Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bouchercon 2016, Part IV: Music on the streets and in the bars of New Orleans







© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bouchercon 2016, Part III: One panel and another mess of pictures

Eric Beetner and his sister Gretchen don't take no
mess. Photos by Peter Rozovsky 
My only complaint about the panels on lesser-known writers of the pulp and paperback-original eras that I've moderated at the last three Bouchercons is that time inevitably runs out well before I run out of questions and the panelists out of answers.  This year's panelists helped out by anticipating some of those questions and incorporating the answers into their replies to questions I did ask. Eric Beetner, for example, offered some interesting comparisons of the writing style and literary chops of the two writers he discussed, William P. McGivern and Charles Williams.

Rick Ollerman
Alexandra Sokoloff
I chided several of the panelists for stealing my questions, but I was grateful to be up there on stage with such interested panelists. Thanks, Eric, Martin Edwards, Rick Ollerman, and Gary Phillips. You can buy CDs and MP3 files of the panel and all other Bouchercon sessions at at VW Tapes Conference Recording, http://vwtapes.com/bouchercon2016.aspx, purveyors of fine Bouchercon recordings for a number of years now.
Steve Cavanaugh shot by Ayo Onatade
shot by me, Noir at the Bar, Voodoo
Lounge.

Danny Gardner
Craig Faustus Buck
Johnny Shaw
Harlan Coben
Sarah M. Chen

Josh Stallings
Christa Faust
© Peter Rozovsky 2016 

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Bouchercon 2016, Part II: One book, lots of pictures

French Quarter, New Orleans. Photos by Peter Rozovsky
for Detectives Beyond Borders.
I rarely find time to read at Bouchercon because I'm too busy doing other things, and that was about five times truer for New Orleans than it was for the previous eight cities where I'd attended the annual world mystery and crime fiction convention.

Photo not by
Peter Rozovsky
The first acquisition that I've dipped into is Harold Q. Masur's novel Bury Me Deep, published in 1947 (despite Google's assertion that it first appeared in 1924). I bought this one on the advice of J. Kingston Pierce, part of a coterie of wise men who know a lot more about vintage paperbacks than I do and who were frequently hovering around the old paperbacks at Mystery Mike's table in the Bouchercon book room. (The other members of the triumvirate were Bill Crider and Rick Ollerman. Only the best can tell me how to spend my money.)

A baby alligator and its admirers in the bayou country.
Masur builds his story to a tight, efficient climax in the early chapters, something like how David Swinson does in his fine novel The Second Girl. Done well, that sort of thing knocks me off-balance in the best possible way and leaves me eager to find out what happens next--not that the stories degenerate into a string of cliffhangers, either. I think of it as a narrative apéritif that whets the appetite for the story to come. Or maybe it's more like an operatic overture, offering clues to the themes that will follow. Whatever your preferred metaphor, Masur pulls it off.

Nanci Kalanta, known on
Facebook as Mountain Jane
Laurel. I'm a gentleman, and

when a lady says, "Do me in
black and white," I smile
and oblige.
The pre-, post-, and para-Bouchercon activities were the most unusual and entertaining I'd enjoyed, and for whatever reason, it seemed that a larger group of folks from various circles of my friends and acquaintances than ever before mingled and intersected in a giant Venn diagram of gin, powdered sugar, and po'boys. What a city!

Garden District, New Orleans.
© Peter Rozovsky 2016
Mike Stotter, Sara Paretsky, Ali Karim.
In the bayou country.
Terrence McCauley
Alison Gaylin, Ali Karim
Jay Stringer, Eric Beetner
Christa Faust
Suzanne Solomon
Joe Lansdale

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bouchercon 2016, Part I: Crime with alligators

The Garden District, New Orleans.
Photos by Peter Rozovsky for
Detectives Beyond Borders
Bouchercon 2016 was like no other in my experience, with more music, more color, more humidity, more good food, more courtesy, more good fellowship, more nobility of character, more drama, more hospitality, and more alligators than any I'd attended before.   That's New Orleans and the bayou country, I guess.

My Thursday morning panel went as well as any I'd moderated. The panelists — Eric Beetner, Martin Edwards, Rick Ollerman, and Gary Phillips — were articulate, knowledgeable, and entertaining talking about their favorite crime writers of the past. Those crime writers included some I had previously read and enjoyed, including Charles Williams, Peter Rabe, and Michael Gilbert, and others new to me.

The latter included William Peter McGovern and the remarkable Clarence Cooper Jr. Ten minutes into the panel, Walter Mosley walked in and took a seat in the crowd. He even offered a trenchant and entertaining interjection during the session's question period. I have no photographic evidence of Mosley's presence, but you might be able to hear him on CDs and MP3 files of the session,  available from VW Tapes Conference Recordings.

Christa Faust
The fun had begun the previous night, with the best Noir at the Bar I have attended since I invented Noir at the Bar eight years ago. The Voodoo Lounge on North Rampart Street was a perfect venue: crowded, amiably seedy, with a low, steady buzz of talk punctuating breaks between the superb readings.

The highlights for me? Martyn Waites and Christa Faust, who write violence and grotesquery, which anyone can do, but who do so with sympathy and heart, which few even try.  John Rector's deadpan story, whose television food-show host character appears to cook something you'll never eat, was not just gross-out funny, but also superbly controlled. Johnny Shaw gave a hilarious reading-performance of a story featuring Chingón: The World’s Deadliest Mexican.

Chris Acker and the Growing Boys. French
Quarter, New Orleans
Sunday evening, two of us wandered the French Quarter, stopping in at bars or lingering in the street wherever the music sounded interesting. We heard funk and blues that brought home how important New Orleans was to the formation of rock and roll. We heard pure and clear country music from a sidewalk quartet whose audience included an 89-year-old woman who sang along to everything.

Jay Stringer, Noir at the Bar's
apparently headless host
But she couldn't top the blind man who walked into the first place we had stopped and danced up a storm using his impassive seeing-eye dog as a maypole. At one point in the evening a young man backing out of a doorway carrying an amplifier accidentally bumped my friend and said to her in a voice filled with concern: "Excuse me, sweetheart." That would not have happened in Philadelphia or Boston or Montreal or anywhere else I've ever been.

Music in the French Quarter,
New Orleans
Along the way we became separated from Ali Karim and Mike Stotter, much to Ali's consternation. But his anger had a benevolent cause: He had gone out of his way to help a fellow convention attendee who had got into trouble, and he was worried that the same had happened to us.  Ali is a good human being as well as a hilarious boon companion.

New Orleans food you know about already. Suffice it to say that the spices will wake you up and that the best meal I had was the andouille-crusted fish at the Palace Café. Cajun music? Sone of the rhythms are tricky, but a lot of the songs are based on a simple I-IV-V chord progression that even I can play.

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Bouchercon 2016: Want a nice foot massage?

Photo: Peter Rozovsky
for Detectives 
Beyond Borders
If you're shy about asking for a foot massage, come to Canal Street. They hawk 'em on the sidewalks here.

No massages for me on my first evening in New Orleans for Bouchercon 2016, but my plane landed only ten minutes behind schedule--impressive considering that the aircraft had still not arrived at the gate five minutes after boarding was to have begun, and we were delayed further so Air Force One could get out of the way.

For the second consecutive Bouchercon, I ran into Ali Karim at the convention hotel before I could get to the registration desk. The inevitable crowd accumulated, and i was later getting to the desk than I was leaving Philadelphia.
*
Had a most pleasant dinner with Martin Edwards discussing Michael Gilbert, whom Martin will talk about when I moderate a panel Thursday morning. The conversation branched out into the vagaries of the English and the American legal professions (Gilbert was a lawyer and a mystery writer; so is Martin), and before long we were gabbing away about barristers, solicitors, and how to tell them apart. I asked the questions and Martin answered them, just as will be the case Thursday.

Sarah Byrne joined us toward the end of the meal. When not working on programming for next year's Bouchercon in Toronto, Sarah is--you'll never guess--a lawyer.

See you at the bar.

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Pictures of Bouchercons past

I've got my suitcase in my hand, and I'm off to Bouchercon 2016 in New Orleans tomorrow. On the eve of the new Bouchercon, some photos from old Bouchercons.

If you're coming to New Orleans, I'm moderating an exciting panel Thursday morning,  It's called  "From Hank to Hendrix: Beyond Chandler and Hammett: Lesser Known Writers of the Pulp and Paperback Original Eras," and it will feature Eric Beetner, Martin Edwards, Rick Ollerman, and Gary Phillips talking about a stellar line-up of crime writers from out of the past. It happens Thursday, Sept. 15. at 9 a.m., at the Marriott, 555 Canal St., room LaGalleries 1. See you.
Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block.  Raleigh, 2015

Angel Luis Colon, Johnny Shaw, Jay Stringer,
Eryk Pruitt. Raleigh, 2015.

Wandering brides, Indianapolis,
2009. Photo by Anita Thompson.
Allan Guthrie, Caro Ramsay. Raleigh, 2015.

Paul Oliver, Juliet Grames. Raleigh, 2015.

Michael "Michael Stanley" Sears.
Raleigh, 2015.

Sarah Weinman. Raleigh, 2015.
Ali Karim, Anders Roslund, Börge Hellström.
St. Louis, 2011.

Albany, 2013.

San Francisco, 2010.

The Bottles, Flabby Road. Raleigh, 2015.
© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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