Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Christal Ann Rice Cooper
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Crime Novelist Nick Sweet: On FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT, and HIs Obsession With Books And Writers . . . .

Christal Cooper  6,092 Words (including ten page excerpt)

Scripted Interview
With Crime Novelist NICK SWEET:


On His Crime Novel FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT,
His Love of Books, and a-ten-page excerpt from
FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT


1 How was the idea of FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT first birthed/conceived in your mind?

I’m not sure that it was. Truth is, I’ve written other books since FLOWERS (some of which are still at the drafting stage), and once I’ve finished work on a book strange things seem to happen in my case. First, I wonder if I’ll ever write another book, and then, once I start working on a new one, I forget the one I wrote before.

But so far as I can remember, I had an idea to do with blackmail and I developed it a little, and that carried me through the first few chapters, but then I kind of ran out of steam and started to wander off the plot a little. I remember at one point, I just figured that was it, that the book had sort of died on me, which isn’t a nice feeling to have…but then somehow I got a second wind from somewhere and the rest of the book just sort of wrote itself somehow. Very hard to explain how this happens.



Like most writers, I read a hell of a lot, and I tend to forget half of what I’ve read soon after; but anyway, I read somewhere recently that a writer has to reach the point of no return, the point where you know once you’ve got there that there’s no going back. You know when you’ve reached that point, because that’s when the book starts to feel utterly real to you, and from then on it can, if you’re lucky, just sort of carry you along with it…that’s to say the book practically writes itself.  It’s like you’re waiting on the platform for the train to come and you start to lose confidence that it ever will, and then, if it does, whoooooosh, you find yourself being swept along at a hundred miles an hour.


2 What was the step-by-step process (in great detail) of completing FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT from the moment it was first thought of in your mind until final form?

I didn’t really pre-plan the plot at all, beyond the idea for the opening chapters. Now that probably makes it sound like I was going in for a sort of free jazz affair, when in fact FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT is a crime novel which adheres very closely to the plot structure that underpins and drives it. For me, you see, if you’re writing a genre novel—in fact any novel, really—then plot is of great importance. By that, I mean that every scene needs to be there for a reason. And by that, I mean that something needs to happen in every scene that develops the plot, or is at least closely related to it in some way.



I don’t know if you’ve read that essay by Raymond Chandler. The Art Of Murder, I think it’s called. He puts the case in there for the need to write crime novels that can be read scene by scene. Of course he hardly needed to write the essay because books of his like The Long Goodbye show exactly what he means.






3 How long did it take you to write the novel?

Not long once I got that second wind, once I’d reached that point where it started to feel real. I mean, I felt as though I knew the characters. They’d ceased to be characters and become people, you could say—so far as I was concerned, anyway. I was teaching every day and writing in the evenings and at weekends, but even so I think the whole thing was probably finished in about six months.




4 Where did you write most of the novel and can you describe the area as detailed as possible?

I was living in a small room, a sort of caretaker’s hut on a rooftop in central Seville, when I wrote the book. I’d left my family back in London to go over to test the water first. So I took this small room above a hotel, and I remember I’d sit out on the flat roof and look across and see the Giralda glowing away in the distance. It was one hell of a view. It was on Calle Alhondiga, in the Campana district, which is to say the Old Quarter or casco antiguo.




I remember my wife Belén came over with our youngest child, Edu, and we only had to go down into the street to find ourselves bang in the middle of the processions in Semana Santa. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before, almost otherworldly.




5 When you wrote the novel did you write it during the nighttime, daytime, listen to certain music, drink a certain drink, and eat a certain food?

Most of it was written in the evenings, although I would have worked on a morning sometimes during holidays and at weekends. I love music, but never listen to it when I write.



I was in Seville, so I was eating Spanish cuisine, the fare they serve up in the bars I went to: lots of calamares, cod or bacalao, jamon Serrano or Serrano ham, olives, salads, plenty of Rioja and beer or cerveza. But perhaps I should also say that I never drink before or when I am writing, always after.



6 Did you write it in pen/paper, pencil/paper, or directly on laptop?

I wrote it on a laptop, then printed out the first draft and edited it using a pen. Basically, I’m trying to think like a surgeon who’s cutting away flab from a body. For flab think padding, scenes that don’t seem to be going anywhere, any sentences, paragraphs, dialogues, scenes etc. which are too wordy, or that just don’t work or sound right.



7 Are parts of this novel autobiographical or biographical?

No, absolutely not. My writing is never autobiographical. I remember reading Professor Bradbury (author of The History Man, to name just one of his works) writing somewhere that the narrator in a novel is never the writer, not even in the case of someone like Proust, in Remembrance Of Things Past, where he’s written this enormous book, or sequence of books, that appear to be presented as sort of extended and rather intellectual trip down Memory Lane, and which feature a first person narrator whose name is Marcel…even then, Bradbury argues, Proust’s ‘I’, his ‘Marcel’, should never be confused with Marcel Proust himself; and for my money Bradbury was dead right.






Having said that, a writer’s experiences do sometimes inform his or her work. For instance, I once took a job working as doorman at a strip club in Soho, London… I was working as a schoolteacher in a pretty tough state school in north London at the time, and I was finding it hard to live on the money and had got myself into debt. Nothing too extreme, just three or four hundred pounds. I remember a man at the bank took the trouble to sit down with me and try to work out a repayment plan. He asked me what I earned and what I spent, and made two columns and totaled them up, then ended up concluding there was no way I could possibly repay the debt without taking on a second job. A friend of mine was working as doorman at this club in London’s West End at the time and somebody pulled a knife on him and, rather sensibly, he demonstrated a great respect for his own person and well-being by taking evasive action.


Anyway, he told me there was a job going, and he said it might be right up my street; the sort of job Raymond Carver or someone might or ought to have taken…and the idea sort of appealed to me. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone as it were: get some experience of life on the streets in the West End at night and also earn the money to pay back my loan. I only kept the job for four months, but that was long enough for me to see what was going on, and by the time I left I was well into the black again. I guess I earned it, because I worked the door in Soho from about 6.30 through to midday six nights a week, and then I’d have to be up before 7 a.m. to get the bus to school.


 8 Did you model your characters after other people, actors, or other characters from books?

No, not at all. I really don’t know where my characters come from. They just seem to come to life. It comes back, I think, to what I was saying in answer to the first question, that whoosh feeling… I mean, you can spend a lot of time filling up paper and feeling like your characters aren’t real and your story’s going nowhere, that you’ve got nothing to say and no characters of any interest to say it with. You can reach the point where you have all but managed to convince yourself that you really ought to do yourself a favour and pack up writing and buy that trumpet you’ve had your eye on (even though you secretly know that you’ll probably turn out to have no talent as a trumpet player, and even if you did, well, it’s too late now; and besides, you don’t get good at anything without going the extra mile, and going the extra mile always hurts, even if the thing you’re doing, whether it’s playing the trumpet or writing or whatever, started out as fun…)…and then, just when you’re in this state of mind, suddenly, sometimes, if you’re in luck, things can start to take off… But before you get to that point, you probably have to put in a fair bit of time just filling up paper with words that you’ll end up cutting out later, and while you’re doing that you’ll probably feel like you’re useless…


And of course, even if the book you end up writing isn’t too bad, and some people who read it like it, the chances are it won’t really sell much—not unless you’ve got a great agent anyway, and so you’ll end up feeling like you’re pretty useless in the end anyway. And that, I’m afraid, is the lot of most writers nowadays. Fact is, there are just a hell of a lot of us out there—writers, I mean. And it’s hard not to get the sense that more than half the time the baby is being thrown out with the literary bath water, if you catch my drift. .. But hey, speaking of drifts, have I drifted off the point a little…?



9 Can you give a short literary analysis of what the book is about?

Politician’s blackmailed by an exotic dancer and her boyfriend who work the door where she dances. Then the MP’s brother, who works for MI5, gets involved and basically manages to track down the blackmailers and then scares the shit out of them…and then there’s the subplot.



Enough said, I think. I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you guys and gals out there…take a read for yourselves why don’tcha? And if you do, then please feel free to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever and tell yours truly what it was all about. I’d be truly interested to hear what you have to say. I mean, I do believe there’s a sense in which once a writer’s published a book then he needs just to let go and let the readers make of it what they will. Up until the book is published it’s the writer’s, in the sense that it’s a private thing, his personal property…but the act of publication is almost by definition a public act, and as such you cross a certain line as a writer. Then you need to say goodbye to the book and just hope readers enjoy it. Of course the problem nowadays is publicity, because without that then not enough people are going to get to hear about the book in the first place…


The great Thomas Mann once said…well, I can’t quote exactly, but it was something along the lines of this: that a writer’s a person who puts words down on paper without really having much idea of what he’s doing… He’s right there, I think, because when you’re being creative there’s always a sense in which you are watching or waiting to see what’s going to happen, you’re wondering what’s going to come out, how it’s all going to take shape…




10 Which character did you like the most and why?

I don’t really think in that way. I mean, I don’t think in terms of liking or not liking my characters. I think in terms of making them come to life.


11 What were some things that happened in the novel that surprised you?

Basically everything that happened in the novel after I’d developed the initial idea to do with blackmail through the first four or five chapters came as a big surprise. I mean that whole feeling I had, which I’ve described in response to earlier questions, when the story and the characters suddenly just started to feel real and kind of flow…all of that, everything I wrote after I had that feeling, surprised me…



12 Were there portions you had to delete and why and would you share them with us?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve said in answer to one of the previous questions that I believe in cutting away the flab, as it were…so yes, I cut quite a bit. Sorry, I can’t share the bits I’ve deleted with you for the simple reason that there’re in an old draft that’s stored away somewhere so that I don’t currently have access to it. But anyway, I didn’t cut things out because of their content—I mean, I didn’t cut where the subject matter was too shocking or anything like that…no, I only cut where I felt the writing was weak, flabby…that is, where I felt I could improve it. Of course there may be lots of places where somebody else may feel they could improve it, but that’s a different matter. We see what we are capable of seeing, and we do what we are capable of doing. A different writer would probably have made cuts in different places, kept in bits that I took out, and therefore ended up with a different book. Writers are individuals, and every individual is different. No two of us think alike, and that’s a good thing I would say.



13 What was the publishing process like?

Smooth. I sent off the opening thirty pages or so to Moonshine Cove (http://moonshinecovepublishing.com). They responded about a week later asking for the rest of the manuscript. I duly sent it on, and they replied, again about a week later, and said they would like to publish it. I agreed and was duly sent a contract to sign; then the editor sent me a proof. He made only minimal changes himself…in fact, if my memory serves me right, I think he only changed two sentences in the entire book. I made a number of further changes myself however, and, fortunately, the editor agreed with me that the changes I made all helped to improve the book. I flatter myself that I am a fairly sharp editor of my own work.


This is because of two things: firstly, I read a hell of a lot, and have been doing so since I was in my late teens, and so I’ve come to develop an idea of what I think good writing is.

Secondly, I’ve come to develop a pretty well defined idea of what I want to do in my own books. Of course this may sound contradictory, as it appears to run counter to the comment I made earlier about my agreeing with Thomas Mann’s quote about writers being people who put words on paper without knowing what they are doing…



Let me explain. When I write a first draft, I’m often pretty much in the dark, until the thing (hopefully!) starts to take shape in my imagination. But when I get to edit my work it’s as if I’m a different person. I mean, to put it rather crudely, if Mr. Hyde writes the first draft then it’s Dr. Jekyll who starts to edit it and pull it into shape. As a writer you need to be both Mr. H and Dr J, I think. And if that sounds a little crazy, then, well, that’s probably because it is…



14 What is your career history?  

I’m a teacher by profession. I went to a comprehensive school in Bristol and somehow went from the age of 11 to 16 without reading anything…and I mean anything…



Then I got into reading in a big way: Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Hardy, Hemingway, Fitzgerald etc.…and then all the trouble started, as it were. Sometimes I think somebody should have warned me that books are dangerous, to be kept under lock and key along with the liquor and the hard drugs…







15 When did you know you were a writer?

A difficult question, one that there are several answers to. At the age of seven, my teacher realized I enjoyed writing and so, in order to encourage me, as a sort of experiment I guess, she allowed me to spend an entire week writing a story. So while the other kids were having to do math exercises and whatever, I was working on my story. I spent the week in a kind of ecstasy.



When the time came to read the story to my teacher, on Friday afternoon, it became apparent that the noirish narrative I was struggling to beat into shape had got the better of me. I remember my teacher saying that it might take me a long time to work out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. You could say that I’m still trying.


16 What writers and books have influenced you the most?

I try to express my own personality when I write, so I really don’t want to be too influenced by anyone. Having said that, if you’re a crime writer then you’re working in a tradition and so you need to become familiar with the tradition first and get to know its codes and rules, as it were. And of course you learn to write, or try to, by first reading others and working out what you think good writing is.


That said, the kind of crime novels that would be at the top of my list are Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, and just about anything that Elmore Leonard wrote from about 1960 up to, oh, I haven’t really made a study of this but I’d say around the end of the 1990s.




These three writers weren’t just great crime writers, they were great writers, great artists who just happened to choose to write about crime. I’ve also read loads of contemporary crime writers, and there are some very good ones out there, of course, but they know who they are and don’t need me to talk for them.


I also read literary novels, and I love Hemingway, particularly The Sun Also Rises, which has also struck me as being just about word perfect, and some of his stories are great, too, as is A Farewell To Arms. I admire Hemingway not because he’s supposed to be some kind of macho man, but because he could write. With him, every word seems to be in the right place, in the right rhythm etc, and, for me, his best work carries an enormous emotional punch.




I recently reread Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night and was extraordinarily moved by it, even though it’s a book that seems to be flawed in all sorts of ways.



I love Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, too. I mean, they’re both so great that it’s not even worth talking about them.




Some while ago, I discovered Carmen Laforet’s Nada. I’ve read it three times, I think, each time in Spanish, and it’s a great book in my view.



I read a fair bit in Spanish and admire Javier Cercas and Antonio Muñoz Molina, and Vargas Llosa’s book on Trujillo (The Feast of the Goat) was a great read.




And then there’s Raymond Carver, and I admire Don DeLillo’s Libra and Norman Mailer with The Executioner’s Song and Oswald’s Tale, and, well, I could give you a list as long as your arm…







I wouldn’t necessarily say that any of these authors have influenced me, though. I mean, I don’t try to write like them. I’d be a fool to try. The thing is, I just admire the hell out of them.





Pages 41 to 51 are excerpted from FLOWERS AT MIDNIGHT
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet:

When Martin got back to the flat there was no sign of Bella anywhere, so he went into the bedroom to see if she was sleeping.
She wasn’t.
But then the light went on. Martin turned abruptly and saw a man he didn’t recognize standing in the doorway.
“Seemed like you was havin’ trouble seein’ what you was up to,” the man said. “So I thought I’d better shed a little light on the matter.” He was a huge mountain of a guy stuffed into a navy-blue tracksuit, with a shaved stone boulder for a head, two rocks for hands and a lump of chipped granite for a face.
41
Martin wondered who on earth the man could be. Was he a burglar? If so, then he seemed to have a rather unusual way of going about things. No, he must be Bella’s husband, Joey B. Bella had assured Martin that Joey B wasn’t due to be let out of prison for another couple of years at the earliest, but even so Martin had worried from time to time about what might happen if the man were to get out early. Well, it seemed like he was about to find out.
Martin did his best to muster a smile. “We’ve never met, Joey,” he said, “but I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“First thing is, my name ain’t Joey.”
“But I thought . . . ”
“Look at me.”
Martin had been looking at him all the while.
“Do I seem like the kinda person’d give a rabbit’s
fuck what you think or don’t think?”
The man brought out a gun.
If Martin hadn’t been so afraid, the fact that this
mountain of a man should reckon he needed a weapon, with just the two of them here like this, might have struck him as a curious form a flattery.
“That was a question, case you didn’t notice. I’m waitin’ for an answer.”
“N-n-no,” Martin stammered.
“The fuck’d you say you was again, anyway—the
Scarlet fuckin’ Pimpernel, is it, or what?”
“I’m Martin...Who are you?”
“They call me The Dog. I bark’n people jump.”
It sounded like a funny name for a guy to have, but
Martin wasn’t about to argue the point. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“I ain’t goin’ no place—and you ain’t neither.” “Look, what’s all this about?”
42
“We’ll save the explanations for later.” The Dog jerked the hand he held the gun in. Then he turned the light back off and marched Martin out of the bedroom, along the narrow hallway and into the living room.
Newspapers, magazines and articles of clothing of various kinds lay where they’d been dropped, in the chairs and on the carpet. “Right,” The Dog snarled, “now you just sit there’n shut the fuck up till Joey shows, you wanna live through this. You follow my drift?”
“I’m afraid we’re going to be waiting an awful long time.”
“What d’you mean by that?”
“Joey’s in prison. He’s still got a lot of time to serve.” “That’s where you’re wrong, ’cause the B man just got
out.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Never been surer of anythin’ in my whole life.”
“But how can he have, if he hasn’t served all of his
sentence?”
“What I ’eard, the man did a deal.”
“What kind of a deal?”
“One that involved rattin’ on his friends.”
“So that’s why you’re here.”
“That’s why Im here, but what about you? The fuck
you doin’ in Joey B’s flat?”
“I’ve been living here.”
“What, moved in with the man’s missis, did ya?”
“We were just about to move out, as it happens.” “Somethin’ tells me you shoulda moved a little
sooner.”
Something told Martin the man had a point.
“What makes you think Joey’ll be comin’ here now?”
43
“It’s the man’s home, right?” The Dog said. “And home’s the place where people go sooner or later, when they get out of nick.”
Martin reckoned the man had a point there, too. “So now what?”
“You
always axe a lotta dumb fuckin’ questions?” Martin didn’t say anything.
“I could always just shoot you now,” The Dog said, like he was thinking aloud.
“There’s no need for that.”
“That’s for me to decide.”
Martin figured he’d better just shut up and do as The
Dog said. So they sat there for what felt like ages, neither of them saying a word. And then, when they finally heard someone opening the door, The Dog put a finger to his lips. At the same time, he aimed his blue-steel Model 27 Smith & Wesson at Martin’s face. The gun had a four-inch barrel, and Martin knew that if The Dog were to pull the trigger then the bullet would take his head with it.
They heard the sound of the key turning in the lock. Then of the door slamming shut...footsteps out in the hallway... And then a man Martin presumed must be Joey B walked into the room.
Joey B had the air of a man who thinks he’s alone in his own home, until he saw The Dog standing over by the wall with a big smile that wasn’t really a smile at all on his ugly mug. Joey blinked a couple of times, like he couldn’t believe his eyes. “Well I’ll be blowed,” he said. “If it ain’t The Dogman himself.”
“You a fuckin mole or somethin’, Joey, you like livin’ in the dark?”
44
Joey reached out and flicked a switch, and when the light came on Martin was able to get a better look at him. The man stood at around six-four, his greased black hair was swept back over his head, and he had shoulders the way Jayne Mansfield had breasts. He was wearing newish Diesel jeans, a blue Lacoste polo shirt and a black leather jacket. His shoes looked like they were Italian, probably Gucci’s. The guy dressed with a certain style, and Martin figured some women would probably find his swarthy looks attractive, in a gangsterish kind of way. That must have been what Bella saw in him.
Joey was looking at The Dog. “Long time no see, man.”
“Thought I’d come’n pay you a visit.”
“Who’s your friend?”
“He ain’t nobody.”
“Nice for ’im...well, it’s good to see you anyway,
Dog. I appreciate it, you droppin’ in like this... Get you a drink?”
“Not now.”
Joey made what Martin reckoned was a pretty decent stab at a smile, all things considered. “So what’ve you been up to?”
“Lotta thinkin.”
“You always was a deep one, Dog.”
“Not much else a man can do when he’s cooped up
like I was.”
“No, I guess not.”
“No thanks to you, Joey.”
“The fuck you sayin’? I went down the same as you did, Dog.”
“That’s right, you did...only you got out in three.”
“Yeah, well I just got out today, as it happens. Seems like you managed to get out all right, too, though, huh?”
45
“Yeah, but only ’cause I ixcaped.... I didn’t do no deal or nothin like you did.”
“What’re you on about, Dog? Keep talkin’ in that canine fuckin’ language a yours’n there ain’t no way I’m gonna be able to understand you, man.”
“I always thought we was mates, Joey.”
“You’re too fuckin’ right we are, Dog. So what’s with the fuckin’ peashooter?”
“Fuckin’ obvious, i’n it?”
“Well no, it ain’t to me, Dog.”
“Fuckin’ peashooter’s for shootin’ fuckin’ peas with,
i’n’ it? Any little kid knows that much.”
“No need to take the piss, Dog.”
“Well ain’t there now, Joey? Ain’t there really? Well
that is a bit of a turn up, I must say, ’cause I thought that was what you’d been kinda specializin’ in these past few years.”
“What the fuck was it give you that idea?”
“Just the way you been actin’ . . .the stunts you been pullin’, you know.”
“What stunts is that you’re talkin’ about?”
“I’ll do the questions.”
“No need to start comin’ on like a fuckin’ pit bull with
me, Dog.”
“I don’t need you to tell me how I gotta start comin’
on with you, neither.”
“C’mon, Dog, fuck me. It’s your old mate Joey B
you’re talkin’ to. The fuck’s the matter with you, man? Somebody hit you on the head when you was inside or somethin’, did they?”
“No, nothin like that, Joey.”
“So what the fuck is it, then?”
“What’s the matter with me is that I heard you been
talkin’.”
46
“Talkin’, Dog?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Talkin’ to who, Dog?”
“To some old friends of yours.”
“Which old friends of mine might they be, Dog?” “Your friends in blue.”
“Whoever told you that wants his fuckin’ head read.” “That ain’t the way I heard it, Joey.”
“I dunno what the fuck you’re on about, Dog. I mean,
fuck me, just take a look at you. You come round here’n accuse me of a thousand and one different kindsa bullshit, all because some asshole who needs his fuckin’ head read’s fed you a pack a fuckin’ fairy stories. I mean, I just can’t fuckin’ believe this.”
“What is it you can’t believe, Joey?”
This, Dog, this fuckin’ bullshit you’re laying on me. This is fuckin’ unreal, Dog. I mean, you just wanna stop and listen to yourself a moment, I tell ya . . . I mean, what the fuck’s happened to you, anyway? I mean, hel-lo? Dog? Is anybody in there? Or has somebody come along’n nicked your old brain and left you with another one that don’t fuckin’ work too good? I mean fuck me.
“I hear you talkin’, Joey.”
“Do you, Dog? Well at least you ain’t deaf, anyway, which is somethin’ I suppose.”
“I hear you makin’ with a lotta words, anyway, but the fing is, it’s practically what you might call common knowledge round my way that you been keepin’ bad company.”
“You must live in a funny area, Dog, ’cause anyone who knows me knows I don’t talk, end of story. You know what they say, if you can’t do the time don’t commit the fuckin’ crime. When I was inside, I didn’t talk to nobody, Dog. I always been one to keep my nose clean, me.”
47
The Dog took a couple of steps forward and held his gun against Joey’s forehead. “I take exception to havin’ people insult where I live, Joey. You should know that of all people, seeing as you was born’n bred there, the same as me.”
Joey swallowed hard and said, “I was only sayin’, Dog—”
“How ’bout sayin’ where my fuckin’ money is?”
48
Chapter Seven
What fuckin’ money?”
“You owe me’n you know it, so you can stop shittin’ me.”
“I ain’t shittin’ nobody. Fuck it, Dog, you don’t know how much it pains me, man, to see you distrustin’ me like this.”
“It don’t cause you nowhere near as much pain as I will if I don’t get my fuckin’ money.”
“You must know the cops took it all. Man, you’re barkin’ up the wrong tree if you think I got it.”
The Dog kicked Joey hard in the nuts, then followed up with a fast punch to the gut and, as Joey fell backwards, he punched him again, in the face this time. There was a loud cracking noise and blood started to stream from Joey’s face as he slid down the wall. Then The Dog dragged him out of the living room and into the bathroom.
Finding himself alone in the living room, Martin reckoned it was time to make himself scarce.
He hadn’t made it as far as the front door, before he was struck on the back of the head by what felt like a block of cement. He lost consciousness and bit the carpet.
When he came to, a short time later, Martin was lying on the bathroom floor and he could hear someone screaming. It took him a moment or two to work out where he was and how he’d got there. He got to his feet just in time to see The Dog shoving Joey’s head into the bathtub and holding it underwater.
49
Martin tried to intervene, but The Dog stopped him in his tracks again with a hard punch to the gut. He followed up with a punch to the jaw that sent Martin crashing back down onto the carpet.
The Dog turned his attention back to Joey. “Hey, Braincell,” he snarled, “you gonna tell me what you did with my money or you wanna die in a lotta pain instead? Choice is yours.”
Joey tried to say something but found that he couldn’t.
“Can’t hear you, man. Speak the fuck up.” “O-kay,” Joey finally managed to croak out. “So come on, then, where the fuck is it?”
“In a bank.”
Which fuckin’ bank?”
When Joey looked like he was having second thoughts about telling, The Dog grabbed him by the throat. “Fancy playin’ some more water polo, with your fat fuckin’ head for the ball or the puck, or whatever the fuck it is they use, do ya?” Joey shook his head and The Dog loosened his grip a little. “Okay, so we’ll try again— wheres the fuckin’ bank?”
“Over in Geneva.”
“You’re gonna have to tell me more’n that.” The Dog held his gun against Joey’s crotch. “Now this’s your last fuckin’ chance—either you tell me or you can say goodbye to where you keep your brains.”
Joey told The Dog the name of the bank.
“And the address’n the number of the account?” Joey told him.
“Got anythin’ can prove to me you ain’t lyin’?” “In the safe . . . in the next room.”
50
“Let’s go’n open it, then—you go first and your girlfriend can go in the middle. And remember my gun’ll be pointin’ at your backs all the way.”
So Joey struggled to his feet and led them into the bedroom. He flicked the light switch before he hopped onto the bed. Then he pulled the painting of the lion back from the wall and started turning the dial on the safe this way and that. He moved it without even bothering to listen for clicks.
Martin could see that the man knew the combination by heart, as he watched him move the dial then open the door and reach inside the safe. Then Joey spun around, with a gun in his hand, and shot The Dog right between the eyes.
The force of the bullet threw The Dog back against the wardrobe, and his blood spurted over the magnolia- painted walls and beige shag pile. All this happened without the shot making much noise, because there was a silencer on the gun. If any of the neighbours heard it, they wouldn’t have given it a second thought.
Joey went and stood over The Dog. He fired a second shot into the man’s head at point-blank range, just to make sure he wasn’t ever going to get up again.
“The Dogman didn’t even have a chance to bark,” Joey chuckled.


Photo Description and Copyright Information

Photo 1b
Nick Sweet
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet

Photo 2e
Jacket cover of Flowers At Midnight

Photo 3f
Raymond Chandler
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright law

Photo 4g
Jacket cover of The Simple Act of Murder
First edition 1950
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 5h
Jacket cover of The Long Goodbye

Photo 6i
View of Giraldo from Patio de Banderas (Courtyard of Flags), historical square with remains of Roman, Moorish and Castillion periods
April 7, 2012
Attribute to Michael Osmenda
CCA2.0 Generic License

Photo 7j
Skyline of Seville from the top of the Giraldo
August 7, 2012
Attributed to Jebulon
Creative Commons CCO 1.o0 Universal
Public Domain

8d
Nick Sweet and wife Belen
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet

9k
Calamares topas
CCA 2.0 Generic License

10l
Malcolm Bradbury
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

11m
jacket cover of The History Man

12n
Valentin Louise Georges Eugene Marcel Proust
1900
Pubic Domain

13o
a frist galley proof of Remembrance of Things Past with Proust’s handwritten corrections.
Public Domain

14p
the Raymond Revular, a theatre and strip club at 11 Walker’s Court in London’s Soho district
July 7, 1997
Attributed to Fabio Sassi
CCA-SA 2.0 License

15q
Raymond Carver
GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.2
CCASA 2.0 Unported License

16a
Nick Sweet
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet

17r
Thomas Mann
April 20, 1937
Library of Congress
Public Domain

18s
Thomas Mann in the early period of his writing career
Attributed to New York Public Library Archives
Public Domain

19c
Nick Sweet
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet

20t
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
From the 1800s
Public Domain

21u
Title page of The First Folio, 1623.
Copper engraving of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout
Attributed to Beinecke Rare Book-Manuscript Library Yale University
Public Domain

22v
T.S. Eliot
1923
Attributed to Lady Ottoline Morrell
Public Domain

23w
Thomas Hardy
Between 1910 and 1915
Attributed to Bain News Service Publisher
Library of Congress
Public Domain

24x
Ernest Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo for the first edition of For Whom The Bells Toll at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho
1939
Attributed to Lloyd Arnold
Public Domain

25y
F. Scott Fitzgerald
1921
Attributed to The World’s Work
Public Domain

26z
jacket cover of The Postman Always Rings Twice
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

27za
James M Cain
Public Domain
28zb
jacket cover of The Sun Also Rises
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29zc
jacket cover of A Farewell To Arms
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30zd
 jacket cover of Tender Is The Night
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31ze
Leo Tolstoy at his Yasnaya Polyana estate
May 1908
Attributed to Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky
Public Domain

32zf
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Oil on canvas
1872
Public Domain

33zg
drawing of Carmen Laforet
CC by SA 3.0
Attributed to Hakima El Kaddouri Hadouti

34zh
jacket cover of Nada

35zi
Antonio Munoz Molina
September 16, 2011
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36zj
Spanish version of The Feast of the Goat about the assassination of Dominician dictator Rafael Trujillo and its aftermath

37zk
Dom DeLillo in New York City in January of 2011
Attributed to Thousand Robots
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38zl
jacket cover of Libra

39zm
Norman Mailer on November 14, 1988 at the Maimi Book Fair International
Attributed to MDC Archives
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40zn
jacket cover of The Executioner’s Song
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41zo
jacket cover of Oswald’s Tale

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