To Hell with Johnny Manic is Now Available on NetGalley

Tags:  johnny manic
My next book, To Hell with Johnny Manic, is now available for review on NetGalley. Johnny Manic is a psychological suspense/thriller in the classic noir tradition. The cast of characters includes a very intelligent but slightly deranged and impulsive protagonist who’s doing his best to keep it together, a beautiful woman who pushes all his buttons, and a sharp, cynical detective in the mold of Philip Marlowe. If you liked Body Heat, The Last Seduction, Double Indemnity, Wild Things, or anything by Patricia Highsmith, you’ll like this one.

The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene

Tags:  book reviews fiction
This book, set in London in 1941 during the blitz, begins with a man on the outs, Arthur Rowe, strolling through a church fair fundraiser. He plays a few penny games, then has his fortune told. By a stroke of bad luck, he utters the wrong words to the fortune-teller. In exchange, she tells him the weight of the cake in a nearby stall. Whoever guesses the weight correctly, wins it, which is a big deal, because it’s made with real eggs, which are a prized rarity in wartime London.

The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

Tags:  book reviews non-fiction
It’s hard to write of a review of Alan Watts’ books because there’s so much in them. It’s like trying to summarize the ocean. Each time I re-read one of his works, I come away with something different. So I’m not going to try to encapsulate all that Watts says. Instead, I’ll just described what impressed me in this reading, using mostly Watts’ own words, since he can express himself better than I can paraphrase him.

You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up by Richard Hallas

Tags:  book reviews fiction noir
Hallas’ novel opens with Richard Dempsey returning from a long day’s work at the diner to an empty house. Before he enters, he knows from the darkened windows that his wife has left him. Inside, he learns she’s taken their son and the family savings. She says he’ll never find her, but he knows she’s always dreamed of going to Hollywood. This is Oklahoma in the late 1930’s, in the midst of the Great Depression and a crushing years-long drought.

Vernon Subutex One by Virginie Despentes

Tags:  book reviews fiction
I received the UK edition of this book as a gift a few months ago (it won’t be published in the US until later in 2019). I twice tried to start it, and twice put it down after a few pages thinking, “I can’t read this. This reminds me of the most depressing parts of the DC punk scene back the eighties and early nineties, the guys who spent their last dollars on beer instead of heating their apartments.

Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich

Tags:  book reviews fiction
Woolrich is a master of suspense and a brilliant writer. I was hoping to like this one more, but unfortunately, I could never fully buy into the story. The book begins with Detective Tom Shawn walking home from work at one A.M. along the river, where he finds a young woman, Jean Reid, about to kill herself. He stops her from jumping and asks her why she wants to end her life when she’s young, wealthy, and beautiful.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Tags:  book reviews fiction
The most disturbing thing about this book is that the vapid, false, and mind-numbing world that the media produces and the population so whole-heartedly consumes is so much like our own. The narrator points out more than once that the government didn’t take the initiative to ban books (and by extension, reflection and depth of thought and experience); the people themselves stopped wanting them. In this world, humanity has rejected its own cultural history and the hard-won wisdom of preceding generations in favor of comfort and isolation.

Awareness by Anothony De Mello

Tags:  book reviews non-fiction
This book reads like a transcription of talks given before live audiences. The initial chapters read like the joke-filled exhortations of a professional self-help writer, but the book begins to deepen around pages 60-70. De Mello was a Jesuit priest, a trained psychologist, and apparently a devoted student of both Eastern and Western religion. His knowledge is broad and deep, and he has obviously brought great passion to his learning.

The Long Dry by Cynan Jones

Tags:  book reviews fiction
In this extraordinarily beautiful and deep short novel, author Cynan Jones follows four characters through a summer day on a draught-stricken farm in Wales. Gareth begins his day by checking on two cows that are due to give birth. He finds the first one in the barn, kneeling beside her stillborn calf, “lowing sadly and gently.” The second has disappeared, wandered off in the night to god knows where. Gareth sets out to find her, but first:

First Cover for Johnny Manic

Tags:  johnny manic poll
Thanks to my artist/designer wife for this lovely cover. We hope to have this one out in 2019. What is your first impression of the cover? What do you think the book will be about? Leave comments below.