Category Archives: Megan Abbott

My top fiction and non-fiction reads of 2014

Time for me to present Pulp Curry readers with the list of my best reads for 2014. As is customary, I will start off by admitting, yet again, I feel I have not read nearly as much as I should have. My reading this year has been dominated by books for work, including material for freelance articles and the various literary festival panels I’ve been involved in. A considerable amount of my attention has also been directed to reading related to the non-fiction book I have been co-editing, Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980, which is scheduled to be published in October 2015.

With all that said, here’s the top ten books I read in 2014. I’ve split my list in two this year – fiction and non-fiction.

My top fiction reads are as follows:

escape-dominique-manotti

Escape, Dominique Manotti 

I have long been interested in the political history in Italy in the seventies and eighties, the so-called ‘years of lead’, when left wing paramilitary groups and right wing extremists in the military and police were locked in a shadowy, violent conflict. Dominique Manotti’s Escape is set in the late eighties and deals with the aftermath of that conflict. Filippo is a common street hood that shares a prison cell with Carlos, a charismatic former Red Brigade member.… Read more

My year in books: Court Haslett

Tenderloin_Final_LR

The next guest on the ‘my year in books’ series is someone who perhaps does need a little introduction.

Court Haslett is a San Francisco crime writer whose debut thriller novel, Tenderloin, features a PI called Sleeper Hayes. Tenderloin is set in San Francisco’s skid row Tenderloin neighbourhood in the late seventies, against the backdrop of  punk, disco, and the suicide Jonestown cult. 

The book caught my eye because I am a complete sucker for the seventies, love San Francisco and am particularly fascinated by this period in the city’s history. I’m hoping to get around to reading Tenderloin over Summer and will be reviewing the book on this site in 2014. You can pick up a copy here

Best of luck with the book, Court and welcome to Pulp Curry. 

The Raven’s Gift, Don Rearden

November 23rd, 8pm

Dear Diary,

So my friend Adam recommended The Raven’s Gift to me. It’s about doomed lovers in post apocalyptic Alaska and focuses on the indigenous Yup’ik culture. This is gonna be one looong slog of a read.

November 24th, 6am

Dear Diary,

Finished The Raven’s Gift. So I was wrong. So it was a kick-ass page-turner. So I didn’t sleep. I may have even gotten emotional at times.… Read more

My top crime reads of 2012

What’s the end of a year without a best of post?

Recently, I was asked by UK site Crime Fiction Lover to list my top crime reads for 2012. They would only let me pick five, but obviously I’ve read a lot more books worthy of mention than that. Here’s the long list.

He Died with his Eyes Open, Derek Raymond

A police procedural like no other, it starts, like so many other crime novels, with the discovery of a body. The unnamed cop (the story’s narrator) who catches the case is a tough talking sergeant from the Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14, at the Factory police station. There’s no apparent motive and all the cop has to go on are a series of old cassette tapes in the dead man’s property that contain the deeply unhappy ramblings of a deeply unhappy man. Most police procedurals deal with crime from the point of view of the police. What’s unusual about this book is that the cop concerned is more like his victim.

Raymond was the pen name of English writer Robert William Arthur Cook, who eschewed his upper middle class family for a life of odd jobs, bohemian travel and frequent brushes with the law. Although he wrote for years, success eluded until with the publication of He Died with His Eyes Open in 1984, the first of five Factory books.… Read more

Noir Con or bust

As if I don’t have enough going on crime fiction-wise at the moment, with my debut novel Ghost Money and the upcoming launch of Crime Factory’s all Australian crime antho, Hard Labour, I’ll be attending Noir Con in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, in early November.

Noir Con is a biennial three day festival of noir crime writing and culture. Philadelphia is a fitting host city, being the birth place of the influential noir writer David Goodis, author of Dark Passage, Street of No Return and Shoot the Piano Player, amongst many other novels.

The best way to get a feel for Noir Con is to check out the program, which you can find here along with an interview with the mastermind behind the event, Lou Boxer.

Among the writers attending I’m keen to see are Megan Abbott, Vicki Hendricks, Lawrence Block and Wallace Stroby. I’m also looking forward to checking out the authors I haven’t heard of, as well as meeting some of the people I’ve been communicating with for a while now on social media.

In the lead up to Noir Con I’ll be spending a week and a half in New York, a city I have never been too but always wanted to see.… Read more

Book review: Dare Me

“At first, cheer was something to fill my days, all our days. Age fourteen to eighteen, a girl needs something to kill all that time, that endless itchy waiting, every hour, every day for something – anything – to begin. There’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls.”

So says Addy Hanlon, narrator of Megan Abbott’s latest book, Dare Me. And you better believe it.

I’ll make no bones about being a huge fan of Abbott’s work (I’ve previously reviewed her work on this site here and here). Her first four books, set in America in the thirties, forties and fifties, took classic noir themes and characters and gave them a mighty twist. The End of Everything, her break out work, was a deceptively simple coming of age tale about a missing girl in an anonymous middle class American suburb in the seventies.

Dare Me takes place in the present, in another part of the great expanse of nameless US suburbia. Addy and Beth have been best friends for years and are the top dogs of their high school cheerleading squad. Beth is the captain, Addy always her faithful lieutenant. Cheerleading and their commanding place in it is the ground zero of their world. “Let’s face it,” Addy says at one point, “we’re the only animation in the whole drop ceiling, glass bricked tomb of a school.… Read more