Mercedes Lambert is Douglas Anne Munson. Douglas Anne Munson is Mercedes Lambert. Born in Crossville, Tennessee on February 17, 1948, Douglas Anne Munson's childhood was spent moving from town to town before her family finally settled in southern California in the 1960s. Douglas attended the University of New Mexico, where she majored in Latin American studies, and lived for a year in Ecuador. After attending law school at UCLA, Douglas became an attorney in the Los Angeles criminal courts. Most of her legal career was spent in dependency court, where children who have been removed from their parent's custody because of severe abuse, neglect or abandonment move through the legal system. In 1990, Douglas published a novel called El Niño. The book was well received by critics and Douglas went on to publish two mystery novels under the name of Mercedes Lambert, Dogtown in 1991 and Soultown in 1996, which featured two women detectives. She completed a third novel in the series, Ghosttown, which remained unpublished during her lifetime. After leaving the legal profession, Douglas taught creative writing and journaling at UCLA. She lived briefly in Washington State and San Francisco, and after completing a program to teach English as a second language, moved to the Czech Republic where she taught English to soldiers, missionaries, and mink farmers. After being diagnosed with cancer (she had successfully fought breast cancer while writing El Niño in the late 1980s), Douglas returned to the United States in 2001 and sought medical treatment in Connecticut. She was able to make one last visit to the Czech Republic in December of 2003 before dying on December 22, 2003 at a hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut. Her ashes were returned to southern California where they were scattered at sea.
Four years after her death, Ghosttown, the third and final Whitney Logan mystery, was published by Five Star Mystery; in the Spring of 2008, the first two Whitney Logan mysteries—Dogtown and Soultown—were reprinted in a single edition by Stark House. With the resurgence of interest of Douglas Anne Munson, her books have been translated and published in Japan and Italy.
Ashes to ashes, ashes to art. Only Heide Hatry could have dared to confront (and collaborate with) eons of belief systems and taboos to produce these evocative portraits of mortality and its mirror image.
Lucy R. Lippard (art critic, curator, activist)
John Bernard Boxer (a)
Artist Heide Hatry understands the fundamental human desire to have the dead with us always – as image, as memory, as physical remnant. Her portraits made from the ashes of the deceased are haunting modern-day relics, poignant to any viewer, virtually sacred to those who knew and loved the departed. Each is a compelling likeness, a personal shrine.
Richard Vine (art critic, managing editor of Art in America)
James Otis Purdy (b)
In establishing new relations between the formerly unrelated – the essence of creation – Hatry found a contemporary formulation of the memento mori that has pervaded art since the very beginning of culture. Wolf Singer (director at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt)
Roberto Guerra (a)
The exhibition is particularly relevant and timely in light of the Vatican's response on October 25th to what it called an "unstoppable increase" in cremation and its issuance of guidelines barring the scattering of ashes "in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way." The Vatican decreed that the ashes of loved ones have
no place in the home, and certainly not in jewelry. While the Vatican was silent on the use of ashes in painting, we can assume that Hatry's work falls outside its newly articulated "canonical norms" and within its idea "unfitting or superstitious practices."
David A. Petracca (a)
The project is accompanied by the book publication, Heide Hatry: Icons in Ash, in which twenty-seven contributing authors, including Siri Hustvedt, Lydia Millet, Rick Moody, Mark Dery, Peter Weibel, Eleanor Heartney, Steven Pinker, Hans Belting, Wolf Singer, and Luisa Valenzuela have offered a multiplicity of perspectives on the human relationship to death. These cover a wide range of topics, from art history through anthropology, psychology, philosophy, semiotics, ecology, and beyond, as well as discussing death taboos, post-mortem practices, personal experience, the impact of the relic and more. A social, deeply humanistic, and an aesthetic project, Icons in Ash, proposes an alternative to the way we see and interact with death, in particular a radically different approach to mourning and consolation, as well as to how we understand the purpose of art at its most fundamental level.
Germaine A.A. Charbonneau (a)
The exhibition can be viewed from December 8, 2016 to March 7, 2017 at Ubu Gallery, which is located at 416 East 59th Street in Manhattan.
An opening reception will be held on December 13, 2016 from 6:30 – 8:30PM.
24 portraits will be on display – most are not for sale. But Heide Hatry will be accepting commissions for ash portraits, for which a photograph of the subject and a small amount of his or her ashes are required.
For further information or images, please contact Ubu Gallery at 212 753 4444 or
Lena Sereda (a)
UBU GALLERY 416 EAST 59 STREET NEW YORK NY 10022 212.753.4444 INFO@UBUGALLERY.COM
WWW.UBUGALLERY.COM GALLERY HOURS: M – F 11AM TO 6PM
(exceptions to opening hours may occur, but they will be posted in advance at www.ubugallery.com)
If any single person is responsible for post-1980s interest in David Goodis, it's surely Philippe Garnier, arguably the first to write at length about Philadelphia's favourite noirist. While a handful of others have tried to thumb a ride on Garnier's coat-tails, he remains, at least when it comes to Goodis's retreat from oblivion, the primary investigator. Not only has he done the ground-work- interviewing the relevant parties and scrounging the archives- he's conveyed what he's found with no small amount of panache. That goes for David Goodis, Un vie en noir et blanc, or his "translation" of that book David Goodis, A Life In Black and White (my review of that book can be found here). "Translation" because A Life... is anything but a word-for-word translation of his earlier book, rather an adaptation meant English-speaking Goodisites.
“It’s All One Case” is a book that any devotee of American detective fiction would kill for. For fans of Ross Macdonald, the finest American detective novelist of the 1950s and ’60s, it’s an absolute essential.
"It's All One Case: The Illustrated Ross Macdonald Archives," by Kevin Avery and Paul Nelson (Fantagraphics)
First off, this huge album contains the transcript of 47 hours of talk between Kenneth Millar — Macdonald’s real name — and Rolling Stone reporter Paul Nelson. The conversations, which took place in 1976, were intended for an article that never got written. Soon after the interviews were over, Millar began to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and would never write another book. He died in 1983. Nelson’s life would gradually just fall apart. He died in 2006.
Largely because of Kevin Avery’s devotion and hard work this major work of mystery scholarship has finally appeared in print.
Yet there’s still another reason to covet this book — its pictures, hundreds of them. Virtually every page shows off Jeff Wong’s awe-inspiring collection of material relating to Millar.
First appeared in the NoirCon 2016 printed program on October 27, 2016)
Translated by Sam Betts
People always ask me why my novels are so dark. My standard response is that they’re dark because I am, but the reason for that goes back to who I was when I was young.
Things weren’t so great at home. When kids don’t have anyone to count on, their imaginations compensate, and they create imaginary guardians. This is when some people turn to faith, but Christianity never really caught on in Japan. The Buddhist beliefs of most Japanese don’t jibe with the monotheistic ideas of Christianity. If I’d been raised in the West, perhaps I would have been communing with a Christian God, but knowing nothing about Christianity, I created a god of my own. A god original to me, both product of my mind and its protector. In retrospect, he must have been my first creation.
My god was juvenile and fanciful. I called him the Game Master. My childish reasoning was that I was a player in the game of life, and he was there to run the game. Growing up, I was perpetually conscious of his presence. I was depressed for a kid, scared of strangers, and deeply introspective. If I hadn’t felt like there was someone watching over me, it would have been tough for me to cope. Day by day, he gave me the strength I needed to get by.
When I got to middle school, he disappeared. I’m not sure why. Maybe I thought I was too big to need a bodyguard, or maybe I was simply at the age when the mind starts to reject this kind of fantasy. My world was dark as ever, but to save myself from bullying I let on like I was happy. You could say I was performing to survive. I don’t see anything odd about this now, but back then I felt defective. When I’d made it to high school, something snapped, and I couldn’t bring myself to go.
It’s hard to say what pushed me over the edge. Maybe it was the uniforms. In most Japanese high schools, the students all wear the same two outfits. I couldn’t stand seeing everyone show up wearing the same clothes, at the same time, in the same place, for the same thing. There’s nothing strange about a school being full of people, but the sheer scope of their numbers paralyzed me.
I faked sick to get out of going. I was in the throes of puberty, and scared for who I was. I felt like I matched the description of every criminal on the news. Unsettling thoughts pulled my mind in dangerous directions.
But once I discovered reading, and the existence of dark novels, I realized I was not alone. I read voraciously and came into my own. I met characters as dark as me and knew that I would be okay. Peering into the darkness of these novels, I felt something shining back that renewed me. It’s strange to say, but the darkness almost felt like light.
In 1997, the year I started college, a boy of 14 decapitated a younger boy with mental disabilities, gouged out his eyes, slit open his mouth, and stuffed it with a letter to the world. The severed head was found at the front gate of the victim’s school. Because the names of juvenile offenders are protected in Japan, the teenager, following his arrest, was referred to as “Boy A.”
Boy A professed to having his own personal god, one to whom his barbarous acts were dedicated. I couldn’t help but remember the Game Master.
I lost my god before I entered puberty, or knew sexual desire, but Boy A held onto his god right through his sexual awakening. His atrocities even had the aspect of perversion. What would have become of me if I had brought the god of my dark childhood into the swampy realm of my pubescence? As a teenager, my sexuality was volatile. I felt capable of doing something terrible. What would have happened if the Game Master had accessed this turbulent sexual energy? He could have morphed into a dictator and forced me to commit unforgivable acts. The thought of it still gives me chills.
My books are dark because dark books saved me, and my books are full of crime because the criminal mind is not a place that I feel foreign. Rather than writing like a scholar and analyzing the criminal mind from a distance, I write my novels like a grownup teen who suspects that if he’d made just one mistake he would have ended up in jail. In Japan, my novels are seen as mainstream fiction, or maybe mainstream with a thriller twist, but in America they’re often categorized as noir. Regardless of the genre I’m assigned, I’m happy to be read. Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler are as grand to me as Dostoevsky and Fitzgerald. The same goes for David Goodis. My books aren’t noir simply out of taste. Noir made me who I am.
Two years ago, in 2014, I had the privilege of attending
NoirCon, the epicenter of all things noir, and the honor of receiving a Goodis
Award. It was one of the happiest events of my life. This recognition validated
my existence, all the way back to the dark days of my youth.
Japan is far away, making it hard to attend
every year, but I hope to go again someday, to take part in the conversations
and experiences that can only happen at NoirCon.
So allow me to sign off, from my desk in
far-off Tokyo, dreaming of the noirish airs of that long majestic weekend in
This quotation is one critic’s way of describing Goodis’ brand of noir. It’s also reminiscent of Kafka’s statement of some writers’ careers being their “suicide notes.” It seems an accurate description of most Goodis’ books, but especially his last, _Somebody’s Done For_, the suicide being a death-in-life, due to resignation and quiet despair.
Seymour Shubin began his career with the very successful _Anyone’s My Name_ in 1953. It’s about a reporter of true crime stories whose publishers want sensationalism. A typical one would be a murder of a crippled man who had seen the reporter in bed with a woman whom he was interviewing. The victim had power, therefore, to ruin the reporter’s career and marriage.
This is the true story of what had happened to the reporter himself. One reckless moment destroys his career. Shubin draws skillfully the unraveling, both in the police investigation, the revelation his wife suffers, and most importantly, the reporter’s growing understanding of what he had done, not only to his loving wife and the victim, but also to his readers, allowing them to view as a moment’s entertainment (Goodis described himself as a mere “entertainer”) an fatal, all-too-human instant where the protagonist becomes aware of how he had aided and abetted shallow scapegoating, and suffered harsh justice for doing so.. Mass man is carefully taught to mark the “perpetrator” as subhuman in a way that prevents human empathy.
Now, the reporter is the one scapegoated. The story is told first person. It is in a way (no spoilers I hope) his suicide note. Shubin pulls no punches, allowing the reader’s empathy to grow, and at the same time drawing out the tragic implications. The reporter becomes a noble loser – similar in self-awareness and fate to Eddie in _Down There_, Whitey in _Street of No Return_, Hart in _Black Friday_, and Chet Lawrence in _Street of the Lost_. And like them, he does not remain passive:
“I rose up on my toes and grasped the bars. Hello, Hello, all of you, do you hear me out there? Can you hear?” Not quite a suicide note. And maybe a cry to his own readers from Goodis himself.
"Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis...'said the priest, as he took his Bowie knife and plunged it into Aldo's heart, mercifully cutting short the man's pitful, and quite annoying sobbing. 'Sic transit Gloria friggin' Gaynor'. Make sure you get some old time religion! Read Paul D. Brazill's noir epiphany!
NOVEMBER 26, 2016 This is a version of a Keynote address given on October 29th, 2016 at NoirCon 2016, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
THE 1940s was, by anyone’s reckoning, a decisive decade for noir master David Goodis. He married and divorced Elaine Astor, scripted for radio serials, wrote a number of screenplays, and published three novels, including his breakout hitDark Passage(1946). Although his work and his fate are irrevocably bound to his native Philadelphia, he spent the larger part of the ’40s in Los Angeles. As a lifelong devotee of jazz and of the world surrounding it, he reputedly made periodic visits to L.A.’s Central Avenue, when the music played there — an amalgam of jazz and blues later packaged as Rhythm and Blues — was at its creative peak. It’s a music and a place that I tried to evoke in my novelCry For a Nickel, Die For a Dime:
Into the heart of the matter.
Once the Harlem of the West.
Back when black night was falling and white punters were pouring down like a shower of rain. Of course, by 1960, when Cry For a Nickel is set, the lights on Central Avenue — a.k.a. the Main Stem, the Brown Broadway, or simply The Block — had all but gone out. Most of the clubs were boarded over and the music had been co-opted by corporate and criminal concerns. But in the mid- to late 1940s, Central Avenue was still a vital thoroughfare for African-American music and culture. The rest of the piece may be read at the following site: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/black-night-falling-david-goodis-central-avenue/