Also, if you wanna read some shit by yours truly, check out this post.
Let's get this shit started:
In the Last Episode, The BBQ Revelators rolled into town with mystery meat and a giant-ass smoker.
When Steel God had enough of the muttering and shouting and rock-throwing from the guy who kept poking his head out of the basement a few blocks down, he sent Lafitte to check it out. It was hard for Lafitte to concentrate with the smell of smoked brisket and Cajun sausage in the air, but he managed. Hoped it wouldn’t turn into something requiring the heavy artillery.
Shoved his Glock into the back of jeans, just in case.
The stairs into the place looked as if they’d been carved with teeth. As he descended, Lafitte’s arm-hairs stood on end, cold as a Minnesota winter all the sudden. Yes, indeed, maybe Dante was right about the ninth circle of Hell after all--already froze over.
He couldn’t recognize the tinny music seeping out of the torn speakers, but that was due to the guy inside on a beat-to-hell recliner cursing like he’d just killed a nun.
The hand drawn sign above the door said “Nerd o’ Noir’s Bar” beside a thick, Sharpied-in arrow pointing down. It meant at the door, but Lafitte took a quick peek at the ground, just to be sure. He pushed open the screen door, big N.O.N. striped across in electrical tape, and stepped inside.
Was it a bar? A slum? There was certainly a bar feel, but it was in spite of the fact that the rest of the place looked like a meth addict’s apartment--too clean and too dirty, all at once. The bar itself was untreated lumber, sawed rough on the ends and nailed together badly. The choices were all randomly scattered bottles, most three-fourths empty. The beer tap appeared to be an old Igloo cooler with a tap shoved through a hole in its side.
But more than anything else were the books. Stacked waist high all over the joint. Film noir posters on the walls. It smelled like stale beer and ambition.
The guy in the recliner shouted, “Motherfucker!”
Shocked Lafitte into reaching around for his pistol, but then he saw that the guy wasn’t even aware Lafitte was there. He was busy reading a paperback--something about a guy waking up. Bright red and blues on the cover flashed as the guy turned the page and curled it like a scroll.
Lafitte walked over, read over his shoulder a few seconds. The guy--presumably the Nerd--was still cursing under his breath. “Fucking shit. Goddamnit, you piece of shit.”
“Don’t like it?” Lafitte said.
The Nerd looked up, squinted, then went back to the book. “No. Shit. I’m loving it.”
“Didn’t sound like it.”
“Shows what the fuck you know.”
Lafitte checked the pile of books at chairside, as if they had been read and then tossed, left for months. Names Lafitte didn’t recognize--Casablanca, Doolittle, Abbott, Phillips. That last one, wait, maybe he saw the movie version. And then a couple by some cat named Smith. Sounded familiar, and for a moment Lafitte had a weird flashback to the scene in Frankenstein where the doctor shouts “It’s alive! Alive!”
But then again, the last time Lafitte tried to read a book, it was one he found at a truck stop in Nebraska while on the run last year, before he hooked up with Steel God’s crew. Couldn’t even get past the first few chapters. It was about some secret agent or MacGyver-type guy called Reacharound or some shit.
Lafitte said, “What do you do when you don’t like a book?”
Without looking up, The Nerd pointed to an old wood-burning stove, unlit this time of year, but it was surrounded by ashes and half-burned pages.
Lafitte though, That’ll show them.
The Nerd mumbled, “You fucker. You pig-fucking asshat, you.” Turned the page.
Time to get on back. Lafitte pulled a rock from his pocket, one The Nerd had thrown earlier. He set it on the stack of books by the chair--those yet to be read, Lafitte figured--and said, “I think you lost this. You know, when you threw it at me.”
That got The Nerd to dogear his page, lay the book on his knee, and sigh. Then, “I was here first.”
“Just a couple of weeks, then we’re gone.”
“I don’t have a motorcycle.”
“So? Neither did I until I met this bunch. Come on down. Have some barbecue.”
The Nerd nodded. Looked like he was thinking about it. Lafitte imagined he’d have to come back here by himself once the party was in full swing, sit off in the coldest corner and drink until his frayed nerves go the message and went numb.
He reached out a hand to help The Nerd up so they could go back to the Dive Bar, get some ribs or something.
The Nerd picked up his novel, flipped back to the bent page, and said, “Soon as I’m done with this awesome fucking chapter.”
I don’t know how he came to call himself The Nerd of Noir, but I do now know that noir nerds can kick other categories of nerds’ asses severely. And I don’t mean metaphorically--if you start throwing down on Battlestar Galactica trivia or some quantum mechanics or Magic: The Gathering, a Noir Nerd will literally kick you in the nuts…and he may even like all of those things.
You have to admire a guy who writes book reviews without any sort of social filter. Polite? Academic? Audience friendly? Fuck you. This is just pure id. Stream of fucking consciousness. The Nerd of Noir appreciates the pure visceral thrill of these books that so many people are sorely missing with their video games and their YouTubes (“Get off my lawn, you lousy kids!”). Not that those things are bad. Shit, I’m trolling the YouTube all the time, trying to find videos for my First Offenders gig. I’m just saying that the part of culture that embraced dangerously subversive pulp fiction has shrunk terribly…and maybe it’s not coming back.
Maybe it would if more reviewers could give you the thrill again. Check out Nerd’s review of Nate Flexer’s The Disassembled Man (from Bookspot Central):
The story of a nasty fucker who only gets more pit-bull-snarling-fucking mean as the story progresses, this shit ain’t for the casual crime fans. No sir, dear readers, The Disassembled Man is for the folks who want their pulp served rare, as in still pumping steaming hot fucking blood. So yeah, you could say I dug the holy fuck out of Nate Flexer’s debut.
Or Scott Phillips’s The Ice Harvest:
You should also know this: I envy the shit out of you, Ice Harvest Virgin. I envy the living motherfucking shit out of you something fierce.
Or, modestly, my own Psychosomatic:
It's one of those books where after you put it down, you feel both disturbed and assured by the knowledge that yes, there is someone out there who likes their escapism just as sick and wrong as you yourself do.
I can dig that. Someone who thinks about books on the page the way I do when talking to friends in bars. No quarter given. He’s a monster, and I hope he turns a lot of those fantasy dorks over at BSC (love you folks!) on to the Technicolor horror show that is contemporary neo-Noir.
I’m looking forward to his review of Hogdoggin’, which I hear is scheduled for Bookspot Central on June 1st (which is also HOGDOGGIN’ MONDAY, so help us knock it out of the park that day. Get an order in, or come find the trail of debris left along in the wake of my book tour.
And even if he hated one of my books, that’s okay. I’m sure I’d still be entertained as fuck by the review.
Not too far away from the Nerd’s Bar you’ll find Central Crime Zone Bookstore. But be warned--while they may look like an indie genre bookstore on the outside, they’ve got some big ass surprises awaiting you.
On Stage Tonight:
The Detroit Cobras, “I Wanna Holler (But the Town’s Too Small)”