Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Texas Bleeds Noir Fiction

Well, like we didn't have anything else to do, Johnny Byrd and I delighted ourselves by editing Lone Star Noir, an anthology of unpublished crime fiction featuring Texas writers. And, no, Cinco Puntos is not the publisher, Akashic Books of Brooklyn is the publisher. Akashic has a large and very successful series of noir anthologies--Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Rome, Mexico City, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Phoenix for God's sake. All sorts of places. And Akashic publisher Johnny Temple--obviously feeling the need to plug the noir side Texas into the series--asked Johnny Byrd and me to edit Lone Star Noir. He wanted us to go beat the bushes.

The rule is all stories in an Akashic noir collection will be unpublished. Akashic, like Cinco Puntos, likes diversity, so he wanted the greatest mixture of voices we could find. It was what made the looking fun. Akashic and Cinco Puntos have for a long time been sharing booths at conferences and book fairs. We have one of those solid relationships that are the foundation of independent publishing in the United States. They are good friends, good colleagues and they are good citizens in the world of independent publishing. So it was a no-brainer. Yes, we said.

And it's been kicks.

You'll find some great stories (no filler here) in the volume, all unpublished. Even Mary Martha Crumley, the widow of Jim, searched through his archives and found a delightful and unpublished James Crumley story. It was like a visit from Jim's ghost. He brought along his Texas twang and his weird humor to tell a downright scary story of sisters and sex and envy and sorrow. Thanks, Mary Martha. And there's a whole list of good writers (see below). Some known and some new folks getting their feet wet and others in-between. Joe Lansdale, the creme de Texas noir. And Luis Alberto Urrea and David Corbette did a wild collaboration that waltzes across Texas from the Gulf Coast to El Paso and Juarez. Cinco Puntos Press writers contributed--Jessica Powers and Lisa Sandlin--getting their feet good and wet in the genre. The common denominator is good writing. Johnny and I are proud. We'll be in Austin this weekend at the Texas Book Festival doing a panel and selling Lone Star Noir in the big tent and at the Cinco Puntos Press booth. If you're there, come see us. Tim Tingle, Sarah Cortez, Johnny Byrd and me (aka Bobby Byrd) will be on the panel, and we hope some of the other authors are in the audience. Folks like Jesse Sublette, George Wier, Milton Burton, all of whom live in the vicinity. And whoever else is in the neighborhood. Copies should be shipping to your bookstores right now and should be available in the next week or so. We'll put them on our website, but in the meantime, if you are a noir fiction junkie, give us a call and we'll sell you one from our stock.

The List of Writers:  James Crumley, Joe Lansdale, Claudia Smith, Ito Romo, Luis Alberto Urrea, David Corbett, George Weir, Sarah Cortez, Jesse Sublette, Dean James, Tim Tingle, Milton Burton, Lisa Sandlin, Bill Crider, and Bobby Byrd.

From Bobby's introduction:

You can drive around Texas for a long time and never meet J.R. Ewing or Woodrow Call. The real Texas hides out in towns and cities like you'll find in Lone Star Noir,  and in that very Texas reality, among the everyday good folks of Texas, you'll find the hard-boiled understanding of guns and dope and blood money and greed and hatred and delusion that makes these fourteen stories come alive on the page. Sure, you might catch a glimpse of J.R. and old Woodrow Call, like a shadow at the edge of your sight, feel their heat at your back, catch a whiff of the dead flowers which are their Texas dreams. This is basic foodstuff for a Texas writer telling a story, but the story must always stay true to its place and the people who live there. That's the strength of these stories in Lone Star Noir--the particular place they come from, the language that the characters speak. Yes, they are pieces of the larger puzzle that is Texas, but they are more true to the pieces of ground they reveal. Texas, in all its many places, bleeds noir fiction . . .

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