Les Edgerton – Reformed Outlaw – Truthtelling Scribe

How often is a memoir genuinely astounding? Adrenaline Junkie takes us through Les Edgerton’s harsh rural childhood, working harder before he was twelve than most of us ever will. There follows armed robbery, pimping, drug dealing, rape in prison, narrowly avoiding a hellcat’s castration attempt, suicide foiled by the rope breaking, a walk on part for Charles Manson and his creepy serial killer mate – who got short shrift from our host. And so much more…

 So many startling sentences: ‘She was going to be his last fuck before the operation and I was going to be his first after he became a woman.’ ‘It was then Charles Manson started to contact me…’ There’s a satisfying twist late on after he becomes a family man so this fascinating book has just the right ending. 

 I was also reading, of all things, Two Sisters, Gore Vidal’s rambling fictional memoir, wherein he boasts about being related to Jackie Kennedy, and how it annoys his social climber friends, whom he doesn’t like. It’s mostly glib preening, with too much emphasis on sex with one’s sister – which is any emphasis at all.

Les Edgerton’s story sounds different. ‘I grew up in Gulf coast Texas and spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s bar/restaurant where I’d done every job—bartending, bussing tables, dishwashing—before I turned 12 when I added cab dispatcher to my resume. It was a honky tonk so I saw my share of knifings and shootings.’

Adrenaline Junkie makes Bukowski seem like Donny Osmond and it’s all the better for being true. A must read.

 Down&Out Books, November, 2018. 

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MR Have you written about your prison experience? Will it be covered in your memoir? 

LE I’ve written about those experiences in a number of works, including short stories and novels, most notably Hard Times. I do write a lot about it in Adrenaline Junkie.

MR  42 per cent of prisoners in a new study said they had seen someone killed in childhood. Is there any way of preventing troubled adolescents becoming hardened criminals?
LE  I’ve seen several people killed when I was a kid. One such incident happened when I was 12. My grandmother thought I was old enough to learn her taxicab business so she started me out as the night dispatcher. The night dispatcher as that was the quiet period.
An hour on the job, one of the cabbies started hassling another cabbie with a dead rattlesnake. The guy he was tormenting thought it was alive and when the guy threw it on him, he pulled out his pistol and shot him in the throat. About 4-5 feet from me.

As the dispatcher, it was my job to call the police, which I did. This was in the days before 911 so I had to look it up and dial it. The guy went to trial (I had to testify) and he was acquitted on a defense of self-defense. This was in the days before people had gone nuts and still had common sense. The guy left town immediately as the guy he’d exed had a bunch of friends and relatives.

I saw my share of knifings and shootings. However, I wouldn’t consider myself “troubled.” It was just what it was. We just lived in a different era and place than some others. My early experiences didn’t make me a criminal—it just made me a person who didn’t take shit from others or who needed a safe place or a skirt that fit…
As to how to prevent adolescents from becoming hardened criminals, the answer is easy but most won’t do it. The entire secret in a teen emerging into adulthood and not becoming
a criminal is simply to make sure they feel they have control of their lives. This is why people perform criminal acts—they perceive a lack of control in some area of their lives. A rapist was probably raped himself as a child and sees the act of rape as a way to gain control over that part of their lives, albeit briefly. A person who holds up a clerk has just gained control over his life, again, albeit briefly. You can trace virtually every crime back to an intense feeling of being powerless in some area. It’s basically why they keep repeating crimes—the feeling of power is intense, but it goes away quickly. To recapture that feeling they have to repeat the crime, usually with less and less time between each instance and also they have a need to ratchet up the intensity of the crime. Most of those folks with sociology degrees and the like don’t have a clue—they’re too busy trying to figure out if the causes are genetic or environmental and never stop to figure out why some members of the same family or members of the same class or neighborhood environment turn out lawabiding and some don’t. It’s their individual experience and how they interpreted that experience.

All kids who get abused sexually don’t turn out to be pedophiles or rapists. A large percentage do, simply because they belong to the group that was violated. But, it’s not just the act of being violated; it’s their perception of that experience.
This was a theme in my novel, Just Like That, and the then-assistant warden of the state prison in Louisiana—the Farm—Cathy Johns read it and said it was the most accurate
and truest take on the criminal mind she’d ever read. That meant more to me than any praise from some social academic. Cathy knows criminals…

just like that

MR You’re like ‘a focussed Bukowski’, according to the great Ken Bruen. Bukowski is still connecting with young people. (Maybe the last of the writer superstars. I can’t see Jonathan Franzen becoming iconic.) Your biography from the Will Vahero interview has the ingredients of a good movie.
https://lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/2018/03/author-of-week-les-edgerton.html?spref=fb

LE That’s funny you mentioned that. A few years ago, I’d sold my memoir to the University of North Texas Press and shortly after that, was out in Hollywood, staying with my then-manager, Paul Bennett, who was getting me pitch meetings for the screenplays I was writing then. I’d just signed the contract with UNT and told Paul I’d just sold it and he asked if he could read it and I just happened to have a copy with me as I was starting rewrite edits on it. The next morning, he told me he’d stayed up all night—couldn’t put it down—and wondered if he could show it to his best friend—who happened to be the president of HBO Films. Before Paul had become a manager, he’d been the V.P. of HBO—Paul was the guy who started and ran the Comedy Specials. I said sure and the next day that guy called Paul and said he’d had the same reaction—stayed up all night reading it (and those guys never read anything!). He asked Paul if I’d sold it to the film industry and when Paul told him I hadn’t, he told him not to show it to anyone—that HBO wanted
it and would film it, and that they’d just wait until it came out, got some sales, some reviews and maybe some awards and then they’d film it. I went home on Cloud Nine, and then, my editor at UNT quit corresponding with me and I finally got ahold of the editor and he said they weren’t going to publish it as I didn’t have a contract with them. What had happened was that a week or so after I’d signed the contract, my editor and the publisher both left—the publisher, Fran Vick had retired and the editor, Charlotte Wright had quit at UNT and had taken a similar position at the University of Iowa Press. In a panic, I got hold of Charlotte and she told me she’d been expecting my call, that the new editor had been doing the same with all the authors she’d signed—he wanted to create his own stable. Plus, he was an asshole. She said I certainly did have a contract and she’d send me a copy if I wanted her to and if I took him to court they’d have to publish it, but she asked me if I really wanted someone to publish it who didn’t want to. Reluctantly, I told her I agreed and then I called my agent, Jimmy Vines, and he said don’t worry about it, he’d find a new publisher and that was it. Shortly after that, Jimmy was drummed out of the agent biz for some nefarious behavior on his part and the memoir languished in a drawer for years. Not getting it published then cost me any deal with HBO, not the first time I’ve been fucked in publishing…

MR Mickey Rourke played Bukowski in Barfly. Anyone handsome enough to play yourself?
LE The actor I wanted then is the same I’d love today—Woody Harrelson. He played the lead in the only movie I’ve seen that I thought was accurate for criminals—Natural-Born Killers. Plus, he’s a Hoosier and his dad died in the joint so he has the right background…
You do know Bukowski hated the movie Barfly and in particular the acting of Rourke. He much preferred the later edition where Matt Dillon played him in Factotem.

MR ‘I began by reading Balzac and de Maupassant and the Russians when I was six and seven and eight years old’ Wow.  Was it hard being so different to your contemporaries?

LE I really didn’t have many contemporaries. Growing up in Freeport, Texas I had two friends and when we moved to Indiana we never lived in one place long enough to make any but acquaintances. And, I didn’t know anyone who read what I read. Most were mouthbreathers who read crap like The Hardy Boys Do Dumbass Stuff. Mark, I have an I.Q. of 163. Couldn’t really relate to many kids my age so I mostly hung out with myself.
It’s really hard to remain civil when you can see the dumbness up close and personal. Am I an elitist? I certainly hope so! Have you ever talked to those people who think everyone is
equal? The ones who think that… often are…

MR The narrator in The Rapist is bleakly psychopathic, rather than a charming Ted Bundy type. Utterly horrible. This goes against current wisdom: audiences need to identify with a character. Plus just about everyone has to get over being revolted by the subject matter. Yet it’s compulsive reading. It seemed to me, and others, that it’s up there with Camus’s The Outsider. Is it best to forget about markets and be as truthful as possible?

LE It’s absolutely best for me. Money has never ever been a goal of mine. My goal is to be as honest as I can be and tell the best story I’m capable of. Money just never interested me in the least. Time after time, I’ve walked away from lucrative situations just because I was bored. After all, how many cars can you drive at one time, how many houses can you live in at one time, how many clothes does one need? 

Just never considered wealth to be a measure of anything important. I really feel sorry for those folks who base their personal value or the worth of others on money or things.
The readers who find they need to identify with characters and those characters are predominantly good guys with the same politics and belief system as they have are not the
folks I want reading my work. They’re just not going to get it. I’d recommend a Hardy Boys book perhaps with some curse words so they feel it’s an adult book…

 

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MR Hooked is a great guide to grabbing the reader immediately. Does teaching and writing books on the craft keep you sharper than creative writing alone?

LE  Sure. To be honest, I don’t think much about craft—when I write it’s just good the second it’s on paper. I’ve never rewritten anything in my life. The craft books I’ve written were just based on common sense in writing and designed for those who need the obvious pointed out to them.

MR Which includes me these days. You ‘admire Lee Child who doesn’t pretend to be a writer but is an author. Big difference’. How do you see the difference?

LE A writer is someone who doesn’t allow anything to influence what he writes and is a person of intelligence. An author is someone who has either lucked on something
marketable or figured it out and mostly just keeps doing the same thing over and over. A totally boring existence unless your world is centered around money and what it can buy. Usually a smart or clever person, but not necessarily an intelligent one. Big difference between being smart and being intelligent. The trick is if you’re intelligent not to let on that you see the difference in public… like I’m doing here…

MR Adrenaline Junkie briefly describes a tryst with Britt Ekland, while you were in the navy. Incredibly, Britt Ekland came on to me when I was 22 and she was 35. Maunkberry’s Club Jermyn Street. I didn’t get as far as primal bliss in a cupboard. I was a bit intimidated by this exceptionally beautiful and, on this occasion, well refreshed woman…(yes, she’d have to be…)

LE Ha-ha! I was 18 and she was around 22 then, I think. I also ended up in a hot tub on the roof of the Omni Hotel in Austin with another of Rod Stewart’s babes, Rachel Hunter–me, her, her costar on Winding Roads and Ted Melfi, the director (while my wife and son slept in our room downstairs), so it looks like Rod and me share the same tastes… She was, indeed, beautiful, but my memory is mostly of her wonderful breasts… I don’t have the Rachel Hunter bit in my memoir as my wife believes I’ve never strayed… and I haven’t…

MR I heard someone’s asking crime writers for stories which don’t involve guns. Maybe we could stack that anthology alongside non-alcoholic beer and tofu burgers. Surely we have to look at uncomfortable truths?

LE  Yeah! When I saw that, my jaw hit the floor. Looks like the loons have gone full-scale nuts. Let’s see, what could be wrong with that? “Crime writers wanted to submit stories in which there are no guns.” I’ll leave this to an amateur—this is too easy for a pro.

I saw this coming a couple of years ago. I was in Idaho as a presenter for their annual Extravaganza, guest of publisher Aaron Patterson, and while there attended a talk by the keynote speaker, C.J. Box. First, some background. I really liked Idaho and talked to Aaron about moving there and he advised against it. He said it used to be a great place but that in the last few years they’d been inundated by people moving there from California. He said most were people fleeing the high taxes and repressive laws, but that unfortunately they brought their attitudes with them and were voting like they had back in California and the state was rapidly becoming a welfare state. He said they’d already ruined Oregon and Washington and now Idaho and Wyoming and Montana were on their radar and he was thinking about getting out himself.

Okay, that’s the backstory. After C.J. wrapped up his talk, he gave a Q&A and this little tweedy guy stepped up. I say “tweedy” as this guy personified the term. He was a little balding guy, with fruitcake designer glasses, and a cashmere sweater wrapped around his shoulders and tied in front by the sleeves. Mr. Rogers stand-in… When he opened his mouth, it became obvious Aaron knew what he was talking about. “Mr. Box,” he said. “Do your characters have guns and if so, do they use them?” It was kind of obvious he’d never read a Box novel and had probably accidentally wandered in when he saw a sign proclaiming a literary event, probably expecting Robert Waller or Nicholas Sparks.

C.J. looked at him, took off his Stetson, scratched his head, and said, “Well, sir, my protagonist is a game warden and so he’s armed and he’s always after a murderer who usually used a gun, so… yeah, there are guns and they use them. You don’t suppose they’d engage in pillow fights, do you?” The whole place exploded and this little twinkie slunk away, probably to a safe place where there were other snowflakes who wouldn’t laugh at his punk ass.

That’s a true story and I’d be surprised if C.J. was sent a request to submit a story sans guns.

If this is the coming thing, I just want to get a law passed quickly allowing open carry for pillows…

MR 🙂 Thanks for a great interview Les!

LE Thanks for this opportunity, Mark. Sincerely hope I’ve pissed a few folks off. If I haven’t, it’s not worth it…

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A Chat with Maxim Jakubowski

tlr maxim

‘An intriguing mixture of past tradition and future-shock dystopia, written by a giant of the genre … highly recommended.’ Lee Child

The Dark. What if an electromagnetic wave wiped out the internet? “Goodbye Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, chatrooms, websites, commerce made easy cyber-style, contactless, electronic life; farewell to everything we had delegated to that mythical cloud, wiped out without even ashes to mark its passing.”

Although there’s an upside. Librarians and fact checking journalists are now in greater demand. 

The people who loved books were now at the top of the

evolutionary ladder, while the bankers and their ilk had sunk to

the bottom.” Now you’re talking. 

A femme fatale needs to find her sister, a nod to Raymond Chandler. Our narrator, journalist turned private investigator, is however vulnerable and bookish, closer to most readers than a wise-cracking tough guy.

“There was nothing remarkable about me. Had never been. 

Apart from the propensity to get hurt by the world of women. Bruises that became internal scars long after any hypothetical physical evidence had been erased by the passage of time. 

Each woman a chapter. 

Each one a bittersweet regret, for what had not happened or, if it perchance had, for losing her, having not allowed myself to be fully open to her affection or confusing lust with love, leaving only memories that became deeply imprinted in my psyche.”

This is also a search for the protagonist’s lost love, from 

New York through Chicago down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where the occult takes centre stage. There’s some gruelling ordeals along the way – no one will forget the wrestling match with a female MMA fighter. There’s sensual evocative writing throughout. The ending stays with you as does the preliminary journey. An enthralling tale, well told. 

Maxim J

MR I’m in awe of your workload: running Murder One, reviewing many books, writing your own, editing anthologies, book tours, translating. ghost writing, columnist. I’ve probably missed something out. Are you working harder than ever? 

Actually, not all in same time! I’m only human. Murder One closed some years back and I no longer have any involvement. And have never done any ghost writing; I have written 11 novels over past years under another name (some of which even reached the Sunday Times Top 10) and that author/name is still under wraps for commercial reasons but that’s the nearest I’ve come to being a ghost in my own writing life! And, no, am not working harder and feel at times that I do a lot of procrastinating and could do more. But there’s still a life to live… 

MR From the acknowledgments to the excellent The Louisiana Republic: ‘This is my first novel under my own name in some years, having taken a sabbatical of sorts – if you consider writing 11 novels in under 3 1/2 years a sabbatical- in another literary genre, collaborating on a rather successful series.’ Do you feel freer as a ghost writer? Less concerned with possible criticism?

The reason those particular books were under another name was because the publishers and the buyers at the chains and supermarkets felt they would do better as if coming from a new ‘voice’. And also under a female pseudonym! They were commercially right as those novels have done so much better than anything I’ve done under my name, so go figure. When I look at them, I am proud of them and people in the know instantly recognise them as coming from my rather perverse imagination anyway, so didn’t hold back in the slightest when penning them (with a collaborator…).

MR Do you speed read? Does that affect enjoyment of a text?

I read fast but not actually speed read. One still needs the time to savour, appreciate the style and atmosphere. 

MR Are there any idiomatic expressions that are hard to translate? 

The vocabulary of sex and how to express it is a constant challenge, but that makes matters interesting, I reckon. 

MR I remember that wild Robin Cook night at Murder One. Is there anything you’d like to share about Robin Cook/Derek Raymond? 

Just a great friend and human being, and one I miss a lot despite fact we were poles apart (I don’t drink…). I’m his literary executor so still heavily involved with his books which, fingers crossed, might soon be adapted for television.

MR What’s your next project? 

Another novel under my own name. Working title is ‘The Memory of Absence’, but still unclear what it will specifically be about, but will no doubt drag along all my customary obsessions. I also have a few short stories appearing this year and my ongoing column and chairing/judging one he Crime Writers’ Association’s Daggers (I’m Vice Chair of the CWA). And recently completed translating the second novel by my friend Johana Gustawsson, ‘Keeper’ which appears almost simultaneously along with my own book, and we’ll be promoting together.

You can read the first chapter of The Louisiana Republic if you join the Times Crime Club.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/newsletter-signup-crimeclub-cw8qsvlg2

 Keep in touch with Mr Jakubowski here.
http://www.maximjakubowski.co.uk

MR Still scourging myself after blearily confusing ghost writing and pseudonymous writing. Time to stop. I’m starting to like it.
I’m currently looking for someone less slapdash to ghost all of my writing and actually be me on a permanent basis. Applicants need to be more efficient than a sixty one year old, insomniac, recovering alcoholic addict, so only the best need apply. There is no remuneration but this will be ‘great exposure for you’.

H’mm, I’m trying to stay away from doomy cynicism, which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy so quick reminder that a good way of avoiding self-destructive behaviour is to practise more gratitude and less envy. A little less cynicism. Park the snark!
(Also, being cheerful will enrage your opponents.)

Pharrel Williams’ Happy – Centrist Dad makeover by trumpet virtuoso Till Bronner. Righteous groove by drumming legend Vinnie Colaiuta

 

Paul Brazill interview

Gazeta wb 4

 

My review of Paul Brazill’s The Gumshoe: The Peter Ord yarns

In the mid 20th century there were light-hearted crime novels about decent chaps with a taste for adventure. The Saint. The Toff. Perhaps, like Paul Temple, they had a cockney manservant and lived in Mayfair. Mr Brazill’s comedic capers are generally set somewhere less salubrious. Perhaps a grim seaside town, where laconic losers drink super strength lager, which might be stored in their pockets for later – not much later at all.
Instead of a search for the Maltese Falcon a vile gangster wants to know which of his girls are offering, against his wishes, a ‘full service’.
The one liners come thick and fast. ‘”I’m as honest as the day is long”. If you live in Iceland.’
‘The silence dragged like a BNP voter’s knuckles.’
There’s nifty descriptions: ‘He had salt and pepper hair that erred on the side of Saxa, and his face had that scrubbed-by-a-Brillo Pad look favoured by football mangers like Sir Alex Ferguson.’
It’s realistically sleazy and gritty but with enough humour so you don’t need to drown your sorrows – unlike Paul’s protagonists.
Like his Too Many Crooks there’s a sly metafictional flavour but it’s gentle and playful. It won’t strip the enamel off your teeth, like some of the beverages consumed herein.
In short, an original homebrew with a kick. Well worth sampling.

 

MR  Your earliest influence, writers you most admire? 

PB   Well, I wasn’t a book person as a kid so the first writers I noticed were comic writers like Stan Lee, Steve Gerber, and music writers like Jane Suck and Paul Morley. Monty Smith’s film stuff for the New Musical Express was essential reading. After that, the ‘grown up’ books were by Dorothy Parker, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut and Elmore Leonard – the latter due to an NME article by Charles Shaar Murray.

MR Yes, that’s the article that got me reading Elmore Leonard, early to mid eighties. 

Will the longer version of The Gumshoe stay in the seaside town? Get deeper into the sex industry? 

PB The Peter Ord novella will have him trying to go ‘legit’ and try to make it as a writer. It’s called The Scribbler.

MR  Is Hartlepool a bit grim then? But isn’t Middlesbrough worse? And I once saw a queue 50 yards long for a pub to open in Newcastle. 7pm on a Sunday. 

PB    I still like Hartlepool – especially the Headland- though I haven’t lived there for over a quarter of a century. And I like Middlesbrough which was were I saw lots of great bands in the 70s and 80s. And I played some gigs there too. They have their rough bits but that’s the same everywhere – Paris and London, for example, have their shithole parts. And people from the north are funnier, too.

MR  Your next book will be? 

PB     Well, my seaside noir Kill Me Quick! will be rebooted and republished by Fahrenheit 13 over the next couple of months. It’s about a faded minor pop star who returns to his home town …All Due Respect will publish another seaside noir, Last Year’s Man, in June. This is about an ageing hit man who returns to his home town for a quiet life …

Near The Knuckle will publish my short story collection Small Time Crimes. It’s full of most of the best short stories and flash fiction I’ve written. It already has a great cover from Craig Douglas.

 

SMC

The Seatown set stories are a baroque exaggeration of people and scenes from life in the north east of England. It’s not journalism. It’s not Robert Fisk …

MR   Is Poland a step up from the UK in general?   The language quite hard to learn? Cheap, good beer? I once moved to Bavaria because my level of alcoholism was seen as social drinking. 

PB    I like it here. It certainly seems more civilised for sure. The language is very hard but the reason for my own low level of Polish is probably more to do with me being idle. A lot of the breweries were bought by Heineken a few years ago so homogenised lager prevails. But there are good local breweries such as the Osowa Gora brewery near me.

MR   Is there less of a class system in Poland? 

PB Not that I can see. It can be worse in many ways. There’s a lot flashing cash about. Keeping Up Appearances is popular here for a reason, I think.

MR  I really liked your comment ‘Noir is about bollocking things up’ also ‘Indifference is the secret to happiness’ Seemed very Stoic or perhaps Taoist. 

PB  Just random cobblers that I say, to be honest.

MR 🙂 so much for my spiritual dabblings. Too Many Crooks references Sid James. Which always raises the spirits. It’s a shame they didn’t do a b/w crime caper. Which is your favourite Carry On? 

PB Carry On Cabbie and Carry On Screaming. The Carry On team were a great bunch of oddball character actors.

MR The only private detective/ process server I ever knew was a compulsive liar, alcoholic and degenerate gambler. Did you ever meet any? 

PB There used to be one that lived at the end of our street near a Greek restaurant called The Acropolis which was inevitably known locally as The Apocalypse. I think he was more Frank Marker than Sam Spade. The PI I write about – Peter Ord – takes more from the Albert Finney film Gumshoe.

MR Have you written about sober people? 

PB  I suppose so but pissheads are usually more self-deluded and more likely to screw things up. Which makes for funny stories. I hope.

Paul’s biography from his website  https://pauldbrazill. com

I was born in Hartlepool, England and now live in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

I’ve been TEFL teaching for more than a decade. My books include A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, The Last Laugh, and Kill Me Quick! Oh, and there are a few other tasty snacks that you can find here. My writing has been translated into Italian, Polish, Finnish, German and Slovene. I’ve had stories published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8, 10 and 11.I also edited the anthology  True Brit Grit (with Luca Veste).I have an irregular column – Brit Grit Alley at  Out Of The Gutter Online.

case of noir

I could have framed that question about Hartlepool better. It looks pretty good here. https://www.destinationhartlepool.com

and Chris Rea is from Middlesborough. Great singer/songwriter.
On The Beach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRHmVi_L514

P is for Prostitution: A Modern Primer by Charlotte Rodgers and Ruth Ramsden

I like autobiographies out of chronological order: it’s quicker to get to the juicy bits. This has an alphabetical structure, each subject illustrated by a unique disturbing vision from Ruth Ramsden, (some relation, hello dear, xxx).

Already familiar with bulimia, drugs and madness Charlotte came of age before feminism made an impact on the free love culture, when women were expected to have sex with more or less anyone.

It wasn’t much of a step to get involved in sex work, especially while consuming vast quantities of an astonishing variety of drugs.

Charlotte writes with honesty and empathy on this process, inevitably immersing her in crime, her clear eyed approach much better than William Burroughs’ Junky, a pulp fiction pastiche scrawled by a cold-hearted Trustifarian, (which also had some inaccurate bullshit about heroin ‘colonising cells’ which had to be countered in a Doctor’s footnote.) More importantly, this is written free of opiate addiction and with a positive mindset. Having said that the Grim Reaper is never far away. Jaw dropping sentences abound. A lover with whom she was about to start a new clean life. ‘Found dead in a toilet with his pants round his ankles, a needle in his groin’. Then there was the Christmas where a criminally neglient doctor cut numerous junkies off their maintenance methadone. 2O of them died, having gone back to illegal drugs.

The upside is some charming memories of Hong Kong and Mainland China, a fascinating journey through the New Zealand’s hard drug culture and the sleazier parts of Alternative London.

Charlotte’s visual art, not covered here, is forged from roadkill and blood magick, best to read her previous Mandrake books to experience the power. I would guess this memoir is a rite of passage, an exorcism of some very dark material, an enlightening trip that will also reward the reader.

P is For Prostitution
A modern primer
Charlotte Rodgers (Illustrated by Ruth Ramsden)
Mandrake
978-1-906958-26-8
158pp (12 picaresque illustrations) – Trade paperback original
£9.99/$18 (includes postage unless otherwise stated)
https://mandrake.uk.net/p-is-for-prostitution/
9781906958268

Not so flamboyantly hirsute, now, eh, Mr Tenant?

Pet Shop Boys bellend Neil Tenant exhibiting one of the most curious male pattern baldness ‘dos this side of Will Gompertz. (BBC arts Max Wall lookalike. Well worth a google.) Lives in Rye where everyone hates him. I will return in a few years to see how he has attempted to maintain the illusion of having a young man’s haircut. Perhaps hoping to still have young men. You’re five hundred in gay years. It’s all over. Just crawl in your grave and die. neil_tennant-431x300

Les Edgerton. Noir Master. The Rapist. An astounding novel. Out next Spring

If the narrator of Camus’ The Outsider had written an especially disturbing thriller it would be The Rapist – rock hard, darkest Noir, very fine writing, first class storytelling.

An intelligent, proud psychopath on death row tries to win your approval, in the last few hours before the big sleep. You don’t like him but it’s impossible to stop reading.

While some of us tourists can sometimes concoct realistic stories from knowing criminals and having dabbled occasionally, Mr Edgerton has served time, giving him knowledge citizens prefer not to have.

Writers Helen Fitzgerald and Wendy Gager also had initial misgivings being associated with this title and a persuasive narrator. My name, for the very few who know it, is already associated with unapologetic hard drug use, chronic alcoholism, a lightweight’s criminal record, sex work, (that’s where drugs can take you) and twenty years campaigning for consensual fetish sex. “This is supposed to be about him!” sorry, but if degenerates like me are squicked out by our unrepentant host, a cold man who looks down on those who empathise with other humans, you might feel uneasy about this book. Decent people should despise scumbag predators but that’s not a reason to avoid this gripping book.

I’m thrilled to have a new author over whom to obsess. It’s been a while since I discovered Ted ‘Get Carter’ Lewis, Elmore Leonard and Thomas Harris. Decades since I saw my first Tarantino. Les Edgerton belongs in that company.