Rediscovered: A Little Xmas Present for Hardboiled Fans

bordersnakesWhen I did my PW interview with James Crumley back in 2001 I only had a certain word count I could squeeze in. I moved some of the Qs & As back and forth for flow. And we had one interesting interruption, which I once mentioned in a little essay on Dennis McMillan:

Last fall I was on the phone doing an interview with James Crumley, when he said that Dennis was just then pulling into the driveway, bearing deluxe copies from his edition of The Final Country. Crumley reported that Dennis was getting out of the car. Crumley stopped talking. Finally he said, “Look at that. . . . He’s dressed just like a little Kewpie Doll!”

The other day I recalled that I had to drop one line that I really liked about Crumley’s novel Bordersnakes — but I wasn’t reviewing Bordersnakes.

Keep on track. Stay within the word count. . . .

I thought other Crumley fans might enjoy the line, so maybe I should dig out the raw interview.

In doing so, I found other bits I didn’t use, a variant line (obscenity and an italic emphasis deleted), stuff like that. Compare and contrast with the official published version — and enjoy these bits that have never been seen before:

Crumdog: I’m not a Texan. I didn’t have to grow up believing in the Texas myth. This was a chance to say something about it. Montana is kind of a mess itself, but it’s my mess in a way that Texas never was. I’ve been in Montana 36 years. Whatever I am, I’m a westerner.

Don: Given that you seem to equal “easily” your best level, was this book particularly difficult to write?

Crumdog: It nearly fucking killed me. It was really hard.

Don: Will Milo be back in your next novel?

Crumdog: No, I’m writing a C. W. Sughrue novel. It’s called The Right Madness. It’s going along nicely. Sughrue was kind of a character in a Texas novel I worked on for many years, a hippy that went off and saw the world. Once I got into the voice it was really nice. The Milo voice is really easy for me. The reason I wrote Bordersnakes was because I’ve had so many people over the years tell me that those are the same two guys. I know that they’re not the same two guys. They write differently in the first person.

Don: Do you have any plans for another team-up novel?

Crumdog: I don’t plan that far ahead. I don’t have any idea what the next book is going to be after I finish this book. Honestly, I don’t have the vaguest notion. I’ve always got a bunch of ideas, but anything I say is just guesswork. I have to keep making a living.

I’m glad I survived writing it. Some parts of that book have been worked like nine and ten times. I love to rewrite, but it makes everything slower. To tell you the truth, when I sent it off I didn’t much like it, but I never much like anything I write. Ten or fifteen years from now if I’m still alive I’ll read it again.

I just reread Bordersnakes the week before last, a book I hadn’t reread since it came out. It’s not a bad book. It’s kind of a goofy book, but it’s not a bad book.

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