Book Features
Aug 1, 2006, 18:18

A decade on and dozens of books in, AKASHIC PRESS are pumping out some fantastic novels and anthologies. Here's a fistful that hit my bedside table recently:

BROOKLYN NOIR 2: THE CLASSICS edited by Tim McLoughlin; Akashic Books, 2005

Brooklyn, before its devastating revitalization, which, try as it might, still hasn't been able to suck all of the soul out Manhattan's ugly brother, always had a weird negative charisma.

Maybe after reading Hubert Selby Jr.'s. Last Exit to Brooklyn (the brutal Tra La La chapter reprinted here) at the age of 12 or 13 warped me in more ways than I care to admit. Maybe it saved my sorry ass from committing an encyclopaedia of even more ridiculous stunts than what I was going to pull anyway. Maybe pulling a stint in Brooklyn in the mid 80s left a soft spot in my head.. whatever the case Brooklyn Noir 2 delivers the low-down and dirty. There's no use picking favorites here since the juice in this collection drips like a funky nicotine stain off of nearly every page. The linguistic diversity of Brooklynese that editor Tim McLoughlin is able to showcase here is akin to having a new tongue in your ear every dozen or so pages. Brooklyn. Noir. Gotta love it.

THE COCAINE CHRONICLES edited by Gary Phillips and Jervey Tervalon; Akashic Books, 2005

Anthologies can be the literary equivalent of Chinese Food. Gobble half of it down in a quarter of an hour, thirty minutes later you're starving and snarf down the remainder. The Cocaine Chronicles is a fast, nasty read which makes you jones like a junkyard dog snuffling for a little more meat and something to snort up that burns like a good dose of chilli paste. The most satisfying nibblets here are in the bent tales by Emory Holmes, Lee Child, Robert Ward, Nina Revoyr, Kerry E. West, Ken Bruen, and master of perversity himself, Jerry Stahl.

HIGH LIFE by Matthew Stokoe; Akashic/Little House on the Bowery, 2002

Sick, hot, greasy, delicious. Stokoe captures and flays wide open that bitch that is Los Angeles. Duplicitous. Dangerous. Back stabbing. Brutal. Crushed dreams and broken bones. Corrupt cops and stolen kidneys. Ambition and apathy. Greed and poverty. Celebrity and death. That impossible conundrum of warped possibilities that so many losers lose their souls clinging to. Beautiful. Disgusting. Heartbreaking.


Bee Lavender, activist, writer, publisher of resilient, tougher than a barnyard of bikers, strong as hell, yet never hard, documents her battle against an encyclopaedia of physical ailments which would have felled lesser mortals.

Surviving multiple childhood cancers rife with the inevitable nightmares of numerous barbaric surgeries including the removal of part of her jaw and hundreds of skin cysts burned off her body, Lavender displays an incredible ability to accept her otherness and to eventually create a safety zone in spite of being eternally at the mercy of a body which shows her none. Amazing and inspirational.

Bee Lavender survived excruciating pain and the plight of poverty, got her master's degree while raising two kids, became a political activist, wrote books, published websites and continues to do what she does best, inspiring other women to live creative lives and channel their experiences constructively. When the urge to whine hits, pick up this courageous document of female strength.

LONDON NOIR edited by Cathi Unsworth; Akashic Books, 2006 

Yeah, yeah, so I got a crush on this blonde. She says “London is a siren, calling you to the rocks of your own destruction,” “London is shadows and fog,” “That London has survived so long comes down to its foundation in the root of all evil.” Cathi Unsworth has been putting blood and guts to paper for nearly two decades. A champion of hard-boiled music journalism she began writing for the UK weeklies Sounds and Melody Maker in the late 80s while still in her teens. Co-edited the short lived but highly influential arts journal Purr. Swallowed back enough bile to choke a corpse while writing for and editing the British bible of outrageous behaviours, Bizarre. Published incredibly in-depth interviews with some of Britons most ill-ustrious crime writers, (Derek Raymond, Ken Bruen, etc) and eventually got the sickness herself. Now this hot dame plays magnet to some of Briton's most devious raconteurs. Ripe pickin's by Stewart Home and Michael Ward. Martyn Waites slips a sick twist on violence and male bonding. Sylvie Simmons tackles a feeder's fetish. Ken Hollings paints the future blood red. And Barry Adamson throws down a rash inducing tale of paranoid panic that will make your scalp itch. Brutal. Superb.


Filed Under: Book FeaturesBook ReviewsBooks

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.