Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tower and the Spinetingler Awards.

By Jay Stringer

The Spinetingler 2010 awards are still open for voting as I type. If you haven’t been over and voted yet, now is as good a time as any. Hell, they even inspired the British government to call an election out of jealousy at not getting any nominations. They wanted in on the act, they wanted a ballot, a campaign, they wanted to kiss babies and woo the ladies. Personally, i think it will be in vain. No matter how hard they try, they wont be good enough to sit with the Spinetingler nominees.

You won’t catch me trying to canvas votes in anyway. Never. Not a chance. Although, if I WERE going to make a few suggestions, they might go something like this….ahem…

I’ve already told you how good Russel’s The Lost Sister is, so you could click in that direction for the NEW VOICE category.

Remember last year when I raved about Helen Fitzgerald’s The Devil’s Staircase? Well hey, look at that, it’s in the RISING STAR section.

The short story section is full of stories that I enjoyed. Can’t try and persuade you one way or another, but many of them are familiar names to readers of DSD and good luck to all of them.

If you’ve been around here for a while, you may remember my love letter to the comic book Scalped which finds itself in something called the “GRAPHIC NOVEL” section. It’s in some fine company, Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of The Hunter was gorgeous and would also be well deserving. But I’m too scared to crass Dash or Chief Red Crow.

Hey, look, Fridays Forgotten Books is nominated in the COMMUNITY category, along with The Big Adios, which is well worth checking out.

Anyone who swears as much as The Nerd Of Noir deserves a few extra votes when it comes to reviews.

And while I’m rounding up, let’s not forget that Al Guthrie’s awesome Slammer is on the list as well for it’s US cover. I love that edition. So simple, so stark, so right.

Now, all joking aside, everyone on the list deserves to be there. So head on over and vote for whichever titles and authors you feel need rewarding. And we’ll pretend I didn’t try and have an influence. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…..

But wait, there’s a couple more. And here I really need to get down and drool.

Busted Flush Press is probably my favourite imprint right now. David and co just get it. By gawd, have you seen the covers to the new editions of the Moe Prager books? You have? Well, want to look again anyway? These things are great, from an imprint who know what they’re doing. Handily, they get a nomination in the IMPRINT category. They also, in a roundabout way, get a nom (don’t you hate that word? I do. When did that become a thing?) in the LEGEND category by way of Tower, by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman.

I actually put off reading the book for a long time. I don’t know. I was nervous about it for some reason. Was it going to be too obvious? Was the blending of voices going to work? Would it be a novelty book?

Bottom line is, I’m an idiot.

The book is a taught and moving balancing act between two writers. It focuses, mainly, on the lives of two friends growing up in New York. They’re both from the wrong side of the street, they both have two many strikes against them from birth to really make it out in one piece. But the journey that Bruen and Coleman take them –and us- on is moving and visceral.

Nick and Todd have been friends their whole lives, until loyalty, love and duty start to twist them up inside and start a gentle tug of war for each others soul. And this little battle is played out in the prose, a friendly fight between the authors that helps elevate the book.

Bruen writes as if freebasing anger and coming down afterwards on pain. His character nick is twisted up inside, one of those noir characters who’s angry for the sake of anger. He’s a 70’s Springsteen song. Coleman is one if the best there is at writing grief and soul. Not enough crime writers today seem to want to tackle grief and regret as emotions key to how we face the world. But Coleman gets it. And he makes us get it. If Nick is angry for something he can never have, Todd feels to me like he’s mourning something he never had.

Reading it as an outsider to toe settings of the book, New York and Boston, it put me in mind a little of The Departed, which is not a bad place to be. The characters lie to each other and themselves, and you wait for them to run head first into their destiny. There are a few sucker punches in here that really knock the wind out of you, and that’s great writing.

And the edition, did I mention the edition? Another win for Busted Flush. Lovely little paperback with French flaps and a simple retro cover style. This book’s got talent all over it, from the authors, to the editor (a certain tartan ninja) and the publisher. Work like this needs to be rewarded.


David Cranmer said...

I've voted but in the short story category it was a challenge for me.

Steve Weddle said...

Pretty clear that BEAT TO A PULP is a great place for great fiction.

So are all those spots. I voted last week and spent the following hours tracking down some of the stuff I hadn't seen. That's another reason to love these awards lists.

David Thompson said...


Wow!! Thank you SO much for all the kind words about TOWER and the press. That was really something special. :-))


Unknown said...

It was fun being apart of the nomination process. The short story category was particularlly rich and same with the legends category. Tough decissions all around

Jay Stringer said...

@David T, no problem, thanks for stopping by. And for "getting it" when it comes to choosing and packaging books.

@David C, agreed. The short category was a killer, so much talent in there that was available at the touch of a button, makes choosing even more difficult!

@Keith the toughest one for me to vote on in the end was the comics. My love of what's being done long-form in scalped vs. what Cooke achieved with Parker.

@Steve, what? what do you want?