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Sunday, July 24, 2016

WRITERS ON BOOKS ~ TERRENCE MCCAULEY

 
WRITERS ON BOOKS ~ TERRENCE MCCAULEY

I’ve asked my Fight Card compatriot Terrence McCauley (Fight Card: Against The Ropes—a prequel to his hard hitting novel Prohibition) to contribute to a new blog post sequence examining what books writers are reading and what books have influenced their lives. 

An award-winning writer of crime fiction and thrillers, Terrence’s most recent techno-thriller, A Murder Of Crows—sequel to Sympathy For The Devil—has just been released by Polis Books and is garnering rave reviews. More importantly (to me anyway), Terrence is a huge soccer fan who unfortunately supports Liverpool FC in the English Premier League and NYCFC in Major League Soccer instead of FC Barcelona in La Liga and Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy. Somehow, we still manage to be friends…A proud native of The Bronx, NY, he is currently writing his next work of fiction.

Thanks for taking time, Terrence to consider these questions about the books in your life…

THE BOOK I LOVED AS A CHILD…

I can’t really think of one. My parents didn’t read to me and, since I was an only child, I got my entertainment mostly from television. I read a lot of the required texts all school kids have to read, but none of them stuck with me, not even A Christmas Carol or A Wrinkle In Time or even the Hardy Boys books. 

I really wasn’t really touched by impact literature could have until I was in high school. The first work to have an impact on me was a poem I read in sophomore year called Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell, followed by The Merchant of Venice and The Shining. The only common element of all three works is that they ultimately had a profound impact on me as a student and sparked my interest in wanting to become a writer. 

A BOOK YOU WOULD READ TO YOUR KIDS…

Probably my Fight Card entry Against the Ropes. It would give them a sense of the importance of loyalty, of injustice and of staying true to one’s own self despite the consequences. 

THE BOOK THAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER…

Tai Pan by James Clavell. It doesn’t hold the same power over me now as it did back when I first read it in high school, but I’ll never forget reading it for the first time and being mesmerized by the story. Clavell layers details throughout the story that become important later on as the plot moves along. My admiration for his ability to craft a story in such a way made me pay more attention to the writing in a novel than just the words on the page.

YOUR FAVORITE CLASSIC…

My definition of a classic may be very different than someone else’s definition. To me, The Harder They Fall is one of the best books of its generation. It’s a tale of false perceptions becoming reality, dreams shattered and lives ruined all in pursuit of the almighty dollar. It’s the only book I’ve ever read that made me miss my subway stop because I was that close to the end that I didn’t realize where I was. Brutal, unflinching and real.

THE CLASSIC YOU’VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO READ…

Moby-Dick (The Whale). I’ve never been able to get into it and I’ve tried several times. Most of Hemmingway’s stuff, too. I know he’s supposed to be good, but I think he’s grossly over-rated. I know I’m in the minority on that score, but it’s my opinion. He writes like a journalist, which makes sense since that’s what he was, but there’s no depth of feeling in his work. I’ve been told the depth is there, but I haven’t found it. The words just lay on the page like a dead possum on the side of the road. 

THE CLASSIC YOU’VE PRETENDED TO HAVE READ…

I gave this one a lot of thought and I don’t think I’ve ever pretended to read something I didn’t actually read. I’ve never been afraid of admitting my own ignorance and doing something about it. 

THE MOVIE ADAPTATION YOU’VE LOVED…

I thought L.A. Confidential was a fantastic adaptation of a book that was nearly impossible to film. They took all the right parts and struck just the right tone. The casting was also top-notch.

THE BOOK YOU’D LIKE TO SEE AS A MOVIE…

I think Eric Beetner’s Rumrunners would make an interesting movie, as would Lamentations by Joe Clifford.

THE IMAGINARY PLACE WHERE YOU COULD LIVE…

I’d probably choose the fictional town where Lew Archer works in Ross Macdonald’s excellent series of novels. 

THE GENRE YOU’D READ IF YOU WERE LIMITED TO ONE…

Noir fiction suits my world view best. It’s more than just a haunted man with a bottle of bourbon in his desk and a pretty secretary in his lap. When it’s done well, it’s a rich and deeply rewarding genre that can be approached in a variety of ways. To cross art forms for a moment, I thoroughly believe the excellent sci-fi film Ex Machina is just Double Indemnity with robots. The cast and setting can change, but the deception and heartache at the core of noir never does. 

THE BOOK YOU’VE RETURNED TO AGAIN AND AGAIN…

The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy. The way he creates a scene and carries tension through a book is fantastic. L.A. Confidential is another one I’ve probably read three times and love it each time.

THE FICTIONAL FRIENDS YOU’D LOVE TO HAVE…

Jesse Stone, Hitch and Cole (all three from Robert B. Parker stories) and Samson from Len Deighton’s spy novels. With all four of those protagonists around me, I’d have a good, grounded group of people to keep me level.

THE LAST NOVEL TO MAKE YOU LAUGH AND THE LAST TO MAKE YOU CRY…

They’re both the same novel: Berlin Game by Len Deighton. It’s a novel—and series—that deserves a hell of a lot more attention than it receive. They’re complex, funny and full of emotion. I find myself quietly riveted to the story without realizing how much I’ve read so quickly. I recommend that novel to anyone who is looking to learn how to write or looking for a good way to break into the spy genre. 

WHAT YOU’RE READING NOW…

I just finished George R. R. Martin’s Fevre Dream based on the recommendation of a good friend on line.  God, what a long, hard slog that was. That was an example of a book that could’ve easily been a hundred pages shorter and even more rewarding. But, I admire Martin’s style, so I’ve decided to bite the bullet and give Game of Thrones a shot. I’m not a fantasy guy, but I’ve seen the series and want to see what all the fuss is about. Like I said, I’ve never been afraid of admitting my own ignorance. 

Thx, Terrence…Great getting your thoughts on writers and books…

3 comments:

  1. I think someone has to make you read MOBY DICK to get you through it. I did it on willpower whereas many of Meliville's shorter works are truly excellent. For Hemingway, THE SUN ALSO RISES, Terrence. And TAI-PAN over SHOGUN? We have to talk.

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  2. Thanks for the shout out. Good stuff here. I'm looking forward to who else Paul has in store.

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  3. Well, in my defense, I haven't read SHOGUN. I read TAI-PAN, NOBLE HOUSE and KING RAT because of the Struan links, but not SHOGUN. I have to give that a shot.

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