Friday, May 18, 2018

Margaritas and Mysteries

You've invited an author (living or dead - fantasy okay) to dinner and you're nervous. What will you serve that you think will make her or him your greatest admirer?

by Paul D. Marks

Hmm. Well, I haven’t had too many dinners with stratospherically famous authors, but judging from what I’ve read about them, I’d serve a long list of various booze, including absinthe – even though today’s absinthe isn’t what they might have been used to on the Left Bank in the 1920s. I also say this because I have had meals with various film and rock stars and you definitely gotta have the booze flowing, but add some dope too.

And depending on what time of my life it would be someone different than it might be today. So as of this day, 5/18/18, who would I want to have dinner with? The choices range from Somerset Maugham (Gin Pahit) to Alexandre Dumas, père (wine, French, of course), John Fante (wine), David Goodis (whiskey). The one-name, a la Cher, recognizables: Hemingway (mojitos and absinthe), Fitzgerald (gin). Kerouac (margarita). Also Raymond Chandler (gimlet), Ross MacDonald (Scotch) and Jim Thompson (whiskey) to contemporaries like James Ellroy, Walter Mosely, Carol O’Connell, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Kem Nunn, Dino Buzzati Tim O’Brien and Anne Tyler, to many more, though I wouldn’t want to guess what these more contemporary writers drink.

And, of course, mint juleps with Walker Percy.

The problem with famous people is, to paraphrase from the Jose Ferrer/John Huston version of the movie Moulin Rouge: “One should never meet a person whom they admire. What they do is always so much better than what they are.” This may or may not be true in any specific case, but I know from the famous people that I have met and dealt with on one level or another that it’s true as often as not. So I wouldn’t want to be disappointed by an author whose writing I admire, but who I don’t already know personally.

So, I’d bet on a sure thing. I’d have dinner with someone I know and admire and like. Someone I know I wouldn’t be disappointed by. I’d have dinner with Art Taylor. Yes, our own Art, previously of this blog. Well-known short story writer and novelist. Winner of multiple awards. Someone I know and like and can talk to and listen to. We could have our own little mini Algonquin Round Table or our very own My Dinner with Andre, er, My Dinner with Art. And if he was to come out to the West Coast, I’d serve West Coasty food. Margaritas and Mexican food. Albondigas soup and enchiladas with molé. Chili rellenos and tamales. Plenty of hot sauce and guacamole. Nothing weird or nouveau. Just stuff I like and would hope that he would, too. And cerveza.

This would be our feast (minus the sour cream)

 And then we’d retire to the salon with our after dinner drinks.

We would talk about the relative merits of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Which is better, the book or film version of In a Lonely Place? Is the Robert Altman version of Chandler’s The Long Goodbye a good flick? Maybe we’d talk about the state of the publishing biz, and along with that bookstores (I hear Barnes and Noble is on the verge of bankruptcy – that would make “good” dinner conversation), NYC vs. LA vs DC, over those drinks, while we watched the sun set over yon mountains. And, of course, we’d gossip about other writers and dish on everything under the sun.

I’d wish him luck on his Anthony nomination. And then we’d put our tipsy heads together and come up with a plan for world peace.

It would definitely be a fun and stimulating evening.


And now for the usual BSP:

I thrilled to announce that Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andy McAleer and meis nominated for an Anthony for Best Anthology. And Art Taylor's story "A Necessary Ingredient" from that anthology is also nominated for Best Short Story!

Only three days till White Heat launches! My Shamus Award-Winning novel is being reissued on May 21st by Down & Out Books. It’s available now for pre-order on Amazon.

Publishers Weekly calls White Heat a "...taut crime yarn."

Please join me on Facebook: and check out my website


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Hot sauce, cerveza and talking world peace with a friend — sounds like a fun evening, Paul.

Art Taylor said...

I shared the post here—and loved being part of it! Then realized I'd never comments on the post itself. Thanks for including me, and hope to continue this conversation for real! :-)

Paul D. Marks said...

Well, Dieter, world peace is easy peasy, but to pair the right hot sauce with the right cerveza, now that takes some doing ;-) .

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for sharing, Art. And thanks for coming to dinner! And, yes, let's definitely continue the conversation for real!