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Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon

Melanie Browne reviews Steve McQueen:The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon by Marshall Terrill.

A Flawed Legend

As a kid I never realized Steve McQueen was a “movie star.” I suppose it was because he seemed like an everyman, and so I took him for granted. I’m not sure why I finally decided to look a little closer at the enigma that is Mr. McQueen, but I downloaded Steve McQueen:The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon by Marshall Terrill on to my Kindle and my adventure into his life began. Like all sudden interests, I suddenly became obsessed and watched most of his movies, including for some strange reason, “The Blob,” a bad movie which has become a cult classic that some people take very seriously even though at the end of his life Steve didn’t even like to hear the name of the picture mentioned.

At 657 pages this 2010 Biography will take you awhile, but it’s well worth it. The best things about it are discovering golden nuggets about a man who always played the anti-hero. One of my favorite stories was about the horse Steve rode in “Wanted Dead or Alive,” the 1958 television western he starred in. He got rid of the old horse they provided him, one he described as an “real old horse they pushed out on roller skates,” and found one that was- shall we say-a bit more feisty. “Rocky” would step on Steve’s foot out of pure spite and Steve in turn would punch him in the snout. Neither side ever gave in. They were perfect for each other.

Abandoned by his birth father shortly after birth and neglected and unwanted by his birth mother, Steve had a rough start in life and later collected toys from the 1930’s to try and recreate a childhood he never had. Mr Terrill tries to interject some psychology terms at times and also to diagnose Steve with various issues such as “attachment disorder,” but this, in my opinion, often falls short of his goal and doesn’t add to the narrative. It is nevertheless still a fine portrait of a movie and television actor driven to succeed in spite of his childhood difficulties.

Steve’s greatest flaw is the same flaw we all share, a blindness to our ability to inflict the same pain we feel ourselves on to others that we love. At the same time he was searching for his absent father, his own half-sister tried to contact Steve, and he ignored her. She too, grew up hoping to meet her father. Steve’s mother was a severe alcoholic and an embarrassment to Steve. She appeared and disappeared throughout Steve’s life.

Some things do surprise; Steve was dyslexic and that was one of the reasons he rewrote and reduced the amount of dialogue in television and films. A “Method” actor, Terrill writes how Steve became a master at reacting to others in a scene. He was also a sports enthusiast, constantly riding his motorcycles around town to let off steam from his film and TV career. He was a natural horseman and that’s one the things I noticed when re-watching “Magnificent Seven, and “Tom Horn.” A former marine, he could do many things well, shoot a gun, ride a horse and race cars.

Relationships he couldn’t necessarily do as well, but he was possibly on the defense from a chaotic childhood with no fatherly influence. His first wife Neile, with whom he had two children, seemed to adore him and they had two children together, but like most Hollywood stars, he was mercurial in his love life and had affairs with many of his leading ladies. His most famous romance was probably Ali MacGraw whom Steve married in 1973. The marriage lasted five years, but they simply wanted different things in life, and Ali was too intellectual for him.

The saddest but also uplifting section of the book concern Steve’s diagnosis of Mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the lining of lungs and abdomen. It’s primary cause is exposure to asbestos, which Steve was exposed to in countless ways, with the most exposure happening during his time in The Merchant Marines. The end for Steve included quack therapies and countless trips to Mexico in hopes of a cure. Steve McQueen died in Juarez in 1980 of a heart attack following invasive surgery for the cancers.

After binge watching his movies following my reading of “Life and Legend,” I decided my favorite was “The Thomas Crown Affair.” What’s ironic about this is that I had a dream where I saw Mr. McQueen trying to use an I-Phone, before throwing it across a busy street. He then turned around and I heard insane laughter. I highly recommend Steve McQueen:The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon, for an in-depth look at a highly complicated yet real human being.

 

You can learn more about Melanie Browne HERE

Or purchase the book at Amazon

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WRC

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The Best of 2014: ADR Books

My choice for Publisher in 2014: ALL DUE RESPECT.

All Due Respect began as a crime fiction website in 2010. Founded by Alec Cizak, the site originally posted one story a month.

In 2012, Chris Rhatigan assumed the role of Editor and upped the frequency to twice per month.

All Due Respect: The Anthology (Full Dark City Press) appeared in 2013; among its contributors was Mike Monson, who would soon become ADR’s Associate Editor. 2013 also saw the launch of All Due Respect Magazine, a quarterly journal containing non-fiction as well as fiction.

This past summer, Rhatigan and Monson announced that they would be issuing novels, novellas and short story collections via All Due Respect Books. Their flagship title, you don’t exist, was a pairing of unique, but oddly complementary novellas by Chris Rhatigan and Pablo D’Stair. ADR has since published Mike Monson’s Tussinland, Two Bullets Solve Everything by Ryan Sayles and Chris Rhatigan, Prodigal Sons by Mike Miner, and Revenge is a Redhead by Phil Beloin Jr.

What I’ve read so far is exactly what I had expected, what they have always brought in both hands: crime writing that is honest, intense, uncompromising, diverse and wickedly entertaining.

You should read it, too….

you don’t exist

Tussinland

Two Bullets Solve Everything

Prodigal Sons

Revenge is a Redhead

And keep an eye out for the following: The Deepening Shade by Jake Hinson, Love You to a Pulp by CS De Wildt, Uncle Dust by Rob Pierce, Crooked Roads by Alex Cizak, and the “Selena” novellas by Greg Barth.

For updates, visit:

All Due Respect’s Blog

and

All Due Respect on Facebook

WRC


Flash Fiction by Dana King

Dana King is a rarity for me: the kind of author I enjoy with two minds, thinking Goddamn, this guy can write, even as I’m carried away by the story he tells. GRIND JOINT was one of the best novels I read in 2014. On a personal note, I have great admiration for the way he writes cops. My father was a policeman. I grew up around them. In my opinion, no one captures the flavor of their conversations better. I’m pleased to be able to share the opening of his forthcoming novel, BAD SAMARITAN:

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BAD SAMARITAN
By Dana King

Trouble is the residue of my design.

I could have left him alone. Should have, depending on who you ask. Found myself handy to Rush Street after a long day, stopped for a beer and the beginning of the Sox game. Saw him slap the woman, locked and loaded for the second when I slid a forearm under his armpit, grabbed his wrist, and pulled until the shoulder separated.

It took time for him to collect himself. “What the hell did you do that for?”

“You know why.” Slid back onto my bar stool.

Hard to make it sound threatening with tears in his eyes, arm pinned to his torso. He did his best. “You have no idea who I am.”

It occurred to me he had no idea who I was, either. So I gave him my card.

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Dana King’s new release, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, follows the Shamus-nominated A Small Sacrifice, featuring Chicago private investigator Nick Forte. He also writes a series of police procedurals set in the economically depressed Western Pennsylvania town of Penns River. Classically trained, he has worked as a free-lance musician, public school teacher, computer network engineer, software sales consultant, and systems administrator. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Corky, and daughter, Rachel.

Dana King at Amazon

–Walter Conley


Drag Noir

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I’ve been working on a long project this year, but there have been a few calls for submissions I couldn’t let pass. Fox Spirits’ DRAG NOIR anthology proved irresistible. A line of dialogue—what would become the opening line of my contribution—popped into my head at work, the night before I saw the call. I typed it out and the story wrote itself. It takes place in my fictional town of Wellesport, Connecticut and introduces new characters alongside established ones. I do plan to revisit the newer residents, although I have no idea when or where (perhaps reader support will bring about the publication of Drag Noir 2?)

Editorial description and Contents:

DRAG NOIR: this is where glamour meets grit, where everyone’s wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not) and knowing the players takes a lot more than simply reading the score cards. Maybe everyone’s got something to hide, but they’ve got something to reveal, too. Scratch the surface and explore what secrets lie beneath — it’s bound to cost someone…a lot.

Introduction by Dana Gravesen and Bryan Asbury, The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin, Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky, No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon, Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker, Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates, Trespassing – Michael S. Chong, Chianti – Selene MacLeod, The Changeling – Tracy Fahey, Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett, Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates, Protect Her – Walter Conley, King Bitch – James Bennett, A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill, Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan, The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden

You can purchase it here: Drag Noir @ Amazon

Visit the publisher’s website to check out their catalog and get links to merchandise: Fox Spirit Books online

Or follow them on facebook for updates: facebook.com/foxspiritbooks

WRC


Allen Miles on Writing & This Is How You Disappear

amdisappear

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I was never cut out for a career. I’m too socially awkward and I never found anything that stirred my passions enough to attempt to forge a livelihood from it. I have a job, but I refuse to be one of the arse-kissing yes-spitters in my workplace so I’ll never get on the ladder. I have found people who I get on with at work and they have similar principals/flaws (same thing, these days), which is why they’ve become my friends. If I enjoy any success in my lifetime it will be through something out of the ordinary, and I’ve known that since I was about twelve years old. It was obvious by the age of about eight that I was never going to be a professional footballer, due to my lack of a left foot and inability to, as my Dad said, “Get my head up”. By the age of fourteen I wanted to be a musician. I learned, very slowly, to play the guitar, and wrote lyrics. By the age of seventeen I had met someone who thought similarly, and we put our plans in progress to conquer the world with our punk band. And we told exactly no-one.

This is the problem I have with my writing career. It was exactly the same as when I was in my band. Back then when someone would ask me if I was in a band, I’d raise a hand to my face, shuffle my feet, look at the floor and mumble “Well, yeah, sort of…” when I should have been drawing myself up to my full height, drilling my eyes into the questioner’s face in the manner of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and saying with all the arrogance in the world, “Damn right I’m in a band, we’re brilliant, and pretty soon you’re gonna be hearing all about us.” Even when we were in a position of promise, my inner-Costanza would race to the surface, making me spout forth a woefully misjudged joke or attempt to be ironic. I remember once we played a venue that was absolutely rammed with young emo kids who had come to see the band we were supporting, not exactly our market but one we certainly could have worked on. Rather than seeing the potential, I took the mic and sighed, “Good evening, we’re Sal Paradise, you won’t like us.”

The reasons I don’t brag about my literary endeavours are three-fold: The first is, I think, pretty acceptable. I hate it when people who have no interest in literature ask me questions about my book. The question is always “What’s it about?” and the answer I want to give is thus:
“It’s a collection of short stories and prose, based mainly on themes of isolation and escapism, it’s pretty dark but has a fair bit of black humour in there. . In many ways it’s a reaction to the way our society has become so fleeting and impersonal in recent times. I nicked the title from a Scott Walker song, and I drew lots of influence from the work of Albert Camus, Charles Bukowski and John Fante, as well as the lyrics of Elvis Costello and the life and times of Howard Hughes.”

But I don’t say that.

I say:”I dunno really, I just wrote a few stories about things that I’ve seen…”

Secondly, I worry that I’m no good. Well, not exactly that, but I’ve always been wary of becoming an Adrian Mole or Brian Griffin-type figure, someone who constantly tells everyone loudly that they’re a writer, and when they eventually produce a piece of work it is absolutely abysmal. These characters, along with hundreds of others that I’ve seen Facebook posts by or met on various writers forums, have absolutely zero talent but astonishing faith in their own ability. I’ve never been able to develop that level of confidence, precisely for the reason that if I did march about telling everyone I’m great, and they all buy my book, they might think it’s terrible, and despite me having 100% certainty that my work is brilliant, the consensus is, it’s shite. It’s not shite, obviously. My book is very good, but delusion is so common in the literary industry, and I’m terrified that I’ve succumbed to this disease. Last week I took morning refreshments with one of my best friends, she asked how my writing career is going, and I mentioned that there had been various developments, including interest from local bookshops and the possibility of a signing at Waterstones.

“Wow, that’s great,” she said, “When is it?”

I shrugged my shoulders and told her that I probably wasn’t going to do it as I was worried that no-one would turn up. Her facial expression hit some sort of mid-point between frenzied aggression and exasperation. This stylish, sexy and not at all kindly woman then charged up to me and pretended to wring my neck.

“What is wrong with you? Why are you constantly trying to sabotage your own success?”

I couldn’t answer.

The third reason is, I don’t like referring to myself as a writer. I have made very little money from my published work so far, and until I earn a living wage from it, I will describe myself in employment terms as an underpaid and undervalued healthcare assistant who works for the NHS, as I have no right to do anything other than that.

The writing industry is a very cynical one, as are all what might be termed “creative” industries. You have to know the right people, and you are expected to pay homage to people whom you have no respect for. I don’t review other people’s work, mainly because I don’t feel I have any business judging them, and also because if I don’t like their work I would feel like a charlatan if I gave them a good review. The fact that I adopt this stance has hamstrung me in many ways, as I have very few friends in the business and I’m quite happy to keep it that way, which means I’ll get very few plugs, and very few breaks. My single proudest moment since I first wrote a story came not from reading a good review, not from signing a publishing deal and not from receiving praise from some big-wig in the industry. It came from a brief text message sent by my mate Wes, a builder by trade and a good man whom I don’t see as often as I’d like. It read:

JUST SEEN YOU IN HULL DAILY MAIL. HONOURED AND PROUD TO CALL YOU MY FRIEND.

A simple message of encouragement from a person that I like. Sometimes that’s enough.

I mentioned the very few friends I have made in the business, but those few have shown massive faith in me, and for this I am grateful. Mrs Hoffs, Mrs Johnson and Messrs Bracha and Quantrill have given me huge encouragement, and Darren Sant has shown an almost biblical belief in me from the day we met, blind-pissed at a all-night party. I’ve also had ego-boosting support from many of my work colleagues. To continue to sub-consciously sabotage my career would be to let them all down, so it ends here.

I am immensely proud of This Is How You Disappear, it is the best work I have ever produced, and it’s better than ninety percent of the shite that sells millions every year. It is not always pleasant, it is not a “light holiday read”, it will upset you in places, but it will also make you laugh. It will put images and thoughts in your head that you are not necessarily comfortable with and it will challenge your morale values, but it will also introduce you to characters who you may feel sympathy and affection for. If whoring myself at public signings and readings is what I have to do to sell this book, then so be it, I’ll do it, and if I make a living wage out of it, then, and only then, will I call myself a writer.

“I’m looking to open people’s eyes. I’ll fail, but in the process, I’ll get self-satisfaction. And I know that a minority, a strong minority, will listen, and that will be enough for me.”
–Scott Walker.

Buy THIS IS HOW YOU DISAPPEAR


News & A Review: MIKE MONSON

mmtussin

OUT NOW: Mike Monson’s debut full-length novel, Tussinland, from All Due Respect Books. Monson is one of the best down-and-dirty Noir writers going.

Addicted to cough syrup, television and Sugar Frosted Flakes, Paul Dunn is living in a state of torpor while staying at his mother’s house after the humiliating ending of his third marriage. His inertia is broken when he becomes the chief suspect in the murders of his soon-to-be ex-wife and her new lover. Set in the town of Modesto, deep in California’s Central Valley, Tussinland is about sex drugs, addiction, smart phones, Facebook and the internet, digital cable, anti-government militias, reality TV, fundamentalist homophobic Christians, families, 12-step groups, pornography, marriage, death, disease, and love. So noir it hurts.

“Tussinland is a fast trip to the dark side–a world of broken people and desperate dreams. It’s violent and propulsive, but in the end it’s also strangely–and surprisingly–touching.” — Jake Hinkson, author of Hell on Church Street and The Big Ugly

“Mike Monson is in elite company with Jason Starr and Les Edgerton as one of the best pure, unfiltered noir writers alive, and Tussinland is his best novel yet.” — Craig T. McNeely, editor of pulp fiction magazine Dark Corners

Buy TUSSINLAND

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Here’s my review of Monson’s novella, What Happens in Reno, also available on Amazon (along with The Scent of New Death and collection, Criminal Love and Other Stories):

“What Happens In Reno is a wicked page turner of a book, showcasing Monson’s no-nonsense prose style, dark sense of humor and ability to make you keep looking–even as your heart fills with dread. I won’t spoil it, but this novella also contains one of the most surreal and unnerving scenes I’ve ever read in a crime story.”

–WRC


Out Now: Exiles

exiles2

Available for kindle and soon in print, Exiles: An Outsider Anthology. Edited by Paul D. Brazill. I have a story called “Wetwork” in it. Check out the TOC below. $.99 US. Proceeds go to charity.

INTRODUCTION: HEATH LOWRANCE
REFLECTIONS ON A DECADE IN THE WILD EAST – COLIN GRAHAM
EATING THE DREAM – K A LAITY
MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO DELHI – CHRIS RHATIGAN
BOXING DAY IN MUROS – STEVEN PORTER
WE ARE ALL SPECIAL CASES – PATTI ABBOTT
NEVER A VESSEL LARGE ENOUGH – RYAN SAYLES
THE SOLOMON SEA – GARETH SPARK
AGENT RAMIEL GETS THE CALL – PAMILA PAYNE
THE WEATHER PROPHET – PAUL D. BRAZILL
THE RAIN KING – JASON MICHEL
DULLCREEK – CARRIE CLEVENGER
IN AMERICA – DAVID MALCOLM
THE PLACE OF THE DEAD – NICK SWEENEY
DISAPPEARING ACT –
TAKING OUT THE TRASH – AIDAN THORN
MISSING AN EAR – BENJAMIN SONIA KILVINGTON
WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR – ROB BRUNET
PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY – JAMES A. NEWMAN
DEAD MAN WALKING – TESS MAKOVESKY
SHUT OUT THE LIGHT – CHRIS LEEK
FLYING IN AMSTERDAM – MCDROLL
THE TRIBE – RENATO BRATKOVIC
WETWORK – WALTER CONLEY
DIGGER DAVIES – MARIETTA MILES SOBIECK
THE TENDER TRAP – GRAHAM WYND
FALLING THROUGH THE HOURGLASS – RICHARD GODWIN

Exiles at Amazon

WRC