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Showing posts from April, 2020

The Last Taxi Driver | Lee Durkee

What do the Buddha and Bill Hicks have in common? Ask Lucky Gun Lou, the Mississippi cab driver in Lee Durkee’s dark and hilarious novel The Last Taxi Driver.   Lou suffers psychotic breaks, has spiritual aspirations, and wrestles with bitterness but aims for kindness when dealing with impossible and highly comedic situations. And though he’s often agitated, his innate sweetness shapes a compassionate view of a marginalized and often criminal society and makes him an endearing character.  His opinion of Noir at the Bar should be taken seriously, too. Lou also shares some sage driving advice. Don’t tap your brakes when somebody starts tailgating you. It’s tempting, but it can backfire. Also don’t flip him off, not yet. First try this: pretend to adjust your rearview, so that the asshole knows he has your attention. Then suddenly wave to him and smile as if you are excited to see him. This will make him worry that he knows you, and instantly he will feel like the dick he is and

If You Knew What I Lived Through | Gloria Grahame in Human Desire

Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame first appear in The Big Heat, where Ford plays Bannion, a cop who takes on a powerful crime syndicate. He’s a good guy — infallible moral code, making honorable decisions at every turn. Meanwhile, Grahame is Debby Marsh, Lee Marvin’s moll, unreliable until Marvin’s character, Vince Stone, disfigures her by throwing coffee in her face. Marsh helps Bannion by avenging his wife’s murder and injuring Stone. But sadly, she’s mortally wounded and dies at the end. Ford’s impeccable image from The Big Heat sticks with him in Lang’s version of Human Desire. His character, Jeff Warren, compromises his noble ambitions by falling for a married woman. But the character feels unrealized and falls a little flat. And like The Big Heat, it’s the women that sizzle on the screen, and Grahame’s character, Vicki Buckley, is the one who truly knows the dangers of Human Desire. When we first meet Vicki, she’s in the bedroom, her comely leg stretched in the air, play

Holding on to Nothing | Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne

Once he got on the highway, Jeptha drove ninety miles an hour toward the soft glow that the huge chemical plant cast over Kingsport. I know that chemical plant. And the stench that billowed from the tall smokestacks over the Mountain Empire. But for me, the closest source of pollution hummed about 20 miles away at the Bristol Motor Speedway where race cars roared at night, and beer cans littered the highway. That little bit of distance doesn’t matter when it comes to understanding Lucy and Jeptha, the main characters in Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne. In the novel, Shelburne paints an honest and compassionate picture of rural East Tennessee and the weight of a family name. Shelburne describes Jeptha’s struggle with his legacy below. It was as if a sinkhole had yawned open beneath their trailer, leaving Jeptha clinging to the sides, his hands stripping bark from the roots he clung to, hoping like hell someone would come along and save his sor