Find me at

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Accidentally Like a Martyr - The Book


While the back cover of Accidentally Like a Martyr: The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon only promises "twelve essays on seminal Zevon songs and albums," music journalist James Campion delivers a baker's dozen, and in doing so manages to tell the late singer/songwriter's often sad, sometimes heroic story. Campion has written a book that only a Warren Zevon fan could write. Who but a fan would devote fourteen pages to "Studebaker," a song that was never recorded to Zevon's own satisfaction and therefore doesn't appear on any of his official albums? Campion's challenge is to make such minutiae compelling enough that readers unfamiliar with Zevon and his unique and impressive musical canon want to come along for the ride. For the most part, he succeeds.

The book really hits its stride with the final four essays: about the songs "Searching for a Heart" (expressing Zevon's undying capacity for love); "The Indifference of Heaven" (whose protagonist, like Paul Muni's character in I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, finally crosses the line from desperation to criminality); "My Ride's Here" (Zevon's most perfect song--among his many--about death; and the album The Wind (detailing what went into its recording and completion before the songwriter's death on September 7, 2003).

If the book accomplishes nothing else (and it does), it gives due credit to musician Jorge Calderón for how important he was to Zevon's songwriting process. The information Campion gleaned from his interviews with Calderón are enlightening, as are the comments and insights of several of the other interviewees, especially guitarist Waddy Wachtel and poet Paul Muldoon.

Full disclosure: Campion generously mentions my Paul Nelson bio-anthology when writing about Nelson's magnificent Rolling Stone cover story, "The Crack-Up and Resurrection of Warren Zevon: How He Saved Himself from a Coward's Death," and how the magazine brutally mangled it in publication. Campion writes: "Up until his death in 2006, Nelson was haunted by the full piece having never been given a proper presentation. Ultimately, it would appear years later in its entirety in the posthumous collection Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson."

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Thirty years in 90 seconds!

This aired on MN90 in Minnesota five days ago courtesy of PRX:

https://beta.prx.org/stories/215497

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 11, 2016

New Reviews

In addition to Michael Dirda's Washington Post piece, three other reviews have surfaced in the last week or so:

Publishers Weekly: "This handsome, well-designed volume, with the Nelson interview revealing Macdonald's most personal thoughts and philosophy about a life spent writing, is an unmitigated triumph."


Kirkus Reviews: J. Kingston Pierce named It's All One Case as one of "Three Nonfiction Books Worth Adding to Your Library."


Mystery Scene: Kevin Burton Smith concludes: "Part serious bibliographical and biographical account, and part fanboy geek out, this is essential reading for anyone who ever looked for solutions to their own mysteries in a crime novel." 


Plus, I have it on good authority that Tom Nolan's interview with me will appear in tomorrow's Los Angeles Review of Books.  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Washington Post

Thanks to Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda for reviewing It's All One Case in The Washington Post (11/30/16 online and on the front page of the Style section in the print version the next day).


Labels: ,

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Press

As a result of Tom Nolan's glowing recommendation of It's All One Case in yesterday's The Wall Street Journal, the book is, as of this writing, #1 on three of Amazon's best sellers lists:

#1 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Reference
#1 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Writing
#1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Genres & Styles > Mystery & Detective

On a related note, I've also updated the "Press" page on this site to include all of the notices the new book has received thus far:

CriminalElement.com 
The Village Voice
Literary Hub (a terrific Q & A with critically acclaimed author Jonathan Lethem)
John Connolly on Twitter
Woody Haut's Blog
Library of America (another terrific interview, this one with Jeff Wong, who is responsible for the design of the book and almost all of the 1,300 or so images that appear therein)
The Strand Magazine
The Wall Street Journal
Dirty River

More to follow...


      Labels:

      Saturday, November 5, 2016

      BookCourt in Review

      I've been remiss in thanking all of you who attended the official It's All One Case book launch at BookCourt back on October 24th. The turnout was great; the store had to bring in more chairs to accommodate everyone who showed up and the book sold out.

      The Village Voice previewed the event. The notice isn't entirely accurate, but its heart was in the right place.


      Special gratitude to Glenn Tranter of BookCourt for making the event happen in the first place, and to Deborah Avery for taking most of the following photos.
      Read more »

      Labels: , , ,

      Sunday, October 9, 2016

      Book Launch at BookCourt

      Join us to mark the publication of It’s All One Case: The Illustrated Ross Macdonald Archives, published by Fantagraphics.



      WHEN: Friday, October 14, at 7 PM

      WHERE: BookCourt, 163 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718) 875-3677

      I'll be reading from the book and Jeff Wong, who designed it, will be displaying a sampling of the over 1,300 images that fill its pages. (Jeff maintains one of the world’s largest personal archives of Ross Macdonald collectibles.) We will also share some rare sound clips from Paul Nelson's 1976 interviews with Macdonald, which form the book's foundation, and discuss the forty-year course these interviews took to finally reach publication.

      Read more about the book below and at BookCourt's website.

      "It's All One Case is the most important work of mystery scholarship to have emerged this century." —John Connolly, author of the Charlie Parker Mysteries

      In 1976, the critic Paul Nelson spent several weeks interviewing his literary hero, legendary detective writer Ross Macdonald. Beginning in the late 1940s with his shadowy creation, the ruminating private eye Lew Archer, Macdonald followed in the footsteps of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but ultimately elevated the form to a new level. “We talked about everything imaginable,” Nelson wrote—including Macdonald’s often meager beginnings; his dual citizenship; writers, painters, music, books, and movies he admired; how he used symbolism to change detective writing; his own novels and why Archer was not the most important character — “my God, everything.”

      Commemorating last year’s centenary of the innovative and influential author’s birth, in a handsome, oversized format, It’s All One Case provides an open door to Macdonald at his most unguarded. Featuring in full color the covers of the various editions of Macdonald’s more than two dozen books, facsimile reproductions of pages from his manuscripts, magazine spreads, and many never before seen photos of Macdonald, including those by celebrated photojournalist Jill Krementz. It’s All One Case is an intellectual delight and a visual feast, a fitting tribute to Macdonald’s distinguished career.

      Labels:

      Sunday, July 24, 2016

      Bartleby on Carmine Street

      On Jeopardy! earlier this month, one of the answers was, "In a story of 19th century Wall Street, this title clerk famously replies, 'I would prefer not to.'" The question was, "Who was Bartleby the Scrivener?" That reminded me of Paul Nelson, who in 1982 told the singer/songwriter Greg Copeland: "Sometimes I wish I was like 'Bartleby the Scrivener,' where I just worked away at an office and didn't have to think. Not seriously, but there are times."


      On the heels of this comes Raphael Rubinstein's fine article "Bartleby on Carmine Street," in the July-August issue of The Brooklyn Rail. In the course of some richly detailed contemplation about how Paul ended up as a clerk at Steve Feltes's Evergreen Video, the author has some nice things to say about Everything Is an Afterthought: "a heart-breaking book, but also a fascinating one..."

      Labels: , ,

      Saturday, October 31, 2015

      Conversations with Clint

      I finally received my copies of the Chinese translation of Conversations with Clint. One nice surprise was the addition of an array of well-chosen movie stills--not only of Eastwood, but from the non-Eastwood films he discussed with Paul Nelson. Another surprise was, thanks to a friend who is fluent in Chinese, learning that the title of the translation is Aged Ginger Is More Pungent




      The Chinese translation of Conversations with Clint can be ordered here

      Labels: ,

      Sunday, October 18, 2015

      Clint: 60 Years in Film

      To commemorate "Clint Eastwood: 60 years in Film," Friday's Telegraph in the UK quoted Eastwood from Conversations with Clint.

      Labels: ,