Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review for THE DEATH OF TARPONS

HI folks,

A really thoughtful article about my first novel, The Death of Tarpons, just came out yesterday from the Betimes Books blog. The writer, Hannah Keane, really did a bang-up job and one of the things that impacted me emotionally was how she came up with photos from my hometown of Freeport, Texas where the story was set, one in particular, the shot of the Tarpon Inn which I saw every day of my life. It was at the end of the town square where my grandmother's bar and taxi company sat. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words and in this case it was for me. The day that photo was shot, I know I had looked at the building as I did every day. It put me right there and I could smell the shrimp in the air and just evoked a powerful, powerful memory!


Here's Hannah Keane's article:



By Hannah Keane
On the occasion of the new release of Les Edgerton’s debut novel, The Death of Tarpons, in paperback format by Betimes Books and in electronic format by Endeavour Press, we are taking a look back at what makes Edgerton’s first work of fiction so special. For something which, at first glance, seems so different from his later works, how does it fit so seamlessly in Edgerton’s body of work?

First published in 1996, The Death of Tarpons stands out in Edgerton’s repertoire for how different in tone it is from his subsequent novels. To many, Edgerton is known as an acclaimed crime writer, but his most loyal fans will also know that he has never wanted to limit himself – or be limited – to one genre of writing: from short story collections like Monday’s Meal to young adult fiction such as Mirror, Mirror and plenty of non-fiction, Edgerton has explored writing in its many forms.

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that Edgerton’s first piece of writing is a touching coming-of-age story about a young teenage boy trying to build a better relationship with his father.

“Then, last year, I got this fantastic idea to do something totally on my own, in secret, that would show him once and for all I could do something mechanical. Manly. Then, he would love me and be proud of me and put his arm around me. I decided to build a boat. For him.”

This sounds as far removed as possible from other works like The Rapist or Just Like That but, as one reviewer and fellow author has mentioned, the seeds of Edgerton’s later fiction can indeed be found here.

“Edgerton’s later novels have become Noir classics to many, and ‘The Death of Tarpons’ hints at a moonless childhood that explains the author’s successful literary journeys into darkness.”
Jack Getze, Spinetingler Magazine, 2017

In The Death of Tarpons, young Corey certainly encounters many episodes of darkness. Nearly all of the personal relationships around him are afflicted with violent outbursts or psychological abuse: the regular beatings of his best friend, Destin, and his mother at the hands of his drunken father; the violent reprimands Corey endures from his own father as well as the emotional neglect he and his mother receive from Corey’s father – a neglect that has driven his mother to religious fanaticism.

“Every atom in my body was in fear. I had never seen such a look on his face as there was now, not even at his angriest. It was like the face of God Himself, the face the fire and brimstone preacher Mom listened to, conjured up, Sunday mornings.”

Thus, the darkness one would expect from Edgerton’s work is present in his debut; however, it is tempered by the sweet nature of its protagonist and the loving relationship Corey has with his grandpa.

What allows Edgerton to write across different genres with such success is something that all his works have in common: an honesty that can only come from personal experience. Edgerton has described The Death of Tarpons as being “85% autobiographical” and as being a work which was long in the making, having started writing it at the age of fifteen. The setting of the novel – 1950s era Freeport, Texas – was a place where Edgerton spent part of his childhood and many characters are drawn from real life with, for example, the author’s own grandmother being just as successful and driven a businesswoman as the Grandma character featured in the novel. Just as Edgerton’s own experience as an ex-con gives a realistic edge to his crime fiction, the same truthfulness can be found in his debut.

“The Oyster Bar. The business that had sustained three generations, mine and my sister Doc’s, my parents, and my grandparents. The business that, along with the taxi cab company, my grandmother had created and ruled as her own private fiefdom. Not with some metaphoric iron hand, but with a very real Navy Colt long-barreled .45 on the dash of her taxi”.

Honesty and credibility are what make Edgerton’s writings so distinctive and evocative. When reading The Death of Tarpons, one can really visualise what it was like being a young boy, just out on summer vacation with lots of great plans for how he was going to spend the holidays hanging out with his best friend, fishing with his grandpa and getting closer to his dad.

“All the way downtown, I used lawns, head down, alert for nettles and stickers. When I had to cross a street, leave the coolness of grass, I ran faster, landing on different parts of the soles of my feet. First-day-of-summer-vacation-tootsies were too white and thin-skinned for concrete baked at ninety-plus degrees.”

As with the rest of Edgerton’s work, the vividness of his characters and settings is a result of his personal knowledge of what it was like to be a young teenage boy growing up at this time in the American South. The credibility that comes from writing about places and situations one is familiar with is what gives The Death of Tarpons, as well as Edgerton’s other novels, a distinctive edge.

The Tarpon Inn in Freeport, TX 1954.





Thanks for reading her article. Hope that if you glom onto the book, you'll enjoy the read!

Blue skies,
Les

Monday, March 27, 2017

New cover for my new book.

Hi folks,

Just want to show you the cover for my newest book that will come out in June from Down & Out Books. It's the third cover artist J.T. Lindroos has created for books of mine. He's just a fantastic artist!


Here's what J.T. said about his work:

"A new cover for Les Edgerton and Down & Out Books I’m particularly happy with. I set up this photo in our backyard with a couple of empty bottles, moonlight, two small flashlights and green and white beads from our New Orleans trip.


 The beer bottle up front (Smashing Todd’s Ambergris Reserve Wartime Stout) is a leftover prop from Jeff VanderMeer's  Shriek the Movie."

"Lagniappe" is a word that's very familiar to us natives (and former natives!) of New Orleans--it means "something extra." And, I hope that if you get it you'll agree. It's a collection of new stories that haven't been published in book form until now. All of them have been published by various anthologies.

I'll announce here in June when it becomes available.

Blue skies,
Les

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Article and novel

Hi folks,

Few things happening. I was just notified my short story, Snake Farm, was nominated for an Anthony Award. Please keep your fingers crossed for me and if you are eligible to vote, you know I'd appreciate it!

A good friend of mine, Vince Zandri, just told me his new novel is out... and I'm a major character in it. Cute, Vince... If you'd like to see a truly great character, check out https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2UB7TX

And, Odyssey Press just published an article of mine on their blog. Odyssey is the literary imprint for Endeavour Books, UK's top ebook publisher. They published the ebook version of my novel, The Death of Tarpons. Check it out at http://www.theodysseypress.com/idea-become-story-author-death-tarpons-les-edgerton-tells/




Just sent the final draft--hopefully--of my new novel, Hard Times, to my agent, Svetlana Pironko. Hope she likes it.

And... that's all, folks!

Blue skies,
Les

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Death of Tarpons now in paperback!

HI folks,

I'm jazzed! My first novel, The Death of Tarpons, is now out in paperback. Click on the photo below and it will take you to the site where you can glom onto a copy.



It's now available in both ebook and paperback forms. And, the screenplay I adapted from it and which placed as a semifinalist in the Nicholl's Foundation Awards is getting looks from Hollywood folks. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

This is what I looked like when I wrote this puppy...




The novel is about 85% autobiographical and I wrote about half of it when I was fifteen. It was awarded a Special Citation from the Violet Crown Book Awards which I'm very proud of.

Blue skies,
Les

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Gerald O'Connor's marvelous novel!

Hi folks,

Just want to bring your attention to a novel I highly recommend, Gerald O'Connor's beautiful novel, The Origins of Benjamin Hackett.


This is a book that is very close to my heart. Gerald wrote this book in our online class and we all recognized the genius of the writing immediately. It's a powerful, emotional story and that alone makes it well worth the price, but what really transcends this book is the lyrical, Irish poetic voice that inhabits the book. He has a voice that will move him quickly to the forefront of literature.

It goes on sale tomorrow and I'd urge you to glom onto a copy. It's available in either ebook or paperback format. It's a book that I think you will agree has watercooler value. You know--that kind of book that the day after you read it, you'll go to work, bleary-eyed after staying up all night unable to put it down, and say to your workmates, "You've got to read this book!"

You've got to read this book!

Blue skies,
Les

Saturday, January 28, 2017

THE DERRINGER AWARD

Hi folks,

James R. Tuck, put together a collection of crime and noir stories centered around country music songs and invited me to send him a story which he accepted. Down & Out Books published the book in August. He just told me that the story, SNAKE FARM, has been nominated for a prestigious Derringer Award.


I'm stoked! It's my second Derringer nomination and maybe this time I'll cop one of these things.

You might want to glom onto this. Just click on the cover above. Lots and lots of terrific stories here.

Blue skies,
Les