Saturday, July 2, 2011

PAUL D. BRAZILL REVIEW OF MONDAY'S MEAL

Hi folks,

Normally, I wouldn’t do what I’m doing here—post a review of one of my books, but I’m going to sneak in an exception to that today.

I woke up this morning in a great deal of pain. I sprained my back last week and haven’t had a single night where I get more than a couple hours of sleep I’ve been eating pain pills like they were popcorn, but nothing seems to help. Doc said it would be 6-8 weeks before it healed. The first thing I did when I got up (after I yelped like a weenie getting out of bed) was what I always do—turn on the ‘puter.

And there was an email from my Goodreads account and in it was a review from Paul D. Brazill on my short story collection, Monday’s Meal.

All the pain vanished.

I hadn’t expected Paul to write a review on it. I’d sent him a copy awhile back just as a small gift in appreciation because he’s been huge in helping boost my writing career. He’s just one of the most generous writers in the business at helping his fellow writers.

The thing is, Paul D. Brazill is one of those names with very serious“weight” among the writing fraternity. To have him praise my work is like Job hearing from God saying, “Attaboy!”

Rachelle Gardner, a well-known agent, recently posed the question on her blog, “Money or readers:What’s more important?” Well, both are important, of course, but to me I’d rather have the words of someone like Paul than any number of readers or any amount of money. Money’s nice, but it eventually goes, and readers are great, but there are some godawful writers out there who have gobs of readers. But, when a writer of the stature of one such as Paul D. Brazill praises your work, that is beyond lucre or numbers of readers. I know lots of writers who would disagree with that, but that is my feeling.

I’ve had three events in my writing life that I count as more valuable than anything. The first was when I was a young writer whose manuscript had been chosen for a small workshop by Tim O’Brien (with one of the stories in M.M.) and he pulled me aside to go outside and talk with him. He told me that my writing reminded him of Raymond Carver and that my style was the same as Carver’s. He later sent me a long letter saying basically the same thing. At the time he said that, I didn’t have a clue who Raymond Carver was. To be honest, at the time I didn’t know who Tim O’Brien was! I’m mostly a self-educated writer (this was before I attended Vermont College for my MFA), and I kind of knew O’Brien was a big deal, although I hadn’t read his work at the time, but I had never heard of Carver. After the workshop, I went home and purchased one of Carver’s collections and instantly I felt a kinship with the famed writer. It was like shooting the shit with a homeboy in the joint—we spoke the same language. He quickly became my favorite writer and not because Tim had compared me to him or that he was a big deal in writing, but because his writing was so damned good and you really don’t “read” Carver… you just fall into the world of the story.

The second seminal event in my writing life was when the NY Times reviewed Monday’s Meal (Denise Gess), and compared my writing to Ray Carver and also praised my dialog, which I’ve always felt was my strength. I got tons of great reviews on M.M. but this was… the TIMES! Not the Mayberry Gazette or the Hog Digest or Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette, but the TIMES!

And this is the third.

I couldn’t tell you how many sales I’ve enjoyed for my books—some have been great and others not-so-great, and I can’t tell you how many readers have bought copies… but I can remember almost word-for-word every one of these three things.

And that’s why I wanted to share Paul’s review with you.

*

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!

*

One of the stories Paul singles out, “Hard Times,” is one I wrote when I was 12. At the time I didn’t know what a litmag was nor did I have a clue how one got published. Another one in the collection I wrote a few months later when I turned 13 (“Broken Seashells”). When I was in college I finally found out you could send stuff out and how to do so, so I sent it to The Analecta and they published it. Not a word was changed from the original (which was handwritten—when I was 12 I didn’t yet know how to type). When it was included in the collection, my editor, Charlotte Wright, suggested my original title—“A Mother’s Love”—was too sappy (agreed! I blame my tender age at the time for that title) and so I changed it to “Hard Times.”

Thank you, Paul. I will always treasure your words.

And, folks, I know this is tooting my own horn…. but this is PAUL D. BRAZILL! I just wanted to share my utter delight with you.

Blue skies,
Les

P.S. I contacted the director of the University of North Texas Press (the publisher of M.M.) inquiring about securing the rights to Monday’s Meal to republish it as an ebook, hopefully with Aaron Patterson’s StoneGate Ink, and he told me there were still about 100 copies left and he wouldn’t release my rights to do so until they were all sold. If that happens, expect a call from me, Aaron…

9 comments:

dawnall said...

We just need to buy up those 100 copies. :-)

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Dawn! But then you'll miss the ridiculously low price of the ebook version... (I should keep my big mouth shut...)

Mary said...

I already own a copy of Monday's Meal and it was worth every penny i spent on it. To those of you who haven't read it, do yourselves a favor. Don't wait for the ridiculously low priced e-books. Suck it up and buy one of the last remaining copies. You'll be glad you did!!

Les Edgerton said...

Well, gosh, Mary--thank you so much for your endorsement. Now, when the buyers show up at my house with torches and pitchforks, I'm sending 'em to Virginia...

Thank you!

dawnall said...

Make that 99 copies. My copy is (supposedly)on its way. :-) I can't wait.

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Dawn! Hope you enjoy it!

Unknown said...

I think about "Hard Times" several times a month. Been haunting me for years. Thanks a lot, Les.
Carl

Les Edgerton said...

Wow, Carl--that means a lot! I remember like it was yesterday, writing that. We had just moved up from Texas to Indiana and were renting a farmhouse way out in the boonies. I was almost 13 and the guy I thought then was my dad was on the road driving a semi, and that gave me room to write. If he caught me reading or (worse!) writing, there'd be hell to pay. I'd get the sneers, the calling me a sissy, all the stuff he used to do. I was just about done writing it (in longhand) and he came through the door unexpectedly and caught me with my notebook. He grabbed it, started reading and then tore it up and yelled that I hadn't done my chores. I retrieved it, taped it back together and when he left on the road again, copied it out again. Then, years later, when I found out who you got stuff published, I sent it to The Analecta and they published it. It has a special place in my heart and that's why your words meant a great deal. Thanks!

Les Edgerton said...

Oops. Meant to say "how" you got published, not "who" you got published. My bad...