Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pimp My Read: The Weekly 90 Second Book Review “Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America’s Class War” by Joe Bageant.

"Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America’s Class War” by Joe Bageant. Non-fiction, 273 pages.
Winchester, Virginia’s native son Joe Bageant returns home after spending most of his adult life away. What results is a unique brand of reporting that shows his hometown with all its bumps, bruises, and warts showing. This book is funny, angry, irreverent, honest, scary, and insightful.
But most of all loving.
The book consists of an essential introduction and eight longish essays that are incisive and sometimes damning but Bageant never loses sight of—and reminds the reader continually—that he is one of the thems that he’s talking about: always, proudly, and forever.
The book covers Modern Serfdom, Republicans and Democrats, Double-Wide Trailers, Guns, Religion, Death, The Apocalypse, and a particularly thought-provoking essay about the infamous Lynddie England.
This is an exceptional writer at the top of his game allowing the reader to tag along on a journey of evaluation and discovery.
Please, go deer hunting with Joe and Jesus.
Rob Loughran reads and writes a lot of stuff.   Check it out at Rob's Books.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pimp My Read: The Weekly 90 Second Book Review "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"” by Rebecca Skloot, non-fiction
Rebecca Skloot did not just research and write this book. She chased and pursued it. She hunted it down with a club.
It is the beautiful result of an insistent obsession.
“Immortal Life” is informative, moving, and brilliant. The book tells the story—both scientific and personal—of He La cells.  “He La” is a cell line taken (without permission) from a poor black cancer patient, HEnrietta LAcks, by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the early 1950s.  The cells have since been extensively cultured (it is estimated that 50 million metric tons have been grown) and utilized in labs to develop the polio vaccine, cancer and HIV medicines, and a host of other medications and procedures  The book explores and explains the medical aspects but that is less than half the story. Henrietta’s family didn’t know her cells were harvested until the 1970s. The family has never received compensation and Skloot delves into the ethics—and tragedy—of this malfeasance.
But the heartbreaking beauty of this book is the story of the author’s relationship with Henrietta Lacks’ daughter Debra. Justifiably suspicious and hostile to the white medical powers-that-be Debra slowly thaws and accepts Rebecca for what she is: a writer on a mission who wants to tell the story of Henrietta Lacks truly and honestly.
I laughed; I cried. I learned about science and life. This is a great book. Buy it, read it, gift it.
Rob Loughran reads and writes a lot of stuff.   Check it out at Rob's Books.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pimp My Read: The Weekly 90 Second Book Review

Pimp My Read: The Weekly 90 Second Book Review
400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons From a Veteran Patrolman” by Adam Plantinga. Non-fiction, 197 pages
It’s irritating to read a book written in second-person and the publisher’s decision to print in “ragged-right” format adds to the awkwardness, but this is a funny, informative, slightly scary book. Written with self-deprecating humor and honesty “400 Things” reveals a world everyone has opinions and feelings about but, like myself, doesn’t know that much about.
The book is divided into 19 no-nonsense chapters: “27 Things Cops Know About Shots Fired”, “18 Things Cops Know About The Use of Force”, “28 Things Cops Know About Booze and Drugs”, “24 Things Cops Know About Their Coworkers”. “400 Things” consistently demonstrates integrity, compassion, and a healthy suspicion and intolerance for bureaucratic bullshit, cop shows, and firefighters.
The book is heart-rending and hilarious; informative and revealing.
As mentioned, a second-person ragged-right is jarring to read but this book’s ultimate worth is an honored place on the reference shelf next to a well-thumbed Thesaurus and Dictionary.  The information “400 Things” contains is essential, important, and laid out in an easy-enough-to-find manner.
Recommended to the casual reader and essential for the never-been-arrested writer who peoples a book with felons and cops.
Rob Loughran reads and writes a lot of stuff. Check it out at: Rob's Books.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


As the title might indicate this is an obscenity-laced little (158 page) book that is refreshing and hilarious. It’s PC to speak thus-and-so but it is also duplicitous if you are thinking or acting otherwise. Justin Halpern’s father lectures on Nuclear Medicine to oncologists at UCSD but his vocabulary, frankness and delivery at home are straight from the hardscrabble Kentucky farm he was raised on:
“Jesus Christ, one fucking Snickers bar, and you’re turning around like your asshole is on fire. Okay, outside you go. Don’t come back in until you are ready to sleep or shit.
“It’s never the right time to have children, but it’s always the right time for screwing. God’s not a dumbshit. He knows how it works.
“I don’t think that teacher likes you, so I don’t like her. You ding off more shit than a pinball, but goddammit, you’re a good kid. She can go fuck herself.”
And so on….
Inspired by Justin’s wildly popular webpage this book is more than a string of salty anecdotes. A story arc (that ends with the publication of this book) is uncovered and an honest, unorthodox, idiosyncratic but ultimately successful way of raising children is revealed. And Justin, the child and target of most of these expletive-filled lessons appreciates—as a grown-up—all the love lurking behind the obscenities.
Impressive sh*t.  
Enjoy the book.
Rob Loughran's 24th book "Walmart to Wolf House: Sonoma County Essays" is available in paperback and ebook now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Red-Red-Red Redneck Joke

A group of cowboys on a cattle drive were out all day branding cattle. The cook spied a sheep tied to a fence post, so he slaughtered and cooked it. The cowboys returned for dinner, but they wouldn’t eat or talk to the cook. “What’s wrong,” he asked, “did I fuck up the cooking.”
“No,” said a cowboy, “you cooked up the fucking.”

 The Official Redneck Jokebook Introducing: Little Rodney Redneck

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is a viral campaign to help bring awareness to writers and their works in progress and hopefully guide new fans to their work.

My friend Linda McCabe answered these same ten questions about her forthcoming novel Fate of the Saracen Knight: volume two in the Bradamante and Ruggiero series Read Linda’s responses at: http://lcmccabe.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop.html  And she tagged me for this week.

For next week, I’ve tagged John Granger, “The Dean of Harry Potter Scholars”. On February 6, 2013 check out his interview at http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/

But I’m “it” this week, so here goes:

1) What is the working title of your book?

            Beautiful Lies

         It is the first book in my Pinot Noir Murder Mystery Series A series of “stand alone” mystery novels that takes place in California wine country.

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?

          I read a lot.
          I read constantly.
       When I read a book I never skip the back of the dust jacket, end notes, footnotes, introductions, authors’ bios, and review blurbs. I once read a blurb on the back flap of a Raymond Chandler novel that said something like, “Other mystery writers concern themselves with crime, Raymond Chandler writes about sin.”  That was the germ. I wanted to write a book (set in the wine country of Sonoma County, CA) that concerned itself with primal and elemental sin.

3) What genre does your book come under?

         Murder mystery.

4)  Which actors would you chose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

       The sexy nineteen year old female stripper/heroine addict/Sunday School teacher would have been a perfect role for Jack Klugman or Ernest Borgnine, but unfortunately they both died last year.

       I jest, of course.

       This question disturbs me because it assumes that a book ain’t shit until Hollywood deems to eviscerate and elevate it to the screen. This is particularly disturbing because it is true. Cool Hand Luke by Donn Pearce, Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford, The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis, Ironweed by William Kennedy, Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo and more recently Generation Kill by Evan Wright, Searching for Bobby Fischer by Josh Waitzkin, and Tenderness by Robert Cormier: all of these great books were brought to my attention because they were made into movies that I saw first, then sought out the books.

But I digress:

Beautiful Lies’ Bridget Elmore would be played by Diane Lane: but the sexy, self-centered Diane Lane of Unfaithful. Bridget is a capable and formidable businesswoman who grew up poor and never wants to revisit poverty at any cost.

Bridget’s husband Darren Elmore would be played by Daniel Craig, but not the stiff-comic-book-James Bond Daniel Craig, but rather his freewheeling, dangerous character in Layer Cake. Darren is the book’s catalyst: while drinking one night he decides he wants to kill someone, just to see what it feels like. So he does.

The Elmore’s nemesis, Colin Moseley, would be played by Matt Bomer from t.v,’s White Collar. Young, hungry, and ruthless he knows some facts that he could use to steal their winery and vineyards.

Sheriff Frank Hernandez would be played by David Zayas who is Angel on Dexter. Tough, fair, believable—, but not 100% honest.
 (Note: unfortunately, Beautiful Lies doesn’t have a sexy nineteen year old female stripper/heroine addict/Sunday School teacher. Sorry, it just seemed funny about 247 words ago. Perhaps in my next book...)

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

        A rich and indulgent Sonoma County winemaker wants to experience the emotional thrill of getting away with murder; and he does: until a surprise blackmailer from his past arrives.  

6) Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agent?

           Beautiful Lies will be published by Bubba Caxton Books, in March 2013. This is my third novel for Bubba Caxton Books. The other two are Tantric Zoo: A Bud Warhol Mystery and Teenaged Pussies From Outer Space: A Love Story.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

          Too long.
          Way too long, but with good reason.
          I wanted the first draft finished last March (2012) and the book done and published, hopefully, by July or September. But I have a little problem with skin cancer and my chemo just kicked my ass last year. I don’t know if it is a cumulative effect from years of using it, but the side effects were devastating in 2012. I was in a stupor for months. I couldn’t concentrate. I was stupid. I couldn’t understand blonde jokes. I considered getting a Rush Limbaugh bumper stickler and joining the Tea Party.    Anyway, it was all I could do to get through work and exercise a couple of times a week. I slept a ton: nap naps naps. I walked a lot and since I couldn’t focus enough to write I re-read and took notes on my two favorite writers, Ross Thomas and William Trevor. (I also re-read The Iliad and most of Canterbury Tales. Wow, I love those books.) I also wrote in a journal fairly copiously, mainly: “I feel like shit and can’t stay awake or concentrate enough to write, this really sucks ass, poor me, boo-hoo, waa-waa, and so on and so forth....” You know: the good, solid, unadulterated self-pity that journals record and rationalize as growth and insight.
        It was weird, I was seventy pages into Beautiful Lies and working from a typed forty-five page outline: I really had my plot nailed, but I just sat at the keyboard and drifted: I’d been mentally short-circuited. So I fucked around at the computer and pretended I was working on my book (I did knock out a few short stories and several articles) but it was all I could do to get through the day, read and nap some, and bang out a shift at work.
       So in late-November (cooler weather, less busy at work, nasty chemicals cleared from my system, who knows?) I started feeling well again and I started BOMBING in Beautiful Lies and, to help me along, I bought a new laptop (so I could write somewhere other than my office) but in the course of installing Word and transferring files I lost about forty pages of Beautiful Lies. I tried rebuilding/rescuing files and going back to set points on my old computer and all that geeky wizardry but nothing worked: the forty pages were history. And I hadn’t printed it out. (I told you I had become Tea Party stupid.) And, as much as I’d like to blame my computer it was my own dumb ass fault.
      So I screamed, loudly.
    Then I got back to writing by recreating the lost pages from memory as quickly as possible. To my surprise, I think they came out better, much better, than my original effort. But in retrospect that makes sense: I’d had time to internally edit, and I wrote in a steady concentrated fervor so as not to lose anything. 
      I finished the first draft of Beautiful Lies in early January 2013 (better late than never) and immediately printed it out and began editing/rewrite/salvage operations. It’s probably my cleanest ever first draft because I rewrote the lost forty pages from memory, and because I had to re-read the book on my many abortive attempts to continue, so the first ten chapters (112 pages) were actually re-re-re-rewritten and pretty clean grammatically. Another plus to having been chemically short-circuited is that I had time to hone the second part of my outline and I pared away a lot of fun and funny stuff (from the writer’s POV) that would have, ultimately, been a distraction to the reader, and a detriment to the book’s focus and final form.
    So, once I got rolling it took me, probably about six or seven weeks to produce a first draft. But it took me sixteen or seventeen months to find enough consecutive lucid days to write properly. But I re-learned a most important lesson: “ALWAYS PRINT OUT YOUR WORK.”
     This is great advice to fellow writers.
     That, and: “Try Not To Get Cancer.”

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

     The Killer Within Me by Jim Thompson

     The Truth About Bebe Donge by Georges Simenon

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
    The three main characters in Beautiful Lies are vindictive and flawed and petty and dangerous and they were inspired by my fellow workers at the Farmhouse Inn and all the nuns and priests who taught me at St. Vincent’s high school...
    Just kidding.    
    I can’t pin it down that clear and clean and simple. It’s a novel. I really just made up a lot of shit and wrote it down. The closest I could come to a source of inspiration is that Sin/Crime dichotomy I mentioned above. I wanted it to be primal, not petty.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

        Fun facts about winemaking and some pretty hot and sweaty sex.

Rob Loughran’s other books (in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats):

High Steaks

Tantric Zoo 

Teenaged Pussies From Outer Space: A Love Story

The Smartest Kid in Petaluma

A Man Walks Into a Bar...A Compendium of Filthy, Uncouth, Lewd, Lusty, and Lascivious Jokes

The Official “I Hate Women Jokebook”

Things I Wish I Did NOT Know About Writing: 15 Essays on Dreams, Sorrows, and Proofreading

Who Cares If George W. Bush Destroys the Free World: This Guy is Funny!

Grandma Hazel’s Funny, Funny Kidz Jokebook

The Official Blonde Jokebook

The Official X-Rated Animal Jokebook

The Official Nasty & Blasphemous Religious Jokebook

The Official Love and Marriage Jokebook

The Official Doctor and Lawyer Jokebook

The Official Obscene Old Age Jokebook

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Favorite Santa Story: "How the Angel Got on Top of the Xmas Tree"

MY FAVORITE SANTA STORY: "How the Angel Got on Top of the Christmas Tree”

            It had been a bad year for Santa.
            The elves were on strike, there was no snow, the reindeer were more interested in games than work. And Mrs. Claus was on Santa’s case: “No one appreciates you, dear. You should just retire. The world has changed and, frankly, I think you’ve become a bit of a tired old fogey.”
            Before Santa had a chance to answer the doorbell rang.
            Santa answered the door and standing there, holding a perfectly formed Christmas tree was a radiant little angel. “Merry Christmas, Santa!” said the angel. “Here’s your Christmas tree, where do you want me to put it?”
            And that’s how the angel got on top of the Christmas tree.