Saturday, September 12, 2020

Cherishing a New Bruce Springsteen Song

 A couple things occurred to me on Thursday when I heard the new Bruce Springsteen song, "Letter to You," from his forthcoming album of the same name.

The most obvious one was that there was a brand-new Bruce Springsteen song! Just a day after the rumor started, the official press release drops as does the first single. It is always a great day when there's a new Springsteen tune, especially in 2020 (a damn good year for music). It struck me, however, that this one was slightly different. 

Not only was it a record with the E Street Band, but it was by an artist who had already reached the age of seventy. The Boss is seventy? Seriously? And then the video shows the entire band recording the songs for the album. It was like seeing old friends gathered again, smiling, laughing, working, creating, all in its black-and-white glory. 

The song's lyrics are mature and nuanced, deep with emotion. Hearing them, reading them as they played across the screen, I'll admit to a bit of emotion. Not nearly as much as last year's "Hello Sunshine" debut, but it was there. Why? Well, the meaning of the lyrics, of course, but also the echo of a question I hated to admit at the time: how many more days will we have that feature a new Springsteen song? 

He's seventy and the rest of the band ain't getting any younger. Unless Springsteen releases an album and unequivocably announces it is the last one, chances are we'll never know which day was the last to hear a brand-new Springsteen song. We'll be able to look back and note it, but not on that actual day.

I swept those thoughts away from the front of mind, but confess to thinking them and just relished the song.

Know what else made it special? The person I was with when I heard it.

I wake early every morning to work on my fiction writing, so I had already been alerted that the new song dropped. I had read the press release, seen the album cover, and read the tracklisting (which means little ahead of hearing the actual album). I was ready to hear the song. Last year, with "Hello Sunshine," I had listened to it about five times before my son got out of bed.

But on Thursday, I waited. My son, a college freshman, likes a few Springsteen albums and I know he'd want to hear the song before he drove to school. Well, *I* wanted him to hear it before school, so I made sure he did. Perhaps, on an unconscious level, the thoughts about The Boss not getting any younger played a role. I can't say, but I wanted to share the experience.

And it was all the more special.

It also made me think of all the other musicians, authors, and actors who I've grown up with. Some have already passed on but most of my favorites are still with us. Made me cherish them and their work all the more.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Beau, Barron, Blood


This week, Beau looks at some Laird Barron.

Isaiah Coleridge is a mob enforcer in Alaska--he's tough, seen a lot, and dished out more. But when he forcibly ends the moneymaking scheme of a made man, he gets in the kind of trouble that can lead to a bullet behind the ear. Saved by the grace of his boss and exiled to upstate New York, Isaiah begins a new life, a quiet life without gunshots or explosions. Except a teenage girl disappears, and Isaiah isn't one to let that slip by. And delving into the underworld to track this missing girl will get him exactly the kind of notice he was warned to avoid.

Listen to a sample from the book: SoundCloud


Praise for Blood Standard and Laird Barron

“Laird Barron has so much fun with this character, who admires Humphrey Bogart’s take on Sam Spade and tosses off one-liners that bring the spirit of Dashiell Hammett into the 21st century.”—Raleigh News & Observer

“The action is fast-paced, the characters well drawn, the settings vivid and the hardboiled prose quirky in the manner of a writer who cut his teeth on horror and poetry.”—Associated Press

“Singular and excellent…Blood Standard sets a standard that will be hard to match.”—

Grab your copy

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Class Action Park

What was the most dangerous amusement park ever?  Among them certainly has to be Action Park, in Vernon New Jersey, open from 1978 to 1996, and what went on there, in all its crazy 1980s glory, is captured in the documentary Class Action Park, now showing on HBO Max.

It's certain that six people died as a result of going on rides at Action Park.  The overall number of injuries suffered, serious and less so, was countless.  And yet, of course, the danger was a part of the park's allure, and the movie tells the story of the park's history and popularity, with many who worked there and went on its attractions remembering what things were like.  Action Park was an experience shared that those who partook of it will never forget, like, well, a war.  A war that was fun and that you're fortunate enough to have survived.  For the first hour, the story told is mainly amusing to hilarious, and then about an hour in, the tone darkens, as the mother of the park's first fatality victim tells how her son died at the park and how the park's owner --  quite a character himself -- lied to the press and public about the incident.  

I don't want to give all the great anecdotes in the film away.  But let's just say that the thinking behind Action Park was to have a place that essentially had no (or very few) rules.  Teenagers, some underage and most with no training, comprised the staff; drinking was rampant; safety definitely not a priority.  Everything you did at the park you did at your own very high risk, and as it turned out, the park operated without any liability insurance so that if you were hurt, you really didn't have much legal recourse.

Where the film perhaps is most interesting is how it gets at how childhood was so different back during this time.  I grew up primarily in the 70s, just before the heyday of Action Park, but if I wanted to show one film to my own 15-year-old to give him a quick encapsulated version of what a certain type of childhood was like back in those decades, I might just show him Class Action Park.  It perfectly captures a period that is perhaps the last of its kind. It is a period when as a kid a large portion of your life happened without your parents knowing anything about what you were doing.  Your parents could be entirely loving, and yet supervision was often...lax.  This is something I talk about with friends of mine from childhood, how great it was not to have the kind of constant parental involvement kids (including my own) get now.  How much fun you could have on your own.  Outside the house, you didn't need your parents for much of anything. Just show up for dinner, eat your meals, wash, sleep, do your schoolwork, and more or less, everything is fine.  And yet, even if it were possible nowadays (which it isn't), would you want your kids to grow up in the way kids did in the 70s and 80s?  

The fun and sense of freedom so many who went to Action Park had is apparent from their stories, but as one guy laughingly says, he'd never want his kid now to go to a place like Action Park.  When you indulge in nostalgia, how much do you weed out from your memories?  As one former park visitor says, "In the 80s kids were running free. They were running outdoors. They were scraping their knees. They were going to Action Park. We look back at our childhoods. It's carefree. We didn't have jobs. We didn't have to answer to anybody. We could do what we wanted, right?...So when you're nostalgic for Action Park, you're nostalgic for childhood, you're nostalgic for freedom. You're not nostalgic for being hurt. You're nostalgic for everything else."

As another says of this time: if you ask people who went to Action Park, "Do you think the way you grew up was healthy for a kid, they'll say 'no'.  We laugh about it cause what else are we going to do, but we don't think it was healthy...You were swimming in pools where the lifeguards didn't pay attention. You were going on rides where people got hurt all the time.  And we felt like we were on our own. We felt like the world was an unsafe place. But it's what we got, so fuck you."

Class Action Park is very entertaining and makes you think about the double-edged quality of nostalgia.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Who is E.A. Barres and what has he done with Ed Aymar?

E.A. Barres has a new thriller coming out November 10. Are you ready?


In this intense and edgy tale, two very different men are murdered. In the same fashion and on the same night. Soon after the shocking murders their desperate widows must discover how the men were connected and why they were killed before a similar fate befalls what remains of their families.

One of my favorite writers working today, Barres builds deep and thoughtful characters organically and emotionally, all while playing up the gritty, furious pace. This dark novel is filled with greed, corruption, brutality, and shades of dark humor. A matrix perfectly suited to Ed’s talent and personality.


Some might find it hard to believe that a writer with such a turn for the brutal is actually kind, thoughtful, and one of the most inspiring and helpful people in the writing industry. So, how did this lovely man come up with such an unrelenting and vicious novel.

“I've been writing toward They're Gone for a while now. My work has always had a vigilante streak through it, and female characters who, in some way, have been done wrong. The idea of a dual female narrative, featuring women in response to the men around them, and then subverting that control, was a natural but unplanned progression.

And I wanted to write something commercial. The response to The Unrepentant has been lovely, but more than a few people have told me that it was a hard read. I understand that, and I understood the type of book it was going to be as I researched and wrote it. I wanted to write something that had commercial appeal, but was still something I identified with.”

Ed Barres (Ed Aymar) 


"As much as it pains me to admit it Ed Aymar (E.A. Barres) is one of the most insightful and nuanced writers working today and he fearlessly steps outside his comfort zone on a regular basis. He is constantly challenging himself and his readers.” 

Author S. A. Cosby won the 2019 Anthony Award for Best Short Story "The Grass Beneath My Feet", and his previous books include BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, MY DARKEST PRAYER, and the recent and highly acclaimed BLACKTOP WASTELAND.

“I was glad to receive an early copy of this book, and I was riveted from page one. This novel is filled with all my favorite things: diverse characters, strong women, interesting insights into domestic relationships and the complexities of grief. And I particularly love this author’s brand of crime fiction: gritty, darkly humorous, sensitive, and sprinkled with violence where necessary.

In his new novel, E.A. Barres masterfully weaves together the stories of two very different women and their burning desire to learn the truth about their murdered husbands. They’re Gone is about secrets and marriage, betrayal and grief, and will leave you questioning whether you can ever really know someone. A stunning, dark, evocative thriller.”

Jennifer Hillier, author of six novels, including JAR OF HEARTS, which won the Thriller Award, and was shortlisted for the Anthony and Macavity Awards. Minotaur Books released her newest psychological thriller, LITTLE SECRETS, in April of this year. 

"Ed has a way of bringing people together. We met at a book signing and shortly afterwards he invited me to read at my first Noir at the Bar event, where I met you! Ed is very supportive of other writers and has a knack for highlighting the talents of others, women in particular."

Shawn Reilly Simmons is the author of the Red-Carpet Catering Mysteries. Shawn is on the Board of Malice Domestic, is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Crime Writers' Association, and Mystery Writers of America. An accomplished short story writer, she’s won an Agatha for “The Last Word.” Shawn is also an editor at Level Best Books, publishing crime fiction anthologies and novels.

“The thing I love most about Ed Aymar’s (E.A. Barres) writing is his voice. While a lot of folks are good at making a reader unable to look away from a train wreck of a situation unfolding on the page, Ed has a knack for making you glad he brought you along for the ride. It only takes a page or two for me to be hooked into whatever story he’s telling, and in five I care about the characters so much I have to see how it turns out. That kind of talent can only come from a guy with a huge heart—and anyone who’s lucky enough to call Ed a friend will tell you he has one of the kindest hearts in publishing. I can’t wait to dig in to this new novel.”

LynDee Walker is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of LEAVE NO STONE and the national bestselling author of two crime fiction series. The Faith McClellan series and the Agatha nominated Nichelle Clark series.

E.A. Barres/E.A. Aymar's newest novel, THEY'RE GONE, will be published in November 2020. His other books include THE UNREPENTANT, and he co-edited and contributed to THE SWAMP KILLERS and THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD.