The Brilliant Insanity of ‘Claws’

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Photo courtesy of TNT

Last night, I took a break from binge-watching Season 1 of TNT’s “Claws” to watch “Game of Thrones.” After a perfectly fine episode of “Thrones” — and by fine, I mean one in which numerous ridiculous decisions are made by characters who are supposed to be leaders, as well as Arya being a total snot and neither she nor Sansa actually mentioning the name Littlefinger, which would TOTALLY clear up their issue — I went right back to “Claws.”

I actually started watching “Claws” because of actor Hunter Burke’s tweets about the show. Hunter plays Jew for Jesus Hank Gluck on the show. Who’s Hunter? He’s a multi-talented Hollywood type, but from Louisiana and, in an appropriately Southern connection, he’s my brother’s wife’s sister’s boyfriend. Or something like that. (Actress Teri Wyble, who’s currently in “The Sinner” and was in “The Walking Dead” and more, is my sister-in-law’s sister. Does that sound simpler?)

I figured I’d catch an episode or two over the weekend, but ended up watching the entire first season.‪ Why? “Claws” is like someone huffed three kilos of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen (and some coke) and then decided to write about a multi-ethnic group of women who work at a nail salon and are involved with the Dixie Mafia’s Florida chapter. And this particular chapter is led by a crazy, over the top, bi-sexual Catholic guy with rage issues.

I know Hollywood likes to describe a thing by comparing it to other things, so let me take a stab at this. It takes the best elements of “Dexter,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “Get Shorty” and swirls it all together.

It’s entertaining as hell, completely bonkers and I don’t think there was a bad episode in the bunch. It’s funny, disturbing, sexy and even touching — I got misty-eyed by Harold Perrineau’s autistic character more than once. While Perrineau’s acting is great, the women are the ones who make this show. Niecy Nash is the leader of the crew that includes Jenn Lyon, Carrie Preston, Judy Reyes and Karrueche Tran.

All of these people should be getting Emmy nominations, but I won’t hold my breath. Not only because it’s a really diverse show (that doesn’t make a point of yelling “We’re really diverse), but also because it’s classified as a drama. I guess if it’s an hour long, it’s a drama? Sure, it’s plenty dramatic, but it’s also plenty funny (apparently, it started off life as a half-hour comedy pitched to HBO).

But when it comes to marketing, execs like their labels and boxes, I guess. Even if humans repeatedly show that they not only can handle some mixing and matching, but actually love it.

I’d been told a couple times over the last two years that Elmore Leonard-type books are a hard sell for publishers these days. Which is sort of odd, considering half the good shows on TV (and there are a lot of good shows on TV, Netflix, etc., these days) seem like they’re based on Leonard-type books. But that’s just me. (And, yes, I have a Leonard-type book I’m trying to get published. Could you tell?)

At any rate. Go watch this show.

 

 

A Thousand Words on Patricia Lockwood’s ‘Priestdaddy’

On one hand, we have a female character who’s dad is, somehow, a Catholic priest. On the other hand, we have Patricia Lockwood’s “Priestdaddy,” billed as a memoir about growing up as the daughter of a Catholic priest.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 7.46.19 AMIf you know me at all or if you’ve read “The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival,” it’s pretty damn clear why I’d be drawn to Lockwood’s book. In my precious little baby of a first published novel, Father Steve meets and befriends Vicky, the daughter of the priest he’s come to Grand Prairie to replace.

On the surface, that’s where the similarities end. Vicky’s fictional father and mother were never married. We don’t see any of her dad in the book, in fact. Vicky is more of a no-nonsense sort, a nurse rather than a wandering poet. She’s also firmly Gen-X rather than Millennial. Oh, and obviously, she’s a character in a work of fiction.

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RESCHEDULED: Reading/Book Signing in Atlanta: April 27

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NOTE: Because the weather prevented me from making it to Atlanta on time earlier in the month, this is now happening on April 27. 

I’d say pardon the self-promotion, but if you think a blog isn’t anything other than nonstop self-promotion, you’re delusional. But anyway, some undisguised self-promotion:

The good folks at the SCAD in Atlanta have invited me down to talk to a couple of classes and do a reading. So if you’re in the Atlanta area or simply feel like flying to Atlanta to listen to me jibber-jabber, come on down!

The reading will be Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at Ivy Hall.

Here’s a link to the event page.

Ivy Hall is at 179 Ponce de Leon Ave. Here it is on the map.

Why Twitter Hearts Are Like Bull Nipples

twitterheartSo yesterday, I spent upwards of 45 minutes scheduling social-media posts to promote my novels. To say it’s not one of my favorite things to do is an understatement.

It’s boring and it also makes me feel cheap and desperate. “Please, please buy my books. Won’t someone please buy my books?!? They’re old but they’re still good!”

There are companies who provide these services. They charge money, of course. The money, however, isn’t the issue. It’s that these companies seem to be followed mostly by other desperate authors who number in the tens of thousands. And the social-media promotion these companies provide is basically: “Here’s a tweet of this author’s book and an off-center picture of the author and/or his book cover.” This tweet is immediately followed by similar tweets for about a hundred other authors. If I’m gonna get tied up with a pimp, I expect more than that. Continue reading “Why Twitter Hearts Are Like Bull Nipples”

“I Don’t Care What They Think” and Other Lies Writers Tell

SweetasCaneThere’s a moment that’s hard to describe, when you receive an email with a subject line that includes your name, the title of your next book and the words “Booklist Review.”

For my third novel, Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears — which is being released next week — the thought process was a three-step one that went something like this.

1. “Hmmmmm. Booklist Review.”

2. “Sweet! Someone reviewed the thing!”

3. “Oh shit. Someone reviewed the thing.”

And then my finger just hung there over the phone. Do I open it? I’m at work. What if it’s bad? What if it shatters my fragile writer’s ego? Equally bad, what if it sends me into a panic the entire three weeks leading up to release?

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Thanks for Making My First Time Great

We’re coming up on the one-year mark since the release of my very first book, The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. And i just want to take a moment to thank every single person out there who read it, bought it, borrowed it, used it in book clubs, talked about it, and gave it to others as gifts (hey, there’s still time for that!). Thanks too for the help on Twitter and Facebook, for taking photos of my baby in places like California and Ohio and Georgia and the Carolinas and Brooklyn and Ireland and even Manhattan.
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Gullible for Gurus

I didn’t get past page three of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love.” I physically could not read any further. I’m an eye-roller. And by that point, my eyes had pretty much locked into a backward-facing position. “Oh, c’mon,” was the reaction I kept having. It’s not that the writing was bad. It wasn’t. I just felt like I was listening to a rich white woman whine about her life. I also knew how many women had fallen for this garbage. Here’s a secret, folks. Unlucky in love and at a transitional stage in your life? All you need is a few hundred thousand dollars and a trip around the world. Amazing what a vacation can do! Of course, what it can’t do is guarantee you love or enlightenment that lasts.
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Clovis Crawfish and the Curious Crapaud

People sometimes ask me about my days as a small Cajun boy in South Louisiana. They seem to be under the impression that we rode alligators to school while wearing no shoes. That’s just about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. Of course we wore shoes. Alligators have pointy backs.

But seriously, we didn’t have alligators. We grew up in prairie country. We weren’t Swamp Cajuns, but rather Prairie Cajuns. True story: If I see my shadow in February, it’s six more weeks of winter.
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How Do I Get Paul Rudd?

One thing writers like to do is cast the movie version of their own books. It’s especially fun when you have absolutely no sign of a movie deal on the horizon. At any rate, people have asked me before who I’d see playing various people in The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. And I’ve typically been stumped with the part of Father Steve.

Vicky, I always sort of saw as Jennifer Aniston. Don’t judge me.

But Father Steve? George Clooney’s too old and John Krasinski was too tall (and goofy) for my liking. Then, yesterday, while walking up Third Avenue, I saw a movie poster and Paul Rudd’s face was on it.

It’s totally him. I think. Someone make that happen.

Anyone else who read the book, who’d you cast in the various parts?

Miss Rita’s tough as well. Only person I can kinda come up with is Alfree Woodard. Someone who can play older and pull of comedy as well as gravitas. Problem is I picture Miss Rita as pretty skinny. (One Facebook, someone suggested Wanda Sykes, which I kind of dig. You know how comedians like that crossover dramatic roles)

Brother Paul. Hmmm. Robert Duvall. But he’s getting up in age. Maybe John Goodman?

So David Carr and Emily Gould Walk Into a Genre

While in Louisiana, I actually managed to spend some time reading. Finished up the short stories of Flannery O’Connor on the way down and knocked out David Carr’s “Night of the Gun” and Emily Gould’s “And the Heart Says Whatever.”

I hadn’t really planned to write about either one of them. I’m a couple years late on Carr’s book and, frankly, I was worried I wouldn’t like Gould’s. (Despite my cranky image, when it comes to new writers if I don’t have anything nice to say, etc. I also didn’t feel like putting up with cat-calls from the peanut gallery.)

But! (As they say on Gawker and The Awl.)
Continue reading “So David Carr and Emily Gould Walk Into a Genre”