Category Archives: classic book review

Richard like John in his own write

Day 4 of the Book of Paul tour is here.
Today we have a guest post from the author Richard Long.
Welcome to the Save the Book blog, Richard.
Make yourself at home. Can I get you a cup of coffee?
No, you want to get started. Fire  away!

Guest Post by Richard Long
Laura gave me my first tarot deck. It was a Crowley. A lot of people get creeped out by Crowley decks, much as they would have been creeped out by Crowley, I imagine. He called himself ‘The Great Beast.’ To me, he seemed more like a big joke.
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law!”
Stop it, you’re killing me.
You just read the opening lines of  The Bone King, a prequel to The Book of Paul.  They happen to be true. Laura gave me my first deck. I still have it and use it. In fact, I’ll be using it shortly to provide Skype tarot readings for two lucky winners of my Whirlwind Blog Tour. I’m looking forward to the readings. The winners? I suppose that depends on which cards come up.
Actually, I don’t give scary tarot readings, I just write about scary tarot readings. People have enough fear and stress in their lives without me throwing more gas on the flames. Besides, the three scariest trump cards–The Hanged Man, Death and The Tower–can all be interpreted in very unscary ways. Most of the time.
William, the narrator of <em>The Book of Paul</em>, lives in the East Village/Alphabet City of New York in the years before gentrification made it a much less fun and frightening place. He makes a living doing tarot and numerology readings, same as the author did at the time. Like me, he is also a collector, but that’s where the similarities end. He collects ancient occult codices, some covered in human skin. He collects other things that are even more…disturbing.
The mythology of <em>The Book of Paul</em> is based largely on my very unique (so unique you’ll never see it anywhere else) interpretation of the twenty-two trump cards of the tarot.  As William endeavors to unravel Paul’s nefarious intentions, he discovers an arrangement of the trumps that reveals the true story being told. In the following excerpt from one of William’s journal entries, Paul congratulates William on his discovery (which is not revealed, so no spoiler alert!) and rewards his efforts with a very special gift to add to his collection, and the promise of an even greater prize.
A fabulous tarot reading from Richard Long? A Kindle Fire?
No, William isn’t as lucky as three of you wonderful readers.
He’s about to have his very first look at <em>The Book of Paul, a</em> gift that comes with a very hefty price tag.
“You’ve done exceptionally well here,” Paul said, “but you’re never gonna get to the bottom of this no matter how many of those old books you poke your nose into.”
“And that’s because…”
“For starters, those writings were deliberately intended to disguise the truth in countless metaphors and scrambled codes to keep the idiots at bay. They’ve been translated, and re-translated back into the original demotic, Coptic or Greek countless times, every scribe adding his own pontifical touch in his glorious interpretation. Of the more accurate writings, there’s more missing from the tracts than what remains, as you’ve seen in the Drivel of Mary. You’ve about as much luck hitting pay dirt in those dustbins as those literalist born-agains have of seeing the Rapture. However, I have a gift for you that should prove far more enlightening, if you apply yourself with half the dedication of these research efforts.”
He reached deeply into his pocket and told me to close my eyes. “Don’t go using yer second sight and spoil the surprise.” I nodded and felt him place a large rectangular object in my left hand.
It was a tarot deck. Older than any I’d seen. The paintings were incredibly detailed and absolutely exquisite. I turned them over one by one, The Hero, The Herald, The Oracle—all the trumps labeled with Paul’s titles. “These are amazing!” I said, awed and yes, flattered by his incredible gift. I had a hard time spitting it out, but I managed to say, “Thank you.”
“You’ve earned it,” he grunted, taking the cards back before I had a chance to look at the rest of them, setting the cards down gently on the table. “But don’t stay up too late gazing at them. This deck can be quite…entrancing.”
“Is there something else I should know about it?” I asked apprehensively.</p>
“Indeed, there is. Get a good night’s sleep and meet me in the chapel tomorrow. I’m bumping you up to the advanced class, so make sure your eyes are bright and your head is clear. You’ve earned a little taste of the Gospel according to Paul.”
Thanks Richard. Please leave a comment for the author or me.
And here is a pic of Aleister Crowley


And here is his Wiki entry.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.
The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is visyhttp://www.novelpublicity.com/whirlwind-tour/paul
 Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
Purchase your copy of The Book of Paul for just 99 cents
Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity</a></li>
           
About the author: 
Richard Long is the author of The Book of Paul and the forthcoming young-adult fantasy series The Dream Palace.  He lives in Manhattan with his wonderful wife, two amazing children and wicked black cat, Merlin. 
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price ofThe Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.
The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is visyhttp://www.novelpublicity.com/whirlwind-tour/paul
 Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
Purchase your copy of The Book of Paul for just 99 cents
Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity.
About the author: 
Richard Long is the author of The Book of Paul and the forthcoming young-adult fantasy series The Dream Palace.  He lives in Manhattan with his wonderful wife, two amazing children and wicked black cat, Merlin. 

Visit Richard at




Here is our celebratory song. Enjoy.
 I have had to think hard about this one as we have travelled across quite some terrain. So why not a travel song.


The Maltese Falcon: classic book review

The Maltese Falcon: classic book review
Falcon strikes magnificently
The large print version from GALE CENGAGE Learning which has a better cover than the other version is not listed on the publisher’s current catalogue.
MANY of those familiar with the title The Maltese Falcon may be acquainted with the 1941 film noir rather than Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel published by Alfred A. Knopf.
There is a remarkable synergy between novel and film, perhaps without parallel in such translations.
Writer/ director John Huston wrote the script to closely follow the order of the novel, retained much of the dialogue and then filmed it in sequence.
He even persuaded the censors to let him keep the recurring motif of hard liquor. No objection was raised to the continual prop of hand-rolled cigarettes.
Huston self-censored to remove most of the key homosexual references in the novel but the character of Joel Cairo (played by Peter Lorre) would have left sophisticated viewers to clearly see the elephant in the room.
Many readers are disconsolate when a favourite novel is translated onto the screen.
In this case, seeing the film enhances the novel as the reader can have the authentic dialogue being voiced in their mind by actors Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Lorre, Mary Astor, Gladys George and Elisha Cook Jnr.
Although neither was a prolific writer, Hammett and Raymond Chandler, after him, were the fathers of the hard-boiled detective novels translated into 1940 film noir.
It may surprise some that both authors have been recognised as great writers, not just as doyens of their genre. I do not believe any of the current crop of superstars of the detective thriller will garner such recognition in the future. In1998, the Modern Library ranked The Maltese Falcon 56th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Hammett and Chandler had similar histories which could partly explain their emergence as writers of edgy fiction. As young men in World War 1, both suffered debilitating injuries, the effects of which remained with them for the rest of their lives. They reached the peaks of their writing careers during the Great Depression of the 1930s which followed the decade of post-war licence hailed as the Roaring 20s.
The plot of The Maltese Falcon evolves from the murder of private detective Miles Archer, the business partner of the novel’s protagonist Samuel Spade. The story is written in the third person with virtually no interior monologues yet the reader identifies with the subjectivity of the flawed character of Sam Spade.
What makes this novel good are the spare style and the clipped dialogue – tougher than Chandler’s though not as funny.
What makes the novel great is the extraordinary way the author uses detailed character descriptions and dialogue to render the story without any back-up of interior reflection or self-justification. Spade’s moral ambiguity is a magnificent theme and device upon which to pin suspense.
The reader learns early on that Spade has been having an emotionless sexual affair with his dead partner’s wife, Iva. The shamus grumbles to his loyal secretary, Effie Perine, ‘I never know what to do or say to women except that way.’
Don’t go retro-reading that as some kind of prescient observation by Hammett on the male inability to commit. The author is merely laying the ground to prove Gutman’s assessment of Spade that we never know what he is going to do or say next.
Homosexuality is central to the novel though it does not have as many echoes of homophobia as it often does with Chandler.
Let’s start with the least clear-cut example of secretary, Effie Perine, who lives at home with her mother. Effie appears to have a woman crush on femme fatale Brigid O’Shaughnessy, who, in the manner of the genre, has to be Spade’s love interest. As I say, the hint at lesbianism is subtle and possibly unintended, but look for the fascinating reactions of Perine in the last pages of the novel.
Joel Cairo is obviously homosexual as delightfully rendered in an exchange with the perhaps promiscuous O’Shaughnessy. (Cairo) ’Exactly, and shall we add the boy outside?’
‘Yes,’ she agreed and laughed. ‘Yes, unless he’s the one you had in Constantinople.’
Sudden blood mottled Cairo’s face. In a shrill enraged voice he cried: ’The one you couldn’t make.’…
The sinister urbane Casper Gutman has a daughter but he appears to be bi-sexual.
In the lengthy and wonderful denouement, at midnight, Spade unwillingly hosts Gutman, Cairo, O’Shaughnessy and the seemingly psychotic young gunman, Wilmer Cook, mostly referred to in the novel as “the boy”..
…’That daughter of yours (Gutman’s) has a nice belly,’ he (Spade) said, ‘too nice to be scratched up with pins.’ Gutman’s smile was affable if a bit oily
The boy in the doorway took a short step forward, raising his pistol as far as his hip. Everybody in the room looked at him. In the dissimilar eyes with which Brigid O’Shaughnessy and Joel Cairo there was, oddly, something identically reproving. The boy blushed…
Hammett tells us, purely though actions and facial expressions, that O’Shaughnessy, Cairo and probably Gutman are jealous of the boy’s infatuation with Gutman’s daughter Rhea.
Besides killing people, that boy has been busy and mental derangement has not impaired his youthful sexual attractiveness.
If there is one flaw in this almost faultless novel it is the characterysation of Brigid O’Shaughnessy. While this has much to do with the structural imperative of mystery and suspense, O’Shaughnessy lacks the sensuality of  Vivian Sternwood in Chandler’s The Big Sleep.
That quibble aside, The Maltese Falcon dispels the ignorant snobbish and vicious myth that a genre novel cannot be counted as great literature.
-Review by Bernie Dowling
Gooseberry Lays and Gunzels
CENSORS and censorship are often good for a laugh.
The Maltese Falconfirst appeared serialised in the pulp fiction mag Black Mask.
Magazine editor Joseph Shaw was offended by vulgarity and he took exception to the term “goose-berry lay’’ in The Maltese Falcon.
…Then Spade asked (the boy) pleasantly: ‘How long have you been off the goose-berry lay, son?’
You could hardly blame puritanical editor Shaw; the phrase sounds scatological. However, it was a slang term for stealing clothes from a line to sell them with the culprit perhaps lying among gooseberry bushes before the theft.
One word Shaw had no objection to was gunzel. In fact the editor loved its use in the novel.
…’Keep that gunzel (the boy, again) away from me while you’re making up your mind. I’ll kill him. I don’t like him. He makes me nervous.’
Shaw thought gunzel meant hired gun and a host of Hammett imitators used it in that sense.
Gunzel actually meant a boy or young man paid or kept for sex, a rent boy.
Both expressions gunzel and goose-berry lay survive in the latest editions of The Maltese Falcon.
If you enjoyed this review, please re-blog it or send a link/ t to this Save the Book blog.
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