Sunday, May 11, 2008

Help! I've Been Hijacked!

By Anthony Neil Smith, a certified psychobilly. Or something. Worst mullet I've ever seen. Wait, that's not a mullet. The guy has a squirrel on his head. Or possibly a ferret. Okay, it's a squirrel. He says he's going to eat it later. He says, "What's your favorite part of a squirrel?" This is not going to end well. Which reminds me of Yellow Medicine, a fine book that I've read. You should, too.

Sorry for the lapse. We stopped along the way to do some mud diving. But now we've finally arrived at the penultimate stop on our long, strange trip. But first, we must compete against Bill Crider in the Feats of Strength.
Yes, he's a legend. He spawned his own contest (we all entered out of fear of what he'd do if we didn't). Telling tales of Bill, like, "He can eat you for breakfast, but he doesn't want to get up that early." "He once shoved an entire human being into a toaster just to prove a point, but then he forgot that point, and the toaster guy forgave him anyway." It all comes down to this: Crider is as big as Texas.
We all limp and groan our way back to the Hummer-sine having been utterly embarrassed by the man. He's barely broken a sweat. Then he looks at his watch, laughs louder than a Van Halen concert, and says, "It took you long enough to get here. I missed the whole goddamned trip." All we can do is meekly apologize and say, "Surely a man of your great stature would have been offended by the likes of--"
"Bullshit!" His shout echoes like that of a bear. "And you know it, too. So let's do the whole thing over again." And so we do. We drive and drive and drive (and drink) and drive some more. We drive and party and self-destruct so hard that Bill wrests even Ray Banks into a submissive sleep. But it was worth it.
Bill's Dan Rhodes series (the latest being Of All Sad Words) is my kinda fun. Crazy people down South thinking they're just fine while doing ridiculous things. Kind of like My Name is Earl but with more people going to jail. Crider slides in the humor so that it's already slapped you a few times before you realize it. Mighty fine. And then he went and got himself an Edgar nomination for the story "Cranked" from the Damn Near Dead anthology, which is one of the finest collections I've seen in years. And, glory of glories, the man's a college English teacher, like me. He's even written about English teachers who solves crimes (Carl Burns and Sally Good). The first mystery they should've tackled is "Who's teaching (or, more like it, not teaching) our kids grammar these days?" But no. They just solve murders and other mundane things.
No, wait, Bill, I take it back! No, please! I need my legs to walk!
I meant murders and other fantastically imaginative things.
After escaping from the law through New Mexico (we lost them when Bill did donuts in the desert and stirred up a dust storm of epic proportions), Bill hands the wheel over and says, "She's all yours." And I know what he means. We've only got one more day until Psychobilly Monday, that blessed day when I hope a lot of people will go to one of those Barnes and Noble stores (or online) and order up a copy of Yellow Medicine. I mean, you don't become a legend overnight. It usually takes two or three nights. And in the meantime, you do little baby-step promotion sort of things like a egomaniacal blog road trip, or go off on signing tours with your fingers crossed. But you meet great people (like Bill and all our other road-trippers) along the way, find out that people still have a passion for books, and feel better about that year you spent crafting your little labor of love into a bunch of pages that tell that story you just had to tell.
And our next destination, our final stop, is The House that made it possible to get that story into the hands of you, our generous readers. So when I say "The Future is Bleak", it's not that I'm some Old Testament prophet. It's actually a compliment.
Driving time: Twice as long
Tune for the leg: Thanks to Victor shoving in a CD, it's "Common People" by William Shatner


Victor Gischler said...

Common People.

That song kicks total ass.


Anonymous said...

Mud diving: they don't take off their watches or shoes. Weird.