Friday, February 16, 2018

THE ROYAL LIBRARY, or BOOKS OF THE THRONE

"I gotta hit that IKEA in Westeros."

In my castle, the toilet tank is the space reserved for literary prominence and has been so going back to when I was a little prince of the South Side realm. If I wasn't in the bathroom with a book, I was in the stacks of Carter G. Woodson Public Library looking for one to bring back to the bathroom. I gave myself a Chicago Public School's equivalent of a twelve-year education ignoring the screams and pleas of my brothers to give up my seat in study hall if you know what I'm sayin'. I just thank my lucky stars I'm living in a place that isn't plagued by errant moisture three hundred sixty-five days of the year so they can remain there. Sure, I may not be able to get a drink of water in Southern Cali after the next five years, but by then I will have learned to moisture farm my own sweat 'n whatnot like dood in Waterworld because I came here to stay, but I need housing prices come waaaaaay down. Should this place become a wasteland, a la Mad Max: Fury Road, I bet I could finally afford that frickin' down payment. I'll be Immortan Dan, Lord of Post-Apocalyptic Baldwin Hills. We'll see them try to gentrify it then.

Back to my poor man's Bibliotheca Banheiros. I was a little guy and the only one in the house who seemed to gravitate toward reading as a means opposed to a consequence. Once my parents tried to play it bourgeoise and, instead of beating my ass, made me go to my room and read a book. When they realized it was no punishment at all, I got my ass beat. Read that book, tho'. Read a bunch. That's why I needed the bathroom. Everyone else in my house was loud and angry and obnoxiously self-centered, yet as the bathroom was the second most sacred space of the average Chicago cottage subordinated only to the Holy Fronchroom of St. Overdownderenwhatnot —"Ay, no eatin' in the fronchroom! Take 'dat overdowndere 'n whatnot!"—I was safely ensconced in quiet comfort. I'd drop ass and, boom, knowledge!

I read books to learn, my favorite past time next to D&D, comic books, movies I somehow was able to watch that were nowhere near PG, and the indulgence of some crime and science fiction here and there. Now I read books for work, whether occasionally reviewing them for Foreword Reviews, reading reciprocally, or helping writer friends with their WIPs. I never say I read for fun, because that's like breathing for fun. I'm always breathing. I'm always reading. It's life. Living is fun. Th following are the current tomes on the king's throne:

Sheena Kamal's THE LOST ONES is a book you'd find on the same table as a Steig Laarson "The Girl With The…" whatever. It falls into that slot really nicely. Once you read deeply of its story, about Nora Watts, a not-so-reluctant investigator who reluctantly takes a case involving a missing fifteen-year-old girl in Vancouver. Sheena leverages her considerable experience as a community worker and activist on the streets of urban Canada, which seems to get a free pass because they have a sexy Prime Minister and the get better press than their neighbor to the south. This brilliant new author manages to provide you a protagonist/narrator you won't like, who could give less than two shits whether you do or not, and help you realize angels belong in heaven, devils in hell, which is where Sheena sends Nora Watts to find Bonnie, coming across even bigger demons, quite a few belonging to her. I'm loving it. It goes right next to the Poo Pourri.



Nathan Singer's BLACKCHURCH FURNACE is described by Criminal Element as "a scathing satire of faith, family, and all that we hold dear, where the only thing you can believe in are the voices in your own head … and they are every bit as crazy as you are" It's available from Down & Out Books. I met Nathan Singer at Murder & Mayhem Milwaukee 2017 and if you think I can be mildly engaging on a writing panel, this cat held it down. His manner is easy going yet authoritative, which is proving to be true of his prose. I also dig the way it tips its hand that all is not as it seems. I'm blurbing it, because I'm a big deal now (haaaaaa!) and I'll be offering up my impressions soon, despite my rule to recuse myself from reviewing the work of my peers. This one sits next to my face care products. Ay, yo. So I exfoliate and moisturize. Why don't you??


I come from a place where you can' t talk out of your ass. If you speak or write on a subject, you need to know the ins and outs of it, no funk-faking, especially when it involves other people's cultures, otherwise, them's fightin' words. BUT HE WAS GOOD TO HIS MOTHER: The Lives and Crimes Of Jewish Gangsters by Robert A. Rockaway is my current research reading. The next Elliot Caprice novel occurs at the three-way intersection of race, class, and crime in 1956 Chicago. I expand into the balance of cultures that made the Chicago Outfit powerful and secretive, as opposed to the racial and cultural strictures imposed on New York's mob, which was inclusion and mutual appreciation. This book is a labor of love which explores the choice of Jewish Americans to participate and flourish in organized crime, covering not just notable figures and folk tales, but the inner conflicts, contradictions, benefits and tragedies of this choice on individual gangsters as well as Jewish folk from Skokie, Illinois to Israel. I'm finding it illuminating and emotionally moving, which will be evidenced in the subplot in my next novel. This one went straight to my Kindle, and as it's research, it sits in my hands when I'm studying. Yeah. Let's call it studying.






If you want to add to your own reading list, the folks at Down & Out Books arranged for the e-book edition of A NEGRO AND AN OFAY to be priced down to $2.99 during February. The sale extends to all platforms, Kindle, SmashWords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, the barbershop where you get your bootlegs. Load up some black history unlike everything you've been taught in school, and some shootouts and car chases and whatnot. Take it with you on your own throne if you wanna.


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For those interested in the works to which I frequently refer, check out these titles at your local bookseller, your local library, or online where you enjoy purchasing your print and e-books. As always, thanks for your support and encouragement.

Works By Danny Gardner


         



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