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
Friday, May 09, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
I feel like the hitchhiker in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas that says, "Hot damn. I never rode in a convertible before." Of course, it's a slightly different feeling in that I can legitimately say,
"Hot damn. I never been notable before."
Jamie Ford let me know that my name was on the Story South list of notable short stories online for 2007.
I seem to be getting a lot of mileage out of BUDDHA BEHIND BARS. It feels good. I should write more short stories, but I've been putting my meagre energies into the novel.
Other notables include Anthony Neil Smith, Katherine Tomlinson, Scott Wolven, Paul Guyot and Fleur Bradley.
Thanks to whoever nominated me and also to the judges over at Story South.