Friday, 13 June 2014
2 BY LES EDGERTON
Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to read Les Edgerton's The Bitch. It was my first taste of this author's writing but not my last. He's been on my radar for a while, but as I have more books than I have time available to read them, they've sat patiently on the shelf and the e-reader for a while now.
If an author's stories can be fuelled by the kind of life they've led thus far, Mr Edgerton's books will undoubtedly be entertaining and should offer a life view that's far from mundane.
In his own words, on his blog......... To introduce myself, I'm a full-time writer with fifteen books in print and I teach creative writing on the university level, through private coaching of writers, and on various on-line venues. I write in a variety of forms: novels, short stories, nonfiction books, screenplays and the subjects I choose to write about are just as varied, including sports, literary fiction, thrillers, black comedy and the craft of writing. I'm married to Mary and we have a son, Mike. I have two daughters--Britney and Sienna--from a previous marriage. I immigrated to Ft. Wayne, IN from the U.S.A. and it's where I still live today. Doing my best to learn the language and adjust to the culture. I have a checkered past, having spent two-plus years incarcerated at Pendleton Reformatory back in the sixties for burglary. I'm all cleaned up now and you can invite me into your home and don't have to count the silverware when I leave. Graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in General Studies (Honors of Distinction); obtained an MFA in Writing from Vermont
Just Like That
Les Edgerton’s buddy novel, JUST LIKE THAT, is based on an actual trip he took with an ex-prison cellmate under similar circumstances as protagonist Jake Mayes does in this narrative. The scenes in Pendleton are also based on true experiences he had while incarcerated. Approximately 85% of the novel is taken from real life.
Jake and his pal Bud’s journey begins six months after he is released on parole and is occasioned when his girlfriend Donna dumps him and aborts their child. After an aborted suicide attempt where the Norelco shaver cord he used to hang himself broke, on an impulse—the source of the title; everything in Jake’s life happens “just like that”—he calls up Bud, who lives by the same credo, and the two take off with no particular destination in mind. They’re just going “south”--somewhere where it’s warm. An hour before they leave, Jake on another impulse, holds up a convenience store to get some traveling money.
Ultimately, they end up in New Orleans and then Lake Charles, Louisiana and from there, back to Indiana.
Along the way are many “watercooler” moments, such as when an inmate sinks a meat cleaver into another inmate’s blue-clad stomach, a physical encounter with two rednecks in Kentucky where Bud shoots one of the men, the bullet bouncing harmlessly off the man’s thick skull, Jake’s ongoing romance with Donna, the funeral of Jake’s father which he attends with a whore, multiple burglaries, armed robberies, a brief affair with a black woman, and an adventure with a drunk Santa Claus. Near the end Jake takes another fall when he is caught burglarizing a bar back in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and gets shot in the leg and is returned to Pendleton where he kills the inmate he’d had a nasty encounter during his first stay in prison. In the process, Jake’s philosophy of life undergoes a sea change and he comes up with this:
Portions of JUST LIKE THAT have previously appeared as short stories in the literary magazines High Plains Literary Review, Murdaland, and Flatmancrooked. The story that appeared in High Plains was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was selected for inclusion in Houghton-Mifflin’s “Best American Mystery Stories, 2001.”
As a note of possible interest, Cathy Johns, the P.R. Director and Assistant Warden of The Farm (the infamous Louisiana state prison at Angola) read this novel and told Edgerton that he'd captured the true spirit of the criminal mind better than anything she'd ever read.
The Perfect Crime
A bomb hooked to a banker’s back, a one-eyed busted-out former cop, hooker/biker bars on Airline Highway in New Orleans, drugs in the French Quarter, a 300-pound female bartender, an ex-con whose main goal in life is to have more expensive shoes than anyone else, a drug czar named Fidel Castro (a cousin of the more famous one in Cuba), money laundering schemes, and a criminal genius, who enjoys pulling his victim’s fingernails out with pliers and who did everything right in what should have been the perfect crime save for one tiny mistake—all assembled and put into motion by an author who was a real-life criminal and ex-con and was advised that if he didn’t publish this book but instead used it to create the perfect crime he’d make a lot more… This is what you get (and more) in Les Edgerton’s The Perfect Crime.
Later this year when we get away for a week, I'm going to be sat by a pool somewhere in Tuscany sipping either a cold Peroni or glass of Chianti and allowing myself the luxury of reading both of these!