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Saturday
Sep302017

Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures Volume 1 with Beau L'Amour

 

I grew up reading Louis L’Amour westerns. Cowboy movies were my favorites for years, and plenty of western writers found their way to my bookshelves, but nobody was as good (to me) as L’Amour. He had the most books, the best books, and I was a fan. 

All these years later, while reading Lost Treasures Vol. 1, I was reminded of my grandmother’s affection for Louis L’Amour westerns. She had piles of them beside her chair, and sometimes we’d talk about our recent, favorite reads. Back then I bought my paperbacks at used bookstores; Grandma Mary picked hers up at church sales, what she called white elephant sales.

My nostalgia ties in with Beau L’Amour’s affectionate introduction to the book. Beau is pretty happy with his memories of his father at the typewriter, in his office, in a home packed with books and papers. It all brings to mind an image of books double-shelved, stacked on end, a desk buried under papers and folders and mail, with Louis L’Amour somewhere in the midst, typing away with great concentration.

Beau is a pretty good writer himself. His lengthy introduction carried me back in time to when I read all these westerns, and reminded me that for a few years I subscribed to the Louis L’Amour Library. Every few weeks a leather-bound hardcover would arrive (I think they were leather but perhaps it was faux-leather - I prefer not to research it), in that deep brown. I’d carefully find the proper space for it on a bookcase… I wonder if I ever even read one of those hardcovers.

Lost Treasures Volume 1 is a weird compilation, unlikely to find much audience outside of L’Amour completists and hardcore western novel fans. These unfinished manuscripts, odd short stories, pieces of novels, and L’Amour’s research notes are fascinating to me. As a life-long fan of his writing, and an admirer of his prolific output and work ethic, this is the type of thing I wish for. I’m not sure who else wants to read some of this, as frankly it can be a bit of work, all the more so when a story abruptly ends, clearly before the author had completed it. In those cases I find myself wondering if L’Amour had figured it all out in his head and knew where the characters and story were headed. He famously didn’t outline books or create rough drafts; apparently the guy sat at the typewriter and entire novels flowed from his head through his fingertips, written in the order they appear in the books. 

There is a second volume of Lost Treasures to come, and next year the publication of No Traveller Returns is supposed to happen, as well. This is the never-before-seen first novel, written between 1938 and 1942. 

Visit louislamourslosttreasures.com for additional photographs, scans of documents and much more.

 

@Louis_LAmour, #louislamour, #bantambooks

Tuesday
Sep192017

Enemy of the State; The Survivor - written by Kyle Mills (Vince Flynn)

 

 I’m not always sure how to tag these books written entirely by someone other than the big-print author named on the cover. Vince Flynn died in 2013. Kyle Mills is a veteran thriller author with superb credentials who’s taken up the task of keeping the Mitch Rapp stories flowing. In addition to his own titles and those of Flynn, Mills has also been involved in keeping in action the Robert Ludlum franchise. The guy is a damn prolific writer, skilled at moving stories along and keeping the reader (me) vitally interested.

Enemy of the State is the current Mitch Rapp novel. Rapp is a patriot, a virtual one-man army feared by all who have come up against him, anywhere in the world. He drags a dark past, of course, and carries a sizable chip on his shoulder along with deep personal loss.

Don’t sell author Mills, or protagonist Rapp, short. The Survivor and Enemy of the State are not cookie-cutter good guy vs bad guy novels, nor is Mitch Rap a one-dimensional super-patriot-who-overcomes-all-odds-alone hero. There’s enough of the good, technical side of classic Tom Clancy here to keep that side of my brain tickled. Add to that a good measure of John Wayne-style heroics and stoicism, tagged onto plots all too believable today, and the result is exiting action thrillers with a military bent.

I found the plot in Enemy of the State more complex and satisfying than expected, and sometimes seemingly taken from the headlines of my daily reading. It’s easy for me to believe that author Kyle Mills has a deep understanding of the politics and currents moving through the Middle East, and Washington, D.C., and uses this knowledge to help develop the cast of believable characters making up the storyline.

Non-stop action and tension are hallmarks of these two fine novels. Think intelligence and characters you’ll care about. I’m ready to seek out Kyle Mills’ other work.

 

@KyleMillsAuthor, @VinceFlynnFans, @MitchRappFans, #VinceFlynn, #EnemyoftheState, @EmilyBestler

 

 

Monday
Sep182017

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen

 

Set in 1950 Atlanta, Georgia, Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith are the first “Negro Officers” on the police force. They quickly find themselves at the intersection of rapidly changing social currents and evolving, more sophisticated levels of crime. Toss in a strong helping of the Ku Klux Klan and tie it all together with a liberal dose of writing so fine I consistently slowed down to savor what I was reading. The end result is Lightning Men, a powerful novel with historical ties, a gripping story and characters alive on the page.

Boggs and Smith, with a surprising ally in their white superior, Sergeant McInnis, find themselves dealing with deeply ingrained racism in all aspects of their lives, while at the same time integration and drug dealers moving into their areas of town combine to make life hellish for the guilty and innocent alike. 

I was unfamiliar with Mullen’s work, and fell in love with his magic with words. Two examples:

 

  • “Hard to put her finger on it; the shirt just seemed to want to be on someone else.”
  • “Night had slowly seeped around him while he'd been standing there, like there was a night spigot and someone had turned it on an hour ago and it had pooled at his feet…”

 This is near-magical writing, especially read in context.

 Lightning Men isn’t a thriller in the traditional sense, and certainly not really a mystery, but it employs elements of each genre, while comfortable as a damn fine historical novel. 

#lightning men, #thomasmullen, @Mullenwrites, @37inkbooks

Tuesday
Aug012017

This arrived yesterday and I began reading it last night. From the first pages, it's compelling. In Vino Duplicitas is the story of Rudy Kurniawan, the most notorious con artist in the wine world. I enjoyed the articles in Wine Spectator by author Peter Hellman, and the documentary film. His book is sure to satisfy. Full review after i'm done, of course.

@theexperimentpublishing, #rudykurniawan#invinoduplicitas, @Peter Hellman

Thursday
Jul272017

A Flamin' Groovies Reunion... Are You Kidding Me?

The Flamin' Groovies are one of my all-time favorite '70s rock'n'roll bands. I still remember their first LP arriving in the mail, sent to me by the coolest music mail-order retailer of the era, The Dedicated Fool. Their catalogs were basically fanzines, and I loved them.

Like I did the Flamin' Groovies. Find their music, listen to Flamingo and Teenage Head. These are phenomenal rockin' records, full of hooks and memorable lyrics ajd strong vocals and guitars and musicianship. Next time someone tells you the '70s were full of wimpy singer-songwriter records (which were plentiful), unleash some Flamin' Groovies! 

These guys later morphed into a '60s-British Invasion-sounding band (thanks, Greg Shaw!), and have for decades remained legendary in the heads and hearts of record collectors and music fans worldwide. Bootlegs abound, many raw but energetic and exciting.

Now the original band is coming back together! After all these years. Damn, I'm excited...

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/7880847/the-flamin-groovies-fantastic-plastic-classic-reunion

A tour, a new album. Wow!