Friday, September 19, 2008

James Crumley

As Jeff Pierce (and others) have reported, James Crumley passed away recently.

In an earlier post, I described what a great fan I was of Crumley's, showed off my collection of Crumley first editions, and expressed how pleased I was that he had given me a blurb for my last novel, Runoff.

When I read of his death, I went back to look at our e-mail exchange about the blurb. Here's his response after I wrote to ask him:
Mark --

I'll be happy to take a look at your new book as long as you understand that I've lost a couple of steps -- plus gained shaky eyes and bad hands-- so I can't promise I can get to it.

Good luck,

And the e-mail where he gave me the blurb itself:
Mark --

Hope this works for you:

RUNNOFF by Mark Coggins is a smart, funny, spooky; and sometimes violent, often touching, always entertaining romp through the new Political Correct version of San Francisco's highways, byways, and alleys of corruption. (Hammett eat your hat and laugh.) It's great fun and a must read.

Mark, of course you can use anything I've said in anyway you please. Good luck with the book, man, and thanks for the fun.

James Crumley
I don't know if my book was the last one for which he wrote a blurb, but I do know that it was a very generous act given the state of his health.

I used to say he was my favorite living writer. Now I'll just say he's a damn great one and I'm sorry he didn't write more books.

(Photo by Bill Wittliff / Texas State University-San Marcos via LA Times.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Walking in Hemingway's Footsteps

I mentioned that I would do a few posts on Ernest Hemingway's 1920s Paris. Some of the landmarks of his time in the city are gone, but if you want to follow in his footsteps in the 21st century, there is one well-worn path that still exists.

Hemingway and his first wife Hadley lived in an apartment above a sawmill on Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs from 1924 to 1926. The apartment and the sawmill are gone, but its courtyard remains, as do the blocks it was paved with. Here Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Dos Passos once walked:

Hemingway Paving Stones

To let the man himself describe the remainder of the path, a quote from A Moveable Feast:
It was a lovely evening and I had worked hard all day and left the flat over the sawmill and walked out through the courtyard with the stacked lumber, closed the door, crossed the street and went into the back door of the bakery that fronted on the Boulevard Montparnasse and out through the good bread smells of the ovens and the shop to the street. The lights were on in the bakery and outside it was the end of the day...

Hemingway Boulangerie Back Door

Hemingway Boulangerie

In our tracing of Hemingway's path, my wife and I elected not to pass immediately through the bakery, but instead paused inside to pick up and sample a tasty pain au chocolat.



Dalida in Glorious B&W
Originally uploaded by Mark Coggins
Looking for a wildly popular French singer from the 60s, 70s and 80s who was a intriguing mix of Marilyn Monroe and Madonna? Look no further than Dalida.

I confess I'd never heard of her before I started researching the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris, but just knowing that this is a (black and white) photo of the sculpture from her grave, tells you a thing or two about the woman.

Le Nouveau Connelly

While US readers have already devoured The Overlook and are eagerly awaiting The Brass Verdict, apparently French fans of Michael Connelly are having to get by with Echo Park, the book which preceded The Overlook.

I found it interesting that the US title was retained for the French edition, but a check of the back cover reveals that perhaps the author photo was "translated" for the French market. I don't believe I've seen Michael striking a tres chic pose like that before.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sex in Paris

Venus de Milo
Originally uploaded by Mark Coggins
Well, not really, but the headline will hopefully get me a few more blog hits. We did the obligatory tour of the Louvre yesterday, and through luck, good lighting and the fact that the statue was moved recently to a better spot for photography, managed to capture a pretty nice image of the Venus de Milo.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Paris Noir

Paris Metro Sign
Originally uploaded by Mark Coggins
My wife and I are in Paris for a couple of weeks. Although the town is really the crime fiction territory of fellow Bay Area writer Cara Black, I'm going to try to put up a few posts of interest.

Look for more photos and perhaps one or two items on the Paris experiences of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.