Friday, May 09, 2008

Forgotten Books Friday


Bill Pronzini's GUN IN CHEEK is not your average critical work of the genre of mystery fiction. While books on writing mysteries will guide authors in what makes good writing and books of literary criticism will look carefully at the writing craft over a period of time, Pronzini's book is an encyclopedic reference of what a writer shouldn't do.

Published by Mysterious Press in 1982, GUN IN CHEEK is part of a series of like-minded books that the erudite Pronzini wrote, including SON OF GUN IN CHEEK and SIX-GUN IN CHEEK (a focus on Westerns rather than mysteries).

When I started writing my trunk novel of a young PI-in-training, I bought a crate full of books on how to write, both in the genre of mystery, as well as on general fiction and editing. Randomly coming across this book on one of my regular adventures in the Amazon, I thought it would also be a great idea to have a reference on what to avoid in my writing.

Pronzini delivered with this title, not so much in terms of improving my writing, but by giving me a guaranteed good laugh, as well as saving me the trouble of buying some truly horrid novels.

The book includes chapters on the amateur detective, the private eye, thrillers, Gothic novels (the true pioneers of mystery), pulp-paperbacks and short stories, as well as dedicated chapters on British and Oriental-based mysteries.

With a brilliantly self-deprecating introduction by some guy called Ed McBain, and with gems like the one below, GUN IN CHEEK is definitely worth a thorough going over.

"He poured himself a drink and counted the money. It came to ten thousand even, mostly in fifties and twenty-fives."

Brett Halliday, THE VIOLENT WORLD OF MICHAEL SHAYNE

5 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Daniel. I have this book on my shelf and have never gotten to it. Now I will.

Josephine Damian said...

Alert the media! It's official!

Stuart Neville, my Prince of Darkness, and the writer formerly known as "Conduit," has landed an agent - and not just any agent - but literary powerhouse and legend, Nat Sobel.

His agency, Sobel Weber Associates, New York, represents a few scribes you might have heard of: James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia, American Tabloid), Joseph Wambaugh (The Choirboys, The Onion Field, Hollywood Station), Pulitzer winner Richard Russo (Nobody's Fool, Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs), F.X. Toole (Rope Burns - adapted for the screen as the multi Oscar winning Million Dollar Baby - and Pound for Pound), Robert Jordan (the Wheel of Time series), Tim Dorsey (the Serge Storms series), and many more.

Oh, Nat also loves him some cats. My kind of guy.

And how did Stuart get on the Uber agent’s radar? I’m going to steal a bit of Stuart’s thunder and reveal to my blog peeps that Mr. Sobel scouted him on the Internet. That’s right – a big name agent was scouring the online crime magazines and plucked our man from obscurity. (of course I’ve been singing Stuart’s praises loud and clear since last fall when I first read his work in Agent Nathan’s Bransford’s writing contest). To those of you that don’t believe agents are poking around the world wide web looking for The Next Big Thing – here’s your proof. Here. Is. Your. Proof.

So do stop by and give a big shout out to the literary world’s best and brightest rising star!

http://conduitnovel.blogspot.com/

*shake my booty*

Having already read Stuarts’s manuscript (it already holds the distinction of being only one of four books I liked well enough to finish this year) GHOSTS OF BELFAST, I can tell you it’s nothing by clover ahead for this blessed son of Northern Ireland.

angie said...

This looks like a great book, but...

POST SOMETHING NEW, DAMMIT! I wanna be entertained!

Daniel Hatadi said...

Well, dammit, I guess I'm s'posed to ... just don't feel like it.

angie said...

Lazy ass...