Thursday, October 29, 2015

Live By Night: First Image

'Live by Night' 

First image from Live By Night the latest Dennis Lehane novel to be directed by Ben Affleck has appeared. Here is the accompanying article from Indiewire.

What can you say about one singular image from a film that will include a hundred thousand or so? It looks good. I'm a sucker for big fields of grass, what can I say? I have enjoyed all of Ben Affleck's directing efforts to date, even if I wasn't wowed by any of them. I don't mean to damn him with faint praise. He is a solid, unpretentious director of capital m 'Movies'. And even if he wasn't making the best thing Dennis Lehane has written in the last ten years I would still go see his next effort.

The movie is slated for a 2017 release which I'm not certain should be believed. In spite of the film already vacating a Fall 2016 date, if the movie is even kind of  good, dollars to donuts it sneaks into a late 2016 release for Award show consideration. A 2017 release date seems more accurate, if early test screenings are shaky and/or more likely Affleck doesn't have enough to time to find the picture in editing because his Batman commitments take up too much of his time. In that case I look for Cannes 2017, wins Palme d'Or and this drops Fall 2017 an interminable two years after filming. WB could counter-program this into a Spring 2017 release. That would condemn it into exactly 0.0 Oscar nominations, and WB wants those Oscars nominations. Altogether this is exciting news, particularly as I thought the minute he took the Batman role Live By Night was condemned to the scrapheap of great un-produced crime fiction movies.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Gorey.

In June I bought a collection of Edward Gorey books via an auction, but lets go back a minute.

In the Summer of 2014 an Edward Gorey site I frequent mentioned an auction of a significant Gorey Collection. A majority of the the books on offer were limited numbered editions, and at the time most were out of my league. I did have my eye on a few things, but the day of the auction all but one spiraled out of responsible financial reach. The one book I did get, The Silent Film, I was the sole bidder.

There was a companion auction that fall. I scanned and passed on all of the Gorey titles. A few books, a lot of paper. None of the books sparked with me. Of course it turns out that a book, The Dripping Faucet was picked up for $250 plus buyer's premium. Flash forward to February of this year. I went to a book show in Pasadena. I chatted with a book seller about his Gorey's for sale. Now I don't think he had a copy of  The Dripping Faucet, but he did explained the uniqueness and rarity of the book to the degree that made me want it immediately. Doing later research I discover how expensive the book is and how cheaply the book went for at the previous auction.

Now, I could let myself off the hook safe in the knowledge that the work of Edward Gorey is vast, and knowing everything is impossible. Because in point of fact I didn't know of the books rare existence until after the auction. Of course this is the point.

The difference between being a buyer of Edward Gorey books and a collector of Edward Gorey books... the collector knows.

More on this soon....

Saturday, October 10, 2015

West Side!

Not at Bouchercon this year and it is a bummer. There was a long layoff between my attendance at Indianapolis in 2009 and Long Beach last year. Of course being there reminded me of all things I love about Crime Fiction and Bouchercon. It is a great place to be among something I dearly love.

What is troubling as I look over Bouchercon past, present, and future is the startlingly few West coast B'Cons. Before Long Beach last year the last West coast B'Con was San Francisco in 2010. 

After Raleigh this year we are looking at New Orleans, Toronto, and St. Petersburg. After that there is a bid for Dallas in 2019, before we get a to possible Sacramento B'Con in 2020. 

Dating back to 2000 West Coast Bouchercons are a bit of rare bird. Long Beach in 2014, SF in 2010, Las Vegas in 2003. Thats it. Add Sacramento in 2020 and that is four Bouchercons in 20 years. Maybe that's just the way it shakes out. The very early years of B'Con are on the West Coast, so this is just the market correction of that history. Still, including Raleigh, Bouchercon will be in the South for three out the next four years.

Seems weird.

I get that the B'Con is fan run and the show goes where there is support for it. This all worked in my favor when I lived on the East Coast. If that were true today I would be sitting in an air conditioned banquet hall in Raleigh right now. But I'm not so I'm resorting to the time honored American tradition of complaining.  

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Recent Purchases and General Mysteries

Back in April I picked up the last two missing Dave Robicheaux books, Heaven's Prisoners and A Morning for Flamingos, for the collection. I feel like this is an oft to told tale, but that may just be for Mrs. Hungry Detective. However in regards to Heaven's Prisoners I thought I would have comfortably owned this book fifteen years ago. Back in the nascent days of the collection that book along with Neon Rain were the most expensive books I could have purchased. It was 1995, and  I had yet to really dig into Crime Fiction in a serious way. The only other authors I bought regularly were John Grisham, Walter Mosely and Clive Cussler. I had just picked up the first two Dennis Lehane books, and Michael Connelly and Robert Crais were a year or so away for being read for the first time. Neon Rain  turned out to be the most expensive book I bought until two years ago when I bought Michael Connelly's The Black Echo with blue rebate band.

When I bought Neon Rain I was a buyer of books. Not a collector. Firing up Ebay and trolling all 8 pages of books in the 'Mystery' section does not a collector make. Spending money, even a lot of money as I did on Neon Rain, is perhaps the easiest criteria to describe oneself as a collector, and the most deceptive. The bar is low even if the financial expenditure is high. I would have called myself a collector then. Now I see that I was not. I was a buyer of books, an enthusiast. It was not until recently that a definition of what a collector is came into my mind. A collector to me has little to do with the money you spend on the object of ones affection nor the time enjoying that object. Like most things in my adult world being a collector is all about the work, and not the this case the procuring and enjoyment of a Crime Fiction novels.

One of the best panels I attend at the 2014 Long Beach Bouchercon was a Friday morning panel about the nature of book collecting. [Editor's Note: If anyone on the Programing Committee for Raleigh and Toronto should ever read this....PLEASE I strongly urge you make the Collecting panel a yearly part of the Conference.] One of the panelists right off the bat took what I thought at the time was broad swipe at the general which I mean those who buy a lot of Crime Fiction .... and said that those people by in large are not collectors. I thought it was a dig at the time, a bit of cheap shot. Nobody like to be told what they are not particularly when we have our own internal monologue for that. My almost immediate second response was to not take offense because the perceived condescension of that comment doesn't really exist. One is one thing and one is another. Pitting a crime fiction enthusiast against a crime fiction collector is a pointless comparison, because one is under the impression that both should be too busy enjoying crime fiction to really care what the other thinks.

As to the nuts and bolts of the acquisition.... Flamingos arrived a little dinged but a new cover hides the small tear. I 'm fine with it. Heaven's Prisoners is essentially flawless. I have spent the better part of decade and half looking for this book. A couple things about that. I bought this copy for just about the same amount that I purchased Neon Rain, and feel very lucky to do so. The other thing speaks more to the metaphysical nature of what happens when one goes on a journey. The 1996-97 version of me would have told you that I would have Heaven's Prisoners  in my possession in within a year or two. The moment I could manage to scrap enough money together is in fact the the day I would buy it. But that is not what happened. So much has happened since then, and a part of that was this easy baggage of having to buy this book. We acquire and shed responsibilities like this most of our lives, but almost never to pay respect to the end of things. The book is a book. I read it years ago. I enjoyed. I even watched the movie. But for as long as I own that book, for as long as it sits on the shelf that book will be more than just the continuing adventures of Dave Robicheaux. The aura that surrounds that book will be the continuing adventures of The Hungry Detective.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The List...again

Thirty is now fourteen. I am at the halfway point of The List. The List was born out of a desire to reinvigorate my interest in Crime Fiction. Almost two years into this plan and I feel good about where I am...emotionally....physically...with Crime Fiction

Although difficult to quantify I knew that the smart play two years ago was to focus on my core authors as a way to rekindle my interest in Crime Fiction. Chasing new authors with 'hot' debuts had lead me to a kind of ruin. My shelves became littered with authors and their two book deals that had come to nothing. A bunch three out of five star books that passed the time but never excelled.

The other effect this plan had was to appease my desire to buy books. All those disappointing debuts that amounted to so much nothing still needed replacing. The promise of buying a book is completely separate from the shrug that it can elicit when I read the last page. Filling the gaps of my core authors also filled the need I have to obtain more books, with the added benefit of buying books I had already enjoyed. A large part of me realizes that rekindling my interest in Crime Fiction is a more commercial one, but I am also aware of the failings of consumer therapy [Editor's Note: Please see my late 20's and early 30's]. Simply stated buying these books has been among the more pleasurable moments I have had immersed in the world of Crime Fiction.

James Lee Burke - Heavens Prisoner's - Black Cherry Blues - A Morning for Flamingos
Even though the remaining three are nearing 30 years old I still expected to have checked these books off the list by now. Admittedly I have had blinders on about HEAVENS PRISONER'S to even see many copies of BLACK CHEERY BLUES or A MORNING FOR FLAMINGOS. The three or four copies of HEAVENS PRISONER'S I have seen have all been nice copies saving for the inscription to the previous owner. The BLACK CHERRY BLUES copies have all been 'reminder' marked like the one I currently own. And A MORNING FOR FLAMINGOS has made only one appearance at a show back when this whole endeavor kicked off. It almost made it home with me , but then I saw a copy of THE BLACK ECHO with blue rebate band....

Robert Crais - The Monkey's Rainbow

The US first is a paperback from 1987. The UK hardcover is from 1989. The US hardcover came in 1993. The US paperback can be had for around a $100 which is great because the UK HB is $400-500. I have gonna back and forth on this one as I  am almost exclusively a hardcover collector. I decided that as Mr. Crais is an American author going for the, thankfully, cheaper pb is the only play. I did see a paperback copy at the Long Beach Bouchercon for $60(?) and never gave it more than a passing glace before someone else snapped it up. I should have had my head examined....

Sean Doolittle - Dirt

I'll have to buy this from the internet as I have never seen a copy...not ever. I can only imagine the tiny print run this book had. I still I feel like I'll roll across this in some used bookstore at some point as the the publisher was Los Angeles based.

Alan Furst - Night Soldiers - Dark Star - The World at Night - Spies of Balkan

Patience is the name of the game on Mr. Furst. He is a well regarded author and I have seen these books every now and again, so I am hopeful to grab them. 

Craig Johnson - Kindness Goes Unpunished - The Dark Horse
Olen Steinhauer - The Tourist

Like much of this list, I would have thought I could have cleaned up a few of these titles. Some random books store here or there. I think they are all a little too old to still be hanging on in some dusty book store in Glendale, CA. Believe me I have looked, several times. I did run into a THE TOURIST at The Strand in NYC, but the copies were beat. I also saw it at the California Antiquarian Book show in 2014. I just thought $40 was $10 too much for the book. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Economics and the Future II

[Editor's Note: I have massaged this piece for longer than I care to admit. One should never openly denigrate ones work, but in wondering why this has taking me so long to finish I confront two options. One, I was trying to get it 'right,' and that is true up to a point. I am driving at something with this post that I am never quite able to quantify, hence the endless editing. Which then leads me into the second reason, that it just doesn't make any sense. The post starts by making a point then goes about proving it...or not proving it in this the least effective way possible.] 

I wish my ennui with Amazon had something to do with any one of the corporate messes that they have found themselves in over the last ten years, but that is not the reason. In a previous post I figured, through some suspect math, that I spend $700 a year on new Crime Fiction. While this number does not account for used, and rather expensive back catalog books, it is a useful number to understand the Crime Fiction I do buy as a recurring expenditure. $700 is not an insignificant number, and leaving behind Amazon will cost me more money. However, it is an expense I can absorb. [Editor's Note: Full disclosure, Amazon will be necessary for a handful of items. Are those Thomas Mercer books available elsewhere?] 

This brings me around to the reason why I am doing this. Condition. During the bulk of my book buying/collecting I was rabid about condition, going so far as to buy the book and read a library copy. Eventually I abandoned that practice primarily for it being overly precious. Reading the books became very much at the core of the whole process of buying and collecting Crime Fiction.

Then two years ago I went to a signing in Los Angeles. It was for the release of SUSPECT by Robert Crais. I got to the store early enough to look over the stack of books to find one in good condition because there was no reason not too. I presented the book to the cashier who gave the book the once over for reasons I can not fathom. She was not checking the price because everyone was there to buy one book, the same book, and I was hardly the first person to do so. After she does this, she rings it up and then sets the book down and grabs another book from the large pile on the shelf behind her and hands me that book.Which of course was dinged on a corner. It marked the bookstore as I have never been back since that night. [Editor's Note: I went to another signing last week has been a long editing process....] The casualness of the cashier's decision is something I never forgot. Even more mystifying was my acceptance of the situation when I wanted to simply point and say 'Look you clearly don't give damn, but can I have the book I gave you' [Editors Note: If it makes you feel any better this circumstance happened once before and you did ask for the book you picked out...although I think you were slightly calmer about the whole thing than your imagined rejoinder here indicates]. I was reminded instantaneously that the words and the book carry equal weight for me, and that there is no reason to have to choose one over the other. There is nothing wrong with wanting both. It was this realization that forced me to look at 'why' I was doing all of this. Yes it is about about my passion for Crime Fiction, but it is also about my passion for an object.

I could save money going with Amazon, but honestly, the extra money would only finds it way to other books. The secondary outcome here is that buying local will help support the independent bookstore community, so if they benefit from my clearly unstable behavior on this matter then it is a win-win for everyone.

[Editor's Note: See what I mean....]

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Economics and the Future.

I was thinking about the economics of my Crime Fiction buying. What are they exactly? How many and how much? My Amazon purchases over the last few years would be an accurate reflection of that number. I feel like that leaves out a great deal, and for the purposes of this exercise I want to know what the amount is without it reflecting Amazon's typical 30-50% discount.

The goal here is to produce a number that I can craft a budget around. If I spend 'X' on new books and 'Y' on used books I can plan better. Plan mainly for the 'Y' because the 'Y' figure for used books is unknowable to an extent. I could get HEAVEN'S PRISONERS by James Lee Burke for $200 or $300 depending on the circumstances. The latest Michael Connelly is going to be $27.95, and the one next year is going to be the same price or a dollar or two more. I can plan for the incremental movements of that situation more than I can in the used market where the price can move in one direction...usually up...significantly and quickly.

The first useful objective is to define The Hungry Detective Core Collection. What authors do I buy?

Ace Atkins, Mark Billingham, Stephen Booth, James Lee Burke, Sean Chercover, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Clive Cussler, Sean Doolittle, James Ellroy, Alan Furst, Chris Grabenstein, Steven Hockensmith, Maureen Jennings, Craig Johnson, Laurie R. King, Michael Koryta, Dennis Lehane, Michael McGarrity, Adrian McKinty, Edward Marston, Walter Mosley, Marcus Sakey, George Pelecanos, Olen Steinhauer, Troy Soos, Duane Swierczynski, and Fred Vargas.

This sausage fest is twenty-seven authors, about ten more than I thought it would be. It is daunting to consider that I buy this many books year in and year out. Couple this with a desire to add more authors to the core....and you know... daunting. I can whittle that number down a little. A few authors listed here no longer seem to write books or have switched genres to ones that do not interest me. There are also a couple authors on this list for sentimental reasons, and while they continue to write Crime Fiction I no long read them for any number of reasons.

The list can further be cut by another eight to ten authors because they just don't release on a yearly bases. [Editor's Note: Thank you very much...] Most are every other year, but someone like James Ellroy is every four to five. I'll have to figure another metric for these authors.

Then the number can be further parsed by the fact that some authors do paperback originals which shaves the down the cost a bit.

The big intangible here is that I will always pick up a book...or many new books in case of a Bouchercon... for which I never knew I would be interested in. I am not sure what to do here. I have spent that last three years or so being very careful about this kind of purchase. No new books that did directly go to the yearly maintenance of the authors I collect. Still I should account for some number. To that end I'll add back five books to the estimated yearly total.

So the number is twenty. I buy twenty authors year in and year out. Sixteen of those authors produce hardcovers. Four will produce trade paperbacks.  Hardback range in price but I averaged it to 26.95. I added California sales tax to that and come up with $29.11 per book. [Editor's Note: Sales tax? Really?]

$29.11 x 16 = $465.76
Trade paperbacks I valued at $14.95, plus the tax of $1.20 is $16.15 per book

$16.15 x 4 = $64.60

As for the eight to ten authors that I will buy every other year, I decided that I will purchase six of those authors in any given year. To account for the variation of buying more some years and less in other,  I'll budget the full hard cover price, although some of these purchases will be at trade paper cost. The dual advantage of this likely high estimate is that I will also be purchasing UK only releases which cost north of thirty dollars a book. The overage of these six books will be another contingency factor.

$29.11 x 6 =  $161.70

Total - $692.06

Rounding up I am surprised that the amount is only $700. I figured it was at least $1000. [Editor's Note: Well if you add in the used books you are well over $1000 so congratulations.] The fact that it is only $700, means I can do something I have kind of wanted to do for awhile.

I'm breaking up with time on Serial....