Chris M. grabbed a few shots from last night’s Noir at the Bar: Father’s Day edition. Thanks again to Scott Phillips, Jed Ayres and Jesse Sublett for the awesome readings.
Jed Ayres blowing minds with the hilarious crime fiction in his collection, F*ckload of Shorts.
THE Scott Phillips reading from his new novel, Rake.
Jesse Sublett singin’ them sad, sad murder ballads. He also read from his latest, Grave Digger Blues.
Scott M. got in on the action, too.
The next Noir at the Bar is on the books for Saturday, July 20 and will feature Marcia Clark, Josh Stallings and Tim Hallinan. Stay tuned for details.
We are looking forward to our Fathers Day Noir At The Bar Summit this Sunday. Austin founders Scott Montgomery and Jesse Sublette are meeting up with Scott Phillips and Jedidiah Ayres at Opal Divine’s (3601 South Congress) for a night of music and crime fiction readings. Here’s a little background: Scott Phillips’ latest, Rake, is a tale of an American actor in Paris juggling four women, his violent temper, and a crime while trying to execute a movie deal. We sold out our initial run of Jed’s A F*ckload Of Shorts (there will be more at the event), and if you’re offended by the title don’t bother cracking the book. In fact you may want to avoid the interviews we did with them.
MysteryPeople: I believe this is your first time to get out of the Midwest for a novel. I know you spent time in Paris, but other than experience what drew you to use it?
Scott Phillips: It was originally written for a collection of novels from a French publisher, La Branche, all of which were intended to be made as TV movies. That plan never went anywhere, but the idea was that it had to be a thriller, it had to be filmable in Paris, and it had to have Friday the 13th in it somewhere.
MP: I didn’t realize until after the book that your protagonist has no given name just the one of the doctor he plays on TV. Was there a specific intention of that?
SP: Not really, but at a certain point I realized I hadn’t given the actor his own name and I left it at that. The friend I based the character on was really a soap opera actor, the star of a show called Santa Barbara, which was enormously popular in prime time in France, and it occurred to me that almost no one in France knew his name, the fans always referred to him by his character’s name. We really did try and make a movie about the arms of the Venus de Milo; in retrospect we’re probably lucky we failed. A lot of the events in the book are exaggerated versions of things that really happened back then.
MP: As a writer, what makes him a fun character?
SP: He’s a self-deluded narcissist, always trying to convince the reader (and himself) that he’s a swell guy, always looking out for other people. And that sort of supreme self-confidence of his is amusing to write. Not dissimilar to Bill Ogden, from The Walkaway and The Adjustment.
MP: While you show the film business, warts and all, isn’t the normal skewering of it that you get with many authors that use it as a backdrop. As somebody who is involved with the industry, how do you view it?
SP: As I say above, many of the events described in the book really happened in the course of trying to get that movie made. People are always trying to get people to work for free, always trying to scam money out of backers, always trying to screw their way into the movie business.
MP: Sex plays a large part in Rake as well as your other work. What’s the best way for an author to approach it without coming off as porn?
SP: I have no idea. I love to write about sex, but it never occurs to me that anyone might find it arousing. I suppose I try and depict it in a matter-of-fact way, awkward and sometimes embarrassing and often thrilling. The worst kind of sex writing, I think, is when the writer tries to idealize it, all arching backs and glistening torsos and simultaneous orgasm. Also terrible is the sort of thing where the author gets overly hyperbolic and starts comparing genitalia to foodstuffs and planetary bodies and automotive parts.
MP: You’re doing our Austin Noir At The Bar with your friend and cohort, Jedidiah Ayres. What do you like about his writing?
SP: He has a willingness, or maybe it’s a compulsion, to go too far. Where a more psychiatrically stable writer might pull back, Jed plunges ahead, damn the torpedoes. The one about the groupie, the dead rock-star and the groupie’s boyfriend is one of the funniest and most disturbing stories ever written, and yet he manages to bring a kind of sweetness to it.
All the Noir At The Bars sprouting up around the country are mainly due to the one in St. Louis. Scott Phillips told his friend Jedidiah Ayres about attending Peter Rozosky’s unique event in Philadelphia where authors read at a local tavern and they decided to do their own. Since they started, they’ve introduced the likes of Jonathan Woods, Frank Bill, and Matthew McBride. My Austin Noir At The Bar accomplice, Jesse Sublett, and I are happy to welcome our hard boiled brothers this Father’s Day to our own Noir At The Bar at a new location.
Of all the the authors I’ve come to know, Scott Phillips has been my friend the longest. He was the one who introduced me to Jesse. Not only is he a great guy who put many a good book on my radar, he’s one of the most talented writers out there. If you’re not familiar with his work, you need to be. He has a great ability to make you laugh and cringe at the same time. He proves it again in his latest, Rake.
Jedidiah Ayres has been making a name for himself with his short fiction. Most have been collected in A F*ckload Of Shorts, a collection of twisted, violent tales with a a special brand of humor. Many times he uses the decaying St. Louis cityscape as the backdrop for his losers who struggle to hold on to the bottom rungs of the ladder.
Jesse and I will be joining Scott and Jed at Sunday’s Noir at the Bar here in Austin. As usual, Jesse will provide music as well as a reading. His new book, Grave Digger Blues, is a fun novel where hard boiled meets beat writing. I’ll also be doing a reading (feel free to leave to get a beer then).
Noir fiction and horror have a lot in common. Both delve into the darkest of themes and tones. In either genre a bleak ending is not only accepted, it’s practically expected. It’s no wonder they’ve bled into one another in several books and share a talent pool of authors. Their fans have steel nerves who don’t wear rose color glasses while they read. So, since our next Noir At The Bar is scheduled so close to Halloween, we found it fitting to make it horror themed.
Austin has a thriving horror scene and we’re tapping into the talent of two presses, Sinister Grin and Abattoir. Sinister Grin author Lee Thomas has become a major name in the genre. His last book, The German, a blend of serial killer story, historical fiction, and possible ghost story, proved to be a powerful socially aware read that earned him fans outside of horror. His latest, Ash Street deals with victims of a thrill kill couple who come back to life. We also have two other authors from Sinister Grin. Nate Southland took the question of why so many bands die in plane crashes and used it for his book, Down. Wrath James White’s Sacrifice deals with a homicide detective looking into voodoo murders.
Another up and coming horror press, Abbattoir was founded by Ed Kurtz. One of it’s latest releases is Bleed On Me by Shane McKenzie. The story concerns a slacker and a drug dealer who have to fight the undead next door. Horror great Ray Garton has said, “Shane McKenzie has the kind of imagination that should require a license to operate.”
Come out and join us on Thursday, October 25th at 7pm at Opal Divines, 700 6th Street, and introduce yourself to some of the darkest Austin has to offer. We will also have a reading and music by Noir At The Bar regular Jesse Sublett. Bring enough cash for books and booze and join us if you dare.
Last week we launched the Austin version of Noir At The Bar. A night of crime readings, much like poetry in a coffee house, done at a local watering hole had proven to be a success in Philadelphia, St. Louis and L.A., so we decided to do our own spin on it. Opal Divine’s hosted our motley band of authors and we drew a great crowd that made us want to do it again. (Thanks to Peter Farris for the awesome pictures from the night.)
Since we are in Austin, we started with some music. Alt country singer/songwriter Chris Hoyt got us in the mood with three songs. Then writer, singer, songwriter, and former Skunks member, Jesse Sublett, performed a murder ballad.
Barry Graham was up first, reading from his latest, When It All Comes own To Dust. The book deals with a predator just released from prison and his now adult victim. Barry chose a passage of their first confrontation that also describes the Phoenix, Arizona setting that is practically another character in the book. He then went into a passage from What Do You Think Of Your Blue Eyed Boy that was funny and dark, with a bite like one from the dog featured in the story.
Jonathan Woods was next with a sexy part of his debut novel, A Death In Mexico. If you are a fan of John Burdette, Derek Raymond, or George Simenon, pick up this book. Woods’ Inspector Hector Diaz is a great mix of vice and virtue. he closed his set with What The F*** Was That? a comic horror tale that will have you picking your nose.
Next up was Peter Farris, who read from the MysteryPeople Pick Of The Month, Last Call For The Living. This punchy Southern hard boiled is a must-read. Peter’s reenactment of a sermon from a snake handling preacher that happens before an already infamous shoot out probably had the Opal Divine’s customers downstairs wondering what the heck was going on (we sure enjoyed it).
Jesse Sublett finished off the evening with a chapter from soon to be post-apocalyptic PI tale, Grave Digger Blues that he read to prerecorded music. The chapter, titled The Last Detective At The End Of The World, had everything – tough talk, violence, wise cracks, and a giant Marilyn Monroe. A perfect note to end on.
The attendees mingled and drank with the writers and had their books signed. It was a fun gathering of individuals and of voices that were individual. Friends were made, readers were discovered, and plots hatched. Looking forward to doing it again.
The only thing most crime fiction fans love as much as books is drinking, so it only makes sense that someone would combine both. Started in Philadelphia a few years, Noir At The Bar has made its way across the country from St. Louis to LA. MysteryPeople is giving it an Austin spin on June 7th at Opal Divine’s on 6th St.
We’ll have three of the hippest, hard boiled authors on the scene reading from and discussing their work: Peter Farris, Jonathan Woods, and Barry Graham. And since we are the live music capitol of the world, we’ll also have local legend Jesse Sublett joining us for a reading and performance, as well as singer/songwriter Chris Hoyt.
So come out to Opal’s on June 7th at 7p and help us launch a new tradition – Austin’s Noir at the Bar.