Livre Noir, Pulp Fiction, Gumshoe Journals; these are the classic mystery novels that still fill the bookstores and libraries around the world. From Popular Fiction, like James Chandler’s THE BIG SLEEP and THE MALTESE FALCON to Robert Tine’s MULLHOLLAND FALLS, come the stories of mystery, intrigue, murder, police corruption, sex and drugs. Often, the lines are blurred between good guy-bad guy in these stories and more often than not, there is a strong presence of dark vigilantism among the hero characters who go off script to catch a bad guy.
Some of the best stories around take place during a time frame between the 1940s and 50s, when Hollywood and Broadway were at their zeniths and when high fashion and high society were things to be envied by those whose work a day habits brought in small paychecks and little esteem. Cops, Private Eyes and Newspaper Reporters were the privileged proletariat, who got to mingle with these elite types, and with an added rush of getting in their face, when the Law was broken. Los Angeles and New York were often the playgrounds and backdrops for these crime thrillers, for those very reasons.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, by James Ellroy is one example of this, even though it was published in the 1990s. It has that feel of 1950s writing with its short sentences and terse language. Another is Mickey Spillane’s anti hero, Mike Hammer, Private Eye. In THE BIG KILL, He doesn’t mind mixing it up with crooks, even enjoying a good smack down and pounding of a dame or dude, no matter what their station in life. He has his own brand of justice and a few bones to pick! This is hard boiled melodrama wrapped up in one liners and craftily woven plots. It’s the kind of writing that is edgy, profane and hard hitting. I will begin with a review of THE BIG KILL, and then later in the month, review L.A. CONFIDENTIAL one of my all time favorites.
THE BIG KILL, by Mickey Spillane.
Drinking at a seedy bar in the crime ridden East Village on a rainy night, Hammer notices a man come in with an infant. The man, named Decker, cries as he kisses the infant goodbye, then walks out in the rain to be shot to death. Hammer shoots the assailant as he searches Decker's body. The driver of the getaway car runs over the man Hammer shot to ensure that he won't talk. Hammer takes care of the infant and vows revenge on the person behind such a deed.
Hammer's trail of vengeance leads him to hostile encounters with his police friend Pat Chambers, the DA and his stooges as well as beatings, assassination attempts and torture from gangsters that Hammer reciprocates in an eye for an eye fashion.
Hammer also has loving encounters with two women he meets on his quest. Marsha is a former Hollywood Actress who was beaten by Decker when he robbed her flat. Ellen is the rich daughter of a horse breeder who works for the D.A.
The plot is convoluted and littered with odd characters , “Dames with curves they know how to use and lips that work on a man like a drug”, so says Hammer. He gives and receives many severe beatings, and when he's on the receiving end his brutal and ghastly injuries respond remarkably well to the medicinal properties of good scotch, hot black coffee, a plate of steak and eggs, and a few smokes.
He learns that the dead man was an ex-con trying to go straight when he was tricked into consorting with racketeers. Mike battles with low lifes and high-living hoodlums in the course of seeking his own kind of justice…vengeance for the man and his child. But he gets caught up in the intrigue that becomes almost too much for him. As the investigation heats up, Hammer is almost killed for knowing too much and arrested by the D.A. for butting into police business. But the Private Eye avenges himself and the police by bringing all of the bookies and racketeers down and then finding out the real reason Decker was murdered. It just doesn’t get any better than this for Pulp Fiction.
Resident Philosopher Doug Taylor
Each month, we publish a new list of our Staff Picks: books, ebooks, books on CD, DVDs, picture books, children's and young adult books that our staff members recommend.
Can't remember to check the list? You can sign up to receive this and many other book recommendation lists directly into your email box at our "Newsletter & Booklists" page found at: http://www.vencolibrary.org/ > Special Interests > Books & Reading > Staff Picks.
See something you like? When viewing the list, click on the "Check Library Catalog" link to be taken directly to our catalog, where you can sign in and place a hold request to have the item brought to your local library for pick up! Enjoy!
Yes, you read that correctly! Using the library's new music resource, Freegal (rhymes with "legal"), available on our eLibrary page under Music, each Ventura County Library card holder can download 3 tracks per week from a wide variety of genres.
All downloads are free to you in MP3 format. Freegal music will work with any MP3 player, including iPod, and can be loaded into iTunes. All songs have a sample, preview clip to listen to before downloading.
Currently, Freegal has approximately 2.8 million songs from classical music to the latest chart-topping music of today. Content is provided by over 15,000 music labels from more than 60 countries around the world, including the 50+ labels of Sony Music Entertainment.
This gives Ventura County Library the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of albums that don't get lost, damaged or stolen, and they are available to all card holders 24/7! Enjoy!
No matter how far removed I get from my high school years, I still remember them. They may not always be fond memories, but they’re still mine. Yet, as much as I’d like to think I’m the only one who suffered through those trying years of high school (and really, don’t we all think like that?), I’ve found that I’m not alone.
In Tina’s Mouth: An existential comic diary, you’ll find all the teen angst you grew up with hasn’t changed. Over the course of her sophomore year, Tina deals with losing friends, making friends, boy crushes, cliques, school plays, parties, and Jean-Paul Sartre, all while trying to figure out who she is for her existentialism project. Just your average teenage experience (except maybe for the Jean-Paul Sartre part). I found myself in some familiar territory while reading this book, and although it wasn’t a trip down memory lane, it certainly put me in the near vicinity.
Named by YALSA as one of the great graphic novels for teens in 2013, Tina’s Mouth is well written, funny, and the closest I’ll ever come to understanding existentialism. No superheroes or zombies here, folks. What you have is an enjoyable look at the joys and pains of being a teenager. I found it to be an engrossing read (I read it in almost one sitting), and I think it will be relatable for both teens and adults. Who can’t relate to losing your best friend or being in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way? As written by first-time author Keshni Kashyap, it’s a very down-to-earth and approachable book, one worth reading.
During this time of year, the roadsides of Ventura County begin to show numerous wildflowers, California Poppies, Lupine, Bush Monkeyflower, and California Buckwheat, just to name a few. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but many of them can be grown in our own gardens. While imported ornamental plants can be lovely to look at, there is something uniquely satisfying in growing California native plants. The next time you take a drive, or a hike, pay attention to the purple, orange and yellow flowers growing along the trails. These attract beautiful California butterflies, as well as bees which are important to an agricultural economy. Imagine these in your own backyard!
Foster Library has many books on growing California native plants and is currently featuring gardening books in our pop-out section.
College Planning Workshop
E. P. Foster Library on April 10th, 2013
This is a college planning series of 6 workshops designed to help parents and students develop a workable plan for submitting college applications. The workshop is presented by E. P. Foster Library & Linda Kapala.
Linda Kapala has 20 years of experience in the high school setting, a B.A., a Secondary teaching credential, and an MEd in Administration. She is currently the Career/Media Specialist at Foothill Technology High School.
This first workshop will focus on college selections, college visits (virtual and real), college fairs, strategies for college selection, enrichment programs (why and why not), college essays and preparation for college applications.
The workshop will be held in the Topping Room from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Hope to see you there!
The afternoon will feature a mini story time, presentations by the Oak View Boys and Girls Club, and a Meet & Greet with music & refreshments on the new patio.
See flyer for more details. We hope to see you there!
“The New Tea Book: A Guide to Black, Green, Herbal, and Chai Tea” by Sara Perry is a book any tea lover should visit at least once in their culinary life. The book gives a nice background into the history of tea without getting too heavy. The photography in this book is another highlight, absolutely fabulous! Many lovely teas and snacks are discussed in the book, and we all know that the “Dish” loves his snacks! The book tells of unusual tea customs other cultures have, one I found interesting was the fact that at one time in Russia tea was served with a dollop of raspberry jam, double yum! With an eye for something different and somewhat exotic, I chose to prepare some Chinese tea eggs, according to the book they are street food in China, sounds good enough for me. Chinese tea eggs are essentially hard boiled eggs, with tea leafs, Chinese five-spice powder and salt for flavoring. The eggs steep in the spices and tea after their shell has been slightly cracked with a spoon, it’s a very simple recipe. The aroma of the Chinese five-spice and tea is simply to die for! Besides being a tasty snack the eggs are beautiful they have a raku-crackled glaze look to them. I will visit this treasure of book again in the future. Happy year of the snake!
***** David’s Dish
Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!
If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking.
Fillmore Library has started a monthly book club!The club, Fillmore Reads, is hosted by Fillmore Library Supervisor, Cathy Krushell, and meets the last Thursday of each month at 7pm at Fillmore Library.This month's discussion on March 28: The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini. Join in - refreshments are served!