A powerful Noir short story collection edited by the Bukowski of Noir, Paul D. Brazill. Exiles features 26 outsiders-themed stories by some of the greatest crime and noir writers, K. A. Laity, Chris Rhatigan, Steven Porter, Patti Abbott, Ryan Sayles, Gareth Spark, Pamila Payne, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel, Carrie Clevenger, David Malcolm, Nick Sweeney, Sonia Kilvington, Rob Brunet, James A. Newman, Tess Makovesky, Chris Leek, McDroll, Renato Bratkovič, Walter Conley, Marietta Miles, Aidan Thorn, Benjamin Sobieck, Graham Wynd, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, and an introduction by Heath Lowrance.
Chris Leek’s Last Exit is classic hardboiled stuff over at BEAT TO A PULP.
People say life begins at forty. It doesn’t. The fact is it’s been going on all the while, only you’ve been too busy to notice; forty is just the age when you start to worry about how much of it you have left. I looked up at the Williamsburgh Tower just as the hands on the clock there crawled past midnight and Monday turned to into Tuesday. Like death and taxes, time is relentless.
Read the rest HERE.
Maybe I Should Just Shoot You In The Face is very cool new collection of short stories from Zelmer Pulp, containing photographs by Mark Krajnak, new stories by Brian Panowich, Ryan Sayles, Chris Leek, Chuck Regan (who also did the cover), Gareth Spark, Isaac Kirkman and Benoit Lelievre, with an introduction from me.
At the time Paul asked me to contribute to Exiles I had just finished reading Ron Kovic’s powerful Vietnam memoir, Born on the 4th of July. I was also knee deep in submissions for another charity anthology; Zelmer Pulp’s Bruce Springsteen inspired noir magnum opus, Trouble in the Heartland. Those two things came together like a head on collision to provide the inspiration for my story.
Springsteen had his say on America’s treatment of its returning war veterans with his monster 80’s hit, Born in the USA (possibly the most widely misunderstood song of all time.) The B side to that single was a little known track called, Shut Out The Light. That also became the title of my Exiles story. Both deal with a solider who has been traumatized by war coming back to find that the home he was fighting for no longer exists, at least in his own mind.
The idea of a man struggling to come to terms with the fact that he is an outsider in his own life took hold of me and it wouldn’t let go. I wanted to show how a war being fought in a far off country could result in casualties thousands of miles away, and a blue on blue conflict between two brothers over a girl seemed to be the perfect catalyst for this weapon of self destruction (there’s always a girl, right?)
The story is written from Joe’s point of view, the brother of a disabled Iraqi war veteran, Tommy. The physical damage borne by Tommy is plain for all to see, but his mental scars are not so easily discerned, although they are just as devastating. I have tried to capture a sense of the torment and pain that leads Tommy down the dead end street of addiction and violence, and ultimately to murder. Maybe Joe can still save his brother, maybe not. Either way, just like the ink on Tommy’s knuckles, blood doesn’t wash off.
I am not attempting to make any cutting social commentary on the rights or wrongs of war. This story is merely an exaggerated fictional portrayal of the personal price paid by some of the men and woman who fight them. And I don’t think there is any moral to be found here, apart from perhaps the realization that no matter how far you fall there is always a little further to go.
Huge thanks to Paul for letting me be a part of this fantastic and worthy project. I hope my small contribution doesn’t suck too badly.
Bio:Chris Leek is the author of the forthcoming novellas, Nevada Thunder (Snubnose Press) and Gospel Of The Bullet (One Eye Press). His debut short story collection, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em is available right now. He is 1/5th of Zelmer Pulp and a contributing editor at western fiction magazine, The Big Adios. He can be contacted at http://www.nevadaroadkill.blogspot.co.uk
Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is out now from Blackwitch Press.
I’m interviewed over at MORGEN BAILEY’S BLOG … MARTIN STANLEY reviews 13 SHOTS OF NOIR and DEATH ON A HOT AFTERNOON … CHRIS LEEK reviews DEATH ON A HOT AFTERNOON over at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE … ANDREW PETERS gives DEATH ON A HOT AFTERNOON a 5 star review at GOODREADS … my latest BRIT GRIT ALLEY column is also over at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE … ZOE SHARP talks about money at THE HARDBOILED COLLECTIVE…