Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hi folks,

For the first time, my short story collection, MONDAY'S MEAL, is being offered as an ebook. There are a few remaining paperback copies still available from the original publisher, the University of North Texas Press as well.

I view MM as my very best work. It was my second published work of fiction and I was definitely an unknown at the time and it gave me great pride when the NY Times compared me favorably to Raymond Carver. Actually, I didn't know who Carver was at the time but learned quickly after the Times review came out. A few days before it was published, a story of mine was chosen for a Tim O'Brien workshop and during the workshop he pulled me aside and told me my work reminded him of  Ray Carver. When  the Times review came out, coupled with Tim's comment to me, I ran out and bought a copy of Carver's stories and instantly felt like I'd found a soulmate. (Actually, I didn't know who Tim O'Brien was, either. at the time, and then learned he was a big deal in the writing game...)

It's being offered as a prepub sale if you just click below the cover. It goes on regular sale on April 23.



Click here.


Here are a few of the blurbs it garnered at the time:

Praise for MONDAY’S MEAL: 

“The sad wives, passive or violent husbands, parolees, alcoholics and other failures in Les Edgerton's short-story collection are pretty miserable people. And yet misery does have its uses. Raymond Carver elevated the mournful complaints of the disenfranchised in his work, and Edgerton makes an admirable attempt to do the same.” —The New York Times Book Review 

“Reading Les Edgerton’s stories is like listening to those old World War II broadcasts from the London blitz, with the reporter crouching under a restaurant table, microphone in hand, while the bombs drop on the city and the ceiling caves in. Edgerton reports on the world and the news is not good. There’s a kind of wacky wisdom in these bulletins from the underside of life; the stories are full of people you hope never move in next door, for whom ordinary life is an impossible dream. This is good fiction; Edgerton writes lean and nasty prose.” —Dr. Francois Camoin, Director, Graduate School of English, University of Utah 

“Edgerton’s best stories are uncompromising in their casual amorality. They stare you down over the barrel of a gun, rip you up whether or not the trigger gets squeezed.” —Diane Lefer, Creative Writing Instructor in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts 

“When it comes to short stories, Americans rule the roost. Flannery O’ Connor, Raymond Carver, Stephen King, Dorothy Parker, Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, Kyle Minor. And you can add Les Edgerton to that list. Monday’s Meal contains twenty-one tales of dirt realism, sharp slices of American life. Edgerton has a strong and sure grasp of the lives of people who are standing on the edge of a precipice.” —Paul Brazill, author of Too Many Crooks and The Last Laugh 

“Filled to bursting with writing you can taste. Whether dining on bisque and blackened redfish at an upscale cafe, or eating rank mule meat in a pine board cabin, the characters in Edgerton’s world bite down hard and grind up one another with their back teeth. Monday’s Meal is a most satisfyingly vivid and visceral feast.” —Melody Henion Stevenson, author of The Life Stone of Singing Bird 

“This collection of 21 unsettling stories will appeal to readers looking for nontraditional contemporary plots with characters living on the fringes of society. Several selections will haunt readers for some time as events often take a morbid twist; others will leave them wondering about the endings.”—School Library Journal

I hope y'all glom onto a copy and if you find it worthwhile, please consider leaving a review on Amazon and other sites. I'd really appreciate it!

Blue skies,
Les

Sunday, April 1, 2018

German reviews of THE RAPIST

Hi folks,

German publisher Pulpmaster is publishing the German language edition of three of my novels--THE RAPIST, THE BITCH, and THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING, and recently, the publisher, Frank Nowatzke, told me they want the German rights to my memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE, as soon as it's released this fall from Down&Out Books. THE RAPIST has been out for awhile and in June, THE BITCH will be released and hopefully the GENUINE KIDNAPPING will come out this fall. It depends on how quickly the translation can be completed.

I thought I'd share a few of the reviews German readers have posted in the German version of Amazon. I've always thought THE RAPIST in particular, would appeal to the German sensibility and that seems to have been borne out. Here they are and if anyone is interested in seeing the German Amazon site, just go here.



Customer Reviews
FromMafölinoon the 16th of August 2017
Format: Paperback |Verified Purchase
Time is running out for Truman Pinter. He is in jail, convicted of rape and murder, awaiting execution. In the last hours of his life, he muses on God and the world. Pinter, he likes to stylize himself Antichrist, nothing else can do. He enjoys that. "I prefer loneliness and this life is made for me," he says. His story is unbearable. The rape is still the self-proclaimed misanthrope and avid fly fishermen. He would not have committed the murder of the young woman after that. Just continued to watch and watched as she drowned after sex. Pinter considers himself a superman, believes he can overcome gravity. On the day of his execution he wants to fly away, the episode is one of the weakest in the novel. The novel from the perspective of the perpetrator is disturbing. The US author Les Edgerton, he is a classic US noir author, leads the reader in the head of the murderer. Everything is evil, really nasty. The harmless secret paths of the author steer directly into the heart of the darkness. The peace of mind of the offender at confession worries. The novel is interesting as a literary experiment. A reading that shakes.

FromBernd Alexander Schmidton March 30, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
Granted, the rapist is reading hard! The reader becomes the quasi-confessor of a psychopath, only that he does not make a confession, but a creed. You do not read this book, you have to endure it.

Truman is a monster. He raped and murdered a young woman, then carelessly thrown her body away. Now he's stuck in the death cell and we, the readers, with him. Chained to the rapist who relishes his own execution. He talks to us nonstop, presumptuous and arrogant. What a fine guy he is. And how little really a genius like him should take care of the laws of the people and in general: the thing with the rape was quite different.

Bad, weird, nauseating and terrible ... but terribly good!

FromLord Jickledyon the 9th of January 2017
Format: Paperback
The novel first appeared in March 2013 under the original title "The Rapist" as a 160-page paperback published by New Pulp Press. The German translation from American English was done by Ango Laina and Angelika Müller. She appeared as a paperback volume 40 in the publishing house PULP MASTER in Berlin. This edition contains 157 pages including a seven-page epilogue by Ekkehard Knörer. The novel is preceded by a quotation from the British soldier, aeronautical engineer and philosopher John William Dunne, who was, among others, Aldous Huxley's esteemed founder of a serialism theory of consciousness: "Past, present and future exist simultaneously, as our dreams prove."

What a monster of book! Nobody writes a novel in which a self-centered, arrogant rapist on death row ruses his moral philosophy in twisted words, and thinks people love the novel outright. Catchy and easy is not that, but bulky and infamous. Many will have too little invitation to sympathy and Mitfiebern be present. The originality, which tramples on all stereotypes, will make the average reader boring because: not comparable to others. Les Edgerton easily disassembles any genre assignment, the novel is not a thriller, not a thriller, not even superficially exciting, neither Noir nor Hardboiled. The appropriate frame of reference is more in the direction of high literature à la Dostojewski's "Records from the cellar hole".

"I'm going to tell my story in turn, despite the fact that you're a lot younger than me and undoubtedly attracted to bland food, your attention span will be just over zero and your understanding of everything Written ones below, so I will not make it too complicated, and always one by one, so as not to confuse you. " (P. 8)

The "rapist" is the direct glimpse into the head of sociopath Truman Ferris Pinter, a megalomaniac who situates himself outside the morals of his fellow man, who believes that he is free and free to live his own rules and control everything (which will turn out to be an illusion in the end). Truman: True Man? He, who believes he can live without other people, is more dependent on them than he believes: to express his infamous (or pathetic) philosophy in an empty auditorium meant: to have a meaningless philosophy! He needs spectators, an interface to which he can express his contempt and arrogance. In this respect, he also makes the reader an accomplice with the report, trying to find a sympathizer. As a reader, you have to get along first: Some sentences seem like an inexpressible truth that has always seemed to be self-evident, but some sentences are absolutely terrible if, for example, he declares the rape to be insignificant, because he stands morally, intellectually, and socially above the victim. His report is neither a confession nor a description of the events that brought him on death row, trying not to convince innocence to assert, but is rather a kind of testament of his self, the attempt, the self-deception in the face of his death - And in the truest sense of the word, to keep upright: whoever does not stop talking is not dead. He: a sheherazade of death row; his report: a song of praise to his own perfidious morality and him, the creator of his own world. It states its unassailability. Will end up even apotheosis!

Truman, who claims to be able to use the ability of flying as a child to grow up to escape execution, simply wants to flee, but only for a brief moment to show the law enforcement officer that only his rules and his schedule apply, that he can disappear at his own discretion and then return to die "duly" on the gallows. He will actually experience his blue miracle when he finally encounters his creator in person (or at least in style). Giving these mind games all under one roof is the great strength of the novel. An intellectual fun and a kind of disclaimer for the reader. "The rapist" turns up so soon, beats the strings, swirls present, Past and future - away from "objective" stages of time to "subjective", simultaneously existing levels of consciousness, that one could almost think, a strange science fiction novel around parallel worlds in the hands to hold. A novel also about revolt. Overconfidence and - not least - realization! But also about compassion in a partly stupid, partly heartless world. With a narrative lightness and a literary daring, as I was not allowed to read for a long time, genre boundaries are torn down, a long nose is shown to all acquaintances. An extraordinary tour de force: ambitious, intellectually stimulating and incredibly resourceful. A party! So unlike most of what I have read in the field so far. And nobody says it has to be done!

Blue skies,
Les

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Interview with Will Viharo

Hi folks,

Just completed this interview with Will Viharo on his column, Digital Media Ghost. Click here to see it on the site.

Author of the Week: Les Edgerton

Fiction is easier to categorize than fiction writers, at least much of the time.

Take award-winning, bestselling, universally lauded “crime writer” Les Edgerton. Designating him as such may be promotionally correct, but it doesn’t begin to distill the essence of a man that had led a long, complex, tormented, challenging, and ultimately rewarding life.

To pigeonhole Les Edgerton merely as a “crime writer,” even though he writes “crime fiction,” would indeed be a crime, or at least a misdemeanor, of intellectual laziness.

An author may specialize in writing violent, hardboiled tales of desperate people doing risky things, but that doesn’t mean the author is anything like his or her characters. Most of the time the writers are sharing their own fantasies. The readers themselves take a vicarious walk on the dark side with no danger to themselves. Kind of like a video game. Except reading requires a certain kind of mental concentration that is eluding more and more of us as our multi-media both expands and contracts. I’ve never played a single video game in my life, but I understand the emancipating escapism of creative imagination, especially my own.

For the record, though many of my books can be categorized as some version of “noir,” I’ve never considered myself a crime writer per se. I write mostly from my own experiences, and since I’m not a criminal, at least in the legal sense, I don’t really relate to criminals. My protagonists are often damaged people who read too many crime novels and watch too many crime movies, and then try to act accordingly. And therein lies the conflict of the otherwise unconventional narratives.

But don’t call me a “crime writer.” Unless, of course, you consider my work an affront to society at large. The only rules I break are literary in nature.

Enough about me. Let’s focus on the subject of this interview, which is not the interviewee.

Les Edgerton is a legend. Maybe not in his mind, but in mine and many, many others, whether readers or writers. He comes by this honor not through any intentional ambitions, but incidentally, just by living his life, often taking the hard road instead of cruising down Easy Street. Not that there was often an optional fork in his path, anyway.

Though I’m a “straight,” at least as far as the law goes, I relate a lot to Les both as a person and as a writer, though our backgrounds are quite different. Besides artistic sublimation, we are bonded by a tenacious survival instinct, and a low tolerance for baloney. (In my case, I eschew both the behavioral and the edible iterations).

Les has plenty to say on these and other subjects, so I’ll let him take it from here. Hang on tight: it’s going to be a bumpy, grumpy, but edifying ride…




You’ve sold everything from drugs to life insurance in your colorful life. How do you sell yourself as an author in such a crowded, competitive marketplace?

I don’t think I’m a good one to ask this of! I don’t seem to do that great a job in selling myself. I suspect it’s because social media is fairly foreign to me and I’ve always felt out of place in it. People who pat themselves on the back or seek out praise seem a bit… what’s the un-PC word I’m looking for? Oh, yeah, kind of girlie. Most of it reminds me of “those kids” in high school, running for class president. Working the room pretty much like a… what’s the word I’m looking for?... oh, yeah, like a whore. That’s kind of what social media looks like to me and I’m just uncomfortable in it. And yet, I put more of myself out there than I can ever feel comfortable with. I just have a deep-seated belief that real men and women don’t wear their feelings on their sleeves and that seems to be a main staple of social media. So, in what will probably be an unpopular answer to your question, I’m probably not suited very well to social media so I doubt if I’ll ever do well with it for promotion. Plus, I think it’s maybe a bit overrated—I don’t think it moves that many books. What moves significant numbers of books is being published by a Legacy 5 or a top independent, getting reviews in mainstream papers and mostly by being on the shelves of brick and mortar bookstores. Social media seems to sell to a very small audience, composed of authors in the same genre and their relatively few fans. Compared to the effort expended, I don’t see a commensurate return in sales. I suspect many of us have bought into that advice that we need a “platform” if we want to sell books. And, crank out more and more books, regardless of the quality.

Just not interested in getting votes for Prom King…

You’re been in the military and in prison, so unlike many of your peers in the noir field, you know real violence up close and personal. How does this background inform your work as a crime fiction writer?
As an honest and knowledgeable writer. I see all these writers writing criminals and it’s obvious most don’t have the faintest clue how the criminal mind works or how real criminals actually act. It works the same as the straight’s mind, to be honest. Like a straight, they don’t think in terms of good and evil or good and bad. Whatevever they do, it’s usually for the same reasons a straight does things. (I know that the term “straight” today sometimes means a heterosexual, but I use it the way guys in the joint use it—to describe a person who obeys the law, i.e., a “lame.”)
The way most bad guys keep getting portrayed is pretty much the way MSNBC portrays criminals in their inside the joint series. Mainly, they show two-three kinds of criminals—the psychotic and the weight-lifters. The gangs. None of those guys are the norm—they’re just the guys they can sensationalize. Most are the outliers, but they’re presented as the average guy. If you could watch an average prison scene, you’d probably focus on the guys bench-pressing Buicks. Those aren’t the bad guys. Half of them are on steroids and half of them couldn’t or wouldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. It’s mostly all for looks and show and doesn’t scare anyone. They’re selling wolf tickets and the only people who buy those are lames. Or, the gang-bangers. They walk around like they’re breaking bad all the time and the truth is a lot of them are jokes. Or, out and out cowards. They only break bad when they outnumber others. The quiet guy on the corner of the yard, talking with one or two guys is the true badass in the joint. The weightlifters don’t bother him, the gangsters don’t bother him. They walk around this guy and ignore him. That’s because he’s the guy who will take them out in a New York second and they know it. But most writers don’t even know this guy exists. He doesn’t fit their stereotypical ideas of what a convict is or what a truly bad ass looks or acts like.

There are so many books now about meth criminals or guys who are high or drunk and are basically just mesomorphs. Yeah, there are guys like that—more now than ever before—but there are also a substantial number of people involved in criminal activities who don’t look anything like these guys and act nothing like them. A great many criminals never get caught. Look up crime statistics and it’s an eye-opener. Personally, when I finally got caught I’d committed well over four hundred burglaries and many other crimes for which I never got charged. I actually got caught for two crimes. Two. They charged me with 82 burglaries and they didn’t have a clue about any of them other than the two they caught me in the act of. Now, any endeavor you get caught doing two out of over four hundred, you’d kind of have to admit was successful. The only way I got charged with more than those two was that I was with other guys who also got caught and they snitched me out, telling about the jobs they’d been in on with me. The cops got lucky and actually caught me in two actual crimes out of the more than four hundred I got away with. If cops didn’t depend on snitches they’d never catch anyone. For crimes against property that is. For some crimes—like murders and kidnappings—they have a better rate. Although, more than half of all murders go unsolved, so…

I didn’t quit committing crimes when I got out of prison—I just quit getting caught. And that was because I acted alone. I also didn’t drink or do drugs on “the job.”That’s all it takes to be a successful outlaw. I committed over a thousand new crimes after being released and the cops didn’t even sniff what I was doing. I remember times when I left my parole officer’s office and went out and robbed a place. It’s really easy to be a successful criminal. There are so many outlaws who commit crimes constantly and never come close to getting caught. But, straights keep on believing this bullshit that crime doesn’t pay and eventually all criminals get caught. That’s about as true as saying all gamblers eventually end up losing. Yeah…

The other thing lacking in many writer’s work is a sense that they have a clue at all about killing or facing death. Everyone fancies themselves an expert these days and few are. In Hemingway’s day the writers who had never faced death left that stuff to Papa—most would have been embarrassed to portray violent death in their pages—Hemingway might have called them out on it. So they wrote about things like garden parties and had characters named Gatsby. At which they did fine. When they wrote about things they actually knew something about and had some actual talent, they looked like real writers. Today, those kinds of writers are not afraid of being called out and they pretend to know something about facing death and while a few do, a lot don’t. They’ve never been in the service, or a criminal, or a cop or anyone who’s faced dying on an up-close-and-personal level. Sorry, but I can’t suspend my disbelief for a lot of them. They give away their innocence in so many ways. A lot of them should be focusing on garden parties more, the life of insurance salesmen, and sorrowing over the lost babes of their youth…


At some point in your life, in between being a hair stylist, business headhunter, sports writer, and escort service specialist, you were actually homeless, and then you earned a MFA in writing. Do you feel your diverse personal and professional experiences or your formal education are more crucial to your literary success, or are they complementary? Is it different for everyone?

I was homeless more than once, Will. Several times—in New Orleans, in Baltimore, in Orange County. No big deal. Our homeless are far wealthier than the poor of most countries. I never had to miss many meals. Too many bleeding hearts out there for that to happen. And, even if there weren’t, our Dumpsters hold better and more food than most of the shitholes in the world do for their regular citizens. Except maybe the Dumpsters in L.A.—that’s one shithole where it looks like the homeless have completely taken over…

As to your question, formal writing instruction never gave me an ounce of help in writing. Just a colossal waste of money and time. And, I went to one of the best schools in the country—Vermont College, which places in the top five every year in Poets & Writers. I shudder to think what these Johnny-come-lately programs that have sprung up everywhere are like. They’re just cash cows for colleges. The only one I see as being of value any more is Seton Hill. Not even Iowa any more. The vast number of writers are being taught to be one-trick ponies. They just keep writing the same tired-ass story over and over. Show me the difference between Jack Reacher novel #1 and Jack Reacher novel #18. Not ten words worth of difference. And I read and enjoy Reacher novel, and admire Lee Child who doesn’t pretend to be a writer but is an author. Big difference.

I just went through a near-death experience and my entire outlook on life has shifted. I know now what guys like Richard Brautigan felt like. Like we’ve put our entire lives out there and no one noticed, except superfically. Well, screw that.

The real reason I think you asked about MFAs and the like is that you understand that the vast majority of wannabe writers have (rightfully) little faith in their writing ability and are looking for a magic bean that will confer the title of writer upon them. This is the kind of thing they’ve looked for all their lives. Go to school, earn an MBA, make a fortune on Wall Street or in the corporate world. Get a law degree, go to med school, get a teaching degree, a degree in journalism, etc., etc. It’s all about education, about a degree. Biggest load of bullshit ever sold to gullible youth. And, the only route to success they’re aware of. It’s fool’s gold but they don’t know it. They don’t realize the adults in their lives have been sold a crock of shit and all they can do is move it along to the next generation.

Kids, listen to the truly wise among us. Listen to the genius, Flannery O’Connor, who when asked if MFA programs discouraged writers, replied, “Not enough of them.” Truer words were never spoken… A semester studying just one of her stories (preferably without some idiot MFA advisor whispering in their ear their own moronic interpretation of it) will learn infinitely more about writing than sitting through a hundred academic lectures and make-work workshops. Run like the wind from MFA programs if you ever want a chance to learn to write. Where it will help you is to get published in journals run by MFA folks, mostly an experience that feels oddly like incest, probably because it is. It will also get your work read by a certain kind of literary agent who still puts value in these kinds of worthless degrees. They’ll help you become an author. Not a writer. But, I suspect the majority of folks writing today would rather be an author than a writer. At least, a lot of the work I see reflects that mindset.

Will, to fully answer your question, for me neither my life experiences nor any formal education were crucial to my literary ability. To my literary success, my life experiences—particularly the ones outside the norm---were helpful, but as far as literary ability only two things really helped that. First, an extraordinary intelligence (an I.Q. of 163), and second, having read far, far more than anyone I know was the biggest single factor. I firmly believe that you learn to write by reading. And, it’s what I notice about a lot of today’s writers—they don’t seem to have read much of quality. I began by reading Balzac and de Maupassant and the Russians when I was six and seven and eight years old. I see so many writers who say they began reading the Hardy Boys and cannot believe they’ll ever amount to a whole lot in letters. Is that elitist? Sure, but to be a good or great writer is the very definition of elitism. Can you imagine Saul Bellow attending some of today’s writer’s conventions or even being aware of them? Hemingway might show up but only because he had a commercial side and figured out people would buy him drinks. I’m pretty sure Flannery O’Connor wouldn’t even consider something like that. She valued her brain cells more than that… Too much class and pride to work the room like a high school kid trying to get enough votes for class president  or prom king.

Reading voraciously and reading a quality list from the age of five or six is the key to becoming anything more than a formulaic or hack writer. Being also a genius doesn’t hurt. I get students who read an average of 5-10 books a year and I know they’re never going to write anything I’d want to read. Their literary heroes are John Gresham, Stephen King and the like. It used to be that anyone who read those kinds of authors would never admit it in public but those days have changed… It says a lot when a “writer” claims that one of his writing heroes is Stephen King. You can pretty well bet this isn’t a writer who can tell the difference between an Ian Fleming novel and The Stranger although he probably would never read the latter.

What are your influences, literary or otherwise?

I’ll list those who’ve written stories I admire and those I’ve learned something from. I always hate doing this as I can’t begin to list them all and after the interview comes out I feel badly about forgetting someone who should be on the list. Please forgive me the omissions.

Here ya go. The Bible. Harry Crews, Camus, Borges, Steve Hamilton, Joe Lansdale, Anthony Smith, Paul Brazill, Ray Banks, David Sedaris, Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, Raymond Carver, Ken Bruen, Christopher Moore, Flannery O’Connor, James Dickey, Faulkner, Nelson Algren, Charles Bukowski, Elaine Ash, Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Murray, Larry Brown, Helen FitzGerald, Barry Hannah, Les Edgerton—yeah, myself—I read my own work often--Celine, Mark Twain, Guillermo O’Joyce, Sherman Alexie, Richard Brautigan, Callie Khouri, Janet Burroway, Linwood Barclay, David Mamet, Cormac McCarthy, Anton Chekhov, Saul Bellow, Pete Dexter, Larry Watson--a lot more I’m forgetting right now. You’ll notice most are older or dead and that’s because I don’t see a lot of competition for great writing these days. I see a lot of work you might call “satisfactory” but little that is actual genius. It’s like a sea of mediocre TV series’ episodes that look a lot alike out there. Name ten books that actually affected you emotionally in the last couple of years. Name five. Hell, name one or two! Name one person writing today who could write a book to match one of Nelson Algren’s. There are a handful but a small handful.

Sorry about the bitterness. I nearly died a few weeks ago and it kind of changed my outlook on life and writing. I’ve come close to death before but prior to this was young enough I didn’t really believe I could die. Now I know it’s always very close. And it made me want to never again lie for the sake of being liked. I’d much rather be respected and even hated for being forthright and honest than for making somebody feel good.

Write a truly great book like The Lock Artist, Trout Fishing in America, The Stranger, A Feast of Snakes, The Rapist, No Country for Old Men, or a short story as brilliant as “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” or “The Fiend” and then you’ll be a writer and not just an author.


What’s next for you?

Well, since I’ve just committed professional suicide with this interview, about all that’s left is to get my affairs in order, then lay down in the casket and cross my hands and await the pallbearers.

In the meantime, I’ll be finalizing my memoir, Adrenaline Junkie, which comes out this fall from Down&Out Books. Maybe it’ll win one of those awards some of my other books should have won. Probably not… Finishing up a novel based on a short story I wrote when I was 12 and that my agent urged me to write, saying it “haunted her” and that if I wrote it well, could be as good as No Country for Old Men.

At any rate, thank you for this opportunity, Will. Hope the haters won’t include you—you just were the gracious host who asked the questions and didn’t realize he was talking to the angry old bastard threatening the kids on his lawn with his .12 gauge…

And, I don’t really hate many of my fellow writers. I just don’t want to have drinks with some of you… and I’m sure the feeling’s mutual. That’s what we call a “big hairy-ass deal”… not… Too many “nice” guys (to one’s face) out there who I wouldn’t turn my back on for a nanosecond. I love the real men and women of literature. I detest the phonies that work the room and can’t do the real work of writing. As we say in Texas, too many writers today are “all hat and no cattle.”

Blue skies,
Les

I prefer gray, but…wow. Thanks for one helluva ride.

@HookedOnNoir
FB – Les Edgerton, Author


BIO: Les Edgerton is an ex-con, matriculating at Pendleton Reformatory in the sixties for burglary (plea-bargained down from multiple counts of burglary, armed robbery, strong-armed robbery and possession with intent). He was an outlaw for many years and was involved in shootouts, knifings, robberies, high-speed car chases, dealt and used drugs, was a pimp, worked for an escort service, starred in porn movies, was a gambler, served four years in the Navy, and had other misadventures. He’s since taken a vow of poverty (became a writer) with 21 books in print. His memoir, Adrenaline Junkie is currently being edited prior to being published by Down&Out Books in November, 2018. Work of his has been nominated for or won: the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award (short story category), Derringer Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Jesse Jones Book Award, Spinetingler Magazine Award for Best Novel (Legends category), awarded two literary grants from the NEA, and the Violet Crown Book Award, among others. Screenplays of his have placed as a semifinalist in the Nicholl’s and as a finalist in the Best of Austin and Writer’s Guild’s competitions. He holds a B.A. from I.U. and the MFA in Writing from Vermont College. He was the writer-in-residence for three years at the University of Toledo, for one year at Trine University, and taught writing classes for UCLA, St. Francis University, Phoenix College, Writer’s Digest, Vermont College, the New York Writer’s Workshop and other places. He currently teaches a private novel-writing class online. He lives in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where he immigrated to some years ago from the U.S. and is currently learning the language and customs there. He writes because he hates... a lot... and hard. Injustice and bullying and mendacity are what he hates the most. He can be found at www.lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/




Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Recommendation

Hi folks,

I want to draw your attention to a terrific novel that will be on sale this coming Tuesday, March 20 for only $1.99 for one day. Consider getting a copy of Marjorie Brody's psychological thriller, TWISTED. It's one of my all-time favorite thrillers and is just such an intelligent and riveting read that it's found a place in my personal top ten novels.

Do yourself a favor and glom onto a copy. You'll thank me!


Click HERE

Blue skies,
Les

Friday, February 23, 2018

FLU


Hi folks,

Sorry I’ve been absent the past couple of weeks, but I’ve had the flu and then had a relapse. I don’t know if I was near death but it sure felt like it. I seem to have pulled through and that was totally due to my beautiful wife Mary who was the best nurse I’ve ever had.
It all began with a surprise birthday party Mary sprung on me two days before my actual birthday on February 11 at a local Mexican restaurant we like. Somehow she kept the whole thing secret from me and I was knocked out when we walked in and there were dozens of my friends and relatives. I’ve never had a surprise party before, and at age 75 was running out of opportunities. She really created a magical time for me, one I’ll never forget.


But, literally the moment we went back home, the misery began. Almost the instant we walked in the door we were both knocked to our knees. There was no doubt what we had. It hit so hard, I had to cancel our online class and as it was only our second week that took some doing. It ended up I had to cancel a second week and I’ve never had to do that.

We went to the doctor and were quickly diagnosed and put on Tamiflu It worked for Mary—although she went back to work a couple of days too early, but that’s Mary. I just got worse and worse. It was all I could do to get out of bed a few times a day to go to the bathroom and that trip was just debilitating. We took me back to the doctor and he put me on a bunch of other medicines and COPD measures. I truly thought I was going to die. Truth be told, I wanted to die. If this was going to be the way the rest of my life would be, I didn’t want anything to do with it. I couldn’t breathe—it felt like I was continually suffocating; I couldn’t sleep—it was just a constant barrage of coughing,coughing, coughing all night long. The worse was I couldn’t think. A couple of times I went to my computer and tried to focus on a student’s work and just couldn’t make myself read it intelligently. 

But, I’ve recovered. Should be able to return to class on Monday. 

A couple of things took place while I was will that I wasn’t able to report on then. A blogpost I’d previously been asked to contribute was printed and here it is. Hope you enjoy it. And then, I’d recorded a radio podcast with Dr. Paul Reeves out of Detroit. The broadcast comes out shortly and links are below.

Blue skies,
Les


FEBRUARY 14TH, 2018

Using Third Person vs First Person Novel Narratives

By Guest Blogger

Hi folks,
A source of discussion that always comes up at the beginning of my classes is whether the writer should use first- or third-person. The short answer I usually give, is: “Whatever the material calls for.”
Since that doesn’t adequately address the question, I go on to amplify the answer, and that’s what I’ll do here as well.
First, I ask the student who wants to employ first-person why they chose that stance. Almost without exception, they’ll state, “Well, it’s just more intimate. Third person is too formal for the character I want to create for the story.”
That’s when I proceed to knock holes in that theory.
Before I do that, here are a few things I’ve observed. More beginning writers than established writers tend to write in first-person. Far more people who’ve been published are aware that third person is considered the “professional” POV and that first-person is often considered the “amateur” POV.
Now, before everybody starts yelling at me that there are tons of excellent books out there written in first-person, let me assure you I’m well aware of that. If I may, I’d like to refer you back to my short answer: “Whatever the material calls for.” There are often times when the material calls for first person. However… not as often as is sometimes realized.
Let me explain.
The chief reason many agents and editors prefer third person and call it the “professional” POV, is that the overwhelming percentage of successful books and bestsellers are written in third person. This isn’t an accident. There are reasons this is the case.
Actually, the overwhelming majority of manuscripts that arrive in a publisher’s or agent’s office are written in first-person. If that’s so (and it is), then why would more third-person efforts become published? Well, because many more manuscripts are submitted by beginners than by pros. By the time one goes from the beginner’s group to the published group, the numbers in the second group have dramatically diminished. That means the second group is going to be predominantly writing in third person. Fewer people by far in that group, but a much higher percentage of publishable manuscripts. Most in third person…
This simply goes back to my observation above that more beginning writers employ first-person than do seasoned pros. Editors and agents have also noted this fact. Overwhelmingly so do beginners prefer to write in first- rather than third-person.
That means that when a gatekeeper encounters a first-person manuscript, it goes without saying that a little red light goes on (from his/her past experiences) that chances are pretty good this mss came from a… less seasoned writer. And, it’s just a fact of life and the business of writing that the newer the writer, the less likely the mss will be of publishable quality.
Does that mean when your first-person opus lands on an editor’s or agent’s desk it is doomed from the start? Of course not. But, a writer should be aware that there’s a bit of a bias already in place against first-person.
If it’s a book that should have been written in first rather than third, and it’s written well and is of publishable quality, no problem. Any good editor or agent will be able to tell within a couple of pages if it’s written well or not, no matter what POV stance the author has elected.
Why do agents and editors feel this way about first-person? This gets to the heart of the matter. The reason many hold first-person in a negative light is that anyone who’s read many manuscripts knows that a great many first-person novels are thinly-disguised autobiographies, usually espousing some recently-learned political or social philosophy, or, if not that, their imitation of some current (or just-over) line of bestsellers. At present, this includes vampire or zombie opuses, or invincible characters who look suspiciously like Jack Reacher but have different names.
Another reason many choose a first-person narrator is that it seems easier to newer writers. Many (many!) first novels are written with characters saying and thinking things the writer him- or herself thinks in their own minds. Novels that are fiction in name only; primarily many are just vehicles to assign the writer’s own thoughts to in a loosely-degenerative plot.
Those are all secondary reasons why some writers choose first-person. Overwhelmingly, however, the biggest single reason lots of writers choose first is that they feel it’s a more intimate POV. It seems to make sense. After all, if one is writing “I” from their character’s POV, one can’t get much closer to the character, can they?
You saw this coming, didn’t you!
Of course there’s a way to achieve the same intimacy with third person as there is with first. And, it’s easy.
Simply by employing a close third person, not a formal third. A narrative that uses a close third achieves exactly the same intimacy with the reader as a first person does. The good news is that by using a close third person you get all the positives and none of the negatives of first person.
The bad news is… well, there isn’t any bad news. It’s a win-win situation.
And, how does one achieve this magical close third that feels like first person with none of the baggage of first? 
Again, it’s easy. You simply substitute personal pronouns for the character’s name. That’s it. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Let’s take a look. Examples are the best way to prove a point.
I’ll give you a section of narrative in which a formal third is used. Then, I’ll give the same passage in first person. And, finally, I’ll follow that with the same narrative, only this time with personal pronouns in a close third person. I feel confident that as soon as you read them you’ll see and feel the difference.
***
From my short story, “My Idea of a Nice Thing” first published in Breeze and included in my short story collection, “Monday’s Meal.” (The two people are at an A.A. meeting and it’s about a third through the story.)
First, the passage in a formal third person:
            “My idea of a nice thing,” he said, “would be a world where you could get drunk and it wouldn’t harm you, physically, anyway.”
            Raye turned and offered her hand. “My name is Raye.”
            “Hi, Raye. Emory. Like the board.”
            Raye didn’t quite get it and first and then she did and smiled.
            “I liked what you said that time, about sorting yourself out.”
            Again, Raye didn’t get it at first, and then she realized he must have been at the meeting she’d first gotten up and spoken at.
            “Well, yeah,” Raye said, “It’s kind of like that, but boy did I get in trouble saying that!”
            “From Jim, right?” ‘You shouldn’t talk about the joys of drink at a meeting or a place where that’s all the people think about?’ That Jim?” He grinned, and Raye saw he had great teeth, even and white, and what was nice was the way he smiled. Like he was unaware of how great his teeth really were, that he was smiling just because he was happy or had thought of something funny. “There’s been talk of replacing ol’ Jim. He gets his meetings mixed up, thinks this is Parents Without Partners.”
            There must have been something in Raye’s face that made him realize he’d said the wrong thing.
            “Look, I’m sorry. Let’s get out of here,” he said. “Go get a drink.”
            They use the same pickup lines here that they do in bars, Raye thought.
            “I don’t mean a drink with liquor in it,” he said. “I mean a Coke or something, but in a bar. This place feels like a hospital. It’s depressing.”
            “This is a hospital… Emory,” Raye added his name haltingly, knowing that once she’d said it she was going to leave with him.
That’s a formal third. Now, read the same passage as first person.
            “My idea of a nice thing,” he said, “would be a world where you could get drunk and it wouldn’t harm you, physically, anyway.”
            “Raye,” I said, turning and offering my hand. “My name is Raye.”
            “Hi, Raye. Emory. Like the board.”
            I didn’t quite get it at first and then I did and smiled.
            “I liked what you said that time, about sorting yourself out.”
            Again, I didn’t get it at first, and then I realized he must have been at the meeting I’d first gotten up and spoken at.
            “Well, yeah,” I said, “It’s kind of like that, but boy did I get in trouble saying that!”
            “From Jim, right?” ‘You shouldn’t talk about the joys of drink at a meeting or a place where that’s all the people think about?’ That Jim?” He grinned, and I saw he had great teeth, even and white, and what was nice was the way he smiled. Like he was unaware of how great his teeth really were, that he was smiling just because he was happy or had thought of something funny. “There’s been talk of replacing ol’ Jim. He gets his meetings mixed up, thinks this is Parents Without Partners.”
            There must have been something in my face that made him realize he’d said the wrong thing.
            “Look, I’m sorry. Let’s get out of here,” he said. “Go get a drink.”
            They use the same pickup lines here that they do in bars, I thought.
            “I don’t mean a drink with liquor in it,” he said. “I mean a Coke or something, but in a bar. This place feels like a hospital. It’s depressing.”
            “This is a hospital… Emory,” I added his name haltingly, knowing that once I’d said it I was going to leave with him.
And, finally, the same passage as a close third. See if you don’t agree it feels exactly like first person.
            “My idea of a nice thing,” he said, “would be a world where you could get drunk and it wouldn’t harm you, physically, anyway.”
            “Raye,” she said, turning and offering her hand. “My name is Raye.”
            “Hi, Raye. Emory. Like the board.”
            She didn’t quite get it and first and then she did and smiled.
            “I liked what you said that time, about sorting yourself out.”
            Again, she didn’t get it at first, and then she realized he must have been at the meeting she’d first gotten up and spoken at.
            “Well, yeah,” she said, “It’s kind of like that, but boy did I get in trouble saying that!”
            “From Jim, right?” ‘You shouldn’t talk about the joys of drink at a meeting or a place where that’s all the people think about?’ That Jim?” He grinned, and she saw he had great teeth, even and white, and what was nice was the way he smiled. Like he was unaware of how great his teeth really were, that he was smiling just because he was happy or had thought of something funny. “There’s been talk of replacing ol’ Jim. He gets his meetings mixed up, thinks this is Parents Without Partners.”
            There must have been something in her face that made him realize he’d said the wrong thing.
            “Look, I’m sorry. Let’s get out of here,” he said. “Go get a drink.”
            They use the same pickup lines here that they do in bars, she thought.
            “I don’t mean a drink with liquor in it,” he said. “I mean a Coke or something, but in a bar. This place feels like a hospital. It’s depressing.”
            “This is a hospital… Emory,” she added his name haltingly, knowing that once she’d said it she was going to leave with him.
***
See how by simply replacing the POV character’s name with personal pronouns instantly transforms it into a read that feels exactly like first person. The same level of intimacy? Kinda neat, isn’t it!
How do you know when the “material calls for first or third person?”
There’s a handy-dandy litmus test. If you can substitute personal pronouns for all the “I’s” in the narrative and it doesn’t affect the story… then it should be in third. If it does affect the story and in a negative way, then it should be in first. Most of the time I think you’ll find that it works better in third person. A close third person.
Personally, I often write in first person. Mostly for short stories. For novels, occasionally I’ll use first person, but mostly I opt for third. A close third.
Try it yourself. Take a passage written in a formal third (where the POV character’s name is used often) and rewrite it, taking out all the instances where the name is used and substitute personal pronouns for the POV character’s name. (This is once the character’s name is on the page and the reader knows who the “he” or “she” is.) Then, recast it in first person and compare the close third version with the first person version and see if you don’t agree they feel pretty much the same.
Or, take a previously-written passage in first person and substitute personal pronouns for the I’s. If you don’t feel any or very much difference, guess what? It might be a better POV to use.
Hope this helps!
Blue skies,
Les
*  *  *  *  *  *

ABOUT LES

Les EdgertonLes Edgerton is an ex-con, matriculating at Pendleton Reformatory in the sixties for burglary. He was an outlaw for many years and was involved in shootouts, knifings, robberies, high-speed car chases, drugs, was a pimp, worked for an escort service, starred in porn movies, was a gambler, served four years in the Navy, and had other misadventures. He’s since taken a vow of poverty (became a writer) with 18 books in print, including Finding Your Voice and HOOKED.
Three of his novels have been sold to German publisher, Pulpmaster for the German language rights. His memoir, Adrenaline Junkie is currently being marketedWork of his has been nominated for or won: the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award (short story category), Derringer Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Jesse Jones Book Award, Spinetingler Magazine Award for Best Novel (Legends category), and the Violet Crown Book Award, among others.
Les holds a B.A. from I.U. and the MFA in Writing from Vermont College. He was the writer-in-residence for three years at the University of Toledo, for one year at Trine University, and taught writing classes for UCLA, St. Francis University, Phoenix College, Writer’s Digest,  Vermont College, the New York Writer’s Workshop and other places. He currently teaches a private novel-writing class online.
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19 COMMENTS TO USING THIRD PERSON VS FIRST PERSON NOVEL NARRATIVES

·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/122553b9131a87d0f1bde10f438d568b?s=55&d=blank&r=gTerry Odell
Love close (I call it deep) pov. I did have one character who demanded first, but otherwise, I’m Deep 3rd all the way. Doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one POV character in the book, but I prefer reading 3rd. (And don’t get me started on present tense… ugh.)
o    http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/7b2ae61d0b2978452004ef73a644d9e4?s=55&d=blank&r=gJenny Hansen
I prefer reading third person all the way. It’s got to be a super-likeable funny main character to keep me engaged in first person. And I find present tense so distracting. I have a really hard time reading it, although I have seen it used well in some short stories.
·         http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/f19bd8a4ab255d5e56d4c040ce7129c0?s=55&d=blank&r=gLaura Drake
Thank you for this clear, well thought out defense of third person, Les. Had a hard time getting past the ‘less than’ of 1st, but I get what you’re saying.
One more reason to use third (deep third) – I’m writing a 3 book series. The voice that came to me in the first story was first person, so I wrote it that way. The second story should be third – but my editor told me I’d have to stick with 1st the whole 3 books.
Or, I could rewrite the first in third.
Um, no thanks.
·         http://2.gravatar.com/avatar/2bdf33f5da88443027b556a5bc638e2c?s=55&d=blank&r=gMary Bailey
Dear Les,
I read your article with great interest. You are very good at what you do! I am writing a novel in omniscient 3rd POV. Is that the same as close third person?
Mary
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/7524df7ede5bc4d23b26aef55195cc67?s=55&d=blank&r=gMaggie Smith
I have until tomorrow to submit 50 pages for a workshop in April and I’ve been writing in third person for the first time (my debut novel is in 1st- yup, just like you said above-first time author and all that). Readers have been saying the new story seems too distant. Went through and changed those “names” to the personal pronouns and voila! all the difference. Thanks, Les. Couldn’t have come at a better time. I know there’s a bit more to it (like observations that this character would make in a particular scene that only she would be attuned to to make it seem more “close”) but your quick fix gets me most of the way there,
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/df9790ad9aca627905624a98948d1654?s=55&d=blank&r=gJerry Tabbott
Though I have to consider myself a beginner, third person is my preference – partly because most of what I personally read is in third, but mostly because I like stories with multiple plot threads. Sharing other character’s POVs to advance their threads. I’m sure you’ll receive much push-back on first person being a tendency for beginners. Also, I’m not so sure the third-person bias you mention is still so true, given the explosion of first person series we are witnessing. Publishers, I’m sure, are still looking for what is popular.
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/df9790ad9aca627905624a98948d1654?s=55&d=blank&r=gJerry Tabbott
I sincerely wish I could edit my posts here to clean up errors. Oh well.
·         http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/ffb91946e91f0d289cf8470e45770d1e?s=55&d=blank&r=gmesmer7
I use third person where I need multiple POV characters. First person if I only need one POV character
·         http://2.gravatar.com/avatar/b8c66d84bed5811d95745d92d96e02a2?s=55&d=blank&r=gGabriella L. Garlock
Hi Les! (I just started reading HOOKED–you can’t ignore that many recommendations, but first time I’ve seen you blog). THANKS for addressing the subject. First as a reader I’m feeling vindicated because I really can’t stand READING books in the first-person. Never quite sure why. Maybe ’cause the MC can’t say anything positive about herself without being stuck up, or point out her own flaws without sounding falsely self-deprecatory–heck, the minute they start to talk about themselves at all, it’s ruined for me.
So. I think I write a close 3rd in the heart of scenes–with dialogues, interactions. But surely there’s more to it than replacing pronouns? I pick a POV and mostly stick with it for the scene, using italics for their thoughts if needed. I spend a little more time getting in their heads. I’m not Hemingway.
Having said that, Mary had a good question. My “narrator” is at other times more of an omniscient one; I have a definite voice (I’m told, hoping that’s a good thing). If I juxtapose two seemingly unrelated sentences for effect, giving the reader a potential “ah-ha” moment, isn’t that the work of an omnisicent narrator? Or dropping bits of back-story, world-building–there isn’t always a character to attribute those thoughts to.
I really don’t know if I’m conflating omniscient and close 3rds in a way that could be disastrous. It feels natural but the POV-police could give me a ticket if they caught me.
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/46e957247f0b4a3a2069a695a4cf82f8?s=55&d=blank&r=gdeborahbrasket
Very interesting. I hadn’t know there was a bias against first person. As it is, I write almost always in deep 3rd. Where I struggle with using only pronouns for the pov character is when there are conversations between two males or two females. Sometimes I find I have to use the POV character’s name instead of the pronoun for clarity. In your example, if Raye had been male, how would you have handled it? Would you simply have used Emory’s name instead of he in every instance, and said “the man” for the first “he’ when Ray doesn’t know his name? It sounds a bit stilted that way, especially in the long paragraph.
·         http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/3c3c27312e163a05fd4672657355c5f8?s=55&d=blank&r=gLibby Sommer
very interesting article. thanks so much for the info Les. shame you have the same typo repeated three times in the examples  style='word-break:break-word;font-variant-ligatures: normal;font-variant-caps: normal; orphans: 2;text-align:start;widows: 2;-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; word-spacing:0px' alt="🙂" draggable=false class=emoji v:shapes="_x0000_i1025">
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/4bf05db2f69037f9a807e952449e55b9?s=55&d=blank&r=glesedgerton
Sorry I can’t reply right now but came down with a severe case of the flu two days ago–as soon as I’m up to it I’ll address the issues–thanks for your patience! Blue skies, Les
o    http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/7b2ae61d0b2978452004ef73a644d9e4?s=55&d=blank&r=gJenny Hansen
This flu is so dreadful! I’m sorry you have it, Les. I had it and it kept me down for five days solid, even with Tamiflu. Feel better soon!!!
·         http://2.gravatar.com/avatar/5d04af77856d3c6d618ffc8840e29e9e?s=55&d=blank&r=gJim Crocker
No flu for me, Butch. Sorry you got it. Of course, I rarely leave the house. I’m intrigued with writing in present tense. In fact, I rewrote a piece that was past tense. What do you think about that? At first I thought the change would be difficult, but after a short time, I fell right into it.
Cheers! And Happy B-Day, again!
Jim in Mt
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/a0d448d7224f3bc904527724e0dc9cad?s=55&d=blank&r=gChris L. Owens
I’d never heard this explained in quite this way before. Thanks!
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/19952e21464f69f4661653048e710b30?s=55&d=blank&r=gFae Rowen
When I use deep POV I can get more emotion into my writing because I’m in my character’s head. For me, it’s much more than just a change of pronouns; it’s sharing the inner thoughts and fears of the character with my readers. Although none of my five books are written in first person, young adult books are generally written (and bought by editors) in first person.
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/4b15bf205e8c6748b166833e13f8801f?s=55&d=blank&r=gdholcomb1
liked the way you explained it..it made a lot of sense
denise
·         http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/74ea8ff6b34ae457648cee8f4857f10b?s=55&d=blank&r=gQuine Atal
Is there a general rule for work that is intentionally autobiographical?
[…] Every story has large, overarching elements writers have to deal with. Daeus Lamb gives us theme made easy, and Les Edgerton unpacks using 3rd person vs. 1st person novel narratives. […]

 DR. PAUL'S FAMILY TALK

Hi Les - Your interview will be played on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, (February 26, 27, and 28, 2018), on "Dr. Paul's Family Talk" at the following times (all times are EST Detroit times):

MONDAY
11:00 a.m. (LIVE Show)
3:00 P.M.
8:00 p.m.

TUESDAY
2:00 a.m.
5:00 a.m.
11:00 a.m.
3:00 p.m.
8:00 p.m

WEDNESDAY
2"00 a.m.
5:00 a.m.
10:00 a.m.

You can listen by going to:

http://www.impactradiousa.com
(click on LISTEN LIVE)

Or go straight to the live stream at:

http://streaming.radio.co/sb17f7f4fa/listen

Please let your fans know! Thank you!

Also, I will send you the podcast link of your interview to you within a few days after it has aired on my show. Thank you!