Thursday, April 26, 2007

"...leather jacket philosophizing..."

Mes Amis

Who reviews short stories these days, eh?

Well some people clearly do. A man called Don Schneider who does some small "literary" reviews over at his website has decided to go genre and look at "Like a Matter of Honour" from the pages of Thrilling Detective.

The review (go to the reviews link on the main page and scroll down to find the link to "Like a Matter of Honour") is quite long, but I think the meat comes at the end where Schneider says some very nice things:

The author’s leather jacket philosophizing and erudite writing, unsuccessfully camouflaged by colorful, provincial vulgarisms, betrays an uptown mind masquerading in a downtown venue.

Although I think I have a very downtown mind, as anyone who knows me can testify.

And then, talking about my propensity for local dialect in the Bryson stories:

The added flavor by way of ambience only enhances a piece that might be termed “thoughtfully rugged” and adds to the reading enjoyment.

I like the phrase "thoughtfully rugged". Makes me sound smart and a little dangerous. Ahhhh, if only he knew the truth...

So, thanks to Don (may I call you Don? We're all informal round here) for his thoughts on the story. Really, I'm just happy if people get a kick out of it, but he's certainly picked up on a few points I like and even makes the story sound halfway smart... which I think can be firmly laid on the doorstep of the wonderful editing that happens at TD whereby Gerald and Kevin kick you into shape.

Au revoir



Sandra Ruttan said...


You're still alive and you found your way back to your blog.

Truly wonders do never cease.

Anonymous said...

(Russel here, reposting this comment which ended up on an earlier post when I'm guessing it was meant for this one - ahhhh, Blogger, you do like to mess us about...)


It was my pleasure.

Actually, there are quite a few internet sites that review short works; ranging from the professional publications such as *Tangent Online* and *Locus Online*, to several hobbyists’ sites like my own. Unfortunately, all the ones I'm familiar with are devoted to SF and horror. There might be some that review mystery and detective stories, but I'm not familiar with them if there are.

My reviews are longer and more thorough than professional ones, because I have the luxury of reviewing what I want and when I want. My main purpose is to promote internet literature and garner more respect for it. Also, I think it makes writers feel good to know that someone cares enough to take the necessary time.

Actually, I personally have always preferred genre to literary pieces, ever since my *The Hardy Boys* days, a, er, "wee" spell ago now. However, in regard to detective stories, I have always preferred the softer, whodunit fare. I have read almost every mystery your late, great Dame Agatha ever wrote. Alas, my track record in guessing her murderers is downright dismal! What an apparently devious mind the lady did have!

I think you're very talented, and I am looking forward to reading other offerings of yours that you have most kindly linked to here.

My reviews are always honest, though selective. I just can't bring myself to write a really scathing review, which is why I rarely review the first story I read when I investigate a zine unfamiliar to me. I just keep reading until I find something at least decent, though I ultimately gave up at one zine.

I meant what I said regarding the quality of the writing at *The Thrilling Detective.* I could have written a positive review about every (of several) stories I read there, but yours stood out to me as the best of a bumper crop.

One suggestion I might offer you is to note that I gather “Like a Matter of Honour” is one of a series of stories featuring this protagonist. Such stories should be written as stand alone pieces, and some background and descriptive information concerning the recurring characters—especially the protagonist--should be included in each; especially if the author and character are not well known as yet.

Well, I don’t want to take up too much of your time and space here. I just thought your fans and you might be interested in reading my review of your work, as most writers, I think, enjoy feedback.

And rest assured, Russel, I most assuredly did "get a kick" out of it. I enjoyed it very much indeed!

Regarding my comments about your “uptown mind,” there is nothing whatsoever wrong or disparaging about writing genre works. However, I found your characterizations within the piece to be first-rate, and I think you have an excellent intuitive grasp of human nature; a talent common to all the great writers from the time of your immortal bard to the present.

If you have just ten minutes some time, please read my essay “Method Writing,” to further explain. (Click “On Writing.") I’m not a writer, just a reader; but a voracious one since childhood. I am, after all, your market, and without folks like me you’re nothing but a diarist! You have the talent to one day write thought-provoking and provocative novels. Best of luck to you.

Best regards,


P.S., in regard to referring to English literary figures as "your," please accept my apologies if you are a Scottish nationalist and dislike being lumped in as "British." I don’t meddle in other nation’s internal politics.

Russel said...


Thanks for the reply.

I'm pleased as punch - I tell you - that not only did you like the short, but you took the time to review it.

Of course genre works can be every bit as worthy as literary - I actually think in certain cases they can outdo literary tales. I don't know about Christie, but I was never a fan of her ilk. As you can tell, I came more from a Chandler/Hammett background!

And yes, the characters in LAMOH (Not its original title - it was called Jimmy's Way but after some back and forth with Kevin and Gerald we settled on the current title as being more apropriate since Jimmy was more a catalyst than the focus of the story) appear in other stories. I try to make each stand alone and give the reader all the info they need for that story. Some threads develop when they're read in the right order but on the whole, they can be read any which way you like.

As to politics - I'm not quite a nationalist, although I am very proud to be Scottish. And who wouldn't be? :-)

Sandra -

Do I sense sarcasm?

Steven said...

And don't forget Nasty Brutish Short. We do good work. Well...the others do good work. I mostly practice my lounging.

Gerald So said...

Congrats, Russel. Thanks for the kind words. And thank you, Don, for the write-up, and Steven for plugging Nasty. Brutish. Short.

Jennifer Jordan said...


Stuart MacBride said...

I think he's dead Jen. He certainly smells dead...

Jennifer Jordan said...

Well, he kinda smelled dead before. He's got to stop rolling in 'possum....