Friday, January 17, 2020

Stephanie Kane's Would You Rather

Bored with the same old fashioned author interviews you see all around the blogosphere? Well, this series is a fun, new, literary spin on the ole Would You Rather game. Get to know the authors we love to read in ways no other interviewer has. I've asked them to pick sides against the same 20ish odd bookish scenarios....


Stephanie Kane

Would you rather write an entire book with your feet or with your tongue?

Feet. The more I talk, the less I write.

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

Long stream. I hear success can be paralyzing.

Would you rather be a well known author now or be considered a literary genius after you’re dead?

Well-known now. Who will be reading in a hundred years?

Would you rather write a book without using conjunctions or have every sentence of your book begin with one?

But every sentence should begin with a conjunction! Because conjunctions connect ideas. And good writers have been starting sentences with them forever.

Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?

Tattooed in microscopic letters on the back of my left knee. I can’t even listen to music when I write.

Would you rather write a book you truly believe in and have no one read it or write a crappy book that compromises everything you believe in and have it become an overnight success?

Write a book I truly believe in. Writing is hard enough; why go to the brain damage of writing a crappy one?

Would you rather write a plot twist you hated or write a character you hated?

Characters I hate. They’re less inhibiting to write and easier to kill off. A bad plot twist can send the story totally off course.

Would you rather use your skin as paper or your blood as ink?

Blood as ink—been there.

Would you rather become a character in your novel or have your characters escape the page and reenact the novel in real life?

Escape the page, because they could take the story anywhere they wanted. Writing is my escape, so being trapped in one of my novels would be hell.

Would you rather write without using punctuation and capitalization or without using words that contained the letter E?

without punctuation and capitalization I need all the e words I can get

Would you rather have schools teach your book or ban your book?

Depends on the school!

Would you rather be forced to listen to Ayn Rand bloviate for an hour or be hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas?

Hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas, especially if he’s buying.

Would you rather be reduced to speaking only in haiku or be capable of only writing in haiku?

Writing in haiku.
I am tongue-tied enough now.
Who knows what I’d say?

Would you rather be stuck on an island with only the 50 Shades Series or a series in a language you couldn’t read?

50 Shades is entertaining and instructive.

Would you rather critics rip your book apart publicly or never talk about it at all?

A book that evokes no response is one hand clapping.

Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?

Voice in my head—at least it’s private.

Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?


Would you rather write an entire novel standing on your tippy-toes or laying down flat on your back?

I tank up with caffeine, so flat on my back would be a waste of good coffee.

Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?

There are worse things than having nobody show up!

Would you rather read a book that is written poorly but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content but is written well?

Weak content but written well. If a book is poorly written, it’s tough to stick with it to see if the story pans out. Writing and thinking are two steps in the same process. How good a story can a poorly written book really tell?


Stephanie Kane is a lawyer and award-winning author of four crime novels. Born in Brooklyn, she came to Colorado as a freshman at CU. She owned and ran a karate studio in Boulder and is a second-degree black belt. After graduating from law school, she was a corporate partner at a top Denver law firm before becoming a criminal defense attorney. She has lectured on money laundering and white collar crime in Eastern Europe, and given workshops throughout the country on writing technique. She lives in Denver with her husband and two black cats.

Extreme Indifference and Seeds of Doubt won a Colorado Book Award for Mystery and two Colorado Authors League Awards for Genre Fiction. She belongs to Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Colorado Authors League.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Where Writers Write: Michael Don

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Michael Don. 

Michael is the author of the story collection Partners and Strangers (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2019). He lives in the Boston area and teaches at Tufts University and GrubStreet. He co-edits Kikwetu: A Journal of East African Literature.

Where Michael Don Writes

In the last ten years I’ve lived in six different apartments across four US states and two apartments in Nairobi, Kenya. Over this time, my possessions have been sold, given away, stored, recycled, thrown out and destroyed. Everyone says it and it’s true: moving keeps you from accumulating too much crap. I pride myself on my minimalist mentality. Sometimes I’m even boastful. Dogmatic. Judgmental of the maximalists. I’m sure it’s annoying. Watching Tiny House Hunters is one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t own a dresser because I don’t need one. My half of the bedroom contains only a side table with a reading light and a few books. There is nothing on the floor except for the occasional pair of socks that are still in use. My nightmares feature Walmart and packed up U-Hauls and SWAG.  

            Now in my new Boston area apartment which is on the first floor of a three-unit 1915 Craftsman style house, my writing space moonlights as a guestroom and the laundry folding area and a storage space and it is also my partner’s office, all of which makes it impossible to live my best minimalist life.

            The room is 12 by 9, heated by an old radiator and doesn’t have a door, though there is a wide doorway that opens up to the living room. We finagled a tension rod and curtain to create some sort of barrier, but it does little in terms of sound or light. The desk, scratched up from its many moves, contains piles of books, an overflowing basket of mail, miscellaneous stacks of papers, a modem, and half-used notepads. The full-sized bed is more often than not home to piles of clean clothes waiting to be folded. A Swahili mirror from coastal Kenya sits on the floor and leans against the wall and a bookshelf. Under and around the bed are puzzle pieces and balls and toy cars and pacifiers my toddler has brought in and dropped off. The closet is full of stuff I probably won’t look at until I move again.

            In an ideal world, my writing space would be neat and tidy. Every object would have its own designated space. Many of the objects wouldn’t even exist. I’m jealous of friends with neat workspaces. However, in this fantasy world of supreme order, something would get lost. I’ve come to learn that I don’t actually like writing in a quiet and clean space. I sometimes write at cafes because I like the noise and energy of others. Perhaps similarly, I like looking around my office at all the stuff: the mirror, the books, even the mail, and thinking about the many friends from the different places I’ve lived who have visited and slept in the bed. This grounds me. As a fiction writer, this messy physical blend of work and life is a gift that keeps on giving, even if it also drives me fucking nuts.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Ani DiFranco (2020) Reading Challenge

I really love reading challenges because of the way it stretches your reading comfort zone, but I've always sucked at actually completing them.

In 2015, here at Goodreads, we kicked off our most outrageous challenge ever, borrowing The Beatles Reading Challenge from another group I was a part of, which had turned their songs into reading tasks. And 2016, we whipped up The REM Reading Challenge. (I really sucked at this one. I couldn't even complete one album, but man was it fun trying!). And then to honor David Bowie's passing, in 2017, we pulled together the Bowie Reading Challenge! IN 2018 I decided to take a break from our music theme and challenged everyone to read whatever the fuck they wanted in our RWTFYW challenge. The only rule was that there were no rules : ) And then this past year I spread my love of Guster around by taking their discography and turning it into reading tasks!

There's just something about reading challenges right??? and so..... because I am glutton for punishment, here we are again!

For 2020, I struggled when it came to deciding which musician to feature. Maybe someone celebrating 20 years of music? Or someone I discovered in my twenties and had loved ever since? But then I thought, hang on, I haven't really featured a female yet, so without another thought, I began building reading tasks for Ani DiFranco's songs. My discovery of Ani's music was an interesting one. I was in my late teens, flipping through cassettes and CDs in a Gallery of Sound store, when I noticed the album cover for Dilate. It looked gritty and grungy, which is what I was into at time time, so I asked the guy behind the desk about her, and he offered to play a couple of her songs for me before I decided whether to buy it or not. A few chords into "Untouchable Face" and I was sold!

Whether you know and love Ani DiFranco, or this is the first time you are hearing of her, what I think is most cool about these kinds of reading challenges... is that you don't even have to be a fan of the musicians to participate. You just have to be a fan of READING!!


(follow the link to create yours!)

So here's how this works:

*The goal is to cross off as many of Ani's songs as you can throughout the course of 2020.

You can challenge yourself to complete one entire album, focus on completing one decades-worth of albums, or build your own challenge by hitting your favorite song titles... it's totally up to you!

*You cross off the songs by reading a book that meets the criteria listed after each song title.

If the book meets multiple reading tasks, cool! You can apply it to multiple song titles, OR you can make the reading challenge more challenging by limiting yourself to one song title per book.

*There is a built in redundancy with some of the tasks.

They are repetitive on purpose, to give you an opportunity to read more than one type of book and still get credit for completing a task. (Sneaky, I know!)

*Please copy and paste the entire list, or your customized challenge list, into your own thread in this goodreads folder and strike through the song titles as you complete them, OR, you can simply copy and paste each song title and its criteria from the master list here as you complete it. (obviously put your name in the thread title so we know whose challenge it is).

*Do not add your list directly to the main thread.

*YOU MUST LIST THE BOOK TITLE AND AUTHOR that coincides with the song as you complete it for the challenge so we know what you read!


An example of a completed song title task in your Challenge thread would look like this:

““This Bouquet” – Read a book that features flowers on the cover - The Distance from Four Points by Margo Orlando Littell


Aaaaannnnnnnddddddd here's the list
Broken down by album, in the order of their release

Ani DiFranco (1990)

“Both Hands” – Read a book that prominently features a body part, or has a body part in the title
“Talk to Me Now” – Listen to an audiobook
“The Slant” – Read a book that presents its subject in a unique way
“Work Your Way Out” – Read a book about working out, or that features a gym/weight loss/exercise
“Dog Coffee” – Read a book with an animal in the title, or that prominently features an animal
“Lost Woman Song” – Read a book written by someone who identifies as female
“Pale Purple” – Read a book with a color in the title
“Rush Hour” – Read a book during your commute (or on your lunch break)
“Fire Door” – Read a Fantasy book
“The Story” – Read a book solely because of its description
“Every Angle” – Read a book in multiple formats (electronic, print, audio) – BONUS POINTS if you read it in all three!!!
“Out of Habit” – Read a book in which the protagonist is struggling with a habit/addiction
“Letting the Telephone Ring” – Avoid the hype! Read a lesser known/small press published title

Not So Soft (1991)

“Anticipate” – Read a book you have been anxiously anticipating
“Rockabye” – Read a book in bed / at bedtime
“She Says” – Read a book that features a female protagonist
“Make Me Stay” – Read a book that you’re on the fence about
“On Every Corner” – Read a book in which the protagonist can’t seem to catch a break
“Small World” – Read a book that takes place in the City/Town/State you live in
“Not So Soft” – Read a hardcover
“Roll with It” – Read a book that someone recommended to you
“Itch” – Read a book in a genre you just can’t get enough of
“Gratitude” – Read a book someone has gifted to you
“The Whole Night” – Read a book in one sitting
“The Next Big Thing” – Read a book that you can’t stop gushing about
“Brief Bus Stop” – Read a collection of flash fiction
“Looking for the Holes” – Read a big buzz book you’ve been skeptical about

Imperfectly (1992)

“What if No One’s Watching” – Read a book that would be considered a guilty pleasure
“Fixing Her Hair” – Read a book by an author you hard core crush on
“In and Out” – Read a book that you can dip in and out of (poetry, flash, short story)
“Every State Line” – Read a book in which the character(s) travel or take a road trip
“Circle of Light” – Read a book you think is under-appreciated
“If It Isn’t Her” – Read a book that’s written under a pseudonym
“Good, Bad, Ugly” – Read a book that’s received a ton of mixed reviews
“I’m No Heroine” – Read a book about an anti-hero / that features an evil protagonist
“Coming Up” – Read a book that left you gasping for air
“Make Them Apologize” – Read a book by a song writer / a book about a musician
“The Waiting Song” – Read a book that’s part of series that hasn’t been completed yet
“Served Faithfully” – Reread a favorite book
“Imperfectly” – Read a used book, the more banged up the better

Puddle Dive (1993)

“Names and Dates and Times” – Read a book that features a nameless narrator or that takes place in an undisclosed place and time
“Any Day” – Free Read – read whatever you want, whenever you want and take credit for it here
“4th of July” – Read a book that takes place on a holiday / features a holiday
“Willing to Fight” – Read a book on a topic you are very passionate about
“Egos Like Hairdos” – Read a book that’s outside your norm / try reading something different
“Back Around” – Pick up a book in a genre you haven’t read in a while
“Blood in the Boardroom” – Read a book about a working stiff / pencil pusher
“Born a Lion” – Read a book that’s got a big bite
“My IQ” – Read a book that made you feel stupider for having read it
“Used to You” – Read a book by a favorite author
“Pick Yer Nose” – Read a library book
“God’s Country” – Read a book that features religion

Out Of Range (1994)

“Buildings and Bridges” – Read a book that takes place in a city or features large architectural structures
“Letter to a John” – Read a book that features prostitution / sex
“Hell Yeah” – Read a book that absolutely blew you away
“How Have You Been” – Pick up a book you had previously started and never finished.. then finish it!
“Overlap” – Read a book that’s hard to place into one genre
“Face Up and Sing” – Read a non fiction book that tackles a tough or important topic
“Falling is Like This” – Read a romance novel or a book that heavily features love
“Out of Range” – Read a book that was just a little too “out there” for you
“You Had Time” - Read a book and if it hasn’t grabbed in the first 50 pages, DNF it!!
“If He Tries Anything” – Read a book about best friends
“Diner” – Read a book about food or in which food is prominently features

Not A Pretty Girl (1995)

“Worthy” – Read a book that won an award
“Tiptoe” – Read a book that you’re hesitant about
“Cradle and All” – Read a YA / Children’s book
“Shy” – Read a book that takes place in or features a motel
“Sorry I Am” – Read a book that everyone loves but you didn’t
“Light of Some Kind” – Read a book in which the world seems to be ending
“Not A Pretty Girl” – Read a book with a bad cover
“The Million You Made” – Read an NYT best seller
“Hour Follow Hour” – If you read a book and it felt like it took foreeeeever to finish, take credit for it here
“32 Flavors” – Read a book that features food on the cover or in the title
“Asking Too Much” – Read a book that didn’t live up to your expectations
“This Bouquet” – Read a book that features flowers on the cover
“Crime for Crime” – Read a crime/mystery book
“Coming Up” – Read a book by an up and coming author
“Untitled” – Read anything and take credit for it here

Dilate (1995)

“Untouchable Face” – Read a book that features unrequited love
“Outta Me, Onto You” – Read a book and write a ranty review about it
“Superhero” – Read a book that features superheroes / read a comic book
“Dilate” – Read a book that creates an unexpected reaction in you
“Amazing Grace” – Read a book that features an adjective in the title
“Napoleon” – Read a historical fiction or history book
“Shameless” – Read a book that you’d be embarrassed to be caught reading
“Done Wrong” – Read a book with a weird twist you didn’t see coming
“Going Down” – Read a book that doesn’t live up to its hype
“Adam and Eve” – Read a book that’s been co-authored
“Joyful Girl” – Read a book that makes you feel good

The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere (1996)

“Bridges” – Read a book that could be considered a “bridge”, or a good introduction, to a specific genre
“Nevada City, California” – Read a book that takes place in, or is written by an author, from this state
“Korea” – Read a book that takes place in a different country
“Anarchy” – Read a dystopian novel
“Candidacy” – Read a book you believe should be considered for an award
“Bum on the Rod” – Read a book with a nonsensical title
“Enormously Wealthy” – Read a book from a Big 5 Publishing House
“Mess with People” – Read a book that’s told in a unique format
“Natural Resources” – Read a “cli-fi” book
“Heroes” – Read a book in which the lead character does something remarkable
“Half a Ghost Town” – Read a scary story / a book that features ghosts
“Holding On” – Read a book that you kept considering DNFing but didn’t

Little Plastic Castle (1998)

“Little Plastic Castle” – Read a fairy tale
“Fuel” – Read a book that gets you all worked up
“Gravel” – Read a book about the end of a relationship/friendship
“As Is” – Borrow a book from someone, and return it in the same condition
“Two Little Girls” – Read a book that features a child as the protagonist
“Deep Dish” – Read a book that’s over 400 pages long
“Loom” – Read a book in which the tension builds slowly / something big is looming
“Pixie” – Read a science fiction book
“Swan Dive” – Read a book that features birds or has a bird on the cover
“Glass House” – Read a book that features or deals with hypocrisy or in which one of the characters is a hypocrite
“Independence Day” – Read a book about, or that features, aliens
“Pulse” – Read a horror book / a book that scares you silly

Up Up Up Up Up Up (1999)

“Tis of Thee” – Read a book that features, or is written in, a unique or made-up dialect
“Virtue” – Read a book with a one word title
“Come Away from It” – Read a book that has a huge influence on you
“Jukebox” – Read a book that features music
“Angel Food” – Read a book that features angels or religion
“Angry Any More” – Read a book that pisses you off
“Everest” – Read a book that takes place in an unusual environment
“Up Up Up Up Up Up” – Read a book that contains the same word more than once in the title
“Know Now Then” – Read a book from your TBR that you should have read a long time ago
“Trickle Down” – Read a book that features blue collar workers
“Hat Shaped Hat” – Read a book that turns out to be exactly what you thought it would be / totally predictable

To the Teeth (1999)

“To the Teeth” – Read a book with a political bent
“Soft Shoulder” – Read a paperback
“Wish I May” – Go buy a book off your wishlist and read it
“Freakshow” – Read a bizarro book
“Going Once” – Ignore everyone’s advice and read a book people warned you you wouldn’t like
“Hello Birmingham” – Read a book with a city name in the title
“Back Back Back” – Read the oldest book in your TBR
“Swing” – Read a book that messed with your emotions
“Carry You Around” – Carry a book around with you and read it whenever/wherever you can
“Cloud Blood” – Read a book that takes place mostly outside
“The Arrivals Gate” – Read a book that takes place in or features an airplane/airport
“Providence” – Read a book that features or is about divinity / spirituality
“I Know This Bar” – Read a book that takes place in, or prominently features, a bar

Reveling: Reckoning (2001)

“Ain’t That Way” – Read a book that’s a spin on another book
“OK” – Read a book that you were just meh about
“Garden of Simple” – Read a book that takes place in the summer
“Tamburitza Lingua” – Read a book that’s been translated
“Marrow” – Read a medical thriller
“Heartbreak Even” – Read a book that you gave three stars to
“Harvest” – Read a book that takes place in the fall
“Kazoointoit” – Read a book that makes no sense at all
“Whatall Is Nice” – Read a book that makes you feel warm and fuzzy
“What How When Where (Why Who)” – Read a self help or motivational book
“Fierce Flawless” – Read a book and give it all the stars
“Rock Paper Scissors” – Read a book that features some kind of game
“Beautiful Night” – Read a book that takes place mostly at night/in the dark
“Your Next Bold Move” – ask someone to pick a book off your TBR list and then read it
“This Box Contains…” – Read a book as soon it’s been delivered to the house
“Reckoning” – Read a book with a word that ends in “ing” in the title
“So What” – Ignore your chores and plop down to read a book, and take credit where when you finish it
“Prison Prism” – Read a book that takes place in a prison or features someone who was in jail
“Imagine That” – Read a book that really surprised you
“Flood Waters” – Read a post-apocalyptic novel
“Grey” – Read a book with a grey colored cover
“Subdivision” – Read a book that is broken into “parts”
“Old Old Song” – Read a Victorian lit novel
“Sick of Me” – Take a sick day and read a book
“Don’t Nobody Know” – Read a book that has no, or almost no, reviews or ratings
“School Night” – Read a book that takes place in school and/or features students/teachers
“That Was My Love” – Read a book that uses flashbacks, or takes place in the past and present, to tell its story
“Reveling” – Read a book that you just can’t stop thinking about
“In Here” – Pick a new reading spot, and read one book there, then take credit for it here

Evolve (2003)
“Promised Land” – Read a book that promised more than it delivered
“In the Way” – Read a book that you had trouble finishing because you keep getting interrupted
“Icarus” – Read a book about a mythology or that features a mythological character
“Slide” – Read a book in a park
“O My My” – Read a book that really impressed the hell out of you
“Evolve” – Read a book that features or hinges itself on evolution
“Shrug” – Read a book that was just alright
“Phase” – Read a book in a genre or on a topic that you’re currently obsessed with
“Here for Now” – Read a book you’ve borrowed from the library
“Second Intermission” – Read the second book of a series
“Serpentine” – Read a book that features a snake or lizard on the cover or in the title
“Welcome To” – Read a brand-new-to-you genre

Educated Guess (2004)

“Platforms” – Listen to a podcast or a read a book in a different format than your used to
“Swim” – Read a book that takes place in, on, or around water
“Educated Guess” – Read a book that you chose solely for the title
“Origami” – Read an instructional, DYI book, and make/build/do the thing
“Bliss Like This” – Read a really sappy love story
“The True Story of What Was” – Read a book based on a true story
“Bodily” – Read a body horror novel
“You Each Time” – Read a choose your own adventure book
“Animal” – Read a book with an animal on the cover
“Grand Canyon” – Read a book while you’re on vacation
“Company” – Read a book while family is visiting / you’re visiting family
“Rain Check” – Read a book instead of following through with your plans for the day
“Akimbo” – Read a book that will give you nightmares / make it hard for you to fall asleep
“Bubble” – Read a book that you were super excited to start but that let you down terribly

Knuckle Down (2005)

“Knuckledown” – Read a western or a book that features a cowboy
“Studying Stones” – Read a book in which the main character or a small group of people live in seclusion
“Manhole” – Read a book that takes place underground
“Sunday Morning” – Grab a coffee and read a book on the weekend
“Modulation” – Read a book whose title begins with the letter M
“Seeing Eye Dog” – Read a book that features a character with a disability
“Lag Time” – Read a book that was written in the last century
“Parameters” – Read a book about someone overcoming / facing their fears
“Callous” – Read one of your friend’s favorite books and tell them that you think of it
“Paradigm” – Read a book that features immigrant characters or is written by an immigrant author
“Minerva” – Read a book with a woman’s name in the title
“Recoil” – Read a book that grosses you out

Reprieve (2006)

“Hypnotized” – Read a book that kept your attention the entire way through
“Subconscious” – Read a book you hadn’t realized you wanted to read until you began reading it
“In the Margins” – Read a used book that already contains marginalia and read the notes too!
“Nicotine” – Read a book about addiction
“Decree” – Read a book your friends have been screaming and shouting about
“78% H20” – Read a book that heavily features science
“Millennium Theater” – Read a play
“Half Assed” – Read a book that you felt had good intentions but was executed poorly
“Reprieve” – Read a fem-lit book
“A Spade” – Read a book that features graves, grave diggers, or takes place in a cemetery
“Unrequited” – Read a book that you wanted to love but just couldn’t
“Shroud” – Read a book about death or dying
“Reprise” – Read a book that qualifies for one of the reading tasks you’ve already used and take credit for it here

Red Letter Year (2008)

“Red Letter Year” – Read a book that’s written as, or features, a series of letters or journal entries
“Alla This” – Read a book that features religion
“Present/Infant” – Read a book that features pregnancy or a woman with a baby
“Smiling Underneath” – Read a satirical book
“Way Tight” – Read a book that’s under 100 pages
“Emancipated Minor” – Read a YA/NA book
“Good Luck” – Read a book about a character that just keeps making bad decisions
“The Atom” – Read a sci-fi book
“Round a Pole” – Read a book with an inanimate object in the title
“Landing Gear” – Read a book with an uneventful ending
“Star Matter” – Read a space opera

Which Side Are You On (2012)

“Life Boat” – Read a book that takes place on a boat or island
“Unworry” – Read a book from a genre you’ve avoided until now
“Which Side Are You On” – Read a book that keeps you thoroughly confused the entire way through
“Splinter” – Read a book that is told in multiple or fragmented perspectives
“Promiscuity” - Read more than one book at a time and take credit for them here
“Albacore” – Read a book in which the protagonist has a tattoo(s)
“J” – Read a book written by an author whose name starts with J or a character who is only known by a first initial
“If YR Not” – Read a book about a total fuck up
“Hearse” – Read a book that features a funeral home, death, or the afterlife
“Mariachi” – Read a book that delves into, or features, a culture different from your own
“Amendment” – Reread a book from your past and rewrite your review with a fresh set of eyes
“Zoo” – Read a book that had a word with the letter Z in the title

Allergic To Water (2014)

“Dithering” – Read a book you’ve been staring at for a while
“See See See See” – Read a book that has repetitive words in the title
“Woe Be Gone” – Read a book to escape your blues/worries and take credit for it here
“Careless Words” – Read a book that would have benefited from being much shorter
“Allergic to Water” – Read a book at the beach
“Harder Than it Needs to Be” – Read a book that just tried too hard
“Genie” – Read a book that features magic or magicians
“Happy All the Time” – Read a book that makes you laugh
“Yeah YR Right” – Read a book that features social media / text speak
“Tr’w” – Read a book that starts with a T, R, or W
“Still My Heart” – Read a book that just crushes your heart
“Rainy Parade” – Read a book on a rainy day

Binary (2017)

“Binary” – Read a book that is written in two parts, or contains two separate storylines
“Pacifist’s Lament” – Read a book that was written by a known pacifist or feature pacifism
“Zizzing” – Read a book you find electrifying
“Play God” – Read a book that features cloning, experimentation, or a lead character with a god-like mentality
“Alrighty” – Read a book that you’ve been meaning to get out of the way
“Telepathic” – Read a book with a character who has special powers
“Even More” – Read a book that you wished would never end
“Spider” – Read a book that features insects or has insects on the cover
“Sasquatch” – Read a book about a myth or legend
“Terrifying Sight” – Read a book that is super gory and burns itself into your brain
“Deferred Gratification” – Take your time reading a really good book

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Tis the Season For Death Valley Superstars

Duke Haney released Death Valley Superstars last December with Delancy Street Press. 
You can purchase a copy, and purchase a copy you should, here
Btw, the Kindle version is just 1.99. I mean, seriously, go get the dang thing!

Though its tone is sometimes comic, “Death Valley Superstars“ is nevertheless a livre noir, and no liquor says noir to me like whisky, whether bourbon, scotch, Irish, or Canadian. Steve Cochran, a noir figure both on- and offscreen and one of the short-lived subjects of “Death Valley Superstars,” had a taste for whisky, as did another of the book’s subjects, Jim Morrison, who sang famously, “Oh, show me the way to the next whisky bar,” while I once passed out on the floor of Morrison’s bygone residence in West Hollywood after a night of drinking—what else?—whisky. This incident, which includes a visit from Morrison’s ghost, is recounted in ”Death Valley Superstars,” but I’m afraid whisky is not typically sold alongside the book. 


“If it goes by, I’ve always known it was fickle,” Marilyn Monroe once said of fame, an overriding theme in this collection of essays, profiles, and memoir by showbiz survivor Duke Haney. Fame proved faithful, of course, to Monroe, the book’s most iconic subject, while others, like Steve Cochran, a villain in movies and a “hard-drinking, bed-hopping cop magnet” in reality, were widely forgotten before their untimely, often mysterious deaths. Taking an experimental tack in some instances, Haney employs a psychic medium to conduct a séance at Jim Morrison’s former residence and an astrologer to interpret the birth chart of an astrology-crazed film star-turned-bank robber. He attends the funeral of the “next James Dean” who became a raggedy street person, performs a cringeworthy nude scene in a movie produced by “King of the Bs” Roger Corman, and searches for the camper van where funk trailblazer Sly Stone has been reduced to living.

Painstakingly researched and compulsively readable, Death Valley Superstars offers a kind of midnight tour of Los Angeles past and present, highlighting hidden corridors and seldom-heard anecdotes about a few of the many who, fooled by Hollywood’s mirages, found themselves caught in its quicksand.


"The book is brilliantly sequenced. If you’ve ever wanted to hear scalpel slices of backlot dreams … perhaps nightmares … or Gnosis remarks that refer to Las Vegas and Hollywood … then Duke Haney … with sly wit burning … with unknown and known old-school celebrities … certainly delivers." - Heavy Feather Review

"Haney has produced a fantastic, thoroughly readable book. His unique literary flair and his obvious passion and knowledge makes for a rich and interesting collection, no matter how much or how little you may know about the subject." - Storgy

"I was humbled and dazzled by Duke's writing. It's just so I recommend regardless of whether one thinks they have an interest in mid to late 20th century Hollywood. It is well worth the read just to experience the immense talent of an extremely under-appreciated writer." - Jonathan Dunkle

"...we owe him our thanks for Death Valley Superstars, a dream of a collection." - LARB

" “Death Valley Superstars” forms a kind of homage to a grittier, pre-gentrified Hollywood." - AV Press


Duke Haney, aka Daryl Haney, has spent most of his adult life working in the movie business, with twenty feature-film credits as an actor and twenty-two as a screenwriter.  He used pseudonyms for some of the screenplays and went by “D. R. Haney” as the author of a novel, Banned for Life, and an essay collection, Subversia. After he was struck by a car in a crosswalk on Sunset Boulevard, a friend claimed he walked like John “Duke” Wayne and gave him the nickname by which most people know him and he has taken belatedly as his pen name. He plans to follow Death Valley Superstars with a novel tentatively titled XXX.