Here I go again putting my ignorance and hubris on further display as I touch on some more categories of favorites for 2010. Again, please let me know what your picks are in the comment section below.
Short Story Collections/Anthologies
Florida Gothic Stories – Vicki Hendricks Hendricks is absolute fearlessness harnessed to astounding talent, fueled by confession and driven by captain Ahab. Will she ever catch what she’s chasing? I, for one, will be along for the whole ride. You have got to read Boozanne, Lemme Be or no, The Big O or no. Forget it. You’ve got to read the whole thing.
Miracle Boy And Other Stories – Pinckney Benedict Benedict is one of the most criminally under-read contemporary American writers. His aesthetic can’t be confined to a blurb. His wheelhouse may be hardscrabble and blue collar, but his imagination can’t be contained. Fourteen generous slices of untamed psychic wilderness. You’ve got to read Pig Helmet & the Wall of Life.
Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem – Jonathan Woods The fever dream state produced by sampling several stories in a row from newcomer Woods is something you may or may not look forward to. I do. I relish the funhouse distortion it puts on the world when I come up for air. A pinch of Charles Bukowski, a dash of Hunter S. Thompson and a heaping spoonful of David Lynch might describe the aesthetic. Might. Jonathan Woods has a unique voice. You’ve got to read Incident in the Tropics.
21 Tales – Dave Zeltserman In a helpful move, this book is arranged into styles of story. It’s really like five different collections from Zeltserman who’s been earning his mantle as the heir apparent of Jim Thompson a book at a time for the last few years. This one showcases his range by leapfrogging all over the map. I’m looking forward to catching up with his back catalog. You’ve got to read A Rage Issue.
Blood, Guts, & Whiskey – Todd Robinson (ed) The third and final anthology from the seminal and recently retired online journal features outstanding stories from Stuart Neville, Sean Doolittle and Derek Nikitas plus a posthumous contribution from Eddie Bunker. You’ve got to read Red Hair and Black Leather by Jordan Harper.
Damn Near Dead 2 – Bill Crider (ed) Who says you’ve got to mellow as you grow old? A second helping of ‘geezer noir’ from the likes of Gar Anthony Haywood, Christa Faust and S.J. Rozan. You’ve got to read The Old Man in the Motorized Chair by Joe R. Lansdale.
Beat To A Pulp – David Cranmer & Elaine Ash (ed) You like your stories fast, cheap and out of control? You looking for tough guys and sexy dames doing nefarious deeds in Technicolor? This one’s for you. Pulp stories crossing genres from crime to sci-fi to western and (gulp) pirates. Yup, pirates. Check out the madness from Charles Ardai, Robert Randisi and Patricia Abbott. You’ve got to read The All-Weather Phantom by Mike Sheeter.
By Hook or By Crook – Ed Gorman & Martin Greenberg (ed) The collected best of mystery and thriller stories from print and electronic publishers published in 2009. This one is an annual solid bet. And bang for your buck – 700 + pages! Mickey Spillane with Max Allan Collins, Laura Lippman and Tom Piccirrilli. You’ve got to read Crazy Larry Smells Bacon by Greg Bardsley.
The Best American Noir of the Century – James Ellroy & Otto Penzler (ed) Insanely rich gaze deep into the uniquely American heart of darkness. If you’ve got a favorite American writer of crime from the last century, they're probably in here along with dozens of contemporaries, acolytes and influences. James M. Cain, Howard Browne and Dorothy B. Hughes all the way through Joyce Carol Oates, David Morrell and Dennis Lehane. You’ve got to read Controlled Burn by Scott Wolven.
The Baddest of the Bad – Matthew Louis (ed) Only the worst of the first three issues of the modern transgressive pulp magazine Out of the Gutter. Check out stories from Victor Gischler, Charlie Stella and Tony Black. You’ve got to read it to believe it.
Needle: A Magazine of Noir – Steve Weddle (senior editor) This quarterly print magazine came out of nowhere in '10 and they seem to mean business. They’ve published three issues so far and created a virtual black hole of morality with stories from Nathan Singer, Sophie Littlefield and Anthony Neil Smith. You’ll also find your future favorite novelists in there, (Hilary Davidson, Stephen Blackmoore, Eric Beetner and Frank Bill all have books coming very soon). And in true pulp form, they are publishing an original serial novel - you’ve got to read Wolf Tickets by Ray Banks.
What are your picks?
Jedidiah Ayres writes fiction and keeps the blog Hardboiled Wonderland.
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