The Human Touch in Warlight

What lengths would one go for love…or in war?  Cataclysmic outside events thrust unlikely people together…torn from their privacy to create new intamicies…in secret…but in service for something larger…a delicate, romantic spy game that could determine the fates of strangers in strange lands just as much as it could the fate of the ones you most love.

In his masterpiece The English Patient, Canada’s titan of literary fiction, Michael Ondaatje described a novel as a “mirror walking down the road.”  In his latest novel, Warlight, which mirrors many of the themes of his best, he describes a memoir as “the lost inheritance”.  Warlight is a novel written as if it was a memoir, and the light it casts on the shadowy lives of those left picking up the pieces in the aftermath of World War II will leave one shaken as equally by Ondaatje’s craft as by the fates of the characters.  It would make a cracker jack film or miniseries, you know, if someone skillful enough could dissect it, reassemble it, and focus the whole thing on the shocking soap opera-like revelation at the end…the twist of fate…the sad realization of what the consequences of one’s actions and youthful indiscretions could be. Continue reading

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My Favorite Novels

Mantlepiece Collection

Maybe it was reading The Telegraph’s list of greatest novels of the 21st Century (we’re only 15 years in, people!) that I found to be absolute bollocks…

Or maybe it was looking back on a post I wrote in this blog’s infancy (pre-spin, when it was just davethenovelist) where I listed what I proclaimed to be the Greatest Novels of All Time (which of course meant the best novels I had read up to that point in my life) and realizing how much I had read in the seven years since then and thinking about what that list would look like today.  How many new entries?  What would still make the cut, and would the passage of time have colored my opinion on significance, fondness and ordering?

Or maybe it was watching “The English Patient” episode of Seinfeld for the umpteenth time on TV tonight that got me thinking…damn, The English Patient…Ondaatje…that has to be one of the greatest novels ever, right?  (Spoiler alert: IT IS!)

At any rate…I’m keeping this one simple and asking you to share your own lists. 

What are your favorite novels?

Here are mine: Continue reading

Cold Comfort Reading with Canada, Deep Winter and The Kept

 

It’s been a brutally cold, occasionally wet, often frozen winter here in my next of the woods, though a far cry from the polar vortexed permanently deep snow-covered winter of last year.  It’s made for a great winter for reading…and my chapped hands found their way to three novels cold as ice, though only one, The Kept, haunts the imagination.

Winter Books - Canada

Things started out with a banal, arduous thud that was the literary equivalent of traipsing 100 miles uphill in three feet of snow to the top of a mountain with a horrible view.  Richard Ford’s Canada is a long drawn out affair (it’s not until about 300 pages through the 500+ page tome that we actually get to Canada) that tells you exactly what happened in the very first sentence and then proceeds to elaborate on it ad nauseam in repetitive memoir style. Twin brother and sister, Dell and Bern, at age 15, are thrown into a maelstrom after their previously thought to be stable and clear-headed parents rob a bank in a pathetic act of desperation. Bern runs away, while Dell (our narrator) is shuffled off to the middle of nowhere Canada where he meets some unsavory characters and witnesses a murder. Getting to the bank robbery was painful and lacked even a modicum of suspense, and I don’t know how many times the narrator had to remind us of his naivety (while Bern was more wild and worldly) as he goes from one horribly boring existence to the next shaped by brief criminal acts and the occasional weirdo. I’ve never met more boring characters or read about more bloodless crimes. Continue reading

Book to Film Adaptations I Would Love to See

2014 marks the year two of my favorite novels will finally reach the silver screen:  the oddly still kept under wraps adaptation of Ron Rash’s Serena (from Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier and staring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper), and Saul Dibb’s Oscar-baiting adaptation of Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise (well- cast with Michelle Williams and Kristen Scott Thomas).  Which made me think…what other recent or favorite reads are ripe for cinematic plucking?

Heart of a Tiger by Herschel Cobb

Ty Cobb Sliding

A young boy in the 1950’s struggles to find hope and happiness under the harsh shadows of his rage-fueled father and alcoholic mother.  In his loving grandfather he finds refuge and meaning in life.

Sounds like a trite, sachrine, run-of-the-mill, triumph over child abuse tale…except for one thing.  That loving grandfather was none other than Tyrus R. Cobb – statistically speaking the greatest baseball player of all time; American myth; and generally regarded as a world-class mean-spirited son-of-a-bitch who drove his baseball spikes into opponents, beat up fans in the stands, and was a racist, alcoholic hell-raiser.  Part of his scandal are the tall-tales that have been taken as fact, and most people seem to forget that his savvy business mind (he was a great investor in the early days of Coca-Cola) allowed him to, in old age, be a great benefactor to many good causes – from giving no-strings-attached monetary gifts to down-and-out former teammates to a scholarship fund for impoverished Georgian kids that to this day continues to fund higher education for thousands of children.  He also apparently took a shining to the children of his loose-cannon son after the son died of a heart-attack.

Herschel’s Cobb memoir is colored through the lens of a kid who loved his grandfather, so yeah, there’s a bias, but a clever screenwriter could intertwine the uplift of the book with the more colorful moments from Cobb’s legendary playing days, maybe even glimpses into Ty’s own childhood – layers upon layers, flashbacks upon flashbacks – that could weave an epic character arc of a multi-faceted man who saw the darkness in himself, recognized the cruelty of others, and attempted to rescue his grandchildren from it all and stop the cycle of abuse.  Baseball, nostalgia, dysfunctional families, tortured childhoods and redemption – it’s the stuff of great drama.  Take an up-and-coming director like Jeff Nichols who is no stranger to the themes, put some make-up and a Southern accent on Michael Shannon so he can take the lead role, and voila…you could have a gritty, sentimental barn-burner on your hands.

I mean, c’mon, wouldn’t you love to see Michael Shannon utter this famous Cobb quote to his grandson?

“I had to fight all my life to survive. They were all against me… but I beat them and left them in the ditch.”

Continue reading

Down Gallow’s Way Published in Underground Voices’ 2013 Anthology: Red Moon District

Underground Voices Red Mood District CoverUnderground Voices Red Mood District Back Cover

Just in time for last-minute holiday shopping, Underground Voices has released their 2013 Anthology featuring a selection of potent tales including my very own short story, “Down Gallow’s Way”.

The anthology, titled Red Moon District, can be purchased online through Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

Pick up a copy and support indie authors, an indie publisher, and most importantly, your ol’ pal Dave.

Here’s an excerpt from “Down Gallow’s Way” to wet your whistle…

So when I moved into Clementine’s house just off the pike, the little blue rancher with the overgrown lawn and rusted metal fence that stood in the center of a clusterfuck of lesser homes and doublewides nestled at a fork in the road, we were in the middle of that blasted April heat wave. After the wretched winter of the snowpocalypse where we were hit with record snowfall amounts and left to trudge through mountains of the stuff that seemed like it wouldn’t melt until May (it was gone by March), it seemed a welcome slap in the face to be hit with record heat just after Easter. Clem’s AC didn’t work, and I was no handyman. So we spent those nights in Saundra’s chilled-to-the-bone doublewide drinking beers and watching the Phillies’ games, passing Lil’ Bibbs from knee to knee, bouncing all the way until he was as Clem liked to say, “right tuckered out.” Bibbs was, of course, always out on the road working. He was probably doing more laying of pipe than driving I imagined, but Saundra seemed blissfully oblivious.

Underground Voices started as an online literary magazine in 2004 publishing hard-hitting, raw, dark fiction, flash fiction and poetry. In 2006, it started publishing an annual print edition, alongside the monthly online issues. In 2009, they expanded into a small press. And finally, in 2013, they decided to become an independent book publisher only, publishing 1-5 books a year.

Issue Three of The Stone Digital Literary Magazine Now Available

Issue Three Cover Final

The third issue of The Stone – our special mystery/crime issue – is now available for download at Amazon.com through the Kindle app!

Here’s a preview:

My medic jacket had lost most of its initial warmth once dampened by the constant snow, yet I still tightened it desperately around me, my only safe haven from the frozen field. The snow illuminated the world before me, creating a blank canvas out of the barren field, spoiled only by the occasional dead tree. Under different circumstances, it may have been beautiful.  —  from “Dolls of Ice” by Delun Attwooll

I lived at Siding Number Two, a spur line off the Southern Pacific railroad that carried oil into Bakersfield.  Our little town changed her name to Taft in 1910, the year I was born.  My daddy used to tell me that the town was forced to change its name, because I had arrived in it.  Since I was never sure that he was telling the truth, I called it by its original name, Siding Number Two.  No matter how you dressed her for the dance, this town had an asphalt tar underbelly that no amount of commerce could wash off.   She partnered with men so corrupt that folks were too frightened to talk about it.   Fueled by greed and intimidation, there were two things that kept this town alive, oil and rail. Born to the west desert plains of the fertile valley, she was set down smack in the middle of two oil leases, the Midway Sunset and Buena Vista.  A product of the transient oil boom, she attracted the hardiest and most desperate of souls.  Nobody planned to stay here long much less die in this town, and I was no different.  —  from “Siding Number Two” by Mary Redmond

The next morning, Benjamin examined the spider web and found the lifeless lightning bug wrapped tightly in a cocoon in the spider’s feasting section that also featured a smattering of other tiny gnats and houseflies.  The tiny rear end bulb responsible for last night’s light show was detached from the rest of the body and lay on the floor underneath the web in a smoldering of dirt and dust.  The spider, of course, was nowhere to be seen, leaving behind its macabre display for the boy’s fevered imagination to run wild with monstrous images of the arachnid’s size and power.  Benjamin hated that feeling of knowing that spiders were always around him, hiding everywhere, always within a few feet, sometimes just a few inches from him, often undetected, waiting for that moment to come crawling over his face while he slept, the tiny ones creeping into his ears and nostrils, the big ones nesting in his hair.  This feeling often left him petrified at night.  — from “Night of the Spider” by D. H. Schleicher

So go ahead and roll back The Stone to uncover great stories in the digital age. Continue reading

Issue Two of The Stone Digital Literary Magazine Now Available

The second issue of The Stone is now available for download at Amazon.com through the Kindle app!

Cover art for Issue Two comes courtesy of award-winning British photographer Eleanor Leonne Bennett, and inside you will find great stories from three continents.

Here’s a preview:

Stretching my long legs in perfect tandem one after the other in rhythmic fashion simultaneously thumping the ground below my feet, I spring forward—yes, I am running. At a speed either unknown to me or at the speed of light, or so I thought. Running for my life to catch a day-train to Bangalore—the Brindavan Express. – from “Train of Thought” by Prakash Jashnani

All across town clocks were tossing off seconds with loud clicks, obnoxious tapping, or with silent digital precision, and he knew that just because he couldn’t hear them didn’t mean they weren’t out there and that the ticking wasn’t happening, and more importantly, that time wasn’t running out. – from “Deadline” by Vince McGovern

Directly in front of the window, a large white ferris wheel slowly turned up, towards, and away from the window.  Up, towards, away, up, towards, away.  Here and there flashes snapped from inside the tinted windows of the ferris wheel cars.  Miek wondered if she would turn out in any of those tourist photos, a small face peering out of a window facing Dam Square, only discovered when someone’s weekend away in Amsterdam was over and their photos uploaded to their computer.  – from “The Trip” by Amanda Perino

The thought of being alone with Ritchie made Jerry nervous. Yes, the Dunwoodys had a three year-old daughter named Ritchie. Jerry had been totally against it, but it was the trend amongst all of Stephanie’s girlfriends that year to apply boys’ names to their newborn daughters. In Ritchie’s preschool class there were two girls named Sam (just Sam), a Billy and a Bobby.  – from “Puddle Jumpers” by D. H. Schleicher

So go ahead and roll back The Stone to uncover great stories in the digital age. Continue reading

Introducing The Premier Issue of The Stone Digital Literary Magazine

The Schleicher Spin is proud to present a unique new “experiment” with the premier issue of The Stone!

The Stone was founded as a way to bridge the gap between classic storytelling and new technology.  Our goal is to provide great stories to the masses in a modern user-friendly format, through the Kindle App, at an affordable price ($1.99 USD for four stories) – cheaper than downloading music. 

You don’t need a Kindle to read The Stone.  All you need is the free Kindle App!  Don’t have the Kindle App yet?  Click here to download it for free to your PC, Mac, iPad, tablet or smart-phone.

Have the Kindle App already?  Then click here to download The Stone Premier Issue now for only $1.99 (USD).

Continue reading

Upstate Royalty

The Proctor Boys are a strange lot – three grizzled old men who have spent their entire lives in stifling isolation on a dairy farm in Upstate New York.  When the eldest, Vernon, winds up dead one morning in the bed all three shared, the youngest, Creed, gets swept up into accusation while the emotionally crippled simpleton (and middle brother), Audie, barely grasps the gravity of the situation.

Jon Clinch’s second novel, Kings of the Earth, was inspired by actual events.  Clearly fashioning himself a 21st century William Faulkner, Clinch spans his book across generations and voices.  Each chapter is titled by a year and a character’s name – with POV’s shifting from 1st person to 2nd person to 3rd person, but never omniscient – eerily reminiscent of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.  Those not familiar with the style may find it a challenge, while fans of Faulkner will probably favor it as a nice homage, but it pales in comparison to the master.  This isn’t to say Clinch hasn’t achieved something memorable nearing mythic stature here. Continue reading

A Review of Toni Morrison’s “A Mercy”

Orphans of the Storm

In Toni Morrison’s A Mercy we see life through the eyes of people physically and emotionally abandoned, orphans with names like Lina, Florens, Jacob, Rebekkah and Sorrow.  The storm is the clashing of cultures in pre-Revolutionary War America where the laws are not yet defined, everyone and everything is for sale, and all are threatened with annihilation by God, the environment or each other.  Europeans looking for a promised land of unending wealth or escape, Natives living through an apocalypse, indentured servants and slaves from Europe and Africa bound to barbaric institutions are all brought to a slow, simmering boil in the torrid fog rolling in over Mary-Land and Virginia…colonies ironically named for women but that are unmerciful and cruel to those females who come to their shores. Continue reading