After reading Steve Weddle´s ´Country Hardball´ I was looking for more stories by him, and found one, Broken Prayer, in All Due Respect #5, and other authors I wasn´t familiar with. Except Gabino Iglesias whose story in the ´Long Distance Drunks´ anthology already impressed me quite a bit. I can say this with all due respect ;-) that this is a pretty damn solid and fine collection of crime fiction. Impossible for me right now to pick a favorite story, as I have enjoyed them all a ton and some more. Extremely cool and great stuff all of them, and most certainly it makes me want to read more stories or novels by each of those guys.
Broken Prayer by Steve Weddle
Broken Prayer is actually an excerpt from an upcoming novel, but works pretty damn fine as a short story as well. Very much like in ´Country Hardball´ Weddle´s language is sparse and bleak, and he aims more for the vibe and feeling of the place and time, rural and straight back into the 1950´s or thereabouts, than focusing solely on his characters and their actions. The characters play their roles accordingly as well of course, but what makes it great is the whole existence of a time and place coming back to life. Left me feeling haunted and slightly depressed (no complaints here on my part) due to Weddle´s use of language and story telling skills.
Alkaline by Keith Rawson
A second person narrative and while this is rather unusual it is a great way to tell a story as the permanent "you" makes a personal, even disconnected, connection to the "me". A Friday night trip to Vegas, gamblings, lots of drugs and while at times it seems there is something missing in the story it makes sense due lapses in our main character´s memory. This is it kids, don´t do drugs or you may end up in the desert after a delirious road trip. Drunken and stoned, without knowing what happened, even you might be able to remember the bouncers chasing after your ass. A paranoid story where it is hard to say where reality ends and insanity begins.
The Last Laugh by Paul D. Brazill
A revenge story first and foremost with one of the most merciless killers I have run into recently. Godard (Jean-Luc? probably not) isn´t afraid to pull a lot of punches to get back to old enemies and passers by who just stumble into him the wrong way. Also very much appreciated that is set in Spain and France. Gives a nice contrast to the rest of the stories which are solely based on American soil, with a lot of feelings and marvelous descriptions of Madrid. Including some very touching scenes, memories really, about a long lost love.
First Timer´s Club by Angel Luis Colón
The man with the angelic name, and yeap, I´m sure that joke was told a few times already, is telling a story about a gambling addict in the hand of the mob, who does everything that needs to be done to pay back his debts. And he does so fast and with the only way he can think of. Going after another gambling addict with his own debts to pay. ´First Timer´s Club´ is a short, sharp smack with a hammer. Fast and furious, full of grime but with a loving soul underneath all the cruel decision making that needs to be done. There is only double or nothing at all. Plus it has some beautiful and tender dialogue between our main character, Sean, and his girlfriend. What drives him to get out of the hell he is in is clearly his love for Connie, which makes him everything but a douchebag or loser, but someone really easy to relate to.
Second Chance Cleaners (Reprise) by Garnett Elliott
What happens when two cleaners stumble into an empty flat full of weed? A lot actually, especially when the weed is owned by gangsters. What makes this story funny is what happens before everything goes south. No one here is a prime example of a good citizen exactly, but everyone deserves a second chance. Shit stained carpets and all. You gotta love the felons as you love thy neighbor, including their bad decisions.
Seven Hours To Baton Rouge by Gabino Iglesias
Another gangster with a car full of drugs on the run, even the story itself is mostly set at a hotel room where he tries to figure out what happened to him. Too much booze and drugs most of all, but where is his broken nose coming from? Plus a mysterious woman, coz there is always a mysterious woman behind the scene, and you got a story that turns around its own axis. The only one which had me laughing out loud, having a conclusion that is far from what I expected it to be. Slightly on the bizarre but where there is violence there is lust.
Faces Of The Dead Ones by J.J. Sinisi
The most violent and disturbing story of all. A woman on the search for an old time lover and friend who was living the junkie life in a rundown appartment block full of other druggies. Thug life ain´t for sissies, if there is a lesson to be learned from it. An incredible intense story, dark as the night or a dumpster full of the dead. And then the sadness sets in like a sunset while dealing with demons past and present. This story doesn´t go down with a whisper, but with a bang, as loud as the roaring thunder of a gun.
Included in the magazine is also a bunch of non-fiction stuff. Several book reviews which didn´t particulary interest me, so I skipped those. Way more interesting was the longish and informative interview with Steve Weddle, done by Jedidiah Ayres (author of ´Peckerwood´, one of my fave books I have read this year). Meaty is the word to describe it. Weddle goes in full details about his novel ´Country Hardball´, what he wants to achieve as a writer, where his characters and ideas are coming from. As I already got the impression from his novel, Weddle is someone who has found his voice and writes and tells his stories with confidence and convinction. The interview is more like a conversation of two friends, full of mutual respect, and basically the icing on the cake of my new found love for Steve Weddle.