My new Think Again column is an examination of some of the revelations in the Times’ Tax stories of last week. It’s called “Will the Times’s Terrific Tax Reporting Matter?” and it’s here.
A few things that got list in the gift-giving guides were:
A) Charlie Christian, The Genius of the Electric Guitar, a four CD box set Columbia/Legacy. The great guitarist joined the Benny Goodman Sextet starting in 1939, America’s first integrated high-profile jazz group (or any other kind of group), which also featured Fletcher Henderson on piano and Lionel Hampton on vibraphone. Discovered by John Hammond—who, I didn’t know this, was Goodman’s brother-in-law—joined Columbia after four years at Victor. This box, a reconfiguration of the original box set from 2002 featuring the same repertoire, also includes an essay by Peter Broadbent, owner/administrator of The Charlie Christian Archive.
B) When reading this essay in the Times Book Review a couple of weeks ago, I got excited about The Cocktail Waitress, a previously lost work by James M. Cain, a former editorial writer for the New York World, by the way. Before getting the audio version, which is available from Harper Audio—I haven’t gotten the audio yet—but the publication led me to discover this new wonderful publisher Hard Case Crime. What a find. First of all, I just love the cover art. I love the love that has gone into printing these new (sometimes) but always retro books. And I love the honor they bring to the genre, as well the opportunities they offer both new writers and readers looking for the new. This edition of the new/old Cain comes with not only a cool cover but also a 4,000-word afterword by editor Charles Ardai discussing the book, its discovery, and the process of editing Cain’s original manuscripts.
C) I’m also eager to read this insanely ambitious book, The Twenty Year Death, a first novel written in the form of three separate crime novels, each set in a different decade and penned in the style of a different giant of the mystery genre. Read all about it:
1931— The body found in the gutter in France led the police inspector to the dead man’s beautiful daughter—and to her hot-tempered American husband.
1941— A hardboiled private eye hired to keep a movie studio’s leading lady happy uncoversthe truth behind the brutal slaying of a Hollywood starlet.
1951— A desperate man pursuing his last chance at redemption finds himself with blood on his hands and the police on his trail… and they got Rose McGowan posed for the cover painting ….
D) I am also looking forward to Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night, which was published by William Morrow and also available on audio from Harper Audio . If you’re a fanatic for this kind of thing, (or owe a present to someone who is) then you might be interested in the publication of Dashiel Hammett’s notes etc, for two Thin Man sequels. The Thin Man is one of the few great books that is also a great movie; usually great movies are made only from not-so great books, but in the noir/detective category, this rule has apparently been suspended, as with the Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, etc.