Friday, December 30, 2011

Guilty Conscience

Today I'm at Luca Veste's blog Guilty Conscience talking about the Off the Record Anthology that he put together. It's the only place to read my story "Free Bird," and it's only 99c as an e-book right now. The link to by is to the right.

If you read the INTERVIEW you'll get an excerpt, and we talk music, influences, and about Andrew Vachss's "orphan" of a novel SHELLA which you should go read right now (or listen to, it was just made into an audiobook as well)

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

it's a major award!

Lost Children: a Charity Anthology has been nominated for a Predators & Editors Award for best anthology! We'd appreciate your VOTE.

Also, Spinetingler Magazine has their nominations open for best crime fiction books and stories. I made my picks, go make yours!

If I tingled your spine, nominate the story that did it. If you can't pick one (how cocky does that sound? I had 29 stories published this year) perhaps you should read "Junkyard Dog" at Plots with Guns, which the last reader, Joe Myers (a fine writer himself) said brought a tear to his eye...

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You can't say no to those eyes...

I entered the foray of self-publishing this year, sort of. I published Lost Children: A Charity Anthology, edited with my friends Fiona Johnson and Ron Earl Phillips, with stories by 30 writers. And all the cash is going to two causes: PROTECT and Children 1st. One reason I did it was of course, to raise money for these organizations. Another reason was to learn the ropes and see the results, to decide if self-publishing is for me. To see what kind of sales I could generate, and how much work goes into it.

You have to set goals for yourself. My goals were:

Sell 100 copies in the first month (succeeded)
Sell at least one copy per day after that (succeeded, in the long run)

Now I wanted to sell 100 per month, but it didn't happen. We're at 148 sales right now, and I'd be happy to make 150 sales by the end of the year.

According to Dean Wesley Smith, these are excellent sales for a first book. The sales really pile in once you have 4-5 items for sale, because you get repeat business. I never expected this anthology, with a handful of known crime and literary writers and many first-timers, to sell very well. Fiona and I donated $600 of our own cash for the original fiction challenge, and we wanted to generate more for the causes. The project has been a great success in that regard- the royalties aren't in yet, but we're looking at around $350 in two months, and the book will be on sale for three years.

But let me tell you, it's a lot of work. I'm still not sure if self-publishing is the way to go, for me. I don't want to start that debate. It works for a lot of people. Traditional works for others. Dean Wesley Smith says use both to your advantage, and to me, that seems the wisest choice. Of course, you need to talk softly and carry a big lawyer, if you plan on self-publishing and pursuing a contract with a major publisher. Many contracts include non-compete clauses that would keep you from self-publishing, even if you've been doing it prior to the contract. Let the writer beware. But enough about that.

It was an exciting endeavor and now that I've learned it, would I do it again? You bet I would.

But I want two more sales. Really bad. The next two buyers- print or e-book- who email me the receipt (use the "contact me" form on the upper right) will get a copy of Heart Transplant by Andrew Vachss donated to the library of their choice.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: The Confidence Course: Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment

The Confidence Course: Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment
The Confidence Course: Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment by Walter Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book took me ten years to finish. I let my anger win and set it aside, forgot its lessons, and only re-opened it again recently. I was finally ready to learn. If you suffer from shyness, rage, fear, or lack confidence... it is a fine toolbox to repair the damage done. Every chapter held an epiphany for me. It helped me dig up the roots of my rage, and overcome shyness. And it doesn't let you off the hook for your behavior. The first lesson is accepting responsibility. A great read, and no bullshit included.

I started back on page one as soon as I finished. Some of us need to stay back a grade and keep learning these lessons. I wouldn't call this a self-help book. It's a memoir of an angry, bullied young man who overcame his rage and self-loathing to become a success, and he passes his lessons on to you.

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Don't be a Tool

THE LAUGHTER SHACK is a new humor venue started by a friend of mine. They publish everything from surrealist ridiculousness to lowbrow, and I have a 'piece' up there this week entitled... "Citizen Tool." (The humorous illustration is NSFW, so be warned)

I mention this story because I first wrote it in high school for Pulphouse magazine, and it was one of three tales I sent to Dean Wesley Smith ana Nina Kiriki Hoffman, the triple-named editorial whizzes who ran the acclaimed hardcover mag. I sold my stack of hardcover editions to pay off debt ages ago, and regret it. I found the mag via Harlan Ellison, whose story "She's a Pretty Young Thing and Can't Leave Her Mother" appeared in it, and since I was damn sure going to be a writer, I decided to send Pulphouse everything I wrote.

Dean and Nina? I apologize.

They were very gracious and kind editors. The original version of "Citizen Tool" is much longer, and like many new writer's work, begins with a laboriously detailed explanation of our character getting out of bed, going to a nondescript job, acting like a dick, and slowly transforming into one. Dean or Nina- the letter was merely signed 'editors'- rejected it because "the story lacks a clearly defined setting," which was true. They were kind enough not to tell me that a story about a guy who turns into a big dick for no real reason, and then meets a woman who seems to be turning into a giant vagina because people call her the C-word wasn't exactly great reading, and I kept writing. I sent them another story called "Love is a Chainsaw," about a man who loves slasher films and jerks off to them, goes home and hits his wife, and is really not about anything except that I dislike the now endlessly deconstructed sexual politics of slasher films. I still plan to use that title someday. Finally, they accepted a college story called "We're All Guys Here," but the magazine closed down before it ever saw print. That story may see print soon, we shall see. I've revised it with my newly sharpened gimlet eyes.

I'd forgotten all about "Citizen Tool" until David- I mean B.J. Titzengolf- of Laughter Shack asked for a funny story, and I had an epiphany- my story idea wasn't much different than "The Metamorphosis," so why not pay homage to Herr Kafka with the opening line? And the rest flowed from there. I also realized that the story didn't have much steam, so it had better end quickly. And with our current economic conundrum, I knew what to do.

So if you need a laugh, go check it out. It's very short and readers got a kick out of it. It's also a lesson, that there are no bad ideas- just bad writers. And bad writers, if we practice enough, become good ones.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

My mom spent a few years tracking down A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector, which is a record album, not a euphemism for being shot by a crazy record producer with a three foot afro.
Once she found it at a record store on St. Mark's Place, we carved new grooves in that sucker spinning it on the turntable. The songs were further immortalized in Goodfellas, and here are a few of my favorites:

They can still belt it out!

Darlene Love can SING. I'm glad I got to see her in the Hairspray musical on Broadway as Motormouth Maybelle. She's amazing, and Christmas ain't Christmas until I hear her sing "Baby Please Come Home!" You can buy it here: © 2011 Thomas Pluck

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: Dove Season

Dove Season
Dove Season by Johnny Shaw

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Subtitled "A Jimmy Veeder fiasco," this was one entertaining read. A boy who fled farm country returns home when he learns Pop is dying, and finds his hometown barely recognizable. His father's dying wish sets in motion a sequence of events that boot Jimmy from his extended adolescence into the tough decisions that make him a man. The story is compelling and deftly set as grim desert backdrop to a colorful crew of characters, real people who never mug for the camera. Full of belly laughs, excitement and lots of heart. Shaw paints a border town with alternating strokes of piercing honesty and bittersweet nostalgia, but like the oleander flowers that decorate each chapter, a poisonous secret lies beneath its beauty, and I enjoyed discovering it. A great debut, and to echo the blurbs- I hope there are many fiascoes to come!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We got the Funk

Here's what Matthew Funk has to say about my story "Junkyard Dog," which he chose in his top 5 at Chris Rhatigan's DEATH BY KILLING "Five You Can't Miss" series:

"Keeping you in the action while transcending time and place, JUNKYARD DOG assembles a complete character from a scattered history of violence. The worse it gets, the more you care. And Thomas Pluck knows how to make it get real damn bad." --Matthew C. Funk

Thank you Matt, for choosing my story and for such kind, kind words... from a writer with similar drives, to show the brutality we ignore every day, that means a hell of a lot.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I never said I was an artist

 I work for a company that is big into giving back, and this year we helped several NYC schools. My project, with 70 others, was to pair murals and paintings for PS 196 in Williamsburg, which is very old and in need of update and repair. But being New York, there's no money for it. Kids have to suffer so investment bankers can hire NYPD police as their own private army...

We repainted their mascot images on the walls, and also filled many canvases with colorful and educational messages to brighten up the old institution. Here are the two I did:

The top one is from "If You Bring a Mouse to School." A coworker named Ed drew the art in pencil and I was the "tracer" who colored it all in. I'm proud to help the school and if I can help just one kid snicker at an old man's terrible artistic skills, I feel I have improved the world in one small way.

If anyone wants book covers painted by me, I work cheap.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Great Plucking Reads

Everyone's picking their favorite books of the year it seems. I reviewed all my favorites here over the months, but I'll collect them here for you.
I'm all about emotional impact. I appreciate a clever twist or a brilliant storyline but one of the enduring phrases from my youth is from Harvey with Jimmy Stewart and his pooka pal the invisible rabbit. "You can be oh so clever or oh so pleasant. For years I tried clever. I'd suggest pleasant." Meaning, it's good to be clever, but don't be cocky about it. These writers are clever, but they aren't about being clever. They pack a wallop with their stories and it's not there to shock, but to shake... to shake you out of jaded ordinary life and make you think, or heaven forfend, care.

So here are my favorite reads of the year. You may truncate them to five or ten to make a handy list.

Out There Bad, by Josh Stallings
A strong new voice and a powerful character blasting onto the scene, Mo McGuire is a dark hero, a wounded warrior, who dares shove our face in the evil we tolerate every day. This is the second book by Stallings and kicked my ass. He takes you on a hellride through L.A.'s human meat grinder and hunts it to its source with a two chilling and remorseless killers at his back. Moses is forced to acknowledge his own complicity as a strip club bouncer, and learns what it takes to stand up for those he cares about. L.A. has a new crime boss, it just doesn't know it yet: and his name is Stallings.

The End of Everything, by Megan Abbott
The most daring novel of the year, exposing the rotten heart of suburbia. This one's on a lot of end of the year best-of lists and I will smugly say I TOLD YOU SO. Back when I reviewed it this summer. Nya nya nya NYA nya.  A profoundly disturbing look at the dangers young women face on the verge of womanhood, and a story that will defy your attempts to predict its outcome. When Lizzie's best friend is abducted, she begins her own investigation... starting with the secrets only best friends would share.

Choke Hold, by Christa Faust
It flies like classic pulp, it reads like truth and it hits you with a smart left hook that leaves you as stunned as a fighter wobbling through his first standing eight-count. There are no slick twists, only artfully written characters, broken down gladiators from the sex and violence trades who've battled for our entertainment. They are writ large but speak to a deeper truth. Angel always lands on her feet, but the fear level was the highest for me in this one. The axe is always ready to fall.

Crimes in Southern Indiana, by Frank Bill
A brutal emotional dispatch from the war zone in your backyard. The debut of the year, this is blood feud poetry. Desperate situations where beat-down people stand on the line between what they know is wrong and sheer survival in a hardscrabble emotionally jagged landscape. Staring into the abysmal latrine of humanity, it is easy to sink to nihilism, to embrace the banality of evil, but Frank Bill refuses to take the easy road. People beyond forgiveness seek mere understanding. Desires criss-cross and hurtle together like jalopies down a one lane dirt road. Anyone can write brutality. Giving it a dark but honest human heart takes guts and a keen sense of people, and this novel speaks volumes of messy truth.

Pym, by Mat Johnson
Not a crime novel, but one of the funniest and honest books on race and English literature I've ever read. It turns a brutally racist Poe tale on its head and has a snicker on every page while doing it. An African-American professor of African-American studies is fired because he won't be the token African-American on the diversity committee. While looking for a slave narrative to base his next thesis on, he finds an intriguing document that suggests Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym was based on fact, and gathers together a crew to find the islands it described. A bizarre and hilarious adventure through American literature commences, and not a week goes by where I don't think of this book.

A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block
The grandmaster shows us how it's done, returning to a place in Matt Scudder's past where he was less experienced and more vulnerable. There is little action, but you can't tell from the tension level. No one writes New York like Mr. Block, and he explores new ground by taking us to Scudder's past. A crook in AA is killed when he begins asking forgiveness, and Matt needs to know why. With his usual bulldog tenacity he explores a rogue's gallery of human frailty while keeping a slippery grip on his own sobriety. I liked the story, the mystery of High Low Jack's murder and his shady past, but the characters are what keeps this book in my mind.

The Weight by Andrew Vachss
Character-driven fiction at its best, we meet "Sugar," a weightlifter and con who takes the rap on a crime he didn't commit to protect his crew. What happens after he takes the weight is nothing you'd expect. Mentors and feet of clay, and a lead you'd trust to spot you under the bar when the weight is damn heavy.

Frank Sinatra in a Blender, by Matthew McBride
From the title, to its meaning, to its hard-drinking anti-hero and fully-fleshed hard luck villains, not since early Carl Hiaasen has vicious comedy of human existence been so entertainingly portrayed. I still sometimes remember a scene or a line, stare into space and laugh, and everyone around me takes a few steps away from me. Just a great read.

Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski 
It plays on Hollywood conspiracies and the starlet meat grinder, all while telling a fast paced, thrilling and very funny tale. Duane the Brain can come up with stories I can't even imagine, and he fleshes them out with hilarious and cynical prose that keeps the pages turning.

Headstone by Ken Bruen
My introduction to Ken's unique style and fierce heart, I am told this isn't the best Jack Taylor novel. All that means is the others are even better. A back alley tour of Galway, a city I've only seen as a tourist, that was a hell of an eye opener. Taylor tackles mindless hate and nihilism and tears its tongue out at the roots. He fears no evil and leaves no villain spared. Truly excellent writing from a master I will read every word of, before I die.

The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell
I let this slip by because it's a short story collection. But these stories, like Crimes in Southern Indiana, are all about a place and a people and make a patchwork that becomes a tapestry as you step back. This was my introduction to Mr. Woodrell, and I've picked up several of his novels since. He has an economy with words that leans toward poetry, and a blood-borne knowledge of the human heart. This is an excellent introduction to the author, who'd be called the Raymond Carver of the Ozarks... if he wasn't an equally adept novelist as short story master.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top Fives

I chose my top 5 stories of the year at Chris Rhatigan's Death By Killing blog today. Drop over there and see who I chose. I know you're waiting with bated breath. Or with baited breath, like the cat who ate the cheese. (And then cut the cheese. I had to get a fart joke in here somewhere).

I've been honored to be chosen by a few of my fellow writers in their top 5 stories of the year. Truly an honor and an inspiration to work even harder. Thank you all.

Nigel Bird liked "Candle" which you can read at Grift Magazine:

It’s a wonderful tale as TP keeps his foot off the gas. The events are almost incidental, but the story packed in there is huge. I really loved it.

R. Thomas Brown picked "The Forest for the Trees" which is at The Flash Fiction Offensive:
I felt for the young couple struggling to find their place, and particularly for Paulie as he fought against bigotry of many forms and handled himself with the kind of confidence and class you'd hope to see in someone. His affection feels genuine, which makes the ending hurt even more.

Sandra Seamans chose "The Uncleared" at Twist of Noir:
"You don't expect a happy ending when you start reading this story, but the ending still slaps you in the face and leaves you reeling."

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Thursday, December 8, 2011

a kick-ass reader

I'd like to thank everyone who reads this blog, and my stories. Folks who tell others about my writing, I owe you a beer (or equivalent) whenever we shall meet. But here's a reader who showed her true colors, and they are true blue:

Dear Thomas:
Nancy made a gift to PROTECT in your honor on 12/2/11.
Since 2002, PROTECT has moved mountains with very little money. Whether winning equal protection for incest victims in the statehouses of Arkansas and California … or getting millions out of Congress to stop child pornography trafficking across the nation, PROTECT has never had the resources of other well-oiled special interest lobbies.
That’s why Nancy's generosity means so much.
Best wishes,
I sent Nancy a signed copy of the Lost Children: A Charity Anthology, and a story, but I wanted to thank her publicly for taking this extra step. I'd love to sell a million copies of the charity anthology, but if we generate this kind of support for the causes it benefits, that's good enough for me. 

Thank you, Nancy. You're the best.


© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Louie's story gets more stars than were awarded during the whole war. The man's legendary endurance is an inspiration and shows the brutality from whence a man can rise to do good. It is a chilling tale of political expedience that the war criminals who ran the Japanese POW camps walk freely. The engineers of our own internment camps were never called to task, but these POWs endured hardships and atrocities far beyond the tragedies that occurred on our own soil, and seventy years later justice was never done. The ultranationalist movement in Japan is shameful and I respect any Japanese citizen who shuns or fights it.

Louie Zamperini is a hero and an inspiration. He was a bad kid who did well when given a focus like running; he nearly broke the 4 minute mile before being called to war. He endured, came home haunted and scarred, and rose above his wounds to become a hero again, dedicating his life to wayward youths who needed a guiding hand. As testimony to his spirit... he lives today, in his nineties, and forgave his captors... not to absolve their atrocities, but so he could move on and do good with his life.

Infamy still lives, but heroism lives forever.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 5, 2011


If you need a dose of immature potty humor and '80s metal nostalgia, or if you don't, check out my story "Not With a Bang, But a Squeaker," finally published in fully unexpurgated form at the beautifully designed Schlock Magazine's Apocalypse issue.

They got Marco Attard to draw a stunning tableaux of our four heroes and their dark lord before they embark on the metalest armageddon ever. Meet Carl, Arf, Eddie and The Incredible Hersch as they bargain with the devil himself to become The Four Horsemen, which they only know about from the song on Metallica's first album.

And check out the whole issue, they did a great job...

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pluck in Print

I dig the e-book revolution and my Nook overfloweth, but I love books. Real, hefty, books. Flipping through the pages. Slick covers, matte covers. Raised print on dust jackets. Beautiful and grabby cover designs. I thought breaking into print would be "the I made it!" moment. Now thanks to Dean Wesley Smith, I know all those moments are myths, but anyway, it felt great to be in Pulp Modern #1, which is a great collection and available on the right. It's also the only way to read Denny's first and most powerful story, "Legacy of Brutality," so if you enjoyed him in Plots With Guns, get Pulp Modern. There's a story by Lawrence Block, a Cash Laramie adventure, a great Indiana Jones style pulp tale by Chris LaTray, and brutal, gripping tales by Glenn Gray, David James Keaton and John Kenyon that still disturb me.

The latest appearance in print of the Plucker is in Luca Veste's amazing Off the Record anthology, which benefits two children's literacy charities, one in the UK and one in the US. 38 stories total, with names like Les Edgerton, Heath Lowrance, Matthew Funk, David Barber, Julie Morrigan, Fiona Johnson and I dunno, two guys named Ray Banks and Steve Mosby. Maybe you've heard of them. Maybe you haven't, and should get thee to a library. Or you could buy this and get an introduction to two excellent writers who never let you down:

Lulu paperback is available here. 312 pages, 38 stories, by writers you can trust...

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Indifference of Heaven

A while back I was asked what book drove me to crime fiction; the first crime books I read were Encyclopedia Brown and Agatha Christie. But what books inspired me to write?
Eight Million Ways to Die, by Lawrence Block; Down in the Zero, by Andrew Vachss; and Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke. They all came out a long while ago. I first began to write in college, in the '90s. I'd written a few stories in high school, but mostly a huge and stupid space fantasy novel that I wish I could remember the title of. Dreamslayer, I think. I had another Clive Barker-esque tale called Dirge, the Immortalist I was working on. But once my friend Jack Chan handed me a Dashiell Hammett book- The Continental Op- I was hooked for good.

My first crime novel was of course, envisioned as a series, because the trinity of authors above dealt in series. Burke, Robicheaux, Scudder. My guy, named "Phil," was a heroin addict in recovery who takes a job from a pharmacist to find his runaway daughter. The trail leads him to New Orleans, where he hooks up with a female cop, finds the girl, and her old man happens to be the bad guy, as we all expected. I never finished it, and I regret not following through, but I think Phil is best left simmering in my brain to develop further. He's from a time in my life that is thankfully long gone, and the ideas he inspired are ready for another novel someday, currently called Weekend Irish.

So why's Warren Zevon up there? That song has continued to be an inspiration for crime stories long after Phil went in the drawer. It's about a guy in a dead-end life robbing a 7-11, it going bad, and leaving him watch the surf recede on the beach as he waits for the inevitable. Zevon's father was a small time mobster, and he was never home. According to his biography, the old man was never around and little Warren idolized him. He lived the wild life he imagined for his father vicariously through his songs, and this is one of the most heartfelt. I listen to it sometimes when I need the right tone of melancholy, when a man wants to do right but knows he'll end up hurting someone in the end.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Once Bitten

I learned a valuable lesson this holiday weekend. I had been urging an organization and a well-known writer to get behind a project I have planned, and originally felt confused when they said they couldn't get behind it. I mean, I have noble intentions; I have a record of good deeds. Why aren't I good enough?

And once again the answer is it's not about you. When you've been emotionally abused, bullied, or scarred, you tend to carry a mirror around so you can blame yourself for everything. It's a nasty habit that keeps cropping up, and you must fight it without absolving yourself of responsibility when you do mess up. (A good book that will help you tell the difference is The Confidence Course: Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment by Walter Anderson.)

But enough about me. This weekend two people did things that made me have to disassociate myself from them. One personally attacked me over declining a promotion opportunity for the charity anthology. I said if she wanted to organize this particular event herself, she had my blessing, and I even informed three other local writers to join her. Instead, my choice was declared a "lack of commitment to the cause." A cause mind you, that I have performed the brunt of the work on, and the writer in question hasn't even promoted the book on her Facebook page, so her opinion means little to me. I spent my holiday weekend fending off her personal attacks, and found she emailed the rest of the writers, souring what has been a wonderful project for two great causes.

Secondly, a friend I recommended a book to, a book that had great personal meaning to me, trashed that book publicly and promoted his review in an effort to drive traffic to his blog through controversy.
Everyone is entitled to their informed opinion, but if this writer despised the book so thoroughly, I was truly puzzled by his reaction. The review mocked the book, and I took a day to cool off before responding. I prefer to save my anger for my writing. I wrote a long post deflecting his petty criticisms and called him out for "stirring up shit" over a 20 year old book that helped define the private eye genre at the time. Is it dated? Perhaps some details are, but the core remains true and strong. I am not going to rewrite my comment, or name the reviewer or the book. Needless to say my comment, and all comments from the defenders of the book were deleted, but his review remains. I find that cowardly and disingenuous.

I have deleted exactly one comment from this blog that was not spam, and it was a personal attack full of profanity and personal details. If you care to read the comments from IMDb trolls I've LEFT up, look for my old post complaining about movie remakes. But really, who cares?

I have to live with my association with two people who've disappointed me. Their temporary failings do not besmirch or erase their talents, but make me wary of their motives. And I understand why writers with established reputations, and organizations who depend on their reps to fight for their cause are loathe to put their name on projects they have little control over.

I've dropped hints that a bigger second volume of the charity anthology is in development, and it remains so. I have a list of writers who will be contacted on both sides of the Atlantic, once a professional contract is written. I'm not letting these lessons stop me from aiming high and making writing about something more than seeing my work in print. They are lessons learned, and I will be more careful who I associate my name with in the future.

After all, a name like Pluck isn't easily forgotten. I don't want to be known as the sheep-shagger, as the old joke goes, but as the bridge-builder...

-"The Plucker"

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Ice

Gerald So runs The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. You might think poetry and crime fiction don't mix, but he'll prove you wrong. I first read his work at Beat to a Pulp, and the tone he evokes in these simple poems is quite striking.

I've been developing a story called "The Ultimate Dis," and the basics of the storyline came off as poetic imagery to me, so I wrote a poem of it as an exercise. Gerald liked it and sent extensive edits- the original poem is about twice as long- and we cut it down to the bone. I like what we came up with.

You'll get to hear me read it, if you chose. To me, I sound like Fozzy the Bear from the Muppet Show, but he gets readings from most of his contributors, and I decided to give it a shot. So if you want to hear Fozzy lay his feelings bare, this is your chance.

JUST ICE at the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Off the Record...

Luca Veste took an idea and went running; give writers a list of classic tunes and have them write short stories inspired by them. 38 writers made the cut, a double vinyl blast from the past. The royalties will benefit two charities on either side of the Atlantic:

In the UK, National Literacy Trust. (

In the US, Children's Literacy Initiative. (

I chose "Free Bird" to develop an idea I've had in my mind for a while, about a Vietnam Vet and his son both dreaming of that "freedom bird" to escape the war they're in. One overseas and one at home. And we've got a hell of a PLAYLIST on this amazing collection:

1.Neil White - Stairway To Heaven
2.Col Bury – Respect
3.Steve Mosby – God Moving Over The Face Of Waters
4.Les Edgerton - Small Change
5.Heath Lowrance - I Wanna Be Your Dog
6.AJ Hayes - Light My Fire
7.Sean Patrick Reardon - Redemption Song
8.Ian Ayris - Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
9.Nick Triplow - A New England
10.Charlie Wade - Sheila Take A Bow
11.Iain Rowan - Purple Haze
12.Thomas Pluck - Free Bird
13.Matthew C. Funk - Venus In Furs
14.R Thomas Brown - Dock Of The Bay
15.Chris Rhatigan – Shadowboxer
16.Patti Abbott - Roll Me Away
17.Chad Rhorbacher - I Wanna Be Sedated
18.Court Merrigan - Back In Black
19.Paul D. Brazill - Life On Mars?
20.Nick Boldock – Superstition
21.Vic Watson - Bye Bye Baby
22.Benoit Lelievre - Blood On The Dancefloor
23.Ron Earl Phillips - American Pie
24.Chris La Tray – Detroit Rock City
25.Nigel Bird - Super Trouper
26.Pete Sortwell – So Low, So High
27.Julie Morrigan - Behind Blue Eyes
28.David Barber – Paranoid
29.McDroll - Nights In White Satin
30.Cath Bore - Be My Baby
31.Eric Beetner - California Dreamin'
32.Steve Weddle - A Day In The Life
33.Darren Sant - Karma Police
34.Simon Logan - Smells Like Teen Spirit
35.Luca Veste - Comfortably Numb
36.Nick Quantrill - Death Or Glory
37.Helen FitzGerald - Two Little Boys
38.Ray Banks - God Only Knows

With forewords from UK writer Matt Hilton, and US writer Anthony Neil Smith.

You get 38 great stories by top crime writers and you help kids learn to read. That's what we call a win-win. It will be available in print soon, and the Kindle version is available now:

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lost Children anthology, now in trade paper

The giving season is upon us, and you can give the gift that gives to two great causes: PROTECT and Children 1st. The trade paperback of the Lost Children anthology is now available:

The anthology is now available in trade paperback at Amazon and Createspace for $9.99

It is still available for $2.99 in e-book form, for:
iPad in the Apple iBookstore
Amazon Kindle (read it on your computer with Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader, or on your phone with the Amazon Kindle App)
Nook at Barnes & Noble
Kobo, Sony e-reader and download as PDF, epub, mobi or Viewable Online at Smashwords

30 powerful stories from around the world to benefit two children's charities: PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children ( and Children 1st Scotland ( 

Stories by David Ackley, Kevin Aldrich, David Barber, Lynn Beighley, Seamus Bellamy, Paul D. Brazill, Sif Dal, James Lloyd Davis, Roberto C. Garcia, Susan Gibb, Nancy A. Hansen, K.V. Hardy, Gill Hoffs, Fiona "McDroll" Johnson, J.F. Juzwik, MaryAnne Kolton, Benoit Lelievre, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Vinod Narayan, Paula Pahnke, Ron Earl Phillips, Thomas Pluck, Sam Rasnake, JP Reese, Chad Rohrbacher, Susan Tepper, Luca Veste, Michael Webb, Nicolette Wong and Erin Zulkoski.

It began as a flash fiction challenge when Fiona Johnson and Thomas Pluck donated $5 to PROTECT and £5 to Children 1st for every story at Ron Earl Phillips' Flash Fiction Friday and Fictionaut. Now we have collected the 30 best stories to benefit these two charities.

Join us and make a difference while you read 30 great stories genres by writers from the U.S.A., Poland, Hong Kong, Portugal, India, Scotland, England, Canada, and one told by a Lost Boy of the Sudan to his teacher. 

If you don't have an e-reader: you can download the Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac app, the Nook for PC App, Nook for Mac App or view it online at Smashwords, or download it as an Adobe PDF file. You can also read epubs on the Adobe Digital Editions reader for PC and Mac.
And of course, you can order a print edition!

 © 2011 Thomas Pluck

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Smooth Criminals

The Smooth Criminals challenge: You read 8 books next year in the categories specified, and review them. Here are my choices:

Hardboiled Classic
I, the Jury  by Mickey Spillane
I bought the paperback for a buck. Spillane gets a lot of love and a lot of hate... for a measly 150 pages I think I ought to make my own decision.
Noir Classic
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
I've never read this. I saw the movie with Elliot Gould. Shame, shame. I've read The Big Sleep, though. I wanted to stick David Goodis in here, and I might read and review him instead.

Prison Book
Slammer by Allan Guthrie
I've heard so many good things about this, from so many trusted readers that it was the first to come to mind. And how can I resist that cover? One of my favorites in a long, long time. Allan is a fine writer and I look forward to this one.

Book by a Crook
Just Like That by Les Edgerton
Les has done time and he writes great fiction, so I'm jumping on his latest release. I recommend you read all you can by him. He's the real deal and has a broad and encompassing talent with stories.

Psychopathic Protagonist
By Reason of Insanity by Shane Stevens
Chad Eagleton is on a mission to find Shane Stevens or die trying. I performed some minor research for him at the local library, and became intrigued by the reclusive author. This is his most famous book, and involves a psychopathic killer. It is believed to have inspired Thomas Harris and thus the entire serial-killer book industry. I'm not terribly interested in psychopaths. After the initial discovery of what makes them tick and having read every FBI profiler's memoir, the fascination faded. They are banal. I was going to choose a Patricia Highsmith, but wanted to give Shane a shot.

The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
Another slim paperback that's languished on my shelves without being read, time to tackle this tiny classic.

Classic that Revolves Around a Crime

Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Yup, English major hasn't read this either. Might as well go for a biggie.

Why the Hell Am I Reading This?

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Totally cheating here. I'm 250 pages into this post-post-modern doorstop and really don't like it. But I will finish it for this challenge. I like DFW's essays but his fiction drives a spike through my head.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Monday, November 21, 2011

throwing the disqus

I have switched to Disqus for comments. I hope it works better. It will give you a broader range of login options.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grift Magazine

John Kenyon has a spiffy new crime site on the web called Grift Magazine. He has begun a weekly flash fiction feature. Last week it opened with Matthew Funk's powerful "The Town They Earned," and this week I'm honored to follow in Matt's impressive footsteps. Check out the site; I hope you enjoy the tale, but bookmark the page or subscribe to the RSS feed, because great things will be happening here. And writers, John is looking for you to flash him some good fiction.

To my U.K. friends- this is my first story set on your side of the ocean; I hope you like it.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Psycho Therapy

I'd like to thank Heath Lowrance, author of The Bastard Hand and Dig Ten Graves, for giving me an opportunity to speak at his excellent crime fiction blog, Psycho Noir. He's been inviting many authors to drop in and have free rein. I give a little insight as to why I write, and I pitch the Lost Children: A Charity Anthology, which I edited with Fiona Johnson and Ron Earl Phillips.

NO RULES by Thomas Pluck

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Friday, November 11, 2011

Denny the Dent gets some love!

Thanks to Chris Rhatigan AND Elizabeth A. White for spectacular reviews of Pulp Modern #1. They both single out my story "Legacy of Brutality" starring Denny the Dent:

Chris at Death by Killing had this to say:

Thomas Pluck's "Legacy of Brutality" is as devastating as the title would make it out to be. Denny is a character you can't help but admire -- through experience he's learned that you have to defend those you love. Others may dismiss him as just a mound of muscle, but it doesn't long for the reader to figure out he's much more than that.
Elizabeth A. White is one of the best-known crime fiction book reviewers and she also loved Pulp Modern. She had this to say about Denny's tale:

A few standouts…
“Legacy of Brutality” by Thomas Pluck features man-mountain Denny, previously seen in the short “Rain Dog”(Crimespree Magazine, Issue #43). Having come up hard –If there was a God, I’d beat his ass for making this hateful world. – Denny learned early it’s better to listen than talk, and that you have to set things right yourself if you want justice in this life. Brutally good stuff.

Pulp Modern has many great stories and it's an honor to be chosen from them for singling out. Thanks, Chris and Elizabeth!

Reminder: if you buy a copy of Pulp Modern, contact me with the Kontactr form to the right and I'll send you the first Denny story, "Rain Dog," for free in a fancy PDF format.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Critique of Pure Reasoner

"Black-Eyed Susan" by Thomas Pluck is short and mean and well-written. I don't think I've read anything by this author before, but I'll be on the lookout for his name now.
-James Reasoner
James Reasoner had kind words for the entire Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled anthology, but those words just lit a spark under this new writer's hind end... I told Mr. Reasoner I'd make sure he and everyone else would have no trouble finding my work in the future. Being singled out with Glenn Gray and Wayne Dundee is rather stunning, more so than I was already for being selected for this collection with so many great writers in the first place.

You can find all my fiction online by bookmarking THIS LINK.

and my upcoming publications are here:

"Gumbo Weather," starring Jay Corso, in Needle: A Magazine of Noir Winter 2011
"Lefty," in Crimefactory Magazine #9, December 2011
"Not With a Bang, But a Squeaker," in Schlock Magazine Apocalypse Issue
"White People Problems," in All Due Respect early 2012
"Play Dead," in Yellow Mama, April 2012
"We're All Guys Here," in Dollar Dreadfuls: Dirty Noir Quarterly
"Just Ice," at Gerald So's The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly 11/28/2011
"Freedom Bird," in Luca Veste's Off the Record Anthology, December 2011
"Tiger Mother," in Noir Nation #2
"Donkey Dick," in Big Pulp March 2013

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When seeking revenge, you should dig two graves.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

a baker's dozen of deviled yeggs...

Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled is a 99c e-book collection edited by David Cranmer of the excellent Beat to a Pulp fiction site. My story "Black-Eyed Susan" appears, along with some of my favorite fellow authors. Garnet Elliott, who just got accepted at Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine; John Hornor Jacobs, who wrote the Cthulhu noir novel Southern Gods; Brad Green, editor at [PANK] Magazine; Glenn Gray, the shock doc who'll make you squirm as you turn each page; Ron Earl Phillips who appears and co-edited the Lost Children: Charity Anthology, Kent Gowran of Shotgun Honey, Patricia Abbott, who's been knocking me out with stories in Needle and Pulp Ink, Ben Lelievre of Dead End Follies, also in the Lost Children book, Kieran Shea, king of dialogue driven tales, David Cranmer, who doubles as Western wordslinger Ed Grainger, and the one and only Wayne Dundee, author of the Joe Hannibal P.I. books and the western Dismal River.

Once again I'm proud to be among them. Before I wrote my own stories, I was reading theirs. And for a buck, this is the best Kindle bargain I've seen in a long time. If you don't have an e-reader, Amazon lets you read Kindle books online through their free Cloud Reader.

BEAT to a PULP: Hardboiled is a compilation of uncompromising, gritty tales following in the footsteps of the tough and violent fiction popularized by the legendary Black Mask magazine in its early days. This collection includes thirteen lean and mean stories from the fingertips of Garnett Elliott, Glenn Gray, John Hornor Jacobs, Patricia Abbott, Thomas Pluck, Brad Green, Ron Earl Phillips, Kent Gowran, Amy Grech, Benoit Lelievre, Kieran Shea, David Cranmer, and Wayne D. Dundee and a boiled down look at hardboiled fiction in an introduction by Ron Scheer. Edited by David Cranmer and Scott D. Parker.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology now available

30 powerful stories from around the world to benefit two children's charities: PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children ( and Children 1st Scotland ( 

Stories by David Ackley, Kevin Aldrich, David Barber, Lynn Beighley, Seamus Bellamy, Paul D. Brazill, Sif Dal, James Lloyd Davis, Roberto C. Garcia, Susan Gibb, Nancy A. Hansen, K.V. Hardy, Gill Hoffs, Fiona "McDroll" Johnson, J.F. Juzwik, MaryAnne Kolton, Benoit Lelievre, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Vinod Narayan, Paula Pahnke, Ron Earl Phillips, Thomas Pluck, Sam Rasnake, JP Reese, Chad Rohrbacher, Susan Tepper, Luca Veste, Michael Webb, Nicolette Wong and Erin Zulkoski.

It began as a flash fiction challenge when Fiona Johnson and Thomas Pluck donated $5 to PROTECT and £5 to Children 1st for every story at Ron Earl Phillips' Flash Fiction Friday and Fictionaut. Now we have collected the 30 best stories to benefit these two charities.

Join us and make a difference while you read 30 great stories genres by writers from the U.S.A., Poland, Hong Kong, Portugal, India, Scotland, England, Canada, and one told by a Lost Boy of the Sudan to his teacher.

Only $2.99 

Available now for Amazon Kindle (You may also read it on your computer with Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader, or on your phone with the Amazon Kindle App)
Available for Nook, Kobo, Sony e-reader and in PDF, epub, mobi and Viewable Online at Smashwords

If you don't have an e-reader: you can download the Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac app, the Nook for PC App, Nook for Mac App or view it online at Smashwords, or download it as an Adobe PDF file. You can also read epubs on the Adobe Digital Editions reader for PC and Mac.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Denny's triple whammy offer!

The latest Denny story, "Junkyard Dog," is in the new issue of Plots With Guns. If you like him, he also appears in Pulp Modern issue one, along with great stories by Lawrence Block, John Kenyon, a Cash Laramie western by Ed Grainger Jr., a disturbing tale by Glenn Gray, seventeen stories in all.

If you purchase Pulp Modern, or have already, send me the email receipt via the Kontact link on the right, and I will send you a PDF file of Denny's first story, "Rain Dog," in PDF format for free. That way you can read all three.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Friday, October 28, 2011

Denny returns in Plots with Guns

If you've read my stories about Denny the Dent such as "Rain Dog" in Crimespree Mag issue 43, and "Legacy of Brutality" in Pulp Modern #1 (links at the right) you know he doesn't need a gun to get the job done. He's 350 pounds of muscle and rage against those who hurt the weak.

In his latest rampage, he's a junkman working with a new partner who finds a little pit bull ... that dogfighters have other plans for. Denny's pit fighting past crosses with the ugly world of modern dogfighting, and you know it won't end well... for the bad guys.

PLOTS WITH GUNS is in my opinion the best designed crime fiction site on the web, and this issue has stories by Matt C. Funk my Louisiana transplant homeboy, Patti Abbott the mama tiger of noir, and seven other hard-hitting tales that readers of PWG know to expect...

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chuck Wendig slays the Duke of Doubt

Kung Fu Master Pen Monkey Chuck Wendig likes issuing flash fiction challenges. A while back he asked for a three sentence story, and I condensed a revenge tale of mine called "Two to Tango" into three brutal lines for him. He liked it so much he sent me a copy of his e-book 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, a compendium of his hilarious and incredibly helpful advice for writers. Go get it now, really. Okay, if Lawrence Block is reading this, he doesn't have to listen. Or Neil Gaiman, he's exempt. But the rest of you, including Philip Roth, should pick up a copy (it's okay, Phil, it's not a novel) and enjoy the hot knowledge injection to your pineal gland.

But I forgot that Chuck also said he'd send me a postcard, and it arrived last night. And let me tell you, it made my night. And my day. And my next night, and my next day. It's like cocaine. Only better.

See, as a writer, I am plagued with Doubt. The Duke of Doubt from the '80s Burger King commercials, he hovers over my shoulder and tells me things like, "just because readers like your stories doesn't mean you can tackle a big ol' novel. So what if you're 42,000 words in and closing fast on the brutal climax (ed. a great name for a rock band -Dave Barry) and you've finally gotten to the really fun parts where all three storylines converge and you realize, childhood, prison and a revenge spree have a disturbing amount in common? You should stop writing it, and go write a story, because that's EASY. You know you can write one of those."

And that's when Chuck Wendig's postcard flew out of my mailbox and severed the Duke of Doubt's pharynx like a pen monkey shuriken laced with special sauce. Repeat after me:

I am the Commander of these words.
I am the King of this story.
I am the God of this place.
I am a Writer, and I will Finish the Shit that I Started.

It was like that kung fu flick Circle of Iron where the dude fights for this secret book that shows the secrets of mastering his art, and he opens it, and there's a mirror. He also wrote some cute 'n cuddly stuff on the other side that you will not be privy to. Let's just say we're both married men with wild thatchy beards and do a web search on "hot bear man love," and you'll figure it out. And because there's nothing wrong with that, I am very proud to be Chuck's special bear buddy.
(This is how I check to see who reads the whole blog post).

But seriously folks, to name my favorite Joe Walsh album, Chuck gave me the boost I needed. And he has a couple books coming out soon that will kick your ass. One's called Double Dead and is about a vampire- not one of them pussy vampires either- vs. a horde of zombies. But even better, he has an e-book series about a bullied high school girl named Atlanta Burns who racks the slide and serves up an Elvis-size portion of SHOTGUN GRAVY. I got my copy, now go get yours. His kind words about my writing would only mean so much if he weren't a mad-killer wordslinger himself. Quit denying yourself the pleasure like a tantric sex weirdo, and go get some.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology
When I asked Fiona "McDroll" Johnson to take the guest spot at Ron Earl Phillips' Flash Fiction Friday, I had no idea the response she'd get. She gave us a meaningful challenge, to write about neglected, abused or otherwise "lost" children. Together we decided to donate $5 to PROTECT and £5 to Children 1st for every story submitted, and we told everyone we knew. We ended up getting 44 entries, and raising $600 for the charities, plus the donations from individual writers such as MaryAnne Kolton.
We received entries from all over the globe and from writers from the FFF community, Fictionaut, Facebook and Twitter, and from the ever-supportive online crime fiction community. We decided that more could be done. We chose 30 of the stories to include in The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology, all proceeds of which will be split between PROTECT and Children 1st. The e-book will be offered for $2.99 on Kindle, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. After the vendor takes their cut, that's $1 for each of the charities for every purchase.

If you don't have an e-reader, it will be available in PDF format from Smashwords and Goodreads, or you can download the Kindle for PC app, or the Nook for PC app. It's all for a cause, so there's no need to buy a e-reader if you want to support two institutions that are on the front lines in the war against the exploitation, abuse, and neglect of children.

I will put the sale links here on the blog on NOVEMBER FIRST when it is released, but to follow updates and read short bios contributing writers, please visit the blog for THE LOST CHILDREN: A CHARITY ANTHOLOGY.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sugar Shane Mosley tells it like it is

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Calling Occupants...

I was listening to Sirius satellite radio, The Boneyard, this afternoon for a little heavy metal nostalgia. It's a good station usually, where I can hear AC/DC, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy and other hard rock bands I grew up on. Comedian Jim Norton drops in as DJ sometimes, and his tastes lean to Black Sabbath like mine. He wasn't DJ today, I don't know who it was, but whoever it was, was a fucking stooge, and not the good Iggy kind. In a break after Def Leppard's "Wasted," he says this:

"You know those Occupy Wall Street douchebags? Well one of them climbed up a tower or a pole, and says he's not coming down until Bloomberg quits. And get this, he's from Canada."

Now, I know the Occupy Wall St. protesters are hippies, and as a metalhead in high school we sneered at the hippies and mocked their gentle nature. However, metal has always been a music of rebellion against society,  and the early pioneers like Sabbath were in fact hippies. "Children of the Grave" is anti-nuke, their first album is practically a fantasy novel written on weed. If anything, metalheads, punks, and hippies could agree on flipping the bird to The Man, getting stoned, and hating the cops. Now some metal DJ is supporting the fucking mayor over some dude bad-ass enough to climb a tower. What the fuck?

And he spouts this brownshirt drivel as a lead-in to "Dedication" by Thin Lizzy, which actually, is a socially minded song that says "this is dedicated to the millions who are starving," and "the millions dying on the front line."

He went on to call the protestors losers, or something. It actually sounded like the poor slob was reading from a script, and after reading a totalitarian satire like The Curfew it made me wonder if our corporate overlords were forcing their talking heads to attack this movement. Maybe they're afraid. If you've watched any TV coverage, well-coiffed anchorbots do no reporting, but instead pick fights and mock them. "You don't know what you're protesting!"

I give SNL credit for goofing on Bloomberg instead. In a few weeks we'll get tired of hearing about the protesters, and NYC will be locked down tighter than a city getting a visit from the G20 summit. There's a reason they don't hold them in America anymore, we don't like driving into our cities and seeing martial law in action. I accidentally drove through Pittsburgh during G20 with my Marine buddy Johnny, and he said the checkpoints reminded him of Iraq... except they didn't light up our car with the SAW. It took 3 hours to make a U turn out of town. We have made so many bylaws to violate the 1st Amendment right to assembly, from "free speech zones" three blocks from nowhere to needing permits, that anyone who purports to care about what the Founders wanted should be shitting themselves in an apoplectic rage about now.

The protesters should be glad that Bloomberg is generally humanitarian, if Giuliani were mayor they'd be in the holds of ships offshore getting pissed on by their keepers.

Writers who support accountability for Wall Street should head to Occupy Writers.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Live Wire

This is the unofficial theme song of Jay Corso, whose novel I am currently writing. He appears in a short story called "Gumbo Weather," which will appear in the Winter 2011 issue of Needle Magazine. By then I plan to have the first draft of the novel finished. "Problem Child" also fits him quite well, but this song builds up slowly to explosive rampage for the final third, and that's how the novel is structured. I've been told a few times with recent stories that I have a talent for building tension and sustaining it, and that's the plan with Jay's story. He is out of prison and is torn between "living well" (the best revenge, some say) and serving the dish cold to those who've done him wrong. Jay is my favorite kind of character, who tries to do the right thing, and not just for himself, but never foresees the consequences of his rash actions, and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.
He'll be tackling my favorite targets: corrupt policemen, entitled power brokers, and bullies who were all "fucked up in their turn," as Philip Larkin's famous poem goes. No one is innocent and no one thinks they're the bad guy.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: The Outlaw Album: Stories

The Outlaw Album: Stories
The Outlaw Album: Stories by Daniel Woodrell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Daniel Woodrell has been called a regional writer. That's what we call writers who don't write about suburban Connecticut. It's insulting and dismissive, and I'd burn John Cheever's stories for light to read this collection by.
He writes with the artistic efficiency of poetry without artifice, and knows exactly where to begin and end a tale. The rage of class, the inequality that dare not speak its name, begins and ends this collection, perfect bookends for 12 tales of people who've lost something, and try to find what it was, how to get it back, or just how it was stolen from them.
I could have read this in an evening, but chose to savor them. They bring you to a place in the mind. I've never been to the Ozarks, and I may never visit outside of a national park, having read these tales, but I felt like I drove through, stopped for a slice of pie and chatted up a lifelong local who told me the tales of the town that form its mythology, giving me a sliver of understanding the strong bonds of family and place that define its people.
An excellent collection by a master of the short story.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 17, 2011

They must've played the record backwards...

My story "Not With a Bang, But a Squeaker," originally written for the Fictionaughties writing prompt "Apocalypse," is in 69 Flavors of Paranoia Menu #14. Thanks to Erin Z. for the prompt and inspiring me to write this one.

If you ever wondered what four metalheads circa 1987 would do if they summoned the horned one himself while listening to Metallica's classic Kill 'em All, this story is for you. And if that never crossed your mind, I hope you'll laugh anyway, because there's something for everybody. Even an in-joke for people from Bangladesh.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

disclaimers of legal bull shitte

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

All writing © 2011 Thomas Pluck and may only be reprinted with express written permission of the author. You may link to pages at will. If you wish to repost anything on your website you must contact Thomas Pluck using the contact form. Thank you for your cooperation. -Robocop