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Todd Robinson

Sex, thugs and me

Last Friday I took the family to the local bookstore for a triumphant little moment.51hq6hm6vql__ss500_1

I was coming to pick up my copy of Sex, Thugs and Rock & Roll, the new Thuglit anthology that includes my story, “Big Load of Trouble,” alongside those by Changa buddies Anthony Neil Smith, Jed Ayres, Jordan Harper and Patti Abbott. It also includes pieces by some very admired crime authors — Scott Wolven, Joe R. Lansdale, Marcus Sakey and Jason Starr, to name a few.

Of course, I could have ordered my copy via Amazon, and you surely can HERE. But I wanted the experience of seeing it in a bookstore, buying it in a bookstore, fanning through the pages to find my story — in a bookstore.

And I have to say, I felt pretty damn good. I felt like an average Joe getting called up to the majors for a weekend, and having a blast the entire time.

Then, when I started reading the pieces in this anthology, I got an entirely new rush. This, my friends, is a tight collection of compelling storytelling. Case in point: I re-read “Politoburg” by Ayres and was blown away all over again, and was reminded how my first reading of that piece in Thuglit in 2007 led me to praise it on this blog, which is how I got to know the guy.

I’m not the only one impressed by this anthology. One of the stories was nominated for a prestigious Edgar award, and Publisher’s Weekly recently weighed in with this review.

Robinson’s second anthology derived from the online magazine Thuglit is an improvement over 2008’s Hardcore Hardboiled. Jason Starr gets things off on the right foot with “Double Down,” a short but punchy contemporary PI tale, with an unapologetically amoral main character largely indifferent to the consequences of his greed. Joe R. Lansdale offers perhaps the strongest entry with “Bullets and Fire,” in which the narrator gets accepted into a hardcore urban gang by punching out a little girl, for reasons that only become apparent in the denouement. An ex-con’s despair over his estranged grown daughter drives Marcus Sakey’s “The Days When You Were Anything Else,” which ends with a twist that’s no less powerful for being predictable. While not every selection is top-notch, this volume also showcases a number of lesser-known authors who will undoubtedly be heard from more in the future. Sarah Weinman’s introduction extols the virtues of online publication. (June) — Publisher’s Weekly

So …. maybe you’d like to have a little Sex, Thugs and Rock & Roll in your life.

One of those moments

It feels like one of those moments, one of those moments when a lot of folks you dig are having, well, their moment.

Specifically, it feels that way for my writer friends. Lots of good things happening for some fine writers.

First, Bryon Quertermous had a hell of a week, with his short fiction appearing in no less than two printed anthologies. First Amazon sent me “A Prisoner of Memory: And 24 of the Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories” (Pegasus; 432 pages; $15.95), which puts Bryon’s story beside those by heavy hitters Michael Connolly and Lawrence Block, as well as stories from Chimichanga friends Patti Abbot and Hilary Davidson. Pretty sweet. Then a few days later, I dropped in on the massive Barnes and Noble in San Mateo, where right on the front table I found “Hardcore Hardboiled” (Kensington; 352 pages; $14), which also features a Quertermous story with the rest of Thuglit‘s top stories in 2006. I’m thrilled not only for Bryon, but also another Changa buddy, Todd Robinson, aka Big Daddy Thug, publisher and founder of Thuglit, which ran my story, “Big Load of Trouble” last year. It’s Todd’s vision, tenacity and sharp sensibilities that have made Thuglit what it is today — one of the best places to read crime fiction online. One of the headlining contributors to “Hardboiled” is another Chimichanga bud, Duane Swierczynski, who’s thriller “Severance Package” (St. Martin’s; 288 pages: $13.95 pages) just hit the stores and is getting rave reviews.

But wait, there’s more. … Major Changa philanthropist Anthony Neil Smith just completed a road tour for his new novel, “Yellow Medicine” (Bleak House Books; 260 pages; $14.95), which continues to get great reviews for great reasons. Meanwhile, my good friend Al Riske recently won a short-fiction contest run by the Blue Mesa Review and will soon see his story, “Pray for Rain” in print. And lastly, prose stylist Tony Black, publisher of U.K.-based Pulp Pusher, which ran my “She Don’t Like Hecklers” last year, soon will see his first novel, “Paying for It,” released by Random House and offers the following video teaser. Congrats to Tony and all the others who are enjoying their moments.


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