Reading, Short And Deep #394
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Hard Sell by Lawrence Block
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
Hard Sell was published in Ed McBain’s Mystery Book, No. 1, 1960 (ghost written for Craig Rice).
This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (8 hours 4 minutes) comes to us courtesy of MariaLectrix.
The Mysterious Affair At Styles was first published as a serial in The Times, February 1920.
The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1908, subverting expectations, thriller philosophical novel adventure fantasy, a book about anarchists (not really), hot topic, pre-WWI, bring down the system, everybody is a dynamiter, Michael Collins, if you don’t seem to be hiding nobody hunted you out, anarchy against anarchy, the Orson Welles adaption, easier to understand, one female character in the book and she shows up on the last page, Mercury Theater, Welles as Sunday, evil or good?, wine commercials, this old fat guy talking about wine, large people refracted through later media, Gilbert in The Sandman is G.K. Chesterton, confession, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, because it has detectives in it?, sudden reveals, that person is not an anarchist either, the same trick over and over, the Professor, the Marquis, the Father Brown mysteries, Miss Marpole, Reading Short and Deep, The Angry Street: A Bad Dream by G.K. Chesterton, like Scrooge, a very interesting guy, a very rare bird, a conservative intellectual, explaining a lot of what’s going on, The Tremendous Adventures Of Major Brown, The Game (1997), sympathetic to anarchism, the ISIS of its day, submitting to ISIS, its not a critique of anarchism at all, a caricature of anarchists as terrorists, non-violent anarchism, a classic problem, non-terroristic anarchism, fantastic turns of phrase, lampshaded, lighting a lamp against the darkness, a fun romp, the reality of police going after subversive groups, it’s about God, and your relationship to Him and yourself on Earth, Chesterton’s fence, an axiom, a principle, completely reasonable, why conservationism should be the default, he’s so persuasive and witty, these are the kinds of conservatives Jesse is afraid of, the Catholic in Julie, the wisdom of the ages, a noble ideal, Terry Pratchett, Mark Twain, Neil Gaiman, “a man who really knew what was going on”, he dresses kind of goth-y, carrying a sword-cane, the people he admired carried sword-canes, Alexander Pope, The Dunciad, a dog named Bounce, Dante’s Inferno, a great age of satire, turning things upside down, laughing, I love lists, a poet who loves lists, arch-humour, that young man, wild white hat, a cause of philosophy in others, a preview of the ending, Scott couldn’t stand this book, Julie was enchanted by it, its unfixed, there’s no grounding, the duel scene, removing parts of his body, he’s a robot, he’s disassembling himself, a little too far?, Scott is a writer, writers reviewing fiction books, how it was constructed, the subtitle: “A Nightmare”, this is a fantasy, this is a fantastic village, this isn’t real, Dante’s Paradisio, this is just allegorical, that’s hilarious, Scott was raised Catholic, Julie (like Chesterton) was a convert, going all the way, a different kind of reader, the cosmos had turned upside down, looking at everything from the back, where the book’s theme is made manifest, this is what I mean, The Everlasting Man, H.G. Wells, proof, a little dig on evolution, shaking the reader, you have no firm fixed ground, wherever you land you’ll find God, “They said my very walk was respectable, and that seen from behind I looked like the British Constitution”, ridiculous, the conservative view, not a poet who is a poet, the common working man, no peasant wants anarchy, every millionaire is at heart an anarchist, plutocrats as anarchists, WTO protests, agent provocateurs, during the Black Panther era, policeman in disguise: let’s blow stuff up, energetic FBI contributions, kind of Philip K. Dickian, a completely different reveal, A Scanner Darkly, Bob Arctor, Robert Downey, Jr., did Philip K. Dick read this book?, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?‘s fake police station, is Sunday Jesus Christ?, Sunday is God, dressed in the disguise that reveal them as who they really are, pantheists, when men wake up, beautiful nature, a garden, the unmasking, the garden may be Gethsemane, 33 pieces of paper of no value, the question of betrayal, of all days of the week, Rosamund, at the end of time, Heaven is somewhere in Normandy, the marchers, what’s going on?, they all admit they have one hope, the man in the Black Chamber, such a conservative fantasy, secret policeman, the trailer for the 2016 movie adaptation, Nazis and fascists, how could you do a straight up adaptation of this?, Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula: 1895: Seven Days In Mayhem, Dracula marries Queen Victoria, anarchists against Dracula and the vampire elite, a concentration camp holding Sherlock Holmes, Gilbert and Sullivan, a weird detective story about soap operas, the way Sunday is depicted, some of the ways that Sunday is described, he swooned, Sunday is both the Devil and God, looking at him from his hind-parts, kinda weird, the pure good thing, many out loud laughs, “He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else.”, his turns of phrase, why Chesterton is loved by Gaiman and Pratchett, the same kind of wry comedians, easy to get along with, shall we go out and have dinner together now?, isolation, twice two is 2,000 times one, George Bernard Shaw, ‘too see you’d think Britian was in a famine – to see you you’d think we’d know why’, fun and dangerous, WWI, a white feather, The Four Feathers, wearing their white feathers proudly, making another joke about being fat, “anarchists!”, what does that have to do with… Bryan?, Gavrilo Princip was not an anarchists (he was a Nationalist) but he was called one, anticipation of WWI, a glimpse of the desire for violence, Teddy Roosevelt, the older detective, detecting pessimists, discovering a crime in a book of sonnets, really funny, Charles Stross’ laundry series, surveillance and data analysis for pre-crime, chilling, why he’s a dangerous guy, defending the indefensible, he spells it out so clearly, do we all know what’s going on here, the book starts with a poem, looking at it in sentences,
“A cloud was on the mind of men
And wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul
When we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity
And art admired decay;
The world was old and ended:
But you and I were gay;
he’s conflating nihilism and decadence and decay with anarchism, The Decline Of The West, The War Of The Worlds, a grim vitality, “what do you want? martyrs!”, written as a cure for melancholy, An Anatomy Of Melancholy, reading melancholic writers, lassitude, making you thoughtful, flashy, so light in its stated topic, if this was written today…, Britain’s who travel to the Middle East to join ISIS, a pacifist book, pro-life, imagining the bomb going off, the value of each human life, Isaac Asimov, violence as the last refuge of the incompetent, chances, who is the man in the black room?, he’s the Alpha and the Omega, in Syria the war is winding down, a 90% decrease in violence, why did the Vietnam War happen, big agents doing things, why does this anarchist council exist?, I can’t believe that any common man would support, a certain class of people thought it would be honourable or profitable, a different subject for the book, a secret agent style version of this book, Moriarty, Fu Manchu, the daughter of the Dragon, a boogeyman, Fu Manchu is trying to overthrow the British occupation of China, a sympathy argument for Fu Manchu, Pan-Asia, Genghis Khan, turnabout is fairplay, pot kettle black, Alan Moore’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman, Captain Nemo, his mother was a hardcore Stalinist, she was convinced Stalin the great hero of the 20th century, Dorothy Day, attacking organized religion, Marx, neither god nor master, a coherent argument to make, James Dean or Marlon Brando, Kryten in Red Dwarf, mere willingness is the final test, a lengthy lecture on the history of anarchism, Mary Woolstencraft’s husband, Things As They Are; Or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, Parents And Children aka Fathers And Sons, what’s more useful a painting or a pair of shoes, a near contemporary, an active Russian thing, Dan Schwent, really different, almost not a novel, it is a dream, nightmare, The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, that moment, that vertiginous moment, deciding to go another way, setting up these moments, as participators or adaptors, a bunch of people who are wrong about everything, a council, there’s no predominant day of the week, I have to do a podcast on Sunday, it needs to be scheduled, the Club Of Queer Trades stories, how does the schedule happen?, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman was inspired by G.K. Chesterton’s The Napoleon Of Notting Hill,
“a novel written by G. K. Chesterton in 1904, set in a nearly unchanged London in 1984.
Although the novel is set in the future, it is, in effect, set in an alternative reality of Chesterton’s own period, with no advances in technology or changes in the class system or attitudes. It postulates an impersonal government, not described in any detail, but apparently content to operate through a figurehead king, randomly chosen.”
not really science fiction, radical!, not a fan of revolutions, loving Americans, one conservative to think about, The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution, The American Revolution, Queen Elizabeth II is on my money, Tories fled to Canada, Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts, the Tories (political party), Canada’s history as a defense against American radicalism, a distorted perspective, Jesse ruined it, not the first nor the last time, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, prime ministers are not that important, the Premier of British Columbia is John Horgan.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1941, 1942, Uneasy Freehold, who is The Uninvited?, the ghosts?, Carmel?, multiple possibilities, the Fitzgeralds, Irish freedom fighting, Macardle herself, Macardle’s writing, not as well written as it seems to be, the timing was incredibly good, other criticism, the movie vs. the book, the playwriting sub-plot, the haunting aspect, review writing, completely inspired, it’s not a horror film, it’s a comedy and a romance, gentle touches, wordplays, Lizzie is amusing, Julie’s mother had this book, subtle influence, creative stresses, artists, dancers, actors, gentle and modern, a tough minded attitude towards ghosts, secular and skeptical, the ghost hunter, seeing a lot of Julie in the book, I’ve been waiting for this, one of the approaches, when is the book set?, the conflict in Spain, the Spanish Civil War, it’s a mystery, a detective story, the cat is named Whiskey, an amazing set of clues, we are allowed to participate in this haunted house story, a reviewer of plays and books and can make a living at it it, AMAZING!, books, Lord Dunsany, it just so happens, The Ghosts by Lord Dunsany, infected by the ghost, H.G. Wells’ The Red Room, kind of ridiculous, the book is very subtle, one of the things Macardle is really good at, living in the house, living in the bodies of the residents, needing to sleep and needing to eat, we’re tied to our bodies, ghosts don’t exist but they point to a real phenomenon, an empty house that has a history feels that it has ghosts, pointing to ghosts and, there’s nothing in the room he didn’t bring in with him, the seance, the first film that doesn’t turn ghosts, in the Gothic tradition, a locked madwoman in the attic, this book has a lot of power, understated, re-readable, various parallels, Mary Meredith, Carmel, Stella, trying to be, she’ll have no peace, do you think the grandfather knows?, the way he talks about her, disobedient, a trickster, he knows and doesn’t know, his father’s daughter, Jane Eyre, the same story with a different flavour, somebody else’ take, Mary is a lesbian, Miss Holloway, we sat around planning our lives together, remote and austere, starring down like a goddess, that’s why the mother is so cold, “a saint”, most evil, insanity, would this whole thing have played out without Miss Holloway’s influence?, would Mary have been as Mary as I was, I hate Mary, a very womany book, Roderick, this is a sequel to… The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Roderick Usher, incest lurking in the background, a female narrating a male narrator who is talking about his sister all the time, throwing the asshole card, a woman’s story, what kind of woman are you going to be?, every father figure in the book, the terrible commodore, a woman’s story, Max and Mitzi, a cat who will claw you, manipulative and horrible, the women are the active people, Pamela, the reason they were leaving London (before the start of the novel), she was worried that he would marry and worried that he wouldn’t, let’s go off an live in a house by the sea together (as brother and sister), the setup, they’re so distant from everyone else, a blasted heath, somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a positive uplifting ending, A Christmas Carol ending, when you grow up in Kansas…, a Spanish gipsy, a liar, lying for no reason, a lot about race, the Spanish Armada and the Black Irish, skin you could read a book through, the Fitzgerald, Irish this, Irish that, random racism, regionalism, Cornwall is not Wales, why Carmel is so despised, gaslit, oh that’s wonderful, very modern, I’ve never met the woman, the Irish Republic, an Irish ghost story set in England, viewing Macardle as Roderick, something’s going on, it’s not written by a man, Walter de la Mare, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, oh you genius, Seaton’s Aunt, she’s kind of like a vampire, nebulous, a masterpiece, a connection with India, Roderick’s play, did it reflect what was going on the novel, they don’t do a lot of reading in movies, reading the play aloud, a quasi-strange family (but not in a creepy way), looking at it from the outsider’s point of view, she’s 18 in the book (20 in the movies), how old is Roderick?, Ray Milland, of course she has to go home, that’s not seemly, as the commodore says, an old man trying to control a young girl, very confrontational, schizophrenia is announced, not because she’s a teenager, in 1970s, escaping an asylum, Nellie Bly’s Ten Days In A Mad-House, I see a ghost and want to throw myself off a cliff, an incident or a disturbance, there’s a malignant thing that wants to hurt my granddaughter, lying to himself, I told you something could happen, a ghost or two, Captain Frederick Marryat in The Most Haunted House In England, why does he carry that pistol?, William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki, The Ghost Finder, is the gun to make us feel slightly less harmless?, smugglers?, sea caves!, the crying lady, the second ghost, misdirection, a ouiji scene (vs a ouiji board), the seance scene, the British version of the film, I smell mimosa!, what about the book?, the flipping book, working for the censorship bureau, how well done the seance was, such pains, not to be faked out, ghost hunter vs. spiritualist, the spelling of the words “lili”, ghosts can’t spell!, well intertwined, presuppositions, ghost hunters in real life, the perfect kind of ghost story, pretty impressive, the religious aspect, exorcism, she wanted to be with her mother, gleaning facts, but what did you know of these people?, she was the worst (in a charitable way), all these different methods, more complex and fallible than they might otherwise be, another condensed novel version, any illustrations?, only one illustration, a house on a cliff with a dead tree in the foreground, a dead twisted tree, a metaphor, the rocks called “The Ghouls”, how much time is spent on the physicality, managing a body, wild Spanish blood, very deftly handled, The Unforseen, Forgotten Classics podcast, feeling for people, a lot of sympathy, a nice warm cozy blanket of a ghost story, “that’s such a marvelous book”, a gipsy family, a gipsy camp, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, the overall takeaway, he was not a hater, Isaac, the mere mention of race or ethnicity [does not damn a book], a really good book, ten years ago, two other stories, The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions, The Events At Poroth Farm by T.E.D Klein, a book for book-readers, Lovecraft country.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Paul’s adventures in Australia and New Zealand adventures, all of Middle Earth, 1929, Black Mask, 1928, Yojimbo (1961), A Fist full Of Dollars (1964), Last Man Standing (1996), William Sanderson, Christopher Walken, Walter Hill, the Continental Op, a mystery (kind of), history retold in a rhyming fashion, what is the motivation of our unnamed protagonist?, to straighten up the town, Poisonville doesn’t treat him right, poison, compare to The Maltese Falcon, Tishiro Mifune, Sanjuro, mulberry field, motivated to make money, a good heart, The Glass Key, a common type of plot, third or fourth tier, the history of Hammett himself, motivation for a masterless samurai, all the reports he’s not sending, the old man, at a higher level, he knows deep down, in his right mind, that laudanum dream, gin and laudanum, from Adams apple to ankles, wait what?, corruption, bootlegger, gambler, no takes-backsies, Elihu, no personal stake, he doesn’t like them, I’m just mean enough, no no, because Dashiell Hammett wanted it to be novel length, corrupt police, rotten to the core, ostensibly to clean up the town, still echoing back, personal glee, burn it to the ground, echoed and repeated, they beat up his car (instead of his burro), a Clint Eastwood look-a-like, Sergio Leone, a very American iconic character, why that’s necessary, from a first person perspective, how reliable is the narrator?, I couldn’t tell the bosses that, the murder, as faithful as the third person descriptive, upset, not a normal code, no one did right by him, the Pinkertons, motivated by a real incident, what he was involved in, it doesn’t fit otherwise, he’s lying to his corporation, he’s trying to make his country better, a communist, corrupted government, when you say involved, Butte, Montana, the wobblies, a great metaphor, “involved”, they weren’t “detecting”, in this period and at that place, union busting, private contractors, Carnegie, steel workers, the strikers had to do their own bleeding, the standoff at Standing Rock, North Dakota, infiltrators, the 1920s, union vs. magnate battles, wield the might of a mercenary force, boxing match, the bloodiest, his noodle, body parts, awesomely described, what a wordsmith, a red haired mucker, “a shoit”, richardsnary, so much information in so few words, a mucker is a tough guy, Edgar Rice Burroughs, coming out of the war, underemployed, ride the rails, the good squad or the anti-goon squad, all over the world the Industrial Workers Of The World, a fight between the gilded age owners and the workers, beautiful cynicism, an acknowledged literary landmark, the first hard-boiled detective book?, no softening to this, Dinah Brand, no one remembers his (?) name, Carroll John Daly, Borderlands, the peace summit in The Godfather, the Fallout series, in 2010 Playboy made an MMO called Poisonville, Grand Theft Auto, super-iconic, their sheriff is weak, the Japanese take, the decline of the old way, only a visit from the overarching government can stop the violence, the Mexican and gun-running and rum-running, all rum-runners, horrible corruption within every layer of government, incredibly oppressive, mapping all the streets, Hurricane Road, Mountain View, Dell Mapbacks, a real living place from in the book, 40,000 people, Scott’s mind’s eye, an amazing amount of criminal activity, Ogden, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, railroad hubs, the richest hill on earth, what downtown Butte looks like, the city wasn’t pretty, gaudiness, yellow smoked into uniformed dinginess, perfect, the old man in bed, The Big Sleep, who employs these detectives, it feels quite different from later P.I. novels, how modern, a throwback, the cynicism and the coolness and the alcohol, every page is soaked in gin, soaked in a corpse, prohibition, unpleasant whiskey, the femme fatale character, coarse hair, an unbecoming wine color, you’re legs are too fat, the best Poisonville has to offer in women, an old case, so undesirable, all she cares about is money, did you expect differently, always about the expense account, $200.10, she takes the dime,
“You’re drunk, and I’m drunk, and I’m just exactly drunk enough to tell you anything you want to know. That’s the kind of girl I am. If I like a person, I’ll tell them anything they want to know. Just ask me. Go ahead, ask me.”
she is poison, the poison pill, the kid who is in love with her, he can kill for her, Walter Neff, Double Indemnity, no runs there, Barbara Stanwyck, James M. Cain, petty, horrible human beings who somehow find each other, Ronin (1998), a way out, he has to live there, The Hidden Fortress, the Western in Feudal Japan, the humour is against the violence, the literal Red Harvest he sows and then reaps, exactly parallel, the Star Wars cantina scene, brutality, we’ve become soft, a genre, conventions, all the drinking, that’s what you do when you can’t escape, if you’re not half in the bag when you meet her, more alcohol, really odd, some of it fat, judging everyone’s height, continually yanking you back to reality, unromantic and ugly, Edward G. Robinson, middle aged, he’s seen a lot of mileage, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Blade Runner, the look and the corruption, Blood Simple, M. Emmet Walsh, the corrupt cop, he’s not even a boss!, the visit to the big boss up in the tower, the femme fatale turns out to be a robot, The Postman Always Rings Twice, uncombed hair, greasy and dirty and horrible, you’re compelled and you can’t stop, Rose’s favourite Hammett book, unrelenting, he uses what they care about to tear them down, Dan Rolf, if he got fired, his code and only his code, the simple case, the blood simple speech, that is the most personal we ever hear from the Continental Op, dear readers, the joy he takes, he remembers who all of them are, so much in such a short amount of time, hero progression, Continental Op -> Sam Spade -> The Thin Man, extraordinarily human, not very likeable, his wife, moral qualms, I’m gonna sit here and drink, very genre focused, we’re not going to experience exactly the same things, the people who own everything,
For forty years old Elihu Wilson…had owned Personville, heart, soul, skin and guts. He was president and majority stock-holder of the Personville Mining Corporation, ditto of the First National Bank, owner of Morning Herald and Evening Herald, the city’s only newspapers, and at least part owner of nearly every other enterprise of any importance. Along with these pieces of property he owned a United States senator, a couple of representatives, the governor, the mayor, and most of the state legislature.
look what your father’s got his fingers in, so perfect, a lot tighter, having two gangs, playing both sides against the middle, a bit too complex, what ruins Last Man Standing, the music is so good in Yojimbo and A Fistful Of Dollars, starts and ends violence, from light comedy to brutal man-slaying, conventional narration, Bruce Willis’ voice-over, Julie likes the original cut of Blade Runner, Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, not all narration (hash tag?), feeling the way he reacts, poking a face in, I don’t really care whose doing what, I stepped into the room the way my foot would, buckets of blood, it shouldn’t be faithfully adapted, read the short stories, well conceived, well written, it doesn’t matter where you grab it, the audiobook narrator Richard Ferrone, Lawrence Block, first person narration, conspiratorial whispering narration, told in confidence over a cup of coffee in Hopper’s Nighthawks.
Posted by Jesse Willis