The first line of Welcome to Oakland, Eric Miles Williamson’s sequel to East Bay Grease (see review here) sets the theme: “I’m always happiest when I live in a dump, and I’ve lived in some serious shitholes.” And Williamson’s narrator, T-Bird Murphy (who was also the narrator of Williamson’s East Bay Grease), is not being metaphoric when he refers to living in a dump. Throughout much of this book, T-Bird, now a twice-divorced man, is looking back at the period when he worked as a garbage man, literally living in one of Oakland’s city dumps, sleeping at night in his garbage truck parked at the dump. Continue reading Eric Miles Williamson’s Welcome to Oakland – Back on the Streets Again
Reading Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance reminds me of a stint I did once as a custodian at a mental hospital. Occasionally, I had to clean up something on the admitting ward, where the schizophrenics and manic depressives had just been pulled off the street in full psychosis, before they’d been drugged into the sad, silent state that is the primary goal of mental health facilities. Continue reading Tough Guys Don’t Dance: Norman Mailer vs. the People’s Prick
This book, if I may borrow from Henry Miller, is a gigantic gob of spit shot straight into the face of the South. Since this is not a blog of academic criticism, where I’d have to hide behind a bunch of jargon about semiotics or Marxist theory, I’ll be frank about my feelings toward the South, and start by disclosing that I’m a Yankee. I grew up in Michigan, moved to San Francisco and lived there for decades, then moved to Las Vegas at about the same time as all the rest of the North.
I admit I’ve never understood the South. Why the water cannons and police dogs turned on Civil Rights demonstrators? Why the Confederate flags? Why the TV evangelist con artists? Why the Dukes of Hazzard?
Initially published in 1936, Black Spring was banned in the U.S. for almost 30 years as obscene, suffering the same fate as Tropic of Cancer, which was published two years earlier, and Tropic of Capricorn, which was published two years later. It was only as a result of Grove Press’s sheer doggedness in the early 1960s in appealing the obscenity rulings that the U.S. Supreme Court finally overturned them, and declared Miller’s works to be literature in 1964.
Those of you not deeply indoctrinated into the Roman Catholic faith (and by “deeply indoctrinated” I mean you studied for the priesthood, or at least took graduate- level theology courses) probably know little about “succubi.” Even many devout Catholics are unaware of these demons, as the Summa Theologica is not studied in catechism classes for the laity. But it’s okay. That’s why I’m here. I spent a critical formative year of my adolescence in the Holy Ghost Fathers Seminary in Ann Arbor, Michigan, so let me clue you in. Continue reading I Knocked Up Satan’s Daughter: Carlton Mellick III vs. Thomas Aquinas
It was in the parking lot of a Raley’s supermarket in Reno. He was giving her a ride home from work and they’d stopped for a quart of milk and a Hershey bar. It was a sticky summer day. Leaning up against a side wall of the store, gulping down a few swallows of the icy milk, he saw her photo on the milk carton. He looked at the photo, looked at Stacy, looked hard at the photo again. It was definitely her. No doubt. He read the bad news …
Have You Seen Me?
Julia Gwendolyn Thomas
Weight: 112 lbs.
Last seen: Milpitas, California
She was licking chocolate off her fingers.
She looked up, responding to her name, then—in a split second—he saw a chill run through her. “Why did you call me that?” Continue reading Excerpt from RISK OF RUIN, a new novel by Arnold Snyder
All 14 short stories in this collection by P Moss take place in modern day Las Vegas, but most of them also have links to old Vegas through the characters and their memories. By “old Vegas,” I’m referring to pre-corporate Vegas—Vegas before the Feds squeezed the mobsters out on behalf of the multinational corporations.
A lot of us who remember old Vegas have fond memories of what this town once was, and it wasn’t all that long ago. A thousand articles have been written in the past thirty years describing the Disneyfication of Vegas and all the attractions added to widen the consumer base—the pirate ship and the volcano and the roller coasters and white tigers—but not much ink has been spent describing what was subtracted. Continue reading Blue Vegas by P Moss – Nostalgia for the Bad Old Days
In The Haunted Vagina, Steve is in love with his girlfriend, Stacy, and he loves having sex with her. But it disturbs him that he hears voices coming from her vagina. She tells him not to worry, that her vagina is haunted, that it’s been haunted for many years. No big deal.
Then, one afternoon, while Steve and Stacy are having sex, a life-size skeleton with a bad attitude crawls out of Stacy’s vagina. In a panic, Steve cracks its skull open with the nightstand and the creature dies on the bedroom floor. Freaked out, Steve is finally coming to the conclusion that it might be time to say adios to this babe. But Stacy doesn’t want him to leave. Continue reading Bizarro Fiction 101: Reviews of Works by Carlton Mellick III, Gina Ranalli and Athena Villaverde
Whoever would have thought that Hunter S. Thompson had a soft, sensitive side, a deeply emotional side, pained by loneliness? The Rum Diary is a love story, the only love story Thompson ever wrote, and in my opinion, it’s his best work. Love without romance is not easy to pull off. Sex without romance is a piece of cake, which is what we usually get in dick lit. But The Rum Diary isn’t porno. There’s not much graphic sex in this book, just a bit at the end, by which time you’re aching for it. This is a love story. Continue reading Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary – Only Fools Fall in Love
The Grifters was first published in 1963 and I first read it in 1963. I got it off a rack in a dime store. The book was not what we call today a “trade paperback,” which is a larger format than the standard pocket-size pulp paperback, generally a book that is judged to have some literary merit; no, this was a pulp paperback, which at that time probably sold for 75 cents. I believe all of Thompson’s novels initially came out as pulp fiction. Read ’em and throw ’em away.