Not Exactly Winter Wonderland (a short story)

by Arnold Snyder

We almost didn’t go to the Ice Capades in 1960. Every year Dad took us, the big Family Night. Geezus, it was miserable. But on my thirteenth birthday, Rudy and I got into a fight, a physical fight. My lip was swollen. Worse yet, his tooth got chipped on the dresser when he lost his balance. Mom and Dad were upset. They threatened to cancel going to the Ice Capades the following week. It was supposed to be part of my birthday present.

Continue reading Not Exactly Winter Wonderland (a short story)

Announcing Vegas Lit: Seeking Fiction Manuscripts

After almost twenty years of doing absolutely nothing and getting paid handsomely for it since quitting my post office job in 1993, I have taken a position with Huntington Press, or more specifically, with Vegas Lit, the new Huntington Press fiction line that will be launched on September 30. I am the Executive Editor, Managing Editor, Senior Editor, Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Assistant, and Assistant to the Editorial Assistant for the Vegas Lit imprint. Which is to say, I’m the only one working there. I would have included Office Manager among my many titles, except I don’t have an office. I’m working out of my garage. Continue reading Announcing Vegas Lit: Seeking Fiction Manuscripts

Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary – Only Fools Fall in Love

Whoever would have thought that Hunter S. Thompson had a soft, sensitive side, a deeply emotional side, pained by loneliness? The Rum Diary is a love story, the only love story Thompson ever wrote, and in my opinion, it’s his best work. Love without romance is not easy to pull off. Sex without romance is a piece of cake, which is what we usually get in dick lit. But The Rum Diary isn’t porno. There’s not much graphic sex in this book, just a bit at the end, by which time you’re aching for it. This is a love story. Continue reading Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary – Only Fools Fall in Love

Hack Writing 101: The Lost Meat Spear Manuscript

My Brief Career Writing Porn Novels for Greenleaf Classics

It’s a dirty story
of a dirty man
—  “Paperback Writer,” 1966 (Lennon-McCartney)

I started my writing career in the early 70s, writing primarily fiction—pseudonymous and anonymous two-cents-a-word stuff. Mostly, I wrote porn novels, but also short stories for the women’s romance/confession mags—“My Husband Ran Off with the Babysitter”—that sort of stuff, and occasionally short stories for the cheapo men’s mags. Continue reading Hack Writing 101: The Lost Meat Spear Manuscript

The Grifters by Jim Thompson – Robbers and Robbers

Jim Thompson is regarded in literary circles as a master of noir fiction. His books are published by Random House and many of them are available in hardback editions. It didn’t used to be that way.

The Grifters was first published in 1963 and I first read it in 1963. I got it off a rack in a dime store. The book was not what we call today a “trade paperback,” which is a larger format than the standard pocket-size pulp paperback, generally a book that is judged to have some literary merit; no, this was a pulp paperback, which at that time probably sold for 75 cents. I believe all of Thompson’s novels initially came out as pulp fiction. Read ’em and throw ’em away.

Continue reading The Grifters by Jim Thompson – Robbers and Robbers

Dick-lit Tracy – Here Goes Nuthin’

I was sitting in my office late one night, staring at the pile of bills stacked up on my desk, wondering if I’d ever see another payday.

In walked a tall blonde in a short skirt.

“Mr. Snyder?” she said. “I need help.” Her lipstick was red. Her eyes were blue. Her voice was like maple syrup dripping down the side of a stack of flapjacks.

“It’s my husband,” she said. “I think he’s a vampire.”

A vampire? I can do vampires. I’m a write-aholic. I can write anything—for money. Continue reading Dick-lit Tracy – Here Goes Nuthin’

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – Pervert or Prophet?

I read this book the way I watch grizzly slasher films. I squint my eyes so they’re barely open and quickly scan over the gruesome parts, trying not to comprehend too much, but for some godawful reason, I’m unable to just turn the page and move on to the next scene. Bret Easton Ellis will be remembered for this book—one of the strangest “horror comedies” ever to spew from a mind more twisted than Edgar Allan Poe’s, more macabre than H.P. Lovecraft’s, and more harrowing than Stephen King’s. With American Psycho, Ellis raised the bar for thriller writers.

Allow me to reproduce here just a few sentences of a scene that goes on for a number of pages. WARNING: I’m not joking. Continue reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – Pervert or Prophet?

Chad Kultgen’s The Average American Male – What Salinger Couldn’t Say

This novel by Chad Kultgen reminds me more than any other book of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. The main difference is that The Average American Male is simply more honest about the way young guys think about sex. I’m sure just about every guy who reads The Average American Male starts cracking up almost immediately because he relates to the way the narrator’s mind works, mentally undressing every attractive female he sees and imagining raunchy sex acts. It may be a slight exaggeration of the “average” American male’s mind—granted:  most men don’t masturbate ten times a day—but the mental activity itself is not that far from average. This really is how guys think, all guys—I suspect even gay guys think like this, except that their fantasies are about men instead of women.

Continue reading Chad Kultgen’s The Average American Male – What Salinger Couldn’t Say

TOM WAITS GETS LOST IN TRANSLATION

Scarlett Johansson sings
Tom Waits: Singin’ in the Pain…

After posting my review of Bukowski’s Post Office on Monday, I became curious about what average readers were saying about Bukowski these days, so I went to goodreads to check out the reader reviews. One interesting thread started when a reader posted a comment that reading Bukowski always made her think of Tom Waits. The thread went on for some time as many others agreed.

I’ve long been a Tom Waits fan and just reading the reviews made me want to listen to one of his old albums. Looking through my CD rack, I had to laugh when I came upon “Anywhere I Lay My Head,” a CD I’d purchased a couple years ago and had forgotten about. Continue reading TOM WAITS GETS LOST IN TRANSLATION

Charles Bukowski’s Post Office – Through Rain, Sleet, Snow and Booze

Charles Bukowski is primarily known as a poet. He was also a lifelong alcoholic and often wrote about his drinking in both his poems and especially in his prose. Post Office was his first novel.

Although it’s labeled “a novel,” Post Office is really a memoir. (I think the only actual novel Bukowski ever wrote was Pulp, a parody of a detective novel, “Dedicated to bad writing,” that was published in 1994, the year he died. I’ll review Pulp in the future.) There’s no plot to Post Office, hardly even a story. A man hires on as a letter carrier, works a few years then quits. He hires on again as a clerk, works a lot more years, then quits again. That’s the story.

In this time frame of some 14-15 years, he goes through a number of wives and lovers, drinks, has a kid, drinks, plays the horses, and drinks. I’ve heard many people say they love Bukowski’s poetry, but hate his prose. In my opinion, they’re not reading him right. His prose is poetry. I’m not saying that every word Bukowski has ever written is poetry. But there are hundreds of poems, disguised as prose, throughout his “novels.” Post Office is a book you can flip open to any page and start reading and you’ll soon find yourself engrossed.

Continue reading Charles Bukowski’s Post Office – Through Rain, Sleet, Snow and Booze