News: December 2006

IF YOU’RE FAST

There’s a tour open to all on Sunday December 3rd — same details as on the Tour Page. A couple coming in from Australia asked for this one (giving Don enough lead time to get it in the News last month), and will welcome the company of other hard-boiled tourists ready to gumshoe those mean streets.

THE KING OF HORROR

Back in the day Don made a good part of his rep as a critic by writing essays about Stephen King, as the Maine writer began his climb up the bestseller ladder. Don’s article from 1986, “Stephen King: The Good, the Bad, and the Academic,” recently saw reprint in Stephen King from Chelsea House, one in the series of Bloom’s Modern Critical Views selected by Harold Bloom, the distinguished Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. If you follow that sort of thing, there you go. This essay originally appeared in Kingdom of Fear from Underwood-Miller, and is number two of three — the first one saw print in Fear Itself from Underwood-Miller in 1982, with the concluding piece, as Don gladly bailed out of essaying King, published in Reign of Fear from Underwood-Miller in 1988.

Don confesses that he seldom thinks about King anymore (notably, he actually forgot King’s name during his stand-up routine for the legendary Tentacle Sessions), and declined an offer to do the entry on the author of Carrie for the Greenwood Press encyclopedia Supernatural Literature of the World (although he did contribute several other entries). The only recent incident that almost made Don itch to get back in the King game again came as King and John Irving protested the idea that J. K. Rowling might kill off Harry Potter in her next novel. Someone pointed out to King that he himself had killed off many characters, not least the poor dog Cujo. King is quoted as responding: “You want to be nice and say ‘I’m sorry you didn’t like that,’ but I’m thinking to myself number one, he was a dog not a person, and number two, the dog wasn’t even real. I made that dog up, it was a fake dog, it was a fictional dog, but people get very, very involved.”

How about that? Harry Potter is real. Now that is News!

Do you think, another essay on King. . . ?

Naw.

THE MAN FROM CROSS PLAINS

Almost at the last minute, Don realizes that he never gave The Man from Cross Plains, a tribute to Robert E. Howard edited by Dennis McHaney that appeared earlier this year, a blurb — and time is running out. Released as a benefit book to raise money for Cross Plains, Texas after the disastrous fire a year ago, this title will only remain in print for a few more months and then will be withdrawn, so if you want it, get it now. Don contributes an essay, “The Shadow of the Dragon,” on nothing less than Conan and Bruce Lee.

AND JUST IN

Talk about your behemoth tomes, Don just received his copy of The Complete Maltese Falcon Flyer: The Monthly Newsletter of the Maltese Falcon Society 1982–2006 — 1016 pages thick, collecting every issue of the newsletter for the MFS over in Japan. Since Don launched the original Maltese Falcon Society in San Francisco, he was asked to provide an intro to this one, and his remarks duly appear, but in Japanese of course.

If you’re curious about what Don said in the original English, click here.

CONAN, SWORD IN HAND, SCALES WALL STREET

As a fine concluding flourish for the centennial of his birth, on December 13th Robert E. Howard grabbed a write-up from John Miller in the Wall St. Journal, and Don’s seminal essay on Howard as a hard-boiled pulp fantasist gets referenced. And in a blog post for National Review, Miller adds some more thoughts on the subject.

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