Friday, June 4, 2010

I've Hired an Assistant, and Life Is Good

By Shane

I didn't attend BEA this year 'cause with ThrillerFest and my book both launching July 6, there's simply no time to breathe right now, let alone swan around The Apple, though I would have enjoyed that lots.

So, you're stuck hearing me talk about today's question, "What book surprised you lately?" But before I get to that, I have an exciting personal announcement to make:

I've hired a personal assistant.

I was inspired by Rebecca, who wrote last week about Kevin, the mythical/mystical assistant she'd hire if she won the lottery and could float, Scrooge McDuck-like, on a cloud of money while writing her novels. That's what I craved, too: someone to do whatever sucks. Database updates, travel coordination, website management, screening porn and Nigerians out of my e-mail, whatever.

Particularly the "whatever." The definition swings wildly, depending on the day, moment, and how much coffee I've drunk. So my assistant had to be fearsomely smart, ferociously talented, multi-tasking literate, able to feed me whip-smart literary allusions about Shakespeare, Proust and Melville so I can look as intelligent about things literary as Joshua even though I'm not, and able to take the ball and score the touchdown no matter how far the goalpost. (Oh, and that assistant would have to cleanse my prose of sports metaphors, which I detest but can't help because I'm a creature of American culture too. )

Unlike Rebecca's Kevin, my assistant would have to be female. The last thing I need is another dumbass guy mucking things up around here. I already do that splendidly.

To handle the mind-numbing variety of tasks and assignments, my assistant would have to be flexible. That's key to successfully managing The Enterprise Which Is Shane (tm!): flexibility. So I put an ad on Craig's List, and believe it or not, got a call from a woman who turned out to extremely flexible. Starting today she's my new personal assistant, and I thought you'd like to meet her:

I call her Qwerty.

Cause as you can see, she knows how to type.

Long road to get to the joke, I know. Hopefully it was worth it for you.


I'm reading it now. It's called IRON RIVER, and it's written by T. Jefferson Parker.

I was primed for the next installment of Easy Rawlins, his iconic L.A. private eye. For a novel that's smoky, slow, majestic and rich. Dense with shadows, subtleties and inaction, that last not a criticism, but a tribute, for a T. Jeff novel is not for action junkies, but rather the thinking reader. T. Jeff is a glass of fine whiskey, not a sixer of Bud.

So I crack the book and find not Easy Rawlins, but some dude named Hood. A novel not set in a Los Angeles of a smokier past, but in the here and now, in our modern badlands: the dangerous, chaotic border separating Mexico from the United States.


I realize that I've confused writers. Walter Mosley writes the Easy Rawlins private-eye series. T. Jefferson Parker writes a bunch of different novels, some in series form, some stand-alone. Turns out I've never read a T. Jeff. So I started IRON RIVER just to see what I would see.

In a word, Wow! It's chockablock with everything I like: action, guns, flamethrowers, gangbangers, kidnappings, torture, politics, and a solid, likable hero, in this case a cop named Hood, an L.A. Sheriff's Deputy who's helping the federal ATF chase gunrunners on the border. It's action-junkie nirvana . . . and yet it's full of Walter Mosley-ish word paintings too. There's subtext and subtlety, and a richness of atmosphere you don't find in a lot of thrillers. It's a fine book. I'm not done yet, but I already know I'm going to read this book again.

I love surprises, don't you?

Shane Gericke's new thriller, TORN APART, which you will confuse with neither Walter Mosley nor T. Jefferson Parker or even Dick and Jane but is a fine darn book in its own right, hits bookstores July 6. Visit Shane at, and meet him at ThrillerFest, where is he chairman.


Bill Cameron said...

I have done this too. (Not hired a contortionist via Craig's List *rimshot*, but started a book in the confusion it was part of a completely different series by an utterly different author. More often than not, it's a pleasant surprise, which only goes to show you that being a dimwit such as myself has certain advantages.

Sophie Littlefield said...

I'm dreading the day that I get a personal assistant - I can't manage my own inclinations and proclivities, how will I ever manage someone else's? But "do all the boring stuff" would be such an excellent directive for the right person. What I'd really love is to hire someone to manage *me* - someone who would smack me when I start wasting time and tell me to get back to work.

Shane Gericke said...

Dimwits unite, cause we're the ones who discover all the cool authors by accident! I finished T. Jeff and found it one of the more satisfying books I'd ever read, Bill. I love when that happens.

Sophie, doesn't Barbara smack you for wasting time and make you work when you wanna play? And you're already paying her! Just make her bring you coffee and you're set. She'd love to that, I just know it :-)

Kelli Stanley said...

That photo was a huge payoff, Shane!! ;)

Any info on where it was from? Was this a variety show? A novelty act? An ad for a typewriter?

There's a story in there, and damn it, I wanna know what it is! ;)


Gabi said...

Sometimes the goofs make for the best times. I, too, have waited patiently for a favorite author, run to the bookstore and grabbed a different book off the "just in" table only to be blown away. Literary karma.

Shane Gericke said...

Thanks, Kel. I've had this photo for a year, and have been itching to use it. I found it Googling for typewriters. No clue as to why it was taken or for what product. Probably a typewriter company. Not that I noticed the typewriter, mind you :-)

I hear you, Gabi. Especially when the karma comes from the $7 hardcover pile. You feel good AND save money!