Monday, April 30, 2012

free book!


Dear Cheapska...I mean, Dear Friends of Mine with Discerning Taste,

Remember when you couldn't afford my book when it was a whole fucking dollar?  Well kids, it's your lucky day, because from now until Friday, Inaugural Games is available on Amazon.com FOR FREE!  Click here and snatch up a copy, you stingy vultures!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

clash of the titans

I just finished reading Neil Gaiman's interview with Stephen King, posted on his blog yesterday.  I love the dynamic of this kind of interview.  It's interesting to see what Q's and A's are conjured up when both the subject and conductor are artists you admire.  Plus it's almost guaranteed no one will bring up the old "where do you get your ideas?"

There was another one that King did in '05 at The New Yorker festival, with Martin Amis of all people.

Some of the other cool ones I've come across lately have been:

William S. Burroughs and David Bowie in Rolling Stone, '74

Andrew Eldritch (The Sisters of Mercy) and Leonard Cohen in '94.  This one originally appeared in the German Rolling Stone, and was reprinted in its entirety in the Sisters' fanzine Underneath the Rock.

Saul Williams and Henry Rollins in Fader, last year

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Clive Barker: In the Flesh



Lately I've been catching up with Clive Barker for the first time since I was thirteen.  I started last year with The Books of Blood, and am currently ripping my way through his bibliography (for the most part) in chronological order.  The Books of Blood are a six-volume collection of short works, the last three published in the US as In the FleshThe Inhuman Condition, and Cabal.  They were the books that put Clive on the map, and prompted Stephen King to tell the press, "He's even better than me now."  If you're a fan of horror fiction, and you've somehow missed out on these...seriously, get off your ass.

Speaking as a fan of both, in many ways I agree with King.  King's main strength is in storytelling, and in that department he certainly delivers, but his writing style is hit or miss.  While he does have the occasional lapse into lyrical brilliance, his general down-homey shtick gets pretty hokey after awhile.  Barker however has a vocabulary closer to Poe and Lovecraft than Bradbury, and uses it to craft consistently beautiful prose.  Also, he's about ten times darker.  Even in King's early short stories with the none-too-happy endings, there's always an element of light.  In the more sinister moments of The Books of Blood, Barker seems hell-bent on finding out just how dark it can get.

I just finished In the Flesh yesterday.  The two stories out of the four in this volume that stood out for me are the title story and The Forbidden.  In the first, Barker marries his knack for the ghost story with his recurring theme of physical transformation.  One of the aspects of the tale that I really liked was how the main character repeatedly visited an empty city in the middle of a desert in his dreams.  It's that kind of surreal, fantastical atmosphere that makes Barker so much fun to read.  The Forbidden, the basis for the 1992 film Candyman, tells the story of an urban legend come to life.  Now that I've read it, I'm even more impressed with the movie.  While remaining almost completely faithful to the source material, they stretched a short story into a very entertaining and well-paced feature.  It's also one of the few occasions where I feel the story was enhanced by material added in the movie.  In the book, the Candyman's origins remain ambiguous, while in the movie he's revealed to have been a slave brutally murdered by an angry mob.

And now, onto the next chapter...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

three decades


April 21st.  According to tradition, Rome was founded on this day in 753 BC.  It's also Iggy Pop's birthday.  It's also mine.

It's a cool feeling to know you share a birthdate with the frontman of The Stooges, the Founding Fathers of punk rock, and arguably the greatest rock and roll band of all time.

I learned about my adopted city's birthdate after I moved here.  I've never been fond of the phrase "everything happens for a reason," but it's still a hell of a coincidence that of all the places in the world where I could have ended up, I picked the one born on the same day as me.  For the past few years I've been planning on getting a tattoo of Remus, Romulus, and the She-Wolf on my right arm, with the Roman numerals XXI IV beneath, but I still haven't found an artist who can draw it the way I want.

I'm celebrating by closing a bar in Trastevere with some of my closest friends.  Then we're going to head to a spot that overlooks the cityscape and watch the sun rise on a new year.

Rome, it's another year for me and you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So, where do you get your ideas?

Blogger Will Green just interviewed me about my book for Wayward Things.  Check it out!

There's also a review which can be found here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

they're turning on us


Those of you who read my story The Deviant and thought I was joking, read this immediately.  I'm telling you, they can't be trusted.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Apocalypse Wow

Afternoon, friends.  December 21, 2012 is just over the horizon, so I figured it's a good time to reopen my Armageddon Liquidation Service.  Click here for details.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th, Iggy Pop, Bad Luck, Stolen Keys, Kurt Vonnegut, and Dead Dogs

In honor of today's anniversary, this one goes out to the good Mr. Voorhees:


That's one of the three decent tracks on The Weirdness, the third album by The Stooges (or the fourth if you count Raw Power, when they were Iggy and the Stooges.)  It's a mediocre record at best, but it gave them an excuse to do a reunion tour while Ron Asheton was still alive, so we can forgive them for that.  Anyway, being that today is the holiday of everyone's favorite hockey mask-wearing slasher-film hero, I thought it fitting to play a song with a chorus of "My idea of fun / Is killing everyone."

I was going to leave it at that and wish you all a safe Friday the 13th.  But then it occurred to me that The Stooges are deeply associated with the unluckiest day of my life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Preview: The Man Who Sold Flowers

I'm feeling extremely ambitious and proactive this fine Monday morning, so I've decided this will be my theme song for the week:



Hope those who celebrate are enjoying their Easter and Passover festivities (and that those who don't are at least getting some vacation time.)  I've still got two more days off, and I'm taking advantage of the chance to make some headway on a story that's been haunting my head since late last year.

Here's a free preview of my short story The Man Who Sold Flowers.  You can read the rest in my book Inaugural Games, which I'm selling on Amazon.com for ONE MEASLY DOLLAR.  This story was an anomaly for me.  While it typically takes me several weeks to crank out a short story, this one flew out of me in just under four days.  The second the idea for it popped into my head, I knew exactly where I wanted it to go.  Enjoy!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

something from a bad night in a bad month in philly, '06


Bury yourself in work.  Do the dishes, iron your shirts.  Drive around 'til dusk giving food to the homeless.  Dismantle bombs, learn a new language.  Read old letters from old girlfriends.  Touch a match to your favorite nerve.  Archive photos of your grandfather.  Answer a pay phone.

Collect mistakes like merit badges.  Hang your head like a degree.  Make an art form out of regret.

Read poetry like an x-ray.  Read a novel and mark your place with a speeding ticket.  Laugh, but don't learn.  Count the number of beats per breath.  Go for a drive and buy something unhealthy.  Give purpose to insomnia by putting things off.  Give the knob another twist.  Give out.

Watch old movies, eat a second dinner, or go for a walk.  Hand out favors.  Cultivate an interest in bad habits.  Plan a trip.  Sit on your roof until dawn and watch the last light of the city go out.  Grow a spine in the morning.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Week


I just got back from three days in Castiglione in Teverina with my girlfriend and our pit bull. I'm very much a city guy at heart, but I relish the chance to get away from the smog and back to nature once in a while. We stayed in an inn down in a valley, exploring the neighboring villages during the day, and drinking the house wine and watching kung fu movies at night. I've never had a bad experience traveling in Italy, but I have to say that everywhere I go makes me all the happier that I live in Rome.

I've been extremely pleased to hear the reactions Inaugural Games has been getting. I've been getting very kind emails from people saying they found it engaging and thought-provoking, and that they laughed their asses off the whole time. My boss tells me she found it disturbing. Glad to hear I can have that effect.

It's the week leading up to Easter, which means most of Italy is completely shut down. It sounds good in theory, but when you live like I do, days off are only good if you still get paid. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but sometimes I wish God could have sent his only Son to die for my sins on a week when I wasn't flat-ass broke. On the bright side, the time off will give me the chance to make some headway on a couple projects. I'm working on a few travel pieces on Rome, as well as an article pitch for cracked.com about the inside jokes in the Sistine Chapel. Also, blogger Will Green is interviewing me about my book for his blog Wayward Things. Sounds like fun.

All right, that's all for now. Buona Pasqua, Happy Easter. And as my great-grandfather Edward Laye Sr. would say, if Jesus walks out of the tomb and sees his shadow, it's six more weeks of winter.