Monday, May 28, 2007

Back to the Badlands

Not being an author myself, I don’t usually read books where authors talk about their craft. And since I don’t read gritty American crime novels, you would think an entire book of interviews with famous crime writers would not be my cup of tea. But I was enthralled with Back to the Badlands by John Williams. In 1989 the Welsh journalist and writer traveled around America talking with a number of famous authors - Carl Hiaasen, Sara Paretsky, Tony Hillerman - about their crime novels, and about the settings in which the stories took place - Miami, Chicago, Arizona/New Mexico. The product of this journey was Into the Badlands (1993). He’s repeated his journey, visiting newer writers on the crime scene: George Pelecanos, Kinky Freidman, and Daniel Woodrell, among others. This new book reads like a collection of Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone articles: well-written, with Williams a strong presence in the narrative, and a lot of descriptive touches. The nice thing about the new book is that it not only includes his interviews from 2005, but also some of the chapters from his original 1993 book. And if you really like his work, and would like to read more, then the interviews omitted from Back to the Badlands are available at his website: Fabulous.

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