Wednesday, August 17, 2016

GOOD NEWS... BAD NEWS...

Hi folks,

Got back from visiting my best friend, Tom Rough and his beautiful wife, Lisa, in Scottsdale a few days ago and had this in my FB account. Very proud to be in such good company. Had a great time in Arizona and got to visit with a couple of my online class students--Maegan Beaumont, who's not in class these days and is releasing her fourth book this week, and Linda Thompson, who's just about to have her novel sent out soon by her agent. And, Joe Beaumont, Maegan's HUGE husband, who I always try to keep smiling... Got to watch Tom's new salon, Taglio, going up and it looks great! Actually, it's not his new salon--he's just moving to a better location in the same mall--but the physical plant is all brand-new.

The bad news is that I won't be able to attend Bouchercon this year. I was really looking forward to going back home to New Orleans, but a combination of finances (read: no money...) and a back which has me in daily pain just won't allow me to. I'm gonna miss going to some of my old hangouts, seeing old friends--both in the Big Sleazy and at B-Con, and meeting new friends at the convention. 

Life...

Here's James Tuck's announcement of his book in which I have a story:

James Ray Tuck Jr
So today a book came out with my name on it, actually both my writing names on it, and I am VERY proud of it. It's a thing I conceived of and put out in the universe and the universe answered. I present to you: MAMA TRIED Crime Fiction Based On Outlaw Country Songs. from Down & Out Books.
Its got some amazing stories from some amazing writers. I got to edit it, contribute a story, and design the cover. Seriously, this one is one to pick up.
Here's the link, order it and if you don't mind, share the link.
Outlaws. It’s what makes the best of country music and crime fiction. Sometimes it’s hardened criminals: murders, thieves, and convicts, sometimes it’s just a poor…
AMAZON.COM

Monday, August 1, 2016

DIETER KALTEIS, SAM WIEBE AND MOI

Hi folks,

If you've got a minute or three, you might want to pop over to Dieter Kalteis' blog, Off the Cuff, where I got to participate in a fun exercise with him and Sam Wiebe, where we discuss what music we listen to while writing. It's at http://dietrichkalteis.blogspot.ca/2016/08/off-cuff-51.html

I'm curious as to what other folks are listening to when they write.

In two days, I fly out to Scottsdale, AZ to spend a week with my best friend Tom Rough and his gorgeous wife, Lisa. Can't wait! On Saturday, I get to spend an afternoon with some of the members of my online class. Hope the bar is fully-stocked...

Me and Tom... doing what we do best... drinking, eating and mostly... LAUGHING!


With some of the members of our online class a few years ago...

Blue skies,
Les

Saturday, July 30, 2016

GUILLEMO O'JOYCE'S REVIEW OF THE RAPIST

Hi folks,

Today, I want to share with you what I consider the finest review of my work ever written, Guillermo O’Joyce’s view of my existential novel, The Rapist.

What makes it what I feel is a brilliant take on my work are two things. First, and foremost, O’Joyce has captured exactly what I intended with this book. I’ve been graced with some wonderful reviews from others and I appreciate them all, but this writer has dug deeper into what I was trying to do more than any other.

Second, what makes this a landmark moment in my writing life, is the reputation of the reviewer. Guillermo O’Joyce is one of the finest writers ever produced in the past century. Although sorely neglected by the literary establishment, O’Joyce is truly a living literary legend.

Space does not allow me to list all of his accomplishments. Just a few include the fact that he has taught with James Dickey, Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, Saul Bellow, and a list of dozens of the best writers of our lifetimes. He has written a book, that, in my opinion, is the best book I’ve ever read, the profanely genius novel, First Born of an Ass, which was championed and blurbed by Norman Mailer. O’Joyce stands at the very top of the pantheon of great Western writers of all times.

He’s also brutally blunt in his assessment of the state of American letters and it is that forthrightness that has cost him favor with the literary establishment. This is their shame, not his. Read his work and then the work of his critics and it becomes clear that his is a classic case of a host of inferior talent acting out of jealousy toward a writer so far ahead of their second-rate abilities, that it should be embarrassing to them, but, like all those who are possessed of mediocrity, they fail to recognize themselves.

My hope is that someone with cojones among the literary establishment will read his words below and exhibit the kind of bravery that is lacking in many who are in charge of publishing these days and publish this review in a worthy vehicle. He deserves much more recognition than has been afforded him.

I’ve recommended him to my agent, Svetlana Pironko, and one of my publishers, Frank Nowatzki of the German press, Pulpmaster, and both are currently reading his newest work, a Cuban memoir.

Currently, O’Joyce is living in St. Augustine, Florida in near-penury, and is surviving by playing his harmonica in front of restaurants for coins. This is shameful—shameful to the literary establishment who allow one of our greatest writers to subsist this way, when he should be lauded at every turn. True genius always brings out the vitriol of the lesser. All I can say to those who control publishing is that I can only hope some among that bunch recognize the bona fide brilliant talent who lives among us and who possess a vision greater than most. The word “genius” is bandied about far too often and given to many who are undeserving of the title. Guillermo O’Joyce is more deserving than any writer I know of. And, those whose vision is more acute than others are all too often denigrated by those of lesser abilties because of their own sense of failure. Especially toward those who point out their deficiencies. As Einstein once noted, “Adventurous spirits always encounter the violent opposition of mediocre minds.”

I only hope there is someone out there who reads this and recognizes what it is they are reading. And does something to help this literary giant before it’s too late.

Me and Joe Lansdale


I was recently interviewed by Pam Stack on her podcast, "Authors on the Air," and Pam asked me something to the effect of what was my biggest award as an author. My answer is this: More than sales, more than awards, more than anything, my biggest awards have always been the respect of the writers I respect. In the past several months, I've received what I consider my two biggest honors--first, the words from Joe Lansdale when he said: "Les Edgerton has swiftly become my favorite crime writer. Original voice, uncompromising attitude and a pure hardboiled syle leap him to the front ranks of my reading list. He will become legendary." The second and equal to Joe's words, is O'Joyce's review of my best work, which follow.


I give you, Guillermo O’Joyce…



Review of The Rapist
Author: Les Edgerton
Reviewer: Guillermo O’Joyce
July 1st, 2016

            Henry Miller once wrote, “If any man dared translate all that is in his heart, to put down what is really his experience, what is truly his truth, I think then the world would to go smash, no accident, no will could ever again assemble the pieces, the atoms, the indestructible elements that have gone to make up the world.”
            Such a man has emerged. His name is Les Edgerton. The vehicle for his assault is a fictional character named Truman Pinter, the book has the title The Rapist. The reverberations of his words are so violent and encompassing, the reader becomes as taut and nerve-wracked as the teller of the story after 10 pages.
            That is because the reader is directly incriminated as the villain. The reader is left no room to stand. He is cornered with the falsification of his own life. Like Truman, a condemned man awaiting execution for the supposed crimes of rape and murder, the reader is condemned and pinned against the cell bars of unflinching prose. The charges are reversed: by the end of 140 pages the reader is pronounced Guilty of Capitulation.
            Let Truman speak: “He (Defiler of Truth) lacks a center—each of you is his center—and he has sucked the marrow dry of each of those he has visited.”
            These are the words Truman has held back for 44 years. Now that he is condemned, he is free to fire away. Edgerton’s hope is that a few humans who are not legally condemned but feel trapped by his words will begin to speak from their conscience. Right now the world is devoid of conscience and consciousness. The timing for such a book is perfect.
            Truman’s real crime is that he has remained separate. He has inherited money and doesn’t have to work. Until he meets the town trollop, he is a virgin. It is this separateness that gets him labeled and condemned to die. Humans have a great fear of The Loner, The Outsider. They fear he may know something they don’t. Therefore, they must kill him. Richard Wright’s Native Son was originally entitled The Outsider. Native Son is one of the few books that can match The Rapist for sustained tension. But just as Wright’s voice is labeled “Black Protest”, The Rapist is under lock and key as a “crime novel”. You can’t sell anything on this Earth unless it is grouped under a fashionable label. And we wonder why there is murder all around us????
            There is no self-righteousness to Truman Pinter. Just before his execution he realizes that this detachment which he thinks gives him freedom, has paradoxically made him a slave. He says, “Those who cared did something about the situation they disliked. I had simply let things happen and taken the consequences, good or bad. Therefore, I relinquished control and in doing so gave up any claim to freedom.” He is as unsparing with his own life as he is with the props of western civilization.
            Yet, Truman is not to be dismissed as a misguided rebel. A prison guard says about him, “I think that you’re some kind of genius that doesn’t belong anywhere.” About this pronouncement, Truman remarks, “In his straightforward way, he had cut through the subterfuge and claptrap and identified the truth.”
            Now the word “genius” is as overused as the phrase “cutting edge.” The dictionary says, “one who is exceptionally intelligent or creative,” a sure sign the experts of language are just as lost as prison wardens. When it comes to people who combine great talent, faith in their intuition, discipline, and courage to chart their own direction, the arbiters of culture have no idea what to do with them. They don’t fit any previous pattern; their works resist labeling; their lives seem a mess; they are difficult to deal with. They are simply on another wave length.
            This is true of Edgerton and his creation, Truman. Yet, Truman spirals off and becomes much more than a mouthpiece; he becomes an independent voice, one that will haunt the sleep of readers with the guts to hear him out.
            In designing Truman, Edgerton had the wisdom to make him completely unattractive. He fits none of the formulas for an engaging human being. His personality has no color. He doesn’t play the fiddle nor show any interest in being an artist. He espouses no causes, political nor religious. He is pompous, conceited, and a bit of a boor in the first 12 pages. Until he is sentenced, he is without conviction.
            However, Truman is not a complete blank. He was nursed in a rocking chair until he was 6. His father left when he was 5. He does have a degree from Princeton, a fact which only gets him in trouble with the warden, also a Princeton graduate. The warden cannot fathom a condemned man who hasn’t been underprivileged. Until the run-in with the town trollop, he’s done little but fish, observe, and read. Yet, books have meant little to him. Oh, he’s done one other thing, he’s masturbated. Often. He’s dribbled away the constant tension he feels between himself and the rest of the race.
            What Truman can do is see and hear clearly and then express himself from his conscience. In a marvelous bit of discipline on Edgerton’s part, he doesn’t allow Truman to indulge in any rhetoric of castigation. Truman simply addresses his situation, as it arises, in brief one and two paragraph responses and it is all like a hidden song from the core of the earth. It is a reminder of Edgerton’s one relative, Arthur Rimbaud, who wrote in 1872, “I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.”
            As an example of the reverberations of Truman I will cite one: beans. Beans are fed to prisoners because they are the cheapest of all foodstuffs. Says Truman, “The warden has an allowance for our food and if he can save money from his allotted budget, he’s allowed to keep the savings for himself.” To add to the fun, merchants put gravel in the beans to up the weight and collect more money. Truman bites down on a bean and busts a molar. His entire story is told with a toothache.
            Parochial enough, you say. Yet is there a single product we can buy that hasn’t been tampered with? That hasn’t been shot full of hormones, laced with pesticides, left to the vagaries of some cantankerous machine, the negligence of some bitter foreman? Defects on new cars kill almost as many people as the Diaper Heads do yet not a single CEO has ever been put on trial. Still, no student is allowed in a college classroom without his assurance that he will be a good consumer.
            This then is a book of revolt.
            The need to revolt is implicit in every line.
            That’s what gives The Rapist its superhuman tension.
            If books could be measured by what they provoke, this book of Edgerton’s would top the list. It’s going to enrage people because they’re going to realize the hypocrisy by which they gained their food and shelter was nothing more than honoring a host of killing machines which absolutely denied the existence of the spirit of creation.
            Now we are back to the Son of Moloch which begins The Rapist—“He lies down with all members of the congregation equally.” Most adults will try to block out its message; they’re not going to relinquish 30 or 40 years of gaining a precarious foothold within a teetering civilization. Better to be a zombie with something to eat than a gaping worm behind a bush, pleading for a bowl of beans.
            But there’s one group that’s going to take The Rapist to heart precisely because they haven’t been indoctrinated by the realities. That’s 15-year-olds across the U.S., Europe, and Japan. They’ve experienced enough of the killing machines to doubt their legitimacy. They quite rightly suspect that they’re soon going to end up in a uniform, holding a rifle, and dropped on their pubescent heads from an airplane into a country whose name they can’t pronounce. They are largely male and owing to another war that goes untalked about, they can’t get laid. They’re going to glance at Truman’s persistent whacking away and declare, “Not me!”
            Then watch out! All that pubescent energy backed up, searching for an object for their wrath. That they will find their way to The Rapist is problematic unless some bitter but adventurous philanthropist buys up copies and passes them out on the street advancing on a schoolyard.
            Unlikely, you say. Hah! No more unlikely than the miracle of The Rapist whose knife-edge I lay in your hands now.

--Guillermo O’Joyce, Author, Don’t Do It Standing Up, Recorder of Births and Deaths: Stories, First Born of an Ass, For Women who Moan, Listen, America, You Don’t Even Own Your Name, and Miller, Bukowski and Their Enemies, among others.
Thank you for reading O’Joyce’s review. I hope it affected you and showed you what a truly great writer is capable of on the page.

Blue skies,

Les

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hi folks,

Sorry I've been absent for so long! Had some medical problems over the past several weeks--had my gallbladder sucked out through my navel and some major back problems. The gallbladder thing was a piece of cake--no pain before, during or after the surgery--but the back pain has laid me low! Could only be up for about an hour before it got to be too much and then had to lie down for an hour. Really drained my energy! Also had a throat infection and some other crap going on during that time.

Fortunately, I was finally able to get my third spinal steroid shot a few days ago and this time it worked. Still have some pain but nothing like I was having before. It was really hard to focus on anything during that time which is the main reason I haven't been posting.

So, some news! Tonight, I'm being interviewed by Pam Stack on her Authors on the Air podcast at 9 pm ED. Hope you can tune in! You can also phone in and say hi if you like. Check out the link here:  Listen on any Wi-Fi device - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheair/2016/07/28/author-les-edgerton-joins-host-pam-stack-on-authors-on-the-air-live

Next week, I get to go to Scottsdale, AZ for a week's visit with my best friend, Tom Rough. Will be there from Aug. 3 - 10. Hope to see some of my class members and other friends there. I just found out our illustrious graduate, Maegan Beaumont, will be launching and signing her fourth book there... but the week following my visit. Bummer...

Hoping to be able to make this year's Bouchercon in New Orleans in September. I've snagged a panel on noir with Dave Zeltserman and some other cool writers so am going to try my best.

I've got two weeks off from my class until the next session begins and plan to use the time to finish my next novel which my agent has been yelling at me to get done. Well... Svetlana doesn't yell, but she does strongly urge...


Hope I can start posting stuff more regularly here again. Thanks for hanging in there!

Hope to catch some of you tonight on the podcast!

Blue skies,
Les

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ

Hi folks,
This is the best book I've ever read.

REVIEW
FIRST BORN OF AN ASS
William Joyce
I’ve never written a review like this and am unlikely to ever do so again. The reason is I’ve never been totally thunderstruck by a book such as William Joyce’s First Born of an Ass. In lieu of a review, in which I am unable to do its genius even close to suitable justice, I’m going to use the email I sent to William Joyce, upon reading its last page. I cannot say what this book did to me better.
Mr. William Joyce, I just finished FIRST BORN OF AN ASS. I am utterly unworthy to write a review, but I shall try. This is the book God would have written if He could write.
Your book has leaped over all books I've read in my lifetime. I cannot talk about it now. I don't know if I'll ever be able to talk about it.
I am going to go to bed and try to figure out who I am. To be honest, I am shattered. I don't think I'll ever be able to write again and that is the truth. One thing I do know; when I am able I am going to do everything in my power to get this book reissued. This is far, far beyond Nobel Prize worthy.
Thank you for the gift of your genius.
Respectfully,
Les Edgerton
That is the email I sent him. I realize this opinion is firmly attached to whatever small literary reputation I may have and that may be considered risky and even foolhardy. But, I fully stand by it. I will not compromise what I feel about this book in the least, reputation and all that be damned. If you can point out a better book, I’ll read it. And, if there is a better book out there, then we all might as well give up.
The only action people should take is to get this book reissued or republished. Please read it.
--Les Edgerton, Author, The Rapist, The Bitch, Monday’s Meal and others.
End of review
P.S. William Joyce is still alive and living in St. Augustine, FL. He embodies the very concept of "writer." He is virtually destitute and has been making his living by playing his harmonica outside of restaurants for coins until the police made him cease. The only place you can buy most of his books are from used copies via abebooks and the like... of which he doesn't realize a cent. He has a new novel written, but it's in a storage locker in Miami and he's trying to get enough money to get down there and retrieve it and send it to an agent and publisher. If anyone is in a position to help him out, please let me know. In my opinion, he's a national treasure. He does have one book available as an ebook, a collection of essays, under one of his pen names, Guillermo O'Joyce, titled MILLER, BUKOWSKI & THEIR ENEMIES. He does realize royalties from this one, so please consider glomming onto a copy. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

AUDITORS FOR MY ONLINE WRITING CLASS

Hi folks,

I'm about to climb on a plane tomorrow to head to Austin and San Antonio (they're in Texas, case you weren't aware) for eight days of the marvelous Writer's Retreat Workshop (WRW) at the Oblate Retreat Center in San Antone.

Just read a FB post by Craig McNeely, who audited my online writing class last session, who wrote in it:

I've been working on a novel for the past three-four years. Sometimes the work has been heavier than others but still, the fact remains that the book hasn't truly "worked" in this time.
Then, this year, I audited a workshop from Les Edgerton. Learned a few basic but crucial things about storytelling and discovered ways in which I've been too precious about my own work, unwilling to really consider what does or doesn't work, the way I would with a client or an old DLP author.
Now, for instance, I know that this novel really begins on page 34. Got a long way to go to the finish line but it's better now than it ever was before.
So what I'm saying is: you ever get a chance to do this thing with Les in the future, you take it. I promise you'll get something out of it. Maybe not the same as what I got, but there is much insight to be had.
Craig McNeely

And, that reminded me I hadn't sent out a call for auditors for the current session. We had just begun Week 1 of our 10-week session when I had to suspend class for two weeks for my Texas trip. Which means if anyone's interested in auditing this session, we can get you in and you won't miss any of it. We'll pick up with Week 2 after I return on May 22. The fee is $50 for auditing, as opposed to $400 for active participation. We are rarely able to take on new class members as people keep taking it and the ones already in it always have first shot. This last time was a bit unusual as we had two openings from folks who'd finished their novel and are taking a bit of a hiatus while they sell their books. When we do take on new members, we always go to our auditors for the first chance.

If you're interested and would like more info, just shoot me an email at butchedgerton@comcast.net. You won't even miss what we did on Week 1 as it's all archived. You'll see everything we do in class and the only difference between an auditor and an active class member is that, just like in a college class, auditors sit in class but just don't participate. But, they see everything we're doing and just about everyone who's audited has told me it was a remarkably profitable experience for their writing.

So... there ya go. Hope if any of you are in or near Austin tomorrow night, you'll stop in for the Noir @ the Bar reading I'm doing with three other terrific writers at Threadgill's Bar at 7 pm. It's gonna be fun!

Blue skies,
Les

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

STUFF'S HAPPENIN'!

Hi folks,

Lot of stuff going on! Just returned from Indy where I gave a workshop on Thelma & Louise and then had dinner with Joe Lansdale. And now, it’s gonna get busy up in here!

Me and Joe Lansdale in Indy.

On May 12, I fly to Austin, Texas where that night at 7 pm I get to take part in a Noir @ the Bar event, hosted by Scott Montgomery of Texas largest independent bookstore, Book People, at the Threadgill’s Bar on Riverside Drive. If you’re in the area, stop in and listen to me, Jesse Sublett, Con Lehane and Jordan Harper reading our stuff. For details, check here: http://www.bookpeople.com/event/noir-bar-feat-les-edgerton-jordan-harper-con-lehane-jesse-sublett


Scott Montgomery and Reavis Wortham at BookPeople


Then, as soon as we’re done, Scott is going to drive me over to San Antonio where I’ll be for the next week at the Writer’s Retreat Workshop (WRW) at the Oblate Retreat as a staffer. Bunch of really good folks appearing there, including Reavis Wortham, Tex Thompson, David Corbett, Michelle Johnson, Matthew Brock, Carol Dougherty, Jason Sitzes, Marjorie Brody, Carl Brush, Scott Montgomery, and Lisa Pirc.

 Marjorie Brody leading a morning session at WRW.

 Carol Dougherty in a one-on-one session with a participant at WRW.

 The Grotto at Oblate Renewal Center. Just a peaceful, gorgeous place... and the food is fantastic!

 Me and Reavis Wortham at MysteryPeople at BookPeople.

 Matt Brock leading a class at WRW.

 Me, doing my thing at WRW.

Some of the back row "bad boys" at WRW...

As it turns out, four more openings for participants for WRW just became available. If interested, just go to their webpage for complete info. If you can swing it, I think you’ll find it to be an experience truly transformative for your writing career. At http://www.writersretreatworkshop.com/index.html


Yesterday, I was honored to have my book BOMB! reviewed on the Booked Podcast. Check it out at:http://www.bookedpodcast.com/304-bomb/


And, a few days back, I had a ton of fun being interviewed by Tom Pitts on his podcast, Skid Row Chatter, on the Authors on the Air podcast. Check it out at:

That’s all, folks! Hope to see some of you at some of these events. And, I know it's short notice, but if you can make it to WRW I think you'll discover it to be a major turning point in your writing career.

Blue skies,
Les