This year’s Spinetingler Awards winners have been announced.
My novel The Wrong Thing was nominated in the Best Novel - Legend category, which was won by Lawrence Block’s A Drop of the Hard Stuff. I’m happy to be in such fine company.
I’m also happy that the award for Best Crime Fiction Publisher went to New Pulp Press, who published Jake Hinkson’s brilliant novel Hell on Church Street, a book that seems to be getting no attention at all.
Congratulations to all the other nominees and winners.
In celebration of The Wrong Thing’s being nominated as best novel of the year by Spinetingler Magazine (if you haven’t voted yet, there’s still time), here’s a video sample of my first novel, Of Darkness and Light, which has been tingling spines since 1989…
PM Press’ Switchblade imprint focuses on gritty crime writing at the grim fringe of the genre. The narrative point-of-view here is apparently that of a junkie, and it provides an intimate, inside-the-skull look at the world as experienced by “the Kid.” Otherwise unnamed, Graham’s Hispanic noir protagonist has his short, violent life dissected like a frog on a breadboard. Spanning the Kid’s life from his barrio origins to his inevitable end, Graham builds a razor-sharp character study of a knife-wielding sociopath. Fans of James Sallis’ Drive (2005) and the recently released movie based on it will feel right at home in the Kid’s world.
I am writing to express my deep appreciation for your book The Wrong Thing, which I happened upon en route to the park with my daughter. It was in a free box at the base of the stoop of my apartment. The flow of your writing style and the imagery contained therein resulted in my inability to put the book down. I identified somewhat with the Kid insofar as I too was rather unloved as a child, got into trouble with the law to some degree, and have been searching for love, which I have found on occasion. I loved how you brought out the Kid’s underlying nature, that he loved to cook for people, especially Vanjii, cared for Catboy, and loved to read and watch the news, all of which could have been nurtured had he loving parents… perhaps. At any rate, the end of the book powerfully overwhelmed me, and all I could do was to let the tears fall. I have a friend, a dear friend, that just barely avoided arrest, having been involved with some dicey characters. She too had a very rough childhood. I called her to tell her that I love her. I believe that if one knows that someone truly loves them, they will more likely than not choose their actions with more care and deliberation. Your book reminded me how powerful love is; for this I thank you.
Nice review of The Wrong Thing here:
This is the fifth title in PM Press’s Switchblade Series, which is a collection of hardboiled fiction focusing the lens on the burned and rugged outsiders who “tango at the edge of society.” The Wrong Thing is no exception to this rule. It’s the story of a ravenous killer called The Kid told in rich, journalistic prose. Imagine a ruthless young murderer, not yet to caught and trying to independently reform himself, falling in love. Unfortunately, reality sets in; his past actions come back to him like a karmic boomerang. For fans of Black Lizard, Chester Himes, Barry Gifford, and mystery noir.
Barry Graham is a bit intimidating to sit down with.Maybe it’s the Scottish burr or the fierce intelligence which radiates from him or maybe it’s the long string of hard as nails characters he’s been writing about for the past 20 years?Who knows?
Jedidiah Ayres reviews The Wrong Thing on the Barnes and Noble Ransom Notes blog:
The Wrong Thing is the story of The Kid, a lost-cause, outcast turned criminal in the American South West. It’s a stripped-down outlaw ballad delivered in terse, but lyrical passages, and though The Kid doesn’t live to a ripe old age, I’m terribly impressed that the story of his life fits so well into the compact boundary of just over a hundred pages. Seems to me that when you know how to use words effectively you just don’t have to use as many, (another analogy would make Barry Graham a one-bullet-one-kill sniper and your average popular thriller writer a tommy-gun-wielding-thug spraying an excess of lead for the same result).
After reading The Wrong Thing, Bill Foreman, an attorney who has served for decades in Phoenix’s deepest and darkest trenches, wrote to me:
Just finished the book and thought it was great. Not enough is written about this strange place we occupy let alone written so well. Your story fit my brain like a well-oiled lizard skin boot. The last sentence reminded me of a favorite quote from Chinua Achebe that I can only paraphrase about how the masses are the true rulers and when they finally move they will do so knowing that God loves them or he would not have made so many of them. Really liked it, thanks for writing.