Crime Fiction Friday: “Far From God” by William Boyle

 

 

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  • Introduced by Scott Montgomery

William Boyle will be joining us for our New Voices In Noir Panel, coming up Tuesday, August 2nd, at 7 PM. His work has the tone and style of great crime fiction and movies from the Seventies, like this little piece that has those crime staples of country music, a trip across the border, a questionable girl, and a loaded gun.


“Far From God” by William Boyle

“Things had not gone well in Bay Ridge. Rufus had lied. Ganyuk had been waiting for them at the club. But they had got what they had gone there for, even if it meant cutting down a couple of the Russians. 

Now he was just sitting there, in the kitchen, with a bottle of Rheingold. He had put on the radio. They were playing “Lost Highway” by Hank Williams. It was one of his favorite songs. He wondered what station was playing it. It was rare these days to have a station play Hank. Now it was all bad rap and bad pop. He took a long pull off the Rheingold and relaxed. Lit a Lucky Strike. Thought about Donna. Her straight black hair. The anchor tattoo above her right tit. The little knife she kept in a holster around her ankle. Her breath on his neck.”

Read the rest of the story.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Bill Loehfelm

Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Let The Devil Out is Bill Loehfelm’s fourth book featuring Maureen Coughlin, once a cocktail waitress with addiction issues, now a new patrolwoman in New Orleans. The militia group she dealt with in Doing The Devil’s Work returns, with Maureen reluctant to work with the FBI, but ready to take the militia group on. We caught up with Bill to ask him a few questions.

MysteryPeople Scott:  Once again you put Maureen through the ringer with the events from previous books also taking a toll on her. What did you want to explore about her this time?

Bill Loehfelm: I felt it was time for her face down some of the psychological and emotional things she’s been turning away from since she moved the New Orleans. She’s done a geographic cure for the trauma she endured in New York (in The Devil She Knows), and she’s made significant changes in her life, but there’s darkness and rage in her that she’s never faced, and those emotions have started leaking out of her in bad ways. I wanted this book to present a real moment of truth for her. She’s started down the path toward corruption and self-destruction in the last two books, toward letting the evil in others rule her life, and she needs to make some crucial choices.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with William Boyle

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

 

I’m looking forward to introducing our readers to William Boyle this upcoming Tuesday, August 2nd, at 7 PM at our New Voices of Noir panel discussion. Boyle joins Bill Loehfelm, Alison Gaylin, and Megan Abbott for the panel discussion. His short stories and Gravesend, his first novel, feature hard-luck people stuck in life. To give you an idea of him, here’s a quick interview we did.

MysteryPeople Scott: Gravesend is an ensemble novel, set in a decaying working class part of New York that is a character itself. Did you start with the idea of the place or the people?

William Boyle: I grew up in the neighborhoods of Gravesend and Bensonhurst. I knew I wanted to write about the place. I’ve mostly lived away from Brooklyn since college, though my family’s still there—I’ve spent time in the Hudson Valley, in Austin, in The Bronx, in Mississippi—but I carry the neighborhood with me. So, it started with that feeling, I’d say, of being trapped by the place you’re from, whether or not you’re physically there. A lot of the action of the book actually takes place away from Gravesend—upstate, in Manhattan, in other neighborhoods—but it’s still and always about people made and shaped by that specific place. The people are the place. My characters are stuck there, for the most part, except for Alessandra, who’s just returned after living in L.A. for years. A lot of how I feel about the neighborhood—how I fall into old struggles and fall victim to old sadnesses when I’m back there—went into her character.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Megan Abbott

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Megan Abbott’s latest beautifully dark novel, You Will Know Me, explores the tale of the Knox’s, a family with a gymnastics protege daughter, and how their relationship with their community and their family dynamic are both tested when a hit and run murder occurs. As expected, it is rich in psychology and emotion.

You Will Know Me is MysteryPeople’s Pick of the Month for August. Megan joins us Tuesday, August 2nd, at 7 PM, for a panel discussion on emerging voices in crime fiction, along with fellow crime writers Bill Loehfelm, Alison Gaylin, and William Boyle. Megan was kind enough to take some questions from us. 

MysteryPeople Scott: What made you want to explore the dynamics of a family with a prodigy?

Megan Abbott: Families. I mean, families are complicated to begin with, but I’ve always been curious about how it plays out when a child is exceptional in some way. How power and responsibility and agency are affected. What happens in a marriage when so much effort and energy is put into the child’s endeavors? What’s it like to be the sibling of a prodigy? What are the unique pressures and yet also power that a prodigy has?

As I was working on the idea, I read two things. First, Susan Dominus’s New York Times magazine piece on Teri Shields, Brooke Shields’ mother, a famous “stage mom.” Second, I read Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree and its chapter on prodigies. They were both such rich, generously written pieces. I knew then that I wanted to write from the viewpoint of Katie, the mother of Devon, the gymnastics prodigy. It’s very easy to judge some of these parents, to accuse them of using their children to fulfill their own dreams, but I think the truth is always more complicated than that. I wanted to explore it through Katie.

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MysteryPeople Review: GOOD AS GONE by Amy Gentry

  • Review by Molly Odintz

9780544920958Journalist, novelist and long-time Austinite Amy Gentry joins us here at the store this Thursday, July 28th, at 7 PM to speak and sign her debut thriller, Good As GoneHer debut takes the reader into a torn family coping with the still-unsolved disappearance of their eldest, a decade before. When a young woman with a fantastical tale comes knocking on their door, they work to accept her as their long-lost daughter, yet holes quickly appear in her story, and questions remain as to her identity and her past.

Gentry splits her narrative between the matriarch of the family, Anna, and her reclaimed child, Julie, as they tip-toe around issues of trauma, identity, acceptance and return. Anna’s perspective follows a linear path through the novel; Julie’s perspective is told backwards, with a rotating cast of character names, teasing the reader through much of the novel as to who “Julie” might be, and what role, exactly, Julie played in her own kidnapping. While Gentry’s debut passes Alison Bechdel’s simple test for feminism in fiction (Does a named female character speak to another named female character about a subject other than men?), the many names of “Julie” bring out another side to the named female character – she can be named, over and over again, by those attempting to control her, and with each new name, the core of her identity becomes further separated from any marker as changeable as a name.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Amy Gentry

 

  • Interview by Molly Odintz

 

 

Come by BookPeople Thursday, July 28th, at 7 PM, for Amy Gentry’s official launch of her debut thriller, Good as Gone. Gentry is a journalist, novelist and long-time Austinite. Her debut follows a family as they are reunited with their long-lost daughter, kidnapped at a young age. Happy to have their daughter returned, yet skeptical of her story, they try to form new bonds, heal old wounds and unearth painful truths.

Molly Odintz: Your story, to me, was reminiscent of the story of the changeling – did you set out to play with fairy-tale archetypes?

Amy Gentry: I didn’t set out thinking specifically about fairy tales, although in an early draft I did have a scene of the mom Anna, who is a professor, teaching the Keats’s poem “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” not fairy tale exactly, but Arthurian legend type stuff. In the poem, a mysterious woman seduces knights and then disappears, leaving them to wander around looking for her for the rest of their lives. Keats is a great source for vanished ladies; I also thought about using “The Eve of St. Agnes.” I took all those scenes out because they were terrible, but they helped me think through some things. Princesses also kept popping up, especially the Frances Hodgson Burnett story The Little Princess, which I’ve always been obsessed with. Princess stories are often lost daughter stories.

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Crime Fiction Friday: “Cleaning Solution” by Andrew Hilbert

 

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  • Selected and Introduced by Scott Montgomery

One of the many reasons to come to our upcoming Noir At the Bar at Threadgill’s, happening Monday, July 25th, at 7 PM, is for us to introduce our Noir at the Bar crowd to Andrew Hilbert, who has won local acclaim not only as a writer but reader of his work. He mixes genres in a wonderful, weird, tapestry that may be offensive to some. He is also a skilled craftsman with a strong sense of cadence and rhythm that you can see in his latest novella, Bangface And the Gloryhole, and this short story that appeared in Horror Novel Reviews.


“Cleaning Solution” by Andrew Hilbert

“It’s a miracle.” I sprayed the solution on the lady’s doorknob and scrubbed it until it was shining, brand new looking, and clean. “With nothing more than a paper towel and some elbow grease. It’s so easy,” I said, “a dog could do it.”

“Dog’s don’t have hands,” the lady said. She rolled her eyes. “My mom’s not home. We use Windex. And we probably don’t care if our doorknobs are as reflective as mirrors.” She slammed the door.

It was hot. The sun beat down on my bald head so hard I could feel it peeling.

“Johnny!” I yelled. My partner, Johnny, came scurrying out of the bushes and stubbed his cigarette on a parked black Mercedes. “It doesn’t work without a sidekick. Good door-to-door salesmanship requires a one-two punch. A good cop and a better cop.”

“Sorry, boss,” he said. “I just needed a break.”

His teeth were black and rotted behind his smile. He was probably 18 years old, wore clothes two sizes too big, and a backwards black cap.

Read the rest of the story.