Archives for posts with tag: Novelists

Image

The Moving Target — originally published in 1949 — features Lew Archer, an L.A. private investigator, who appears in a series of novels by Ross Macdonald.

While reading the work of this amazing wordsmith/poet, I was struck by its similarity to the best passages in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — and figured somebody somewhere must have written about this. A quick Google search revealed more than I’d hoped.

My research uncovered a fascinating article entitled “Ross Macdonald’s Marked Copy of The Portable F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Study of Influence” by Robert F. Moss. In the article, Moss demonstrates how Macdonald learned from Fitzgerald on a variety of levels, including language, plot, structure, and technique. Macdonald is quoted as calling Fitzgerald “a dream writer,” “our finest novelist,” and “my master.” Read the entire article here.

To give a sense of Macdonald’s command of language, here is the opening paragraph from Chapter 4 of The Moving Target:

We rose into the offshore wind sweeping across the airport and climbed toward the southern break in the mountains. Santa Teresa was a colored air map on the mountains’ knees, the sailboats in the harbor white soap chips in a tub of bluing. The air was very clear. The peaks stood up so sharply that they looked like papier-maché I could poke my finger through. Then we rose past them into chillier air and saw the wilderness of mountains stretching to the fifty-mile horizon.”

Image

I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light a the end of Daisy’s dock…Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning –”

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, The Great Gatsby

Read The Great Gatsby for free! The novel is in the public domain in Australia and is available at gutenberg.net. Happy reading!

Photo: Thorsten Shier

Image

For a limited time, the Kindle version of The Kept Girl by Kim Cooper is available for just $2.99. Get your copy of this fascinating read at Amazon.com. (The price is “counting down” each day until it reaches the $7.99 list price.)

ABOUT THE BOOK: Kim Cooper‘s The Kept Girl is inspired by a sensational real-life Los Angeles cult murder spree which exploded into the public consciousness when fraud charges were filed against the cult’s leaders in 1929. The victim was the nephew of oil company president Joseph Dabney, Raymond Chandler‘s boss. In the novel, Chandler, still several years away from publishing his first short story, is one of three amateur detectives who uncover the ghastly truth about the Great Eleven cult over one frenetic week. Informed by the author’s extensive research into the literary, spiritual, criminal and architectural history of Southern California, The Kept Girl is a terrifying noir love story, set against the backdrop of a glittering pre-crash metropolis. To learn more about the book, visit the author’s blog. Read a sample chapter here.

Image

In this mid-1960s photo, Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) is engrossed in Penguin Science Fiction (#1638), edited by Brian Aldiss. The anthology (originally published in 1961 and reissued in 1965) included stories by Isaac Asimov, J.G. Ballard, and an author most people wouldn’t associate with sci-fi — John Steinbeck, who won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Image

Steinbeck’s contribution to PENGUIN SCIENCE FICTION #1638 was entitled “The Short-Short Story of Mankind: A Fable.” An excerpt is included below.

The Short-Short Story of Mankind: A Fable (Excerpt)
by John Steinbeck

It was pretty draughty in the cave in the middle of the afternoon. There wasn’t any fire, the last spark had gone out six months ago and the family wouldn’t have any more fire until lightning struck another tree.

Joe came into the cave all scratched up and some hunks of hair torn out and he flopped down on the wet ground and bled . Old William was arguing away with Old Bert… 

“Where’s Al?” one of them asked and the other said, “You forgot to roll the rock in front of the door.”

Joe didn’t even look up and the two old men agreed that kids were going to the devil. “I tell you it was different in my day,” Old William said. “They had some respect for their elders or they got what for.”

After a while Joe stopped bleeding and he caked some mud on his cuts. “Al’s gone,” he said.

Old Bert asked brightly, “Sabre tooth?”

“No, it’s that new bunch that moved into the copse down the draw. They ate Al.”

“Savages,” said Old William. “Still live in trees. They aren’t civilized. We don’t hardly ever eat people.”

Joe said, “We got hardly anybody to eat except relatives and we’re getting low on relatives.”

…Read the rest of the story here.

Book cover: “Memory of the Future” by Oscar Dominguez (1938)

Image

The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I am pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”

RAYMOND CHANDLER

Image

THE KEPT GIRL

Novel by Kim Cooper

 Silver Birch Press Review

*****Five stars *****

While Los Angeles has been called a city with a “history of forgetting”—with wide-scale demolition of landmarks and even entire neighborhoods—author Kim Cooper helps readers relive L.A.’s past in her captivating first novel, The Kept Girl (Esotouric, 2014), a book based on real people and events.

Cooper—a social historian, nonfiction author, and historic preservationist—serves as our guide as we travel back to Jazz Age L.A., the summer of 1929, just a few months before the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression.

It was a time when L.A. was starting to boom, thanks to abundant oil reserves and the burgeoning movie business—with dreamers and people who preyed on dreamers converging on the City of Angels to reach for the gold ring.

One of these California transplants was Raymond Chandler, who moved to L.A. after his years of service during WWI—and by 1929, he had lived in the city for a decade. As a 41-year-old oil executive, his fondness for booze and broads complicated both his professional and private lives—since he made a living as an executive in the oil business and was married to an ailing woman nearly 20 years his senior.

Cooper’s novel reveals Chandler before he became L.A.’s premier chronicler of crime—the writer who more than anyone created the neon noir image of L.A. that the city has enjoyed ever since.

The Kept Girl—which takes place a decade before Chandler published his first novel, The Big Sleep, in 1939—offers a speculative history of how the author may have got his start as a purveyor of crime fiction. In Cooper’s telling, Chandler’s employer asks him to investigate a religious cult that has squeezed $40,000 from Clifford Dabney, the boss’s nephew. Chandler enlists his secretary/mistress Muriel Fischer and an honest cop named Tom James—believed to be the model for detective Philip Marlowe—to assist him in solving the crime.

Throughout the story, the three protagonists deal with personal demons—including aging, sexism, alcoholism, and corruption—as they endeavor to crack the case of the Great Eleven Cult, headed by a shady mother and daughter who claim they receive messages and directives from angels.  A range of gullible types fall for their spiel—mainly out of greed, since the angels promise to reveal the locations of the richest oil deposits in California.

As P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and the L.A. of 1929 is much like a circus sideshow—with humanity in all its flaws, foibles, and hopes on full display. Cooper does a masterful job of pulling all the disparate parts of the story together into a riveting mystery. The big reveal at the end is worth the price of admission. So step right up and read The Kept Girlyou’ve never seen anything like it: history, social commentary, and an engaging mystery all in one tidy 274-page package.

The Kept Girl is available in Kindle and paperback versions at Amazon.com.

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including Pasadena Confidential, the Real Black Dahlia and Weird West Adams. Her collaborative L.A. history blogs include On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA–The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage,vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For LifeBubblegum Music is the Naked TruthLost in the Grooves and an oral history of the cult band Neutral Milk Hotel. The Kept Girl is her first novel.

COVER ART: Paul Rogers

Image
“Whatever I do is done out of sheer joy; I drop my fruits like a ripe tree. What the general reader or the critic makes of them is not my concern.” HENRY MILLER, American writer (1891-1980)

Painting: Henry Miller portrait, watercolor by Fabrizio Cassetta. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Image
“Night was falling. Birds were singing. Birds were, it occurred to me to say, enacting a frantic celebration of day’s end. They were manifesting as the earth’s bright-colored nerve endings, the sun’s descent urging them into activity, filling them individually with life nectar, the life nectar then being passed into the world, out of each beak, in the form of that bird’s distinctive song, which was, in turn, an accident of beak shape, throat shape, breast configuration, brain chemistry: some birds blessed in voice, others cursed; some squeaking, others rapturous.” 

GEORGE SAUNDERS, “Escape from Spiderhead”

“Escape from Spiderhead” appears in George Saunders‘ collection TENTH OF DECEMBER (Random House, 2013), available at Amazon.com.

Image

L.A. historian/author Kim Cooper, renowned for her Esotouric bus tours into “the secret heart of Los Angeles,” recently completed her noir novel THE KEPT GIRL – and is offering readers a terrific opportunity to subscribe to the book’s first printing (details at thekeptgirl.com).

The prestigious Kirkus Reviews recently featured THE KEPT GIRL in an article entitled “Eight Tales to Warm You Up for the New Year.” Mark your calendar for the launch party at Skylight books in Los Angeles on Thursday, 2/13/14.

The subscription offer — available through early January 2014 — features a variety of benefits, including the subscriber’s name prominently acknowledged in all copies of the book,  which will arrive enclosed in a limited-edition decorative slipcase. Book lovers, collectors, hardboiled fiction fans, don’t miss this chance to take part in a true publishing event. Considering all the benefits, this first-class publication is a tremendous bargain at just $65.

Before Raymond Chandler became LA’s crime laureate, he was an LA oil company executive. Inspired by this historic nugget, Kim Cooper, social historian and co-founder of Esotouric, spins Chandler’s early LA years, a sinister 1920s angel-worshipping cult, an LAPD cop and a heroine who is much more than a ‘kept girl’ into a deeply researched and compulsively readable crime novel.”

Denise Hamilton, author of DAMAGE CONTROL & editor of Edgar Award-winning anthology LOS ANGELES NOIR

ABOUT THIS PUBLISHING METHOD: The Subscription model of publishing flourished in England in the 17th Century. Instead of relying on a single regal (and often capricious) patron, authors and publishers cultivated a select group of literate, engaged readers and collectors whose support encouraged and enabled the publication of books that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive to produce. Through Subscription-sponsored publication, important atlases, geographies, and histories saw the light, along with great literature, including Milton’s Paradise Lost.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Kim Cooper‘s The Kept Girl is inspired by a sensational real-life Los Angeles cult murder spree which exploded into the public consciousness when fraud charges were filed against the cult’s leaders in 1929. The victim was the nephew of oil company president Joseph Dabney, Raymond Chandler‘s boss. In the novel, Chandler, still several years away from publishing his first short story, is one of three amateur detectives who uncover the ghastly truth about the Great Eleven cult over one frenetic week. Informed by the author’s extensive research into the literary, spiritual, criminal and architectural history of Southern California, The Kept Girl is a terrifying noir love story, set against the backdrop of a glittering pre-crash metropolis. To learn more about the book, visit the author’s blog. Sign up for the newsletter to receive occasional updates. Read a sample chapter here.

Kim Cooper is the perfect Virgil to 1929 Los Angeles, a city that was both a paradise and an inferno. Her knowledge of the city that was is unparalleled, her imagination unnerving. The real-life characters and crimes that would give birth to the pulp fiction of the 1930s and the film noir of the 1940s can all be found here. Aficionados of noir Los Angeles will read The Kept Girl with fascination and with growing horror as the terrible crime at its core is revealed.” 

John Buntin, author of L.A. NOIR

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including Pasadena Confidential, the Real Black Dahlia and Weird West Adams. Her collaborative L.A. history blogs include On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA–The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage,vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For LifeBubblegum Music is the Naked TruthLost in the Grooves and an oral history of the cult band Neutral Milk Hotel. The Kept Girl is her first novel.

COVER ART: Paul Rogers

Image

That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.” 

RAY BRADBURY

Photo: Julia D, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED