Friday, June 22, 2018

BRIT MARK RAMSDEN INTERVIEWS ME

Hi folks,

Brit writer and jazz musician, Mark Ramsden, interviews me on his blog about my forthcoming memoir, Adrenaline Junkie. Click here to see it.

Blue skies,
Les     

Sunday, May 13, 2018

GREAT REVIEW FOR MONDAY'S MEAL!


Hi folks,

I just received an email from a European writer I much admire, JJ Toner, and he wanted me to see the review he’d just written for Monday’s Meal for Amazon. Take a look.


Monday’s Meal review:

Click here


Extraordinary!
An extraordinary collection of stories by a master storyteller, each one a gem. What I particularly love about this wonderful book is the way each story is presented in a different narrative voice, each voice totally convincing and fully developed. For the most part, the narrators are observers, some closer to the action than others. It’s a marvellous storytelling technique. We have a child, a couple of prisoners, an accomplice to a crazy crime, a desperate starving mother, the client of a dancer, and one airhead young woman, to mention just a few. The stories in this collection reminded me strongly of the work of Flannery O’Connor – the same insights into life’s little tragedies, the same precision of presentation. I like to think that O’Connor’s work could be described as a string quartet. Edgerton’s is a brass band. A New Orleans jazz band, playing at full volume! Grab a copy. 5 Stars.

JJ Toner, Author, The Gingerbread Spy and others

This is easily one of the best reviews I’ve ever gotten. It means a lot when anyone gets what you’re trying to do with your writing and when that person is a fellow writer, it means even more. Fellow writers are just a tough room!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, JJ!

Blue skies,
Les



Friday, May 11, 2018

JUST SOLD ITALIAN LANGUAGE RIGHTS TO THE RAPIST AND THE BITCH THANKS TO MAURO FALCIANI



Hi folks,

I often have beginning writers ask me how to go about getting published. I give them all the usual advice which I won’t repeat here as it’s mostly yesterday’s news, but I just sold several of my novels because of a little-known method.

All you have to do is get a respected bookseller to proclaim your talents to publishers. That’s exactly what just happened to this happy camper.

My Italian amigo, Mauro Falciani, owner of the Mucho Mojo Club in Italy has been a fan of my work for several years. He owns one of the coolest independent bookstores in Europe. At one time, it was located inside a nightclub.




MUCHO MOJO CLUB


For several months, he’s been singing my praises to Italian publisher Odoya Edizioni, who recently purchased the bankrupted publisher that published Harry Crews, Neil Smith, Carl Hiassen, Victor Gischler, Derek Raymond, James Lee Burke and many others, and last week Mauro emailed me to inform me that the publisher wanted him to find 3-4 strong authors to publish each year and that I was the first name he gave him. He said the publisher wanted to speak with my agent as soon as possible.

I contacted my agent, Svetlana Pironko, who knew the publisher and they quickly made a deal for the Italian rights to The Rapist, to be followed shortly with a deal for The Bitch, and they’ll be looking at other work of mine.

Now, Mauro wants me to come to Italy around Christmas to appear at his store and he’s talking to the folks at Odoya to see if they might sponsor such a trip.

So there it is—a little-known way to get books published! Of course, booksellers like Mauro aren’t on every corner but they are out there! And, publishers respect their advice.

Thanks, Mauro! You rock, mate!

Here’s the email Mauro sent after I told him the deal had gone through…

I’m very happy and fierce , my friend!!!
You have done so much for the MUCHO MOJO CLUB and so it was natural for me
to do the same for you! 
If you want, it will be great from you to write down a facebook post and tell the
whole thing from the beginning. Writers have to know that this crazy thing called mojo
works. Write all and mention me, my bookshop, the MUCHO MOJO CLUB!!!
I talked with the publisher, if you’re good we will make you come to Italy, all paid
in time for Christmas when I will have Joe Clifford, published right now in Italian!!!
What you think?
Mauro

Well, I think I’d be absolutely delighted, Mauro!

Blue skies,
Les






Monday, April 23, 2018

MONDAY'S MEAL IS OUT!

Hi folks,

My first collection of short stories, Monday's Meal, was released in ebook format today from the good folks at Down and Out Press. It was originally published as a paperback by the University of North Texas Press and was nominated for the Violet Crown Book Award. This is the writing I'm the proudest of. It received rave reviews by such as the NT Times,Texas Monthly, Publisher's Weekly, the School Library Journal,  and by such august literary organizations as Studies in Short Fiction. Some of the brightest literary writers gave it their thumbs-up.

Amazon link


Two of the stories were written when I was 12 and 13. At 12 I wrote, "Hard Times" and a year later, I lay on my couch and wrote "Broken Seashells." Most of the other stories were written before I was 21. Currently, at the behest of my agent, Svetlana Pironko, who urged me to expand "Hard Times" into a novel (which I'm doing) and who told me the story has "haunted her" since she read it and said that if I wrote it well, it could rival NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

The story, "I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger" which appeared in the South Carolina Review, was later expanded into my novel titled THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING and also the screenplay of the same title which placed as a Finalist in both the Writer's Guild and the Best of Austin competitions.

And THE MOCKINGBIRD CAFE and another story not in this collection, IN THE ZONE, were both published by the august litmag, High Plains Literary Review, whose editor, Dr. Robert O. Greer, told me several years later that he assumed I was a black writer (Dr. Greer is a black man) and was very surprised to discover I was white. That was quite a complement!

I'm  very proud that these stories represent a myriad of voices, including a black man, a woman, a deranged prison inmate and many other personas. I think if you didn't see a single name on this collection, you'd just assume it was a collection of a number of writers. I really don't see many contemporary writers capable of doing this and that gives me a lot of pride.

I hope that this book will be exposed to an entirely new generation and that they find it compelling.

If you do read it and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. That's the single best thing anyone can do to help out a writer.

Here's what others had to say about MM: 


Reviews

For MONDAY’S MEAL

The sad wives, passive or violent husbands, parolees, alcoholics and other failures in Leslie H. Edgerton's short-story collection are pretty miserable people. And yet misery does have its uses. Raymond Carver elevated the mournful complaints of the disenfranchised in his work, and Edgerton makes an admirable attempt to do the same. He brings to this task an unerring ear for dialogue and a sure-handed sense of place (particularly New Orleans, where many of the stories are set). Edgerton has affection for even his most despicable characters—"boring" Robert, who pours scalding water over his sleeping wife in "The Last Fan"; Jake, the musician responsible for his own daughter's death in "The Jazz Player"; and Tommy in 'I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger," whose plan to get hold of some money involves severing the arm of a rich socialite—but he never takes the reader past the brink of horrible fascination into a deeper understanding. In the best story, "My Idea of a Nice Thing," a woman named Raye tells us why she drinks: "My job. I'm a hairdresser. See, you take on all of these other people's personalities and troubles and things, 10 or 12 of 'em a day, and when the end of the day comes, you don't know who you are anymore. It takes three drinks just to sort yourself out again." Here Edgerton grants both the reader and Raye the grace of irony, and without his authorial intrusion, we find ourselves caring about her predicament.—Denise Gess. The New York Times Book Review, November 16, 1997

*                                                          *                                                          *
Leslie H. Edgerton's new collection fully meets John Updike's explanation of why we read short stories: "Each is a glimpse into another country: an occasion for surprise, an excuse for wisdom, and an argument for charity." The country of Edgerton's stories, in geographic terms, is New Orleans and the Texas Gulf Coast. In human terms, Edgerton's territory is peopled by nightclub musicians, cafe owners, teenage delinquents, inmates and ex-cons, the poor and uneducated, the heartless and violent, and a snooty former debutante.
Monday's Meal is a busy collection of twenty-one stories. A handful of these include recurring characters, enhancing the sense throughout the book that Edgerton is writing about a community rather than simply a series of individuals. The character with whom we become best acquainted is Evan, a.k.a. Pete: "Now Pete's not my real name, it's my middle name. Peter, actually. But when your first name's Evan, and you hang out where I do, you want to use something else." Evan/Pete hangs out in the seedier precincts of New Orleans. In "I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger" and "Ten Cents a Dance," he gets involved in, respectively, a botched kidnapping and the pursuit of an uninterested prostitute. His ex-wife, the blueblood narrator of "Princess," finds it horrific how he now "hangs out with low-lifes, even street people. God!" Evan/Pete, though, is a street-wise, philosophizing, get-by-as-best-you-can kind of guy who moves through a part of New Orleans never viewed from the tour bus.
Evan/Pete is an amusing character, yet not all of Edgerton's down-and -outers are. "The Jazz Player" portrays an angry young man desperate to release "that intense, throbbing, terrible, last blast of pent-up fury and frustration and guilt and anguish and loss and death." In "The Mockingbird Cafe," one of the strongest stories here for its concision, a black prison escapee endures a white cop's tormenting of him and then sullenly walks away. In "Rubber Band," a kid just released from the reformatory, made cynical and weary of the world, anticipates his own snapping point. While Edgerton can sketch a city hardship scene comparable to Joseph Mitchell's--and several of the stories have the casualness of familiar essays about them--Edgerton establishes the kind of convincing, and wrenching, interiority with his characters achieved by only the most adept fiction writers.
Edgerton does not write exclusively about people living on society's fringe. Sometimes his characters--as in "The Last Fan," about a dullard husband's violent turn, or "Voodoo Love," about a yuppie couple's falling out--are simply headed in that direction. To his credit, Edgerton aims for range in his characters. While suspicion of identity interlopers across ethnic and gender lines is often justified, the smart writer adopts various personae in order to strive for empathy and understanding, rather than appropriation. "My Idea of a Right Thing" exemplifies this purpose in its striking account of a woman's struggle with alcoholism and the (often) predominantly male world of Alcoholics Anonymous. Less dramatic, though no less vivid, "Telemarketing" is the story of a woman dealing with an emotionally distant husband and a pair of needy neighbors as she runs the cafe she owns and longs to have a child.
Even Edgerton's most harrowing stories, such as "Hard Times," about the deadly abandonment of a woman and her children, read effortlessly. The prose throughout is vibrant and precise. At times, the author's sharp ear for colloquial mannerisms tends to turn his speakers into Runyonesque caricatures, as when the high-brow belle in "Princess" exclaims indignantly, "Why, I'd just die!" On the other hand, such dialect adds as much local color as references to the Camellia Cafe or beignets. A case in point: after protesting how he was "bum-rapped on that litigious," the narrator of "Dream Flyer" gripes about the "effrippery" of his jailers for putting him in the same cell with an "orignal-diginal" like the Dream Flyer, who's scheduled to be "exterminated for something he didn't do." In fiction as in life, I suppose, better too much of a good thing than not enough.
Once again, the University of North Texas Press deserves high praise for its commitment to publishing superb contemporary fiction. Leslie H. Edgerton is a writer one should continue to seek out in the literary magazines and on the new-releases shelf.
Studies in Short Fiction, Summer, 1997,  by Peter Donahue, Sam Houston State University
COPYRIGHT 1997 Studies in Short Fiction
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

                                        *                                                          

Reading Les Edgerton’s stories is like listening to those old World War II broadcasts from the London blitz, with the reporter crouching under a restaurant table, microphone in hand, while the bombs drop on the city and the ceiling caves in. Edgerton reports on the world and the news is not good. There’s a kind of wacky wisdom in these bulletins from the underside of life; the stories are full of people you hope never move in next door, for whom ordinary life is an impossible dream. This is good fiction; Edgerton writes lean and nasty prose.
                        Dr. Francois Camoin, Director, Graduate School of English, University of Utah and author of Benbow and Paradise, Like Love, But Not Exactly, Deadly Virtues, The End of the World Is Los Angeles and Why Men Are Afraid of Women.

                                                      *                                                          
Les Edgerton is much more than a fiction writer or a story teller. When you read his work, your ears prick up, your eyes go wide, and your spine tingles. You get the sense that Edgerton has been there, lived the lives of his characters, fought their fights, cried their tears, placed their bets, drank their Wild Turkey, smoked their cigarettes. He writes with a stunning accuracy, a convincing authority and a stark reality. At the same time, he strikes a balance between beauty, sensitivity and humor. Edgerton isn’t concerned with keeping your interest. He wants to reach into your heart, tear it out, hold it for you while it’s still beating! His New Orleans and South Texas settings are as rough, romantic and quintessentially American as the writer himself. His themes are Ray Carver meets Charles Bukowski. Edgerton is not just another stunning narrative talent, he is an important narrative authority--a master of his or any other generation.
                        Vincent Zandri, Author of As Catch Can, Permanence, and Godchild.

                                                  *                                                          
Monday’s Meal is filled to bursting with writing you can taste. Whether dining on bisque and blackened redfish at an upscale cafe, or eating rank mule meat in a pine board cabin, the characters in Edgerton’s world bite down hard and grind up one another with their back teeth. Their authenticity is palpable as soft-shelled clams; these are sad, mean, fully human characters who long for connection almost as fiercely as they fear it. Monday’s Meal is a most satisfyingly vivid and visceral feast.
                        Melody Henion Stevenson, Author of The Life Stone of Singing Bird

                                                          *                                                          
Edgerton’s best stories are uncompromising in their casual amorality. They stare you down over the barrel of a gun, rip you up whether or not the trigger gets squeezed.
                        Diane Lefer, Creative writing teacher at UCLA and on the MFA in Writing Faculty at Vermont College. Author of The Circles I Move In and has received fellowships from the NEA as well as five PEN Syndicated Fiction prizes.
                                                          *                                                          

From his New Orleans’ setting, Les Edgerton creates a vivid and compelling world. We feel the rhythm of his language and live in the skins of his characters. Altogether, a memorable experience.
                        Gladys Swan, Faculty member, Missouri University and on the MFA in Writing faculty at Vermont College. Author of A Visit To Stranger, Do You Believe in Cabeza de Vaca? and other novels and collections.

                                                         *                                                          
Les Edgerton updates Everyman for the turn of this century. Their resumes filled with failed relationships, hapless schemes and desultory crimes, his characters inhabit some of the hardest ground south of the Mason-Dixon, a place where the tragic often turns a corner only to collide with the comic, and where the closest thing to hope is a shrug.
                        Carol Anshaw, Author of Aquamarine  and Seven Moves. A recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, winner of the Carl Sandburg Award and the Society of Midland Authors Award, and a recipient of a NEA Fellowship.

                                                          *                                                          
Humor, tragedy, all part of 'Monday's Meal'
By Darragh Doiron
Got a few days to spend in New Orleans? Or some other part of Texas, like Freeport?
            "Monday's Meal" is Leslie H. Edgerton's collection of short stories that take readers to cafes, lonely apartments and to Big Easy dance halls, bars and restaurants.
            The burly, bald man in the Saints jacket pictured on the book's back is a hair dresser. Edgerton also teaches creative writing online for the UCLA Extension Writers Program. Some of his characters are hair dressers, or dog groomers, too.
            It was my pleasure to relax with his character studies. In "Blue Skies" a man think about how his mentally challenged daughter will always take her bite from the middle of her sandwich, not from the corner like adults do.
            "My Idea of a Nice Thing" stops in on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and "Hard Times" captures the despair of a family starving in their cabin. In "A Shortness of Breath" a old herb woman reveals why all the men in a family seem to die at age 47—they really die when they use up all the breaths they've been allotted.
            There's humor and tragedy in this University of North Texas Press release ($14.95, 817-565-2142). I love how his characters' actions point out the difference between New Orleans natives and tourists. Port Arthur News, August 2, 1998

                                                          *                                                          
From Library Journal
This collection of short fiction by the author of The Death of Tarpons (LJ 3/15/96) contains considerable variety of tone, voice, and subject matter, but the majority of the stories fall into two distinct groups. A large number of stories focus on troubled and deeply self-absorbed men who seem surprised to find themselves in failed romantic relationships. These men stoically endure the collapse of relationships they have helped destroy, and Edgerton handles the psychological complexities of both his male and his female protagonists very effectively. A number of other stories focus on marginal Pulp Fiction types who are haunted by personal demons and are drawn to violence. In stories that range in tone from the comic and farcical to the darkly tragic and grim, Edgerton draws memorable portraits of these dangerous and unpredictable characters. Many of the stories in this collection are set in and around New Orleans, and Edgerton describes this milieu well. Recommended. Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community-Technical Coll., Ct.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

                                                         *                                                          

YA—This collection of 21 unsettling stories will appeal to readers looking for nontraditional contemporary plots with characters living on the fringes of society. These strange tales often revolve around macabre happenings, such as dismemberment, murder, kidnapping, cannibalism, or death. Many are set in the French Quarter of New Orleans with its jazz musicians, numerous bars, night walkers, and even voodoo. Several selections will haunt readers for some time as events often take a morbid twist; others will leave them wondering about the endings. YAs who enjoy reading Stephen King or watching The Twilight Zone will eat up these unique, often gruesome, at times humorous, short stories.Dottie Kraft. School Library Journal, January, 1998

                                                          *                                                          
Jane Bouterse's WRITERS AT WORK (KTXK Radio)
The Book: MONDAY'S MEAL Stories by Leslie H. Edgerton
(Excerpts)
Monday, in the older South, was traditionally washday, and a week's worth of dirty laundry meant a day of hard labor. Large families still had to be fed, so Monday's meals were often "one pot" concoctions with a little bit of everything, including surprise ingredients. But simmered all together Monday's meal was frequently the best meal of the week. Thus Texas born Leslie Edgerton entitled his first collection of short stories MONDAY'S MEAL.
            Edgerton's stories are a concoction, including surprise ingredients. They happen in all kinds of places: New Orleans, Indiana, the small towns of Texas, the streets of the Big Easy, the poverty stricken South. The people who populate the stories include both the predictable and the unusual. For example, not this description of the protagonist in his story "The Bad Part of Town:" "He was so mean that wherever he was standing became the bad part of town." Other characters include dance hall girls, recovering alcoholics making tough choices, jazz players, Arnold and Amelia Critchen, victims of hard times, a spoiled Princess, or an old man gathering seashells and remembering. The cast is large and varied and demanding because a reader cannot leave them without having shared a bit of his own humanity and discovered a little of that all important inner self.
            ...Edgerton's characters win a few and lose a few.
            '''The Street of Dreams. I guess we've all been there. Historian Bonaro Overstreet in an essay "Little Story, What Now?" explores the possibilities for the survival of the short story, a nineteenth century infant. She decides that, despite its youth, the short story will survive well into the twenty-first century because of its resilience, its ability to distill the experience of its time, whether inside or outside its characters and to give that experience back to readers so they see themselves more clearly. Edgerton achieves that potential in his mixture of stories, a rare concoction; clearly a meal which lives up to its name.—"Writers at Work" is heard on KTXK Stereo 91.5 FM, the Broadcast voice of Texarkana College, Mondays at 6:00 PM; Wednesdays at 12:25 PM, and Fridays at 8:00 AM.

                                                          *                                                          

Similar subjects and skills (reference to preceding review of Katherine L. Hester's book, "Eggs for Young America") mark the work of Leslie H. Edgerton, who peoples the tales of Monday's Meal with alcoholics, inmates, and an abandoned family that survives on mule stew. The Freeport native, who lives today in Fort Wayne, Indiana rates extra credit for his hook 'em openings ("He was so mean that wherever he was standing became the bad part of town") and punch finales ("Color my ass gone").—Anne Dingus. Texas Monthly, 22 October, 1997.

                                                        *                                                          

There's no question that Leslie Edgerton loves to write... he does it so well! Edgerton deals with people often called 'losers' in a wonderfully poignant way and his affection for his characters gives strength to this collection of stories, one of which has received the Pushcart nomination. Join our support of this fine writer which Arts Indiana Magazine calls "one of Indiana's best writers."—Border's Bookstore Newsletter, September 27, 1997.


From GOODREADS:

Paul Brazill gave 5 of 5 stars to:
Monday's Meal by Leslie Edgerton
Monday's Meal: Stories
by Leslie Edgerton
read in June, 2011
           

LES EDGERTON

Who makes the best beer in the world? Maybe the Czech or Belgians. Definitely not the Danes. Or the Americans.

But when it comes to short stories, well, the Americans rule the roost, they really do. Flannery O’ Connor, Raymond Carver, Stephen King, Dorothy Parker, Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, Kyle Minor. Loads and loads more.

And you can add Les Edgerton to that list.

Monday’s Meal by Leslie H Edgerton was published in 1997 and contains twenty-one tales of dirt realism. Sharp slices of American life. They’re set in New Orleans and Texas. Sometimes in bars or behind bars. They’re about café owners, hairdressers, nightclub musicians, prisoners, ex-cons, drifters and drinkers.

Monday’s Meal opens and closes ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Monday’s Meal, tales of strained relationships.’ But the real meat is sandwiched between them. And Monday's Meal is particularly meaty.

Some favourites: ‘The Mockingbird Café’ is the story of a man in a low-rent bar trying to mind his own business; ‘Hard Times’ is bleak and scary and brilliantly written; ‘The Last Fan’ is a tragic look at a shattered marriage; ‘My Idea Of A Nice Thing’ is a touching and sad story of an alcoholic’s crumbling life;’Telemarketing,’ is the story of a young couple just trying to get by; ‘I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger,’ is a Runyonesque crime story.

And there’s plenty more to enjoy in Monday’s Meal. Edgerton has a strong and sure grasp of the lives of people who are standing on the edge of a precipice.

And Les Edgerton will soon have a new short story collection published by the hip new kids on the block, Snubnose Press, which can’t be bad!

Paul Brazill, Author,  A Case Of NoirGuns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, The Last Laugh, and Kill Me Quick!

*
Thanks for reading this. Hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed writing these stories!

Blue skies,
Les



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hi folks,

For the first time, my short story collection, MONDAY'S MEAL, is being offered as an ebook. There are a few remaining paperback copies still available from the original publisher, the University of North Texas Press as well.

I view MM as my very best work. It was my second published work of fiction and I was definitely an unknown at the time and it gave me great pride when the NY Times compared me favorably to Raymond Carver. Actually, I didn't know who Carver was at the time but learned quickly after the Times review came out. A few days before it was published, a story of mine was chosen for a Tim O'Brien workshop and during the workshop he pulled me aside and told me my work reminded him of  Ray Carver. When  the Times review came out, coupled with Tim's comment to me, I ran out and bought a copy of Carver's stories and instantly felt like I'd found a soulmate. (Actually, I didn't know who Tim O'Brien was, either. at the time, and then learned he was a big deal in the writing game...)

It's being offered as a prepub sale if you just click below the cover. It goes on regular sale on April 23.



Click here.


Here are a few of the blurbs it garnered at the time:

Praise for MONDAY’S MEAL: 

“The sad wives, passive or violent husbands, parolees, alcoholics and other failures in Les Edgerton's short-story collection are pretty miserable people. And yet misery does have its uses. Raymond Carver elevated the mournful complaints of the disenfranchised in his work, and Edgerton makes an admirable attempt to do the same.” —The New York Times Book Review 

“Reading Les Edgerton’s stories is like listening to those old World War II broadcasts from the London blitz, with the reporter crouching under a restaurant table, microphone in hand, while the bombs drop on the city and the ceiling caves in. Edgerton reports on the world and the news is not good. There’s a kind of wacky wisdom in these bulletins from the underside of life; the stories are full of people you hope never move in next door, for whom ordinary life is an impossible dream. This is good fiction; Edgerton writes lean and nasty prose.” —Dr. Francois Camoin, Director, Graduate School of English, University of Utah 

“Edgerton’s best stories are uncompromising in their casual amorality. They stare you down over the barrel of a gun, rip you up whether or not the trigger gets squeezed.” —Diane Lefer, Creative Writing Instructor in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts 

“When it comes to short stories, Americans rule the roost. Flannery O’ Connor, Raymond Carver, Stephen King, Dorothy Parker, Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, Kyle Minor. And you can add Les Edgerton to that list. Monday’s Meal contains twenty-one tales of dirt realism, sharp slices of American life. Edgerton has a strong and sure grasp of the lives of people who are standing on the edge of a precipice.” —Paul Brazill, author of Too Many Crooks and The Last Laugh 

“Filled to bursting with writing you can taste. Whether dining on bisque and blackened redfish at an upscale cafe, or eating rank mule meat in a pine board cabin, the characters in Edgerton’s world bite down hard and grind up one another with their back teeth. Monday’s Meal is a most satisfyingly vivid and visceral feast.” —Melody Henion Stevenson, author of The Life Stone of Singing Bird 

“This collection of 21 unsettling stories will appeal to readers looking for nontraditional contemporary plots with characters living on the fringes of society. Several selections will haunt readers for some time as events often take a morbid twist; others will leave them wondering about the endings.”—School Library Journal

I hope y'all glom onto a copy and if you find it worthwhile, please consider leaving a review on Amazon and other sites. I'd really appreciate it!

Blue skies,
Les

Sunday, April 1, 2018

German reviews of THE RAPIST

Hi folks,

German publisher Pulpmaster is publishing the German language edition of three of my novels--THE RAPIST, THE BITCH, and THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING, and recently, the publisher, Frank Nowatzke, told me they want the German rights to my memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE, as soon as it's released this fall from Down&Out Books. THE RAPIST has been out for awhile and in June, THE BITCH will be released and hopefully the GENUINE KIDNAPPING will come out this fall. It depends on how quickly the translation can be completed.

I thought I'd share a few of the reviews German readers have posted in the German version of Amazon. I've always thought THE RAPIST in particular, would appeal to the German sensibility and that seems to have been borne out. Here they are and if anyone is interested in seeing the German Amazon site, just go here.



Customer Reviews
FromMafölinoon the 16th of August 2017
Format: Paperback |Verified Purchase
Time is running out for Truman Pinter. He is in jail, convicted of rape and murder, awaiting execution. In the last hours of his life, he muses on God and the world. Pinter, he likes to stylize himself Antichrist, nothing else can do. He enjoys that. "I prefer loneliness and this life is made for me," he says. His story is unbearable. The rape is still the self-proclaimed misanthrope and avid fly fishermen. He would not have committed the murder of the young woman after that. Just continued to watch and watched as she drowned after sex. Pinter considers himself a superman, believes he can overcome gravity. On the day of his execution he wants to fly away, the episode is one of the weakest in the novel. The novel from the perspective of the perpetrator is disturbing. The US author Les Edgerton, he is a classic US noir author, leads the reader in the head of the murderer. Everything is evil, really nasty. The harmless secret paths of the author steer directly into the heart of the darkness. The peace of mind of the offender at confession worries. The novel is interesting as a literary experiment. A reading that shakes.

FromBernd Alexander Schmidton March 30, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
Granted, the rapist is reading hard! The reader becomes the quasi-confessor of a psychopath, only that he does not make a confession, but a creed. You do not read this book, you have to endure it.

Truman is a monster. He raped and murdered a young woman, then carelessly thrown her body away. Now he's stuck in the death cell and we, the readers, with him. Chained to the rapist who relishes his own execution. He talks to us nonstop, presumptuous and arrogant. What a fine guy he is. And how little really a genius like him should take care of the laws of the people and in general: the thing with the rape was quite different.

Bad, weird, nauseating and terrible ... but terribly good!

FromLord Jickledyon the 9th of January 2017
Format: Paperback
The novel first appeared in March 2013 under the original title "The Rapist" as a 160-page paperback published by New Pulp Press. The German translation from American English was done by Ango Laina and Angelika Müller. She appeared as a paperback volume 40 in the publishing house PULP MASTER in Berlin. This edition contains 157 pages including a seven-page epilogue by Ekkehard Knörer. The novel is preceded by a quotation from the British soldier, aeronautical engineer and philosopher John William Dunne, who was, among others, Aldous Huxley's esteemed founder of a serialism theory of consciousness: "Past, present and future exist simultaneously, as our dreams prove."

What a monster of book! Nobody writes a novel in which a self-centered, arrogant rapist on death row ruses his moral philosophy in twisted words, and thinks people love the novel outright. Catchy and easy is not that, but bulky and infamous. Many will have too little invitation to sympathy and Mitfiebern be present. The originality, which tramples on all stereotypes, will make the average reader boring because: not comparable to others. Les Edgerton easily disassembles any genre assignment, the novel is not a thriller, not a thriller, not even superficially exciting, neither Noir nor Hardboiled. The appropriate frame of reference is more in the direction of high literature à la Dostojewski's "Records from the cellar hole".

"I'm going to tell my story in turn, despite the fact that you're a lot younger than me and undoubtedly attracted to bland food, your attention span will be just over zero and your understanding of everything Written ones below, so I will not make it too complicated, and always one by one, so as not to confuse you. " (P. 8)

The "rapist" is the direct glimpse into the head of sociopath Truman Ferris Pinter, a megalomaniac who situates himself outside the morals of his fellow man, who believes that he is free and free to live his own rules and control everything (which will turn out to be an illusion in the end). Truman: True Man? He, who believes he can live without other people, is more dependent on them than he believes: to express his infamous (or pathetic) philosophy in an empty auditorium meant: to have a meaningless philosophy! He needs spectators, an interface to which he can express his contempt and arrogance. In this respect, he also makes the reader an accomplice with the report, trying to find a sympathizer. As a reader, you have to get along first: Some sentences seem like an inexpressible truth that has always seemed to be self-evident, but some sentences are absolutely terrible if, for example, he declares the rape to be insignificant, because he stands morally, intellectually, and socially above the victim. His report is neither a confession nor a description of the events that brought him on death row, trying not to convince innocence to assert, but is rather a kind of testament of his self, the attempt, the self-deception in the face of his death - And in the truest sense of the word, to keep upright: whoever does not stop talking is not dead. He: a sheherazade of death row; his report: a song of praise to his own perfidious morality and him, the creator of his own world. It states its unassailability. Will end up even apotheosis!

Truman, who claims to be able to use the ability of flying as a child to grow up to escape execution, simply wants to flee, but only for a brief moment to show the law enforcement officer that only his rules and his schedule apply, that he can disappear at his own discretion and then return to die "duly" on the gallows. He will actually experience his blue miracle when he finally encounters his creator in person (or at least in style). Giving these mind games all under one roof is the great strength of the novel. An intellectual fun and a kind of disclaimer for the reader. "The rapist" turns up so soon, beats the strings, swirls present, Past and future - away from "objective" stages of time to "subjective", simultaneously existing levels of consciousness, that one could almost think, a strange science fiction novel around parallel worlds in the hands to hold. A novel also about revolt. Overconfidence and - not least - realization! But also about compassion in a partly stupid, partly heartless world. With a narrative lightness and a literary daring, as I was not allowed to read for a long time, genre boundaries are torn down, a long nose is shown to all acquaintances. An extraordinary tour de force: ambitious, intellectually stimulating and incredibly resourceful. A party! So unlike most of what I have read in the field so far. And nobody says it has to be done!

Blue skies,
Les

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Interview with Will Viharo

Hi folks,

Just completed this interview with Will Viharo on his column, Digital Media Ghost. Click here to see it on the site.

Author of the Week: Les Edgerton

Fiction is easier to categorize than fiction writers, at least much of the time.

Take award-winning, bestselling, universally lauded “crime writer” Les Edgerton. Designating him as such may be promotionally correct, but it doesn’t begin to distill the essence of a man that had led a long, complex, tormented, challenging, and ultimately rewarding life.

To pigeonhole Les Edgerton merely as a “crime writer,” even though he writes “crime fiction,” would indeed be a crime, or at least a misdemeanor, of intellectual laziness.

An author may specialize in writing violent, hardboiled tales of desperate people doing risky things, but that doesn’t mean the author is anything like his or her characters. Most of the time the writers are sharing their own fantasies. The readers themselves take a vicarious walk on the dark side with no danger to themselves. Kind of like a video game. Except reading requires a certain kind of mental concentration that is eluding more and more of us as our multi-media both expands and contracts. I’ve never played a single video game in my life, but I understand the emancipating escapism of creative imagination, especially my own.

For the record, though many of my books can be categorized as some version of “noir,” I’ve never considered myself a crime writer per se. I write mostly from my own experiences, and since I’m not a criminal, at least in the legal sense, I don’t really relate to criminals. My protagonists are often damaged people who read too many crime novels and watch too many crime movies, and then try to act accordingly. And therein lies the conflict of the otherwise unconventional narratives.

But don’t call me a “crime writer.” Unless, of course, you consider my work an affront to society at large. The only rules I break are literary in nature.

Enough about me. Let’s focus on the subject of this interview, which is not the interviewee.

Les Edgerton is a legend. Maybe not in his mind, but in mine and many, many others, whether readers or writers. He comes by this honor not through any intentional ambitions, but incidentally, just by living his life, often taking the hard road instead of cruising down Easy Street. Not that there was often an optional fork in his path, anyway.

Though I’m a “straight,” at least as far as the law goes, I relate a lot to Les both as a person and as a writer, though our backgrounds are quite different. Besides artistic sublimation, we are bonded by a tenacious survival instinct, and a low tolerance for baloney. (In my case, I eschew both the behavioral and the edible iterations).

Les has plenty to say on these and other subjects, so I’ll let him take it from here. Hang on tight: it’s going to be a bumpy, grumpy, but edifying ride…




You’ve sold everything from drugs to life insurance in your colorful life. How do you sell yourself as an author in such a crowded, competitive marketplace?

I don’t think I’m a good one to ask this of! I don’t seem to do that great a job in selling myself. I suspect it’s because social media is fairly foreign to me and I’ve always felt out of place in it. People who pat themselves on the back or seek out praise seem a bit… what’s the un-PC word I’m looking for? Oh, yeah, kind of girlie. Most of it reminds me of “those kids” in high school, running for class president. Working the room pretty much like a… what’s the word I’m looking for?... oh, yeah, like a whore. That’s kind of what social media looks like to me and I’m just uncomfortable in it. And yet, I put more of myself out there than I can ever feel comfortable with. I just have a deep-seated belief that real men and women don’t wear their feelings on their sleeves and that seems to be a main staple of social media. So, in what will probably be an unpopular answer to your question, I’m probably not suited very well to social media so I doubt if I’ll ever do well with it for promotion. Plus, I think it’s maybe a bit overrated—I don’t think it moves that many books. What moves significant numbers of books is being published by a Legacy 5 or a top independent, getting reviews in mainstream papers and mostly by being on the shelves of brick and mortar bookstores. Social media seems to sell to a very small audience, composed of authors in the same genre and their relatively few fans. Compared to the effort expended, I don’t see a commensurate return in sales. I suspect many of us have bought into that advice that we need a “platform” if we want to sell books. And, crank out more and more books, regardless of the quality.

Just not interested in getting votes for Prom King…

You’re been in the military and in prison, so unlike many of your peers in the noir field, you know real violence up close and personal. How does this background inform your work as a crime fiction writer?
As an honest and knowledgeable writer. I see all these writers writing criminals and it’s obvious most don’t have the faintest clue how the criminal mind works or how real criminals actually act. It works the same as the straight’s mind, to be honest. Like a straight, they don’t think in terms of good and evil or good and bad. Whatevever they do, it’s usually for the same reasons a straight does things. (I know that the term “straight” today sometimes means a heterosexual, but I use it the way guys in the joint use it—to describe a person who obeys the law, i.e., a “lame.”)
The way most bad guys keep getting portrayed is pretty much the way MSNBC portrays criminals in their inside the joint series. Mainly, they show two-three kinds of criminals—the psychotic and the weight-lifters. The gangs. None of those guys are the norm—they’re just the guys they can sensationalize. Most are the outliers, but they’re presented as the average guy. If you could watch an average prison scene, you’d probably focus on the guys bench-pressing Buicks. Those aren’t the bad guys. Half of them are on steroids and half of them couldn’t or wouldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. It’s mostly all for looks and show and doesn’t scare anyone. They’re selling wolf tickets and the only people who buy those are lames. Or, the gang-bangers. They walk around like they’re breaking bad all the time and the truth is a lot of them are jokes. Or, out and out cowards. They only break bad when they outnumber others. The quiet guy on the corner of the yard, talking with one or two guys is the true badass in the joint. The weightlifters don’t bother him, the gangsters don’t bother him. They walk around this guy and ignore him. That’s because he’s the guy who will take them out in a New York second and they know it. But most writers don’t even know this guy exists. He doesn’t fit their stereotypical ideas of what a convict is or what a truly bad ass looks or acts like.

There are so many books now about meth criminals or guys who are high or drunk and are basically just mesomorphs. Yeah, there are guys like that—more now than ever before—but there are also a substantial number of people involved in criminal activities who don’t look anything like these guys and act nothing like them. A great many criminals never get caught. Look up crime statistics and it’s an eye-opener. Personally, when I finally got caught I’d committed well over four hundred burglaries and many other crimes for which I never got charged. I actually got caught for two crimes. Two. They charged me with 82 burglaries and they didn’t have a clue about any of them other than the two they caught me in the act of. Now, any endeavor you get caught doing two out of over four hundred, you’d kind of have to admit was successful. The only way I got charged with more than those two was that I was with other guys who also got caught and they snitched me out, telling about the jobs they’d been in on with me. The cops got lucky and actually caught me in two actual crimes out of the more than four hundred I got away with. If cops didn’t depend on snitches they’d never catch anyone. For crimes against property that is. For some crimes—like murders and kidnappings—they have a better rate. Although, more than half of all murders go unsolved, so…

I didn’t quit committing crimes when I got out of prison—I just quit getting caught. And that was because I acted alone. I also didn’t drink or do drugs on “the job.”That’s all it takes to be a successful outlaw. I committed over a thousand new crimes after being released and the cops didn’t even sniff what I was doing. I remember times when I left my parole officer’s office and went out and robbed a place. It’s really easy to be a successful criminal. There are so many outlaws who commit crimes constantly and never come close to getting caught. But, straights keep on believing this bullshit that crime doesn’t pay and eventually all criminals get caught. That’s about as true as saying all gamblers eventually end up losing. Yeah…

The other thing lacking in many writer’s work is a sense that they have a clue at all about killing or facing death. Everyone fancies themselves an expert these days and few are. In Hemingway’s day the writers who had never faced death left that stuff to Papa—most would have been embarrassed to portray violent death in their pages—Hemingway might have called them out on it. So they wrote about things like garden parties and had characters named Gatsby. At which they did fine. When they wrote about things they actually knew something about and had some actual talent, they looked like real writers. Today, those kinds of writers are not afraid of being called out and they pretend to know something about facing death and while a few do, a lot don’t. They’ve never been in the service, or a criminal, or a cop or anyone who’s faced dying on an up-close-and-personal level. Sorry, but I can’t suspend my disbelief for a lot of them. They give away their innocence in so many ways. A lot of them should be focusing on garden parties more, the life of insurance salesmen, and sorrowing over the lost babes of their youth…


At some point in your life, in between being a hair stylist, business headhunter, sports writer, and escort service specialist, you were actually homeless, and then you earned a MFA in writing. Do you feel your diverse personal and professional experiences or your formal education are more crucial to your literary success, or are they complementary? Is it different for everyone?

I was homeless more than once, Will. Several times—in New Orleans, in Baltimore, in Orange County. No big deal. Our homeless are far wealthier than the poor of most countries. I never had to miss many meals. Too many bleeding hearts out there for that to happen. And, even if there weren’t, our Dumpsters hold better and more food than most of the shitholes in the world do for their regular citizens. Except maybe the Dumpsters in L.A.—that’s one shithole where it looks like the homeless have completely taken over…

As to your question, formal writing instruction never gave me an ounce of help in writing. Just a colossal waste of money and time. And, I went to one of the best schools in the country—Vermont College, which places in the top five every year in Poets & Writers. I shudder to think what these Johnny-come-lately programs that have sprung up everywhere are like. They’re just cash cows for colleges. The only one I see as being of value any more is Seton Hill. Not even Iowa any more. The vast number of writers are being taught to be one-trick ponies. They just keep writing the same tired-ass story over and over. Show me the difference between Jack Reacher novel #1 and Jack Reacher novel #18. Not ten words worth of difference. And I read and enjoy Reacher novel, and admire Lee Child who doesn’t pretend to be a writer but is an author. Big difference.

I just went through a near-death experience and my entire outlook on life has shifted. I know now what guys like Richard Brautigan felt like. Like we’ve put our entire lives out there and no one noticed, except superfically. Well, screw that.

The real reason I think you asked about MFAs and the like is that you understand that the vast majority of wannabe writers have (rightfully) little faith in their writing ability and are looking for a magic bean that will confer the title of writer upon them. This is the kind of thing they’ve looked for all their lives. Go to school, earn an MBA, make a fortune on Wall Street or in the corporate world. Get a law degree, go to med school, get a teaching degree, a degree in journalism, etc., etc. It’s all about education, about a degree. Biggest load of bullshit ever sold to gullible youth. And, the only route to success they’re aware of. It’s fool’s gold but they don’t know it. They don’t realize the adults in their lives have been sold a crock of shit and all they can do is move it along to the next generation.

Kids, listen to the truly wise among us. Listen to the genius, Flannery O’Connor, who when asked if MFA programs discouraged writers, replied, “Not enough of them.” Truer words were never spoken… A semester studying just one of her stories (preferably without some idiot MFA advisor whispering in their ear their own moronic interpretation of it) will learn infinitely more about writing than sitting through a hundred academic lectures and make-work workshops. Run like the wind from MFA programs if you ever want a chance to learn to write. Where it will help you is to get published in journals run by MFA folks, mostly an experience that feels oddly like incest, probably because it is. It will also get your work read by a certain kind of literary agent who still puts value in these kinds of worthless degrees. They’ll help you become an author. Not a writer. But, I suspect the majority of folks writing today would rather be an author than a writer. At least, a lot of the work I see reflects that mindset.

Will, to fully answer your question, for me neither my life experiences nor any formal education were crucial to my literary ability. To my literary success, my life experiences—particularly the ones outside the norm---were helpful, but as far as literary ability only two things really helped that. First, an extraordinary intelligence (an I.Q. of 163), and second, having read far, far more than anyone I know was the biggest single factor. I firmly believe that you learn to write by reading. And, it’s what I notice about a lot of today’s writers—they don’t seem to have read much of quality. I began by reading Balzac and de Maupassant and the Russians when I was six and seven and eight years old. I see so many writers who say they began reading the Hardy Boys and cannot believe they’ll ever amount to a whole lot in letters. Is that elitist? Sure, but to be a good or great writer is the very definition of elitism. Can you imagine Saul Bellow attending some of today’s writer’s conventions or even being aware of them? Hemingway might show up but only because he had a commercial side and figured out people would buy him drinks. I’m pretty sure Flannery O’Connor wouldn’t even consider something like that. She valued her brain cells more than that… Too much class and pride to work the room like a high school kid trying to get enough votes for class president  or prom king.

Reading voraciously and reading a quality list from the age of five or six is the key to becoming anything more than a formulaic or hack writer. Being also a genius doesn’t hurt. I get students who read an average of 5-10 books a year and I know they’re never going to write anything I’d want to read. Their literary heroes are John Gresham, Stephen King and the like. It used to be that anyone who read those kinds of authors would never admit it in public but those days have changed… It says a lot when a “writer” claims that one of his writing heroes is Stephen King. You can pretty well bet this isn’t a writer who can tell the difference between an Ian Fleming novel and The Stranger although he probably would never read the latter.

What are your influences, literary or otherwise?

I’ll list those who’ve written stories I admire and those I’ve learned something from. I always hate doing this as I can’t begin to list them all and after the interview comes out I feel badly about forgetting someone who should be on the list. Please forgive me the omissions.

Here ya go. The Bible. Harry Crews, Camus, Borges, Steve Hamilton, Joe Lansdale, Anthony Smith, Paul Brazill, Ray Banks, David Sedaris, Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, Raymond Carver, Ken Bruen, Christopher Moore, Flannery O’Connor, James Dickey, Faulkner, Nelson Algren, Charles Bukowski, Elaine Ash, Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Murray, Larry Brown, Helen FitzGerald, Barry Hannah, Les Edgerton—yeah, myself—I read my own work often--Celine, Mark Twain, Guillermo O’Joyce, Sherman Alexie, Richard Brautigan, Callie Khouri, Janet Burroway, Linwood Barclay, David Mamet, Cormac McCarthy, Anton Chekhov, Saul Bellow, Pete Dexter, Larry Watson--a lot more I’m forgetting right now. You’ll notice most are older or dead and that’s because I don’t see a lot of competition for great writing these days. I see a lot of work you might call “satisfactory” but little that is actual genius. It’s like a sea of mediocre TV series’ episodes that look a lot alike out there. Name ten books that actually affected you emotionally in the last couple of years. Name five. Hell, name one or two! Name one person writing today who could write a book to match one of Nelson Algren’s. There are a handful but a small handful.

Sorry about the bitterness. I nearly died a few weeks ago and it kind of changed my outlook on life and writing. I’ve come close to death before but prior to this was young enough I didn’t really believe I could die. Now I know it’s always very close. And it made me want to never again lie for the sake of being liked. I’d much rather be respected and even hated for being forthright and honest than for making somebody feel good.

Write a truly great book like The Lock Artist, Trout Fishing in America, The Stranger, A Feast of Snakes, The Rapist, No Country for Old Men, or a short story as brilliant as “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” or “The Fiend” and then you’ll be a writer and not just an author.


What’s next for you?

Well, since I’ve just committed professional suicide with this interview, about all that’s left is to get my affairs in order, then lay down in the casket and cross my hands and await the pallbearers.

In the meantime, I’ll be finalizing my memoir, Adrenaline Junkie, which comes out this fall from Down&Out Books. Maybe it’ll win one of those awards some of my other books should have won. Probably not… Finishing up a novel based on a short story I wrote when I was 12 and that my agent urged me to write, saying it “haunted her” and that if I wrote it well, could be as good as No Country for Old Men.

At any rate, thank you for this opportunity, Will. Hope the haters won’t include you—you just were the gracious host who asked the questions and didn’t realize he was talking to the angry old bastard threatening the kids on his lawn with his .12 gauge…

And, I don’t really hate many of my fellow writers. I just don’t want to have drinks with some of you… and I’m sure the feeling’s mutual. That’s what we call a “big hairy-ass deal”… not… Too many “nice” guys (to one’s face) out there who I wouldn’t turn my back on for a nanosecond. I love the real men and women of literature. I detest the phonies that work the room and can’t do the real work of writing. As we say in Texas, too many writers today are “all hat and no cattle.”

Blue skies,
Les

I prefer gray, but…wow. Thanks for one helluva ride.

@HookedOnNoir
FB – Les Edgerton, Author


BIO: Les Edgerton is an ex-con, matriculating at Pendleton Reformatory in the sixties for burglary (plea-bargained down from multiple counts of burglary, armed robbery, strong-armed robbery and possession with intent). He was an outlaw for many years and was involved in shootouts, knifings, robberies, high-speed car chases, dealt and used drugs, was a pimp, worked for an escort service, starred in porn movies, was a gambler, served four years in the Navy, and had other misadventures. He’s since taken a vow of poverty (became a writer) with 21 books in print. His memoir, Adrenaline Junkie is currently being edited prior to being published by Down&Out Books in November, 2018. Work of his has been nominated for or won: the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award (short story category), Derringer Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Jesse Jones Book Award, Spinetingler Magazine Award for Best Novel (Legends category), awarded two literary grants from the NEA, and the Violet Crown Book Award, among others. Screenplays of his have placed as a semifinalist in the Nicholl’s and as a finalist in the Best of Austin and Writer’s Guild’s competitions. He holds a B.A. from I.U. and the MFA in Writing from Vermont College. He was the writer-in-residence for three years at the University of Toledo, for one year at Trine University, and taught writing classes for UCLA, St. Francis University, Phoenix College, Writer’s Digest, Vermont College, the New York Writer’s Workshop and other places. He currently teaches a private novel-writing class online. He lives in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where he immigrated to some years ago from the U.S. and is currently learning the language and customs there. He writes because he hates... a lot... and hard. Injustice and bullying and mendacity are what he hates the most. He can be found at www.lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/