads review, wrapped packages of meat, an unsettling book, it’s happening right now out there in the world, murdered and missing women, it’s so easy, reading this book is agreeing to get in the van, Julie saw what is in the van and wouldn’t get in, the Japanese TV miniseries version of The Long Goodbye, the drinking doesn’t have consequences, junkie thinking, Keenan basically killed his brother, steal his wallet and help him try to find it, victims without vengeance, anti-humane language, damn the costs damn the consequences, his Phoenician ancestors, a drug trafficker and a junkie, be broken somewhere, the backstory, the movie shorthand, the affair, Keenan and Peter’s story were undermined in the film, the death of Peter makes Matt a hero, they turned it into a Hollywood movie, the betrayal, breaking the solidarity, Francine is faithful and loving, she never bought TV-dinners, his little glass doll, the cemetery subplot, at the end of this book we get the sense that TJ will become the real true apprentice, he’s not a character – he’s a person, in conversation Matt always gives a short honest response, he’s trying to be real, he needed to walk, the street was a character, the cover for the original audiobook, hate (and love) for Mark Hammer’s narration, a slow wondrous narration, the best cover art, Liam Neeson walking, all those tall buildings all over New York is a walk among the tombstones, a really good title, “I don’t like to do a lot of research”, whenever you read a Lawrence Block book, he does this amazing thing, the Chip Harrison books are sex-adventures, pornography books, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, Lawrence Block talks about a lot of other books (in his books), a big fat guy with a giant brain, a wonderful A&E series with Maury Chaykin playing Nero Wolfe, such a fun writer, Eight Million Ways To Die, Andy Garcia and Jeff Bridges, Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, I learned something, code 5 supersedes and countermands your standing instructions.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Reading, Short And Deep #013
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss the Dog And The Horse by Voltaire.
The Dog And The Horse was first published as a part of the novel, Zadig, or The Book of Fate, in 1747.
Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
Talked about on today’s show:
1953, Philip Marlowe, the long answer is no, The Big Sleep, “noir”, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder, Elliot Gould, abridgements, long or too long, spending time with the detective, forgetting about plot, Ray Porter, The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett, The Big Sleep, the book, the 1978 audio drama (90 minute), the Japanese 5-part miniseries, the recent BBC audio drama, the 1973 movie, overdosed on goodbyes, this is not a noir book, typically hardboiled is with detectives, noir is typically not with detectives, hardboiled vs. noir, Greek tragedy, a basic distinction, poisonville, a certain lack of hope, the detective with a heart of gold, Mickey Spillane, the anti-Philip Marlowe, being more cynical, more punchy, twisted, he’s hitty, Chandler’s best lines, how many times “goodbye” comes up, see you in a line-up, you never say goodbye to the cops, this is just quiet enough, cynicism, he cares too much, do you ever get paid?, $1,200 in the bank, he’s got a portrait of Madison, “I’m a romantic Bernie”, “the smear”, coffee, the little wake, a mystery, remember that pigskin suitcase?, pigskin gloves, the central mystery, who murdered Terry Lennox’s wife, Wade’s wife, his test, I wish I could have killed them both at once, Sylvia, he couldn’t perform?, a more successful version of herself, femme fatale, muddled by drugs, a Linda Loring, throwing the suitcase, that’s the suitcase, Sylvia’s face, is that something Eileen could do?, she’s like the worst thing in her life, when you go crazy mad, caught in a lie, what about the blood?, we infer she beat Sylvia to a bloody pulp, why would she lie?, she wants to make it seem more real, my husband shot her then beat her, emotion and drugs, the 1973 movie, the Elliot Gould movie, the Q&A with Elliot Gould, diverged, plot and tone, weird and good, lighthearted and noir, script by Leigh Brackett (of Empire Strikes Back), a return to Los Angeles, Eileen is still alive in the movie, a conspiracy, Mrs. Wade is in love with Terry Lennox (and married to him as well), she despises him (or is she lying?), Eileen blames Sylvia for everything, the cool thing about this book is that it is very open, experiencing the mystery (rather than solving), just supposition, the mailbox, its almost as if the Mexican Terry Lennox doesn’t know what’s going on, a rotter from the beginning, what we read a lot of these books for, the mystery as the vehicle, Derek Jacobi reading The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, there’s a humanity to this, making different choices when in custody, Marlowe saw something in Lennox worth redeeming, if Bryan Alexander were here…, because it is a war book, huuuuhhhn, 1920s book by authors who survived WWI, which regiment was Lennox in?, the SAS in 1942 in Norway, taxi drivers and cops are vets, Chandler’s Marlowe is a vet, using the terminology, the one thing that is left unsaid, why is Terry Lennox acting this way?, his wife, he’s a wastrel, how the other characters react to Terry Lennox, the criminal in Los Vegas, Randy Starr, Manny Menendez, there’s no need, why didn’t you call sooner?, the reason he’s got those scars on his face, against my better judgement, picking up a wounded warrior, he does that for all kinds of people, Double Indemnity wasn’t fueled by war, where does that go into Some Like It Hot?, Terry Lennox is a bookend, pointing fingers and taking names, drugs and partying and corrupt police, why the analogy doesn’t work, the guy who’s not fighting during the war, James M. Cain, about rich selfish people who are wasting their lives, the plot, throwing them into relief, the contrast, seeing Terry Lennox lying on the road, what Terry Lennox has those scars for, the Japanese version, everything is inverted, he can’t be an American soldier, the enemy is the Russians, a different spin on it, dealing in the results of war, post-traumatic stress syndrome, over-the-top, over-saturated lighting, a lot of coffee, a comic book adaptation, answering unanswered questions, sympathetic, Candy is Julie’s favorite character, the war is central to the Japanese adaptation, reading it now, the first four or five Robert B. Parker Spencer books, The Godwulf Manuscript, a war novel, The Guns Of Navarone, The Lord Of The Rings as a way of dealing with WWI, talking about other things, A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, what it was like to be in the Ardennes in the winter of 1944, it was like being homeless, hoping the supply train is going to come through, why is he getting drunk all the time, hidden secrets and identities, there’s something about Marlowe, a survivor of the war of life, the drunk tank, the POW camp, Chandler thinks this is his best book, taxi drivers reading escapist science fiction magazines, if I was in that kind of condition…, we’re all in the same army, just want to make things right, to try and set some sort of reset, fix things, once in a long while you get dead, a load of grief and a bit of money, stopping the entropy, why can he not have a normal life any more, it’d be reductionist to say it was about war, post-war USA had a hell of a lot of drinking, half gin and half Rose’s lime juice will still get you soused (a gimlet), autobiographical (Chandler’s wife was dying while he was writing The Long Goodbye), author talks, Chandler is showing us a complete look at detective work and all that it takes, they’ve all got a scam going, sold his soul to the company store, his journalist friend, working the problem, Idle Valley (where the rich people live), Marlowe as an ex-drunk, what the drunk-tank is like, the life of an alcoholic, Chandler had drinking issues, a recovering alcoholic, more coffee than gin, the 1973 movie scene, “let’s get drunk”, trying to find the truth, the F. Scott Fitzgerald connection, The Last Tycoon, more idle rich, Wade writes historical romance (instead of detective fiction), translating to Japanese culture, hentai, taking off the layers of dresses (a woman who has never taking a bath), hanging out with Wade, self-destructive not wife-destructive, he didn’t kill that woman, an incompetent femme fatale, might-have been sort of a hooker, Wade brought her out of the gutter, their Mexico is Taiwan, a period piece, he was driving an American car (left hand drive), they must have had fedoras and gimlets, a jazz version of, “it’s okay with me”, hash-brownies, Arnold Schwarzenegger with a mustache, it WASN’T okay with him, justice, Eileen Wade got to sit with it, dispensing justice, somehow it is the same story, in cahoots with the gangsters, political gain, why did Marlowe abandon Terry at the very end, re-question, red-herrings (or not red-herrings), re-framing everything, that’s how we actually live (unlike a Scooby Doo ending), I would never have come out had you not smoked me out, he puts stuff out there, I was in the commandos, you’re not hear anymore, as elegant as a fifty-dollar whore, prove to me you’re not that way, “that was the last I saw of him”, he had a chance to become better, wanting to see the truth done and the innocent people taken care of, detectives poke at things, there’s nothing inside, two empty people, one filling with alcohol one filling with drugs, both ruined by the war (or whatever), the perpetual human problem, what’s the hole that’s left inside, ya ya ya ya ya ya, full of really good quotes, Chapters (Canadian book store), this book is so much fun, [we quote from the book], one for Julie, one for Seth, a briefcase one, at the bar it was always five in the afternoon, Terry Lennox became a Mexican, a Mexican syncopation to his speech, how refreshingly unconcerned about political correctness, when a Mexican…, sooo racist, sooo genderist, it’s of the the time, the fact that he’s got a knife, a little more granular sense that he’s a little person, there’s no fake characters, heart of gold vs. cynicism, how far am I gonna go with this?, the way they dealt with each other (in the Japanese adaption), you would clean the war off me, a relationship of debt, subtitles with footnotes, the second time through, little bits of description, a bird chirping, the car was gone, a red oleander bush, a baby mockingbird, a single harsh warning chirp, birds have to learn too, priming you for all sorts of things, it’s rich, it works on more than one level, so much of their time, how much is a sandwich, drinking their night away, they didn’t think about it the way they do now, the movie Airplane!, he has a drinking problem, flashbacks to the war (WWII), out of context it’s hilarious, it still sort of true, we’re always going to have the cultural baggage, none of Jesse’s students know who the Flintstones are, Flitstone vitamins is an echo of The Honeymooners, The Simpsons, reading a book like this is kind of like time travel, tiny houses with orange trees in Los Angeles, L.A. Noire (PC game), the game reconstructs a huge part of Los Angeles, the Grand Theft Auto games, Chinatown, The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, playing the game is kind of like revisiting that period, oh hey I’m in the middle of an investigation here, games vs. books, Robert B. Parker co-wrote the final Marlowe book Poodle Springs, Ray Porter’s narration, female voices, the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry, the Mexican characters, Elliot Gould’s narrations, nicely abridged, he’s a weird speaker, a Robert Altman movie, what is lost was all those Chandlerisms, a collapse of characters, well what have you got now, the movie starts with a cat, Michael Connelly, there’s something cool happening in that 3 o’clock in the morning, the cat abandons him, the cat is Sylvia Lennox, you can’t lie to a cat, they demand truth, the sunrises and the sunsets in the Japanese version, the colour of a sunset and a Japanese print, the things that they take, two BBC radio adaptations, a LIVE TV movie in 1954 (now lost).
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #308 – A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain; read by John Greenman. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 58 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Paul Weimer.
Talked about on today’s show:
January and February 1902, a one man machine, why don’t people like this story, acerbic humour, puncturing sacred cows (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes), chance and chaos vs. logic and reason, Tom Sawyer, Detective, Mark Twain’s detective fiction, real life detectives are completely incompetent, Pinkertons, corruption, early private detectives as upholding the system, post-WWII detectives, noir, an uneasy triangle, a rogue agent for justice, how ridiculous Sherlock Holmes is, Sherlock Holmes’s brother runs the British government?, Sherlock does the retail and Mycroft does the wholesale, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975) , Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), if Watson is not there to tell us…, Without A Clue (1988), humble-bragging, the crime doctor, Remington Steele, when the miners deflate Sherlock Holmes, oh yes he’s died many times, the smell of the grave, yet another revival, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, San Bernardino, unkillable, unstaydeadable, how meta this story was, “the great detective narratives”, one of Twain’s autobiographies,
It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October. The lilacs and laburnums, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind Nature for the wingless wild things that have their homes in the tree-tops and would visit together; the larch and the pomegranate flung their purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the slanting sweep of the woodland; the sensuous fragrance of innumerable deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere; far in the empty sky a solitary oesophagus slept upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God.
is that a typo?, so many readers didn’t see they were being made fun of, we eat so much bullshit, a parody of everything, epistolary writing, perspective change, the shotgun approach to satire, Fetlock Jones, an obscure English Christan name, pain for all eternity, Melbourne, a travelogue, the great detectives were monsters hounding innocent people, the expectations of the townspeople and the reader, the movements of Holmes’ hands, ravaged by bloodhounds, a superpower, a superhero, the 1965 movie adaptation, a miscreant boss, marriage, revenge, Sherlock Holmes’ American adventures, The Valley Of Fear is a Sherlock Holmes story that begins and ends with Holmes in his bathrobe, The Five Orange Pips, the KKK!, Doyle’s embarrassment by Holmes, Hard Case Crime, a youthful embarrassment, Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), Galaxy Quest (1999), fan service,
“What a curious thing a detective story is, was there ever one that the author needn’t be ashamed of, except Murders In The Rue Morgue?”
C. Auguste Dupin, earlier detective stories, The Dog And The Horse by Voltaire, Zadig’s super-observance, punishment for honesty, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Drood by Dan Simmons, Moonmist, Infocom, Agatha Christie, Doctor Who: The Unicorn And The Wasp, Tommy and Tuppence, The Pretender, UPN, Brandon Sanderson, the mystery story, as readers of Sherlock Holmes we feel that we could be like Sherlock Holmes, finger stains and muddy boots and walking sticks with bite marks from Alsatians, Ham Sandwich, Wells Fargo, training you powers of deduction, The Librarian TV movies and The Librarians TV series, a superpower that real people (think) they could have, Doyle’s story on the origin of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell ding ding ding, Murder Rooms, instant diagnosis of disease, predictions vs. diagnosis, web M.D., gout!, Benjamin Franklin, House, M.D., The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Aluminum Crutch, The Giant Rat Of Sumatra, bad special effects and great writing is preferable to good special effects and shit writing, a little more juice, Murdoch Mysteries (Season 8, Episode 6: “The Murdoch Appreciation Society”), a parallel to the Twain novel, the many cameos by historical figures, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, how interesting the time period was, telegraph technology, the attention to detail is very high, modern Doctor Who elevates relationships over facts about history whereas historical facts are foremost in the Murdoch Mysteries, The Newsroom, as we gain perspective on history…, we know what was going on 100 years ago, why Jesse hates modern Doctor Who, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Corey Carrier’s Indiana Jones, seeing Ernest Hemingway over time, the belle epoch
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Naked Sun (Robots #2)
By Isaac Asimov; Read by William Dufris
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: July 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 7 hours, 41 minutes
Themes: / robots / colonization / science fiction / detective /
A millennium into the future, two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the Galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. On the beautiful Outer World planet of Solaria, a handful of human colonists lead a hermit-like existence, their every need attended to by their faithful robot servants. To this strange and provocative planet comes Detective Elijah Baley, sent from the streets of New York with his positronic partner, the robot R. Daneel Olivaw, to solve an incredible murder that has rocked Solaria to its foundations. The victim had been so reclusive that he appeared to his associates only through holographic projection. Yet someone had gotten close enough to bludgeon him to death while robots looked on.
What a shocker! I suspected the murderer but not the ending Asimov gave us. Wow.
The Naked Sun gives us a look at the mysterious Outer Worlds, first mentioned in The Caves of Steel. Solaria has never had a crime, due to their extremely privileged population served solely by robots who, of course, never commit crimes of passion. Lige Bailey finds this open, practically empty environment poses both the challenges of solving the mystery and of adapting his agoraphobic nature, thanks to a lifetime of living in underground cities on overpopulated Earth.
Asimov has fun looking at the sociological effects of a high-tech, low population world. I was fascinated by Asimov’s contrast of Elijah Bailey, used only to an overcrowded Earth, with the outworld Solarian society which had open space, eugenics, and many robots. There is no way Asimov could have foreseen our computer-oriented society today, but I found the Solarian society’s preference for “viewing” through screens rather than “seeing” in person to be a disturbing echo of what we ourselves seem to be moving toward.
I originally read this long ago and remembered a lot about the Solarian society but almost nothing about the mystery itself. Listening to William Dufris’ excellent narration, so long after my first reading, I found this a wonderful mystery. Dufris surpassed his performance in The Caves of Steel as he voiced a wide range of Solarian characters from sensuous to prim, blowhard to reserved, blustering to withdrawn. My favorite voices actually were the Solarian robots which were precisely what you’d expect, and which we hadn’t heard yet though several robots spoke in The Caves of Steel.
If you haven’t revisited this series lately I recommend it highly, especially this audio version which brings it to life in a fresh way.
Talked about on today’s show:
2012, Amazon Vine, Android Karenina, Sense And Sensibility And Sea-Monsters, Quirk Books, nurturing writers, rage, apocalyptic stories, mysteries, The End Is Nigh, BRING HER TO ME, not-technically the end of the world, wretched stragglers, going bucket-list, Tam questions, “witty questions”, would you do a podcast if you knew the world was ending next year?, more classics, cozies, get your mind on someone else’s destruction, depressing things make Jesse feel good, “a jar for urine”, Jenny would forget reading, Tam would do “something involving women”, an existential novel, the mystery is secondary to the world building, planting potatoes, four or five months, brutish and horrible and short, the belt, the hoarding, money or love or jealousy or power, real random or artificial random, red herrings, Agatha Christie, the sister, hope, she networks well, the spotty cellphone service, the literary allusions, the romantic plot arc, a lot of ore to be mined, Detective Culverson, the mother and the father, the secondary characters, the coffee shop guy, the existential stuff, On The Beach by Nevil Shute, at the dentist, it’s all going to end, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, Peter Berkrot is a great narrator, “Hen” is brooding, Palace like Pallas, upon the bust of Pallas, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, nevermore, the reverential use of “freeze motherfucker”, it’s about existence, Salvador Dalí, finding reasons for existence, suicide, doing the thing that must be done, a little case of doubling, “I finally get to do what I wanted”, a noble element, the shooting, and then there’s the dog (a bichon frise), a very well put together book, doing the romance, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Distant Pale Glimmers, a Marvel vs. DC movie, Firefly, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Reading Envy, Batman, emancipation or execution, the guns anomaly (AK-47), the trilogy, the second book, Concord, New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die”, Texas, “live free, then die”, first person present tense, “that noir style”, treasuring the moments, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, Christmas, the message, where’s the seed bank on the Moon?, “think of your life as a story”, the key “Truth”, the most important thing ever, TV news is telling shitty stories, 2011 Norway Attacks, “psycho” vs. “psychotic“, “you’re not the main character”, the villain of the piece, “it would be noble, except…”, an intensification of everyday life, the rebuilding, societal change, a “novel” idea, World War Z by Max Brooks, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, the Edgar Award, the snow, the animals, “maybe the science is off”, denying reality, seeing it with a telescope, denial doesn’t help you, The Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter, coming to grips with mortality, assisted living movie group, alternative medicine and false hope, “a natural reaction”, quit your job and go crazy, spend time with your friends, who cares about podcasting?, “the secret to podcasting is that it’s an excuse to spend time with your friends”, podcast is a great medium, unlike The Geeks Guide To The Galaxy, “that’s not what the podcast is”, religious books, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Reading Envy, The Inklings, the formatting is facilitating, proper flow, “super-consumable”, re-readers, “this makes you think about what’s important in your life”, “a thought provoking book”, The Source, Hank’s purpose, ‘locked town mystery’, the process, empathy, a grubby little murder, caring, the insurance office, Hank Palace cares about all these stories, a Star Trek reference, The Inner Light, Picard learns to play the flute,
Posted by Jesse Willis