Chuck Caruso_author

I’m a writer…and I’ll fight any one of you sons of bitches

Article published on July 21, 2017.

Just kidding. I’m not Hemingway. Nor Mailer. Nor Spillane. In fact, I’m not any of those macho pugilistic dudes. Me, I’m a lover, not a fighter.

That said, I do believe good writing is worth fighting for. Stories matter. We can learn more about the world from a year of reading about convincing characters and compelling stories than we can from a lifetime of our own, too often pedestrian experiences. Novels take us down the dark alleys of foreign capitols that we’d never risk in real life. Books let us take impossible gambles. They make us see things from perspectives outside our personal experience, inhabiting worldviews we could never have otherwise imagined.

Most of us are basically good and decent people. Civilization wouldn’t function otherwise. But of course we know there are bad people living among us. They dress like us and they talk like us, but they only pretend to act like us. Something inside is different about them. If we’re lucky, we don’t have to encounter bad people very often in our day-to-day lives, but we know they’re out there. What’s more, we’re obsessed with understanding what makes them tick. We’d never want to encounter them on the street, but Hannibal Lector, Dexter Morgan, and Gretchen Lowell are delightful serial killers.

Discovering Edgar Allan Poe as a young reader, I was so horrified by his tales that I couldn’t look away. Why had the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” murdered the old man and buried him under the floorboards? Why did the narrator of “The Black Cat” murder his wife and conceal her body in a wall? Soon I moved on to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, and from there I gravitated to the noir novels of James M. Cain, Patricia Highsmith, and Jim Thompson. I became lastingly captivated with reading about bad people doing bad things.

Before long, I started writing my own stories about killers and robbers and kidnappers. I had no desire to commit crimes, but the ability to imaginatively enter the criminal mind intoxicated me. It still does. That’s why I write stories and novels about convicted felons, blackmail schemes, and murderous impulses. I write 21st-century noir, the type of stuff that Poe and his ilk would write if they lived in the digital age of texting, sexting, violent video games, legalized weed, heavily armed militias, and a rainbow of gender identities. The internet and mobile phones have opened our world in some ways, but they’ve also made it more claustrophobic and confusing than ever.

But books still provide us with a safe window into that vast range of perspectives. We read so we can swim with sharks, fight in foreign wars, have kinky sex, shoot heroin, murder those who have wronged us and bury their bodies in shallow graves. In books we can enjoy all sorts of terrible experiences we would never actually choose to go through in real life.

If you think about it, isn’t that why you clicked on the link where I threatened to fight any one of you sons of bitches? You relished the chance to safely confront a violent and dangerous personality. Don’t we all? Read on!

Chuck Caruso

 

About the author

Chuck Caruso teaches 19th Century American Literature at Marylhurst University, writer of several crime and horror short stories and two Short screenplays. The first person in his family to go to university, he specialises in Edgar Allan Poe and his fascination with this Mastermind of Crime has inspired his own writing. The Lawn Job is his first novel.

Follow Chuck on Twitter @jcdarkly

 

The Lawn Job by Chuck Caruso_coverEx-con man Craig Collins is scratching a living mowing lawns for fancy clients – and keeping his fingers light with a spot of petty theft. But when the lady of the house, the wife of the local celebrity pizzeria owner “Big Gino” Pasarelli, starts becoming a little too flirty Collins gets the boot.

When Collins learns of Pasarelli’s own passionate indiscretions a plot to get his revenge begins to take shape. Collins and his sometimes girlfriend Juana, a transgender stripper, lure Pasarelli into a sex-tape scandal.

With the grit, dark humour and energy of A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, The Lawn Job is a twisted tale to keep the heart-pounding until the final page.

 

 

 

The Lawn Job by Chuck Caruso, published by Cloud Lodge Books on 21 July, 2017

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