'Four days later, Crowley was coming out of Evangelo’s, a bar just down the street from the Plaza in Santa Fe. The first thing he realized was that someone was sitting on his Harley. The second thing he realized was that it was the Kid.

“You know something? Some little bastards just can’t be told,” Crowley said.

“Nice bike,” said the Kid.

“Get your brown ass off of it.”

The Kid obeyed. Then he reached into his jacket and pulled out a Bulldog 44. He pointed it at Crowley.

Crowley cackled. “New toy, huh?”

“Yeah. Just got it.”

“You know how to use it?”

“Not really. But it holds five rounds. I don’t think I can miss you with all of them.”

“That what you’re gonna do, shoot me? Right here in the street, in front of people?”

“Yeah.”

“Better go ahead, then.”’

What George Orwell thinks we peasants should be reading

I’ve been rereading some of Orwell’s essays. When I was young I went from near-worship of Orwell to starting to see his flaws. When I read him nowadays, it seems as though all I see are the flaws… and yet I love him as much as I ever did.

I was struck by his classism in the essay "Raffles and Miss Blandish."

Arguing that hard-boiled, morally-ambivalent fiction is fascistic, Orwell claims: 

People worship power in the form in which they are able to understand it. A twelve-year-old boy worships Jack Dempsey. An adolescent in a Glasgow slum worships Al Capone. An aspiring pupil at a business college worships Lord Nuffield. A New Statesman reader worships Stalin.

As someone who comes from a Glasgow slum, I laugh sadly when I read this. Here is what Orwell doesn’t understand: In the same way that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, powerlessness also corrupts, and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.

Orwell concludes the essay by praising, in so many words, snobbishness and hypocrisy. He shows his own snobbishness in his view that, while it’s good and proper for “serious” fiction to be morally ambivalent, “popular” fiction should be morally black and white, presumably so that we barbarians from Glasgow slums won’t become fascists.

"In America we love to kill people. Sometimes it is legal, more often it is not. But, legal or not, the killing is steady. Sometimes it is in self-defense, sometimes it is in a frenzy of rage or fear, and sometimes it is premeditated, planned for hours and days and months in advance.  

I’ve watched two killings.  I’ve looked in the men’s faces as they died. And many of the other killings happen near me.”

"About a fortnight later, I was at a show in the Albany Hotel. I was watching the first fight of the evening when somebody tapped me on the shoulder. It was Kevin Wood.

‘So you’ve been saying I sabotaged your show?’ he said coldly. He was the fattest, ugliest, most wart-ridden fuckpig I ever saw. His appearance was the best thing about him.

‘That’s right. Sue me for slander.’ l looked away.

‘You’re asking to get your legs broken, Piers.’

I turned on him. ‘Come out to the car park and break them, you fat cunt.’ He just looked at me. ‘Come on! I’ll put your teeth so far down your throat you’ll have to stick your toothbrush up your fat arse. Come on.’

He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. You didn’t speak this way to Mr Wood, spiritual grandson of Al Capone. I knew he probably had a couple of his heavies near at hand, but they wouldn’t dare touch me in the hall. And, if he accepted my invitation to the car park, his boys wouldn’t give it to me before at least one other was ready for a wheelchair.

Wood knew that too, and he knew it might be him.”

Why this is the best time ever to be a writer

I’ve been a published author since 1989. My books have been published by large, medium-sized and small publishers. But some of my best, and best-reviewed, books have taken years to find a publisher. On more than one occasion, editors have told me that they wanted to make an offer but were blocked by the marketing department, who didn’t see obvious or immediate commercial potential (because I don’t write about rich white people getting their feelings hurt).

Over the years, I’ve had publishers tell me, “This book is great but it’s too serious/dark/violent/political/experimental/short/whatever else for us to publish.”

With the rise of independent/self-publishing, I (and other authors) have been vindicated. My most recent book, One for My Baby, is a nasty, violent, erotic, political novella of slightly less than 15,000 words. There would have been no point in even showing it to a publisher. A few days after finishing it, I published it on Kindle and Createspace. As I write this post, it’s on the Kindle bestseller list in two categories - at #41 in Action and Adventure, and #57 in Thrillers.

The readers have decided, and traditional publishing is cordially invited to crawl under my kilt and kiss my Caledonian ass.

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'She looked straight at him, but her face showed nothing. “Listen to me,” she said. “I think you’re going to get your parole. So, you better hear this: keep away from me. Stay out of my way. If I see you anywhere, even by accident, I’ll shoot you in the face.”

Frank kept looking at her but he didn’t say anything. So pretty. Then a lawyer went and said something to Laura, and Frank was led away.As Laura walked out of the prison, the Attorney General’s flunky said, “Laura, I understand how you feel… but you can’t just threaten someone…”

“I just did, so obviously I can. What you mean is you don’t want me to. They’re not the same thing.”’

"Where I come from stays the same, even when they’ve knocked down the old houses with no bathrooms and built cell blocks with bathrooms, or gutted the rancid old tenements and sandblasted the outsides and put bathrooms in the insides. 

It stays the same, even though the children now have baths and don’t have to wait for their parents to boil a big pot of water and then pour it into a plastic basin. My sister and I used to watch my mother or my grandmother do that - they’d put the basin on the floor in the middle of the room and fill it with hot water. I remember the basin was red, and I’d take my clothes off and step into it first. I was about eight, my sister about six. I’d go first. The water would reach just past my ankles and then I’d squat down, naked, shivering in the parody of warmth that came from the tiny twin-bar electric heater. I’d squat down and try to fit into the water as much as I could of my three-and-a-half-stone, four-foot caricature of a body. I’d shiver like thin white paper and I’d splash warm water over myself and get the carpet around the basin soaking wet.”