Tag Archives: noir fiction

Spider kiss

Spider kiss / Harlan Ellison

Here’s something that’s interesting:

a novel by an author usually considered a short story writer.

a “realistic” novel by an author usually considered an sf/horror writer.

a novel about rock music from a self-professed non-fan of rock music.

Spider kiss  (original title: Rockabilly) is all of these, which makes it relatively poorly-known outside of rockabilly aficionados. It’s not in Ellison’s “normal” genre, it’s about a long-gone era of rock music, and as is par for Ellison, it firmly rejects any kind of nostalgia.

It’s also a book that can be effectively summed up in one sentence.

Supremely brief plot summary

Told from the perspective of his manager, Spider kiss describes the rise and fall of 1950s rockabilly star Stag Preston (real name Luther Sellers).

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Gun, with occasional music

Gun, with occasional music / Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem is one of those authors on the “approved” list for NPR-drinking academics. As a result, he’s not a “science fiction” author. Gun, with occasional music was his first published novel, but he first achieved mainstream success with Motherless Brooklyn, a noirtype novel written from the perspective of a narrator suffering from Tourette’s syndrome.

Lethem is much beloved of literary hipsters, and like Dave Eggers I have a hard time getting into his work because of the sheer amount of obnoxious love directed his way. Gun, with occasional music was a book I attempted to read shortly after it came out, but I never got around to finishing it until last year.

Brief plot summary

Conrad Metcalf is a private detective in a world where most menial positions are held by genetically engineered animals, an individual’s worth is measured by their karma, and designer drugs are freely distributed by the government. After a former client shows up dead and a flimsy coverup makes Metcalf the number one suspect, Metcalf must avoid an angry kangaroo, gangsters, and the Powers That Be in an attempt to figure out what is going on.

Continue reading Gun, with occasional music