The Late Show and Other Tales of Celluloid Malice, my next collection of short stories will be out sometime in the first half of 2020. No hard date yet for the release, but I thought I’d share the book cover for now. More information will be coming.
Don Kurtwood, a university professor, and his father were never close. The only thing they had in common was a love of books, though their tastes were far apart. Don favored the classics while his father was strictly a reader of pulp fiction: mysteries, thrillers and especially westerns and the works of Max Brand and Louis L’ Amour. He read them over and over/
Notified of his father’s death, Don returns home to attend the funeral, help his Mom grieve, and clean up the hundreds and hundreds of paperbacks collected over the years (Mom already disposed of many boxes filled with books, but there are more). During the Viewing, surrounded by family and friends, a stranger approaches Don. He wants Don to come to his bookstore later that evening, claiming to have important information about Don’s father. Don felt the man was a greedy collector interested in buying his father’s collection of pulp fiction and had nerve showing up before his Dad was even in the ground.
Late that evening, Don goes to the man’s used bookstore, only to find the owner dead. During the police investigation into the store owner’s death, Don discovers the owner was not interested in purchasing his father’s book collection, his interest was in only one particular book. A western novel (Rides A Stranger) written by his father. This comes as a shock! His father never wrote a book and never spoke about writing a book. Don’s mother claims he did nothing but reading and watch TV during all their years of marriage. Did Dad have another life in the past that he never revealed?
Written by David Bell, Rides A Stranger, a short story, is not only a good mystery but an insightful look into asking how well do we know people, even our closest family members.
In Jenna Moquin’s short story, The Sublime Life, we meet Deke Mueller. Deke is an aspiring writer, but he fears success. He learned early on bad things can happen. You see, Deke’s mother was an author too and right after she became a success she died of pancreatic cancer. Deke fears life will repeat itself and his life will also be cut short if he is successful. He rather be a living failure than a dead success. Jenna Moquin has created a cautionary tale focusing on the fear of success. You want it but at what cost. Many creative artists fear both failure and success and will easily relate.
My good friend Joe Lasala is a contributor to the new book The Founding of Thomas Jefferson’s University.
With the Labor Day weekend gone by it’s that time of the year where the arts rev up their motors and the Fall Season of films, theater, music, and books begin. This means it’s time again for my take on some of the books I look forward to reading during these final months of the year. These are just a few. I’m sure there are more to follow.
After moving from the east coast to San Francisco, Dorothea Lange opened a photography studio where she photographs the city’s elite. She met the West Coast top art photographers of the day including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham, the last became a close friend. Though Lange knew these titans of photography she was not one of them. They were artists, Lange was a commercial photographer catering to San Francisco’s upper class. During this period, Lange met Maynard Dixon, a well-known artist of western art. They married and had two kids. Lange continued to be successful with her portrait studio work photographing the city’s most successful in society. Her income was steady and there were many times she was the one supporting the family.
Then came the Great Depression.
Lange’s studio work started to dry up. She took her camera outside the studio and found herself emotionally moved by the poverty and homelessness that was more prevalent with each passing day. She met Paul Taylor, an agricultural economist. Taylor was working on a Gov’t project studying Mexican employment patterns in the U.S. He published thirteen monographs on Mexicans immigrants and Mexican-Americans. Taylor was impressed with Lange’s street photography. He felt it expressed what he wrote. They began working together documenting the rural poverty and exploitation of migrants and sharecroppers.
As Lange began the most important part of her career working for the Federal Farm Security Administration photographing the effects of the Dust Bowl: the poverty, the exploitation of migrant workers and sharecroppers, her marriage to Dixon collapsed.
Lange marries Paul Taylor, and while her work reached its most important period documenting social injustices, her private life became more difficult particularly with her son Dan Dixon.
This is a good book, though too much time is spent on Lange’s early years and development before reaching the most important period in her artistic growth. The book ends as Dorothea with her now-adult son Dan prepares for an exhibit of her work at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
As the author states in the Afterward, the book is a fictional version of Lange’s life based on the author’s research and the need to make artistic decisions combing and or altering some events but keeping the spirit and soul of her subject intact. She does it well.
If you are a fan of The Twilight Zone you may want to check out my new short story, MAKE IT WRITE. It’s a slight departure from my usual tales tossing in a bit of Rod Serling fantasy along with the usual darker deadly deeds. I hope you’ll like it.
“Another great story by John Greco. This one reads like a Twilight Zone episode. Every author can relate to this creepy story. And what a twisty ending.” Joseph Souza – Author of Pray for the Girl and The Neighbor.
MAKE IT WRITE is available as an ebook on Amazon for only .99 cents.