Monday, June 15, 2009

Blog o' the Day: Jimmy Bastard

I’m a somewhat intelligent guy, but I don’t pretend to know everything about everything like I did back in my barroom days. Nowadays I’m perfectly willing to say, “I don’t know” when either I or someone else asks me a question. For example, here are some things I've recently asked me:

1. Is lettuce a fruit, a vegetable, or just a fancy weed?

2. Why can’t I find anything on my own fucking blog? There are 80 million widgets for Blogger, and I can’t find a simple drop-down box that will list the books I’ve reviewed and link to them.

I was looking for Denise Mina, you see, and I had to scroll through a ton of crap in my "Books Reviewed" label to find her in a small blurb at the very bottom.

Why Denise Mina, whom most of you have never heard of? Because, in my bookish opinion, she’s the most original writer of crime mysteries in the business today. She is a native of Glasgow, Scotland, lives and writes there, and she knows the city and its people like the back of her hand. Her protagonists are young females, constitutionally tough females who muck things up with their amateur sleuthing because the police are assholes, bumblers, and bullies. Police procedurals these are not.

Mina’s first trilogy, which begins with Garnethill, features Maureen O'Donnell, a twenty-something incest survivor who is psychologically quite frail. Her second trilogy, starting with Field of Blood, stars Paddy (Patricia) Meehan, a very fat and unattractive (by her own admission) eighteen-year-old who works as a “copyboy” for a fictional Glasgow newspaper. Unlikely heroes to be sure, but that is Mina’s genius: take two down-and-out Glaswegians from fucked-up families, use the time period of the late 70s and early 80s, stumble around in the very worst parts of the city, give the women potty mouths and plenty of ribald dry humor, add both tragic and nutty characters, don’t gloss over anything, and stir.

Best of all, make sure that these novels remain in their original form of Scottish English—dialect, colloquialisms, euphemisms, slang, profanity, and just plain names for things: polis rather than police, for example.

So what the hell does all of this blather have to do with the Blog o’ the Day? Plenty, because I found a blog written by a Glaswegian fellow who calls himself Jimmy Bastard—and a childhood memory piece titled The King and I. While many of his "sensitive" commenters were appalled by youthful pugilistics, Jimmy's elegant prose told it like it was without any gloss.

I know, because Denise Mina told me.


kara said...

i always need a new mystery suggestion because most of them are shit.

yes, the above is a full review of every other mystery i've ever read.

Charlie said...

I hope to hell, then, that you don't get paid by the word for your reviews.

Wandering Coyote said...

Well, lettuce isn't a fruit because fruits, by definition, have their seeds in the middle. Is it a weed? Well, lots of things are weeds but are also not weeds. Like dandelions. Weeds, I believe, are a matter of perspective.

OK, re. the drop down menus, I don't know if there is a blogger widget, but there is HTML code to create your own - and I would be most happy to send it to you and help you set it up in your sidebar if you like!

Kim Ayres said...

Jimmy's a good find - glad you stumbled across his blog

Marie Jarrell said...

After reading the Complete Sherlock H. in middle school, I had my fill of mysteries. Now I gotta read something by Mina. You're good.

Charlie said...

WC: So a banana is . . . forget it. I don't care. I don't even like bananas.

And you're a kind person with your offer of HTML help. We'll address that when my current period of sloth has subsided.

KIM: Actually, I stumbled across Jimmy from his comments on your blog.

MARIE: Mina's trilogies should be read in order. I suggest her first one, which includes Garnethill, Exile, and Resolution.

And thanks for the compliment.

Stinkypaw said...

I'll have to check him out, and with a name like this who can resist anyway! ;-) As you might know, I like this "tell it like it is" approach!

Wandering Coyote said...

Well, last time I checked - and it has been a while, bananas are hardly local and they are obscenely expensive where I live - bananas have tiny seeds right in their centres.

Jimmy Bastard said...

A very flattering piece Charlie, many thanks for the write up.

My lack of 'gloss' as you so eloquently put it, is not something that I am ever truly conscious of. Like most Glaswegians, I was merely a product of a somewhat harsh environment during my youth.

I do tell it like it is, warts and all, purely because I cannae tell it any other way.

I try never to glorify the violence of my pieces, but strive to make the reader understand the reasons why people act the way they do in my home city of Glesga.

I am amazed at the reactions that my memories can have on people. It still spurs me on during tough times.

Charlie said...

SP: Please do check him out, including his latest post. Wonderful writing.

WC: I am NOT going to ask you any more fruit and vegetable questions because you'll answer them. Smarty pants.

Charlie said...

JIMMY:You have a vivid memory and the ability to translate those memories into vivid words.

Anything less or more than the truth would only be cheating one person: you.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I think I need to read some of Denise Mina's books. Am jotting her name down as we speak.

I love books that are written colloquially, although I tend to have to read them aloud for a while until I get the hang of it - like with Trainspotting.

savannah said...

Thanks for the tip re Denise Mina! I'm always on the lookout for good mystery writers. Have you read David Fulmer? Regional mystery set in 20th century New Orleans, specifically Storyville. xox

Charlie said...

BARBARA: I wrote somewhere that I liked reading some of Dicken's characters aloud for the same reason. Martha thought I was nuts, but that's another matter . . .

SAVANNAH: We keep passing each other on different blogs, but here you are as a friend and everything! Thank you!

I have not read Fulmer, but checking him out on Amazon I see a couple I would like. I've been a James Lee Burke fan and have read all seventeen of the Dave Robicheaux novels. Tin Roof Blowdown, about Katrina, will break your heart.

Cathy said...

Now you've gone and made me get out my Billy Connolly CDs! Thanks for pointing me in Jimmy's direction. (I'm already a Mina fan.)

Charlie said...

CATHY: Sorry about making you go to all that work of getting out your CDs.

I'm happy to know that someone else reads Mina--her American publisher doesn't do much of anything for her.

Mary Witzl said...

I'll add Denise Mina to my list, Charlie. You're making my list dangerously long, you know?

Meg said...

Those books sound good. I'll have to check them out. I tried reading Jimmy's blog but my silly computer kept giving me a warning message about not being able to open the page. Grr.