October 21st, 2010


White Crocodile Jazz (Sprawl Review)

I came across this review of Sprawl by Guy Salvidge, which contains this neat reference to my story in the collection:

Ben Peek’s “White Crocodile Jazz” reminds me of the work of one of my favourite writers, Harry Crews, of whom no one but me seems to have heard. This is a gritty piece quite different in tone from most of the stories in this anthology. In it, there’s a Snake Handler who gets the stuffing beaten out of him more than once, a Vietnamese midget by the name of Bob, a mute narrator, a Crocodile Woman, and more. The Crews novel this reminds me of most is The Gypsy’s Curse, which everyone should read directly after reading “White Crocodile Jazz.”

Now, I know who Harry Crews is. I haven't read any for years and years, but Crews is cool, and I'm all good with that comparison.

You don't know who Harry Crews is?

For shame.

You can buy Sprawl here.

The Shield Wall

If, by any chance, you decide to create a group dedicated to making the world see the shining light of Robert E. Howard, perhaps you shouldn't call it Shield Wall:

The online Robert E. Howard fanbase calls itself the “Shield Wall.” Some writers who have been on the business end of the Shield Wall’s attacks have accused us of being bullies and overly-obsessed for the protective stance we take. While it is not our intention to bully anyone, and while we may get a little carried away on occasion, let me be very clear here as to why this is so: Robert E. Howard has not had a voice for 75 years now. For four decades after his death, he had very few advocates who would defend him against the libel and slander of those who stood to profit from his work. He has been misunderstood and misrepresented for years. The Shield Wall’s goal has been to stop in its entirety the kind of character assassination employed by L. Sprague de Camp and others who would adopt his methodology.

Also, you might want to skip giving everyone in your group code names, though I do applaud the avoidance of Iron Man and Captain America. You have to keep those for when the Avengers movie comes out and the trademarks need defending!

Anyhow, outside this, I have to say I quite like Shield Wall, but for reasons I'm sure people involved in it would detest. See, one of the joys of authors is learning about their lives once their dead and hearing all the crazy shit, then figuring if its true and seeing how it fits into the work. The debate is what is fun, as anyone who has spent a lot of time around literary criticism will understand, you're often putting forward a theory and using the life and work to argue it--you're trying to win a reader over, to a degree. It's why essays on Howard and homosexuality are fun. Shield Wall and Finn's excellent hate of L Sprague de Camp really just add to that craziness, and help keep it going, which is sweet, since I suspect that if the debate and arguments and readings of Howard's work and life did not exist, then the work itself would have drifted away, bland and uninteresting, pulp stuff with no real flavour.

Thanks to Nick Mamatas for this.