News: March 2009

Don on TourNIX THE 540 CLUB

Just a quick note to those who had planned on attending Don’s official launch of the Dashiell Hammett Tour book at the 540 Club — the venue and date have been changed. It’s now at Green Apple Books, on Thursday, March 26 at 7:00-8:00p.m. That’s a week later than previously stated. Pass the word, and learn more about the book and Don’s other media and signing appearances at this MSNBC write-up.


And Don informs that he has a Hammett Tour booked for Palm Sunday, April 5. Anyone who can’t wait for the usual tours throughout May, bring a tenspot and some walking shoes to the usual meeting place.


The series of signings for the new Akashic Press anthology San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics is winding down, with the last one where Don is set to appear slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday March 3 in “M” is for Mystery in San Mateo. Don will be reading from the Nob Hill knock-off/Palace Hotel section of his story found in that book, plus the excellent neo-noir writer Domenic Stansberry will read from his story in the earlier collection San Francisco Noir (now in a third printing from Akashic). Peter Maravelis, editor for these books, will be on hand to moderate the mayhem.

And it looks like a sure bet that the very first copies of the new hardcover edition of The Dashiell Hammett Tour from Vince Emery Productions will be on sale, for those who can’t wait a minute more. The book looks great, and this edition marks the first time ever in hardback — more photos, brand new maps, every word subjected to a lineup and blackjacked into submission. And thanks to Vince’s publishing savvy, only $19.95. The tour book has been out of print for several years now and previous editions have been climbing in value — Ace Atkins tells Don that he had to shell out about fifty bucks a year or two back to land a secondhand copy of the earlier City Lights edition. Twenty bucks for the best edition ever, in durable hardcover, seems like a damn good deal.


If you hit the Tucson Book Fair you’ll find Don sitting on a panel with Dennis McMillan and Lono Waiwaiolo at 10 a.m. on Saturday March 14 — of course, some programming genius slated that panel opposite a talk with the legendary hard-boiled writer Elmore Leonard, so Don can’t blame anyone for blowing off his panel and seeing what Elmore has to say this month. Copies of the new Hammett tour book will be for sale at the Dennis McMillan table, and Don will be around the whole weekend, hobnobbing with the usual posse of McMillan writers. If you’re around, say hello.


En route to Tucson Don is dropping into the Poisoned Pen Mystery Bookstore in Scottsdale on Friday March 13, 7p.m. — Patrick Millikin will be conducting the interview, copies of the new hardcover Hammett tour book will be on hand for signing. Patrick has been to San Francisco and gumshoed the town with Don, so he ought to come up with some good questions. If you’re in the area but can’t make it to the Tucson Book Fair, drop into the Poisoned Pen.


For anyone who can’t hop out to Tucson for the weekend, you’ll find Don’s longtime pal, the poet Donald Sidney-Fryer, doing a talk and signing for his new omnibus The Atlantis Fragments in Borderlands Bookstore on Valencia Street, Saturday March 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. — if Don wasn’t booked opposite Elmore Leonard, he’d be there for certain.

Speaking of longtime pals, if you are free at 7p.m. on Thursday March 5 pop into City Lights Bookstore for the book release party for The Space Between, a new chapbook of stories by John Law about climbing bridges, one of the things John Law does best. Don has known the inveterate bridge climber since 1977 and many adventures in The Suicide Club, and with any luck will be able to drop in for that party, at least.


Oh, yeah, it’s worth noting here that for the showing of the film The Woman Chaser based on the Charles Willeford novel which Don introduced for Pacific Film Archive on February 28, bringing to a flashy end the series One-Two Punch: Pulp Writers on Film. Joe McSpadden, executive producer, dropped in and took questions after the credits rolled. An unexpected and very pleasant surprise. Joe told Don that in addition to the 87 minute version screened there is another cut running about 94 minutes, and a full chronological version of everything shot running about 200 minutes — only two copies of that are extant, one for Joe and the other for star Patrick Warburton. And while the theatrical release version of the movie is in black-and-white, it was shot on color stock, so, yes, a color version is hovering out there, too. All Don could think was, hey, could you guys ever knock a deluxe DVD package out of the park. . . . Let’s hope it comes about someday — the movie is a near-perfect capture of the Willeford novel, a really fine film.


When Don gets back from Tucson, the fun really starts. On Sunday March 22 from 2:00 to 3:00p.m. you’ll find Don signing his Dashiell Hammett Tour book in Barnes & Noble in Colma, located at 119 Colma Blvd in the Metro Center off the 280 freeway. Not a bar, alas, but they have a coffee shop inside the store, which is almost as good.

Meanwhile, the official launch party for the new Dashiell Hammett Tour book will kick off in Green Apple Books on Thursday March 26, at 6:30p.m. Don will talk, sign books for anyone who wants a copy. Again, no bar, but it ought to be tremendously entertaining.


Next up is an event not to be missed, as Don sits in on the official launch party for the new Ace Atkins novel Devil’s Garden in “M” is for Mystery, San Mateo, Thursday April 2 from 7:00-8:00p.m. — a superb fictional recreation of the Fatty Arbuckle case in the St. Francis Hotel with a Pinkerton’s op named Samuel Dashiell Hammett gumshoeing his way through the mystery. Ace has been making a name for himself with his recent series of novels based on real-life crimes, and this one keeps the same high standard, so fresh it seems like an entirely new style of mystery novel. As George Pelecanos said, “Ace Atkins writes like a crime beat reporter jacked on passion and ambition.” Come on down and get your copy of the novel signed on the official publication date.


After the signing in San Mateo wraps up, Ace and Don will be heading into San Francisco straight for The Ha-Ra Bara bar! — in 875 Geary Street, between Hyde and Larkin, to talk Hammett and the hard-boiled with anyone who wants to show up. Think of this as a reprise of the old Maltese Falcon Society which Don launched many years ago, only without the bulky trappings. No membership fees. No entrance fees. Just bring money to buy your official poison from Carl the Bartender and hang out and talk crime movies and novels until the city makes the place shut down. So, 9:00 or 9:30p.m. and straight ahead for four hours or so.


If you can’t make the Ace signing in San Mateo, you get another chance 7:00p.m. April 3, when the Borders on the n.w. corner of Union Square will host the exclusive San Francisco signing for Devil’s Garden — in the next block up from where the notorious Fatty Arbuckle party rocked the St. Francis. Putnam’s is only parachuting Ace in for a couple of days, so seize your chance to get the novel signed while it’s hot off the presses — immediately after the Borders event Ace is off to L.A., then starts working his way back east via Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale and Murder by the Book in Houston. Don will be at Borders (presuming the previous night of Hammett Flash Mobbing doesn’t do him in) and will be glad to sign copies of the new tour book. But he’s around town and not hard to find — Ace is the guy to grab the John Hancock from this time.

On the heels of the Borders event, you’ll find another talk/signing for the Dashiell Hammett Tour in City Lights Books, Sunday April 5 at 5:00p.m. — with more signings being scheduled as we speak.


Finally for this epic round of news coverage, after five years Leo Grin has closed shop on his terrific magazine The Cimmerian, devoted to the life and writings of Texan Robert E. Howard. Don has been heavily involved with this publication from the beginning, contributing essays, letters, providing contacts — it’s almost as if it was his very own magazine, only he wasn’t doing the brutal work involved. On the Links page you can find a list of all Don’s actual appearances in The Cimmerian, for anyone interested — and if you want copies at the original price, you need to grab them before winter rolls around again. Leo is carrying his backlist for a few more months and then plans to pulp any copies left, and move on. Better to get them now than rely on the tender mercies of eBay later. . . .

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