Monday, March 30, 2015

I've Finally Seen: THE NOVEMBER MAN

© by Gerald So |

I'm a fan of Bill Granger's November Man books, about veteran American spy Peter Devereaux, which ran from the late 1970s through the mid-90s. And though I am a Pierce Brosnan fan, too, I was wary the movie wouldn't work as well without the books' Cold War backdrop (See also Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit). I watched it yesterday on Netflix streaming.

The movie begins in 2008 with near-retirement Devereaux training young protegé David Mason (Luke Bracey) but soon flashes to 2013 and Devereaux's old handler Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) bringing him back to meet with a Russian spy who only trusts Devereaux. A rival faction of the CIA, working with Mason, kills the spy as Devereaux is trying to whisk her to safety. In response, Devereaux kills everyone on Mason's team, but leave Mason himself alive. Likewise, Mason decides to leave Devereaux alive.

I thought The November Man would be brisk for a spy movie, running under two hours, but there are parts that drag as Devereaux pursues his agenda and Mason tries to catch up while Hanley has his own goal in mind. That brand of intrigue was reminiscent of the books, though I don't recall the movie's specific plot from the books.

The movie was made for just over $20 million. It didn't make back its budget in the U.S. but probably did overseas. All the same, I enjoyed Brosnan as a laconic retired spy. I'd have trouble believing a retired spy would keep un-retiring.

At The Five-Two: Ron Hayes

© by Gerald So | | 4:30 A.M.

This week, teacher Ron Hayes offers "A Contemplation on Killing":

The Five-Two's annual April blog tour begins Wednesday. I've picked some poems that may inspire you to join in. Be my guest.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

THE CRIME OF OUR LIVES by Lawrence Block

© by Gerald So | | 7:00 A.M.

Published in ebook last week, The Crime of Our Lives is largely a collection of introductions Lawrence Block has written to other crime writers' work over his long career.

Like most people who read for pleasure, I'd bet, I usually skip introductions and get to the main content. I've also taken several writing workshops by choice, and my writing is better for them, but discussions of craft usually don't interest me. There's some appeal in knowing how a magic trick is done, but knowing doesn't mean you can do the trick with the same flair yourself. Very often, what works for one writer doesn't work for the rest.

In this case, though, when Block offered me an ebook of "T-COOL" to review, I jumped at it because I enjoy hearing Larry talk about writers and writing. After all those workshops, I found myself teaching freshman composition at Hofstra University, a most un-creative job that fortunately included the privilege to check books out of Hofstra libraries for semesters at a time. That was how I came across Block's writing manuals, which, more than any workshop, sustained the notion of spending my life writing.

With the same dry wit and way with words in The Crime of Our Lives, Block gives closeups of twenty-one writers' tricks and leaves the fun of reading them intact because he's a reader, too.

Monday, March 23, 2015

At The Five-Two: "True Confessions"

© by Gerald So |

This week, Etta Abrahams confesses a fascination with Willie Sutton:

If you'd like to turn people on to poetry, join The Five-Two's blog tour through April, National Poetry Month.

Monday, March 16, 2015

At The Five-Two: "Diseases Without Borders"

© by Gerald So | | 2:15 A.M.

Charles Rammelkamp returns with a poem pondering pandemic paranoia:

Would you like to blog about Five-Two poetry in April, National Poetry Month? Join our blog tour.

I'm also seeking a Star Wars-themed poem to run the week of May 4. Want to write a poem about how Lucas's tinkering with the original was criminal, how Han shot first? That's just what I'm looking for.

Monday, March 02, 2015

At The Five-Two: David S. Pointer

© by Gerald So | | 9:00 A.M.

Frequent contributor David Pointer returns with a poem reflecting on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping (March 1, 1932):

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Giveaway: THE KIND WORTH KILLING by Peter Swanson

© by Gerald So | | 4:00 A.M.

In 2013, Peter Swanson contributed to my weekly poetry site the memorable "Survivor of a Slasher Flick in Middle Age". Thanks to publicist Wiley Saichek, I'm pleased to give away two copies of Peter's new crime novel, The Kind Worth Killing, to U.S. residents.

Enter today through March 8 by emailing G_SO at YAHOO dot COM with "Swanson Giveaway" in the subject line and your full name in the message body. I will pick the two winners at random and reply to their emails to ask for the physical addresses where they would like the books sent.

More about
The Kind Worth Killing:

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse...

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn't shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive...with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.