Paul D. Brazill has been one of my champions for many years. Paul was responsible for publishing my short story Cry Baby in True Brit Grit – a charity anthology – in among a selection of awesome writers.
Oh, and you might remember that Tess Makovesky picked Paul’s collection of short stories The Last Laugh as one of her top reads of 2016 so it’s with great pleasure I present to you Paul D. Brazill’s review of 2016.
And as a special Christmas treat, you may find a wee preview of some of Paul’s work in this very post.
Thanks for everything, Paul!
Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2016?
Well, I’m guessing that by professionally you mean writing-wise, though I certainly don’t make a living out of writing!
It was great to get 2 books published again this year. The Last Laugh was published by All Due Respect Books and Caffeine Nights Publishing put out Cold London Blues. Here’s a clip from Cold London Blues, if you fancy:
‘On the opposite balcony, a tall man with long black hair took breadcrumbs from a plastic bag and threw them in the air. Black birds darted down from telephone lines where they had been lined up like notes on sheet music. The birds flew towards the tall man, landing on his balcony and sometimes on him. His raucous, joyous laughter brought an unfamiliar smile to Father Tim’s face.
On the street below, he could see a branch of a small general dealer with a bright green logo above the door, as well as an old bicycle factory that had recently been converted into a Wetherspoons pub, and a stretch of hip bars, including Noola’s Saloon, its green neon sign flickering intermittently.
The street bustled with the drunken debris of the previous night’s New Year’s Eve parties. The still-pissed and the newly hungover mingled. A massive skinhead in a leopard skin coat walked up to Noola’s Saloon and pressed a door bell. The door opened emitting a screech of escaping metallic music as he slipped inside. Iggy and The Stooges’ ‘Search and Destroy.’ A sense of longing enveloped Father Tim. A feeling of time passing like grains of sand through his fingers.
Father Tim felt his rheumatism bite as he inhaled his first cigarette of the day. His chest felt heavy. If ever there was time to get the hell out of London it was probably now. The quack had told him to piss off to Spain, or somewhere as sunny, for a bit, for his health’s sake. It wasn’t a bad idea, either. He could even stay at his sister-in-law’s gaff in Andalucía if he wanted. But he knew he wouldn’t stay away for long. London was in his bones. His blood. His lungs. For better or for worse.’
And how about a favourite moment from 2016 generally?
It was great to see my son start Kindergarten and to see that he enjoys it so much.
Favourite book in 2016?
For fiction I’d probably go for Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark.
Marwick is a broken man. Broken but not shattered. Marwick is a violent London gangster, an enforcer who has moved to Spain for a quieter life and who is eventually embroiled in drug smuggling, murder and more.
Published by Near To The Knuckle, Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark is fantastic. Like a Brit Grit Graham Greene it’s full of doomed romanticism, longing and shocking violence.
Beautifully, vividly and powerfully written Marwick’s Reckoning is very highly recommended indeed.
I rarely read non-fiction finding it a tad drab for the most part however I did love Kevin Pearce’s brilliant music memoir A Moment Worth Waiting For.
The book opens with the release of Vic Godard’s What’s The Matter Boy? LP in 1980. Pearce tells the story of how Everything But The Girl’s Ben Watt and Tracey Thorne first bonded over the record, with Ben later lending her his John Martyn records and Tracey lending Ben her Aztec Camera discs. All of which led to them forming EBTG.
This anecdote is only one of the many, many stories in this exhaustive, exhausting and smartly digressive look at two years in Pearce’s life-in-music. Early Eighties post-punk soon spirals off and out to fifties Soho, Music Hall, bossa nova, Greek neo kyma, MFP records, Tim Buckley, torch songs and much, much more. Indeed, there is so much here that an accompanying soundtrack album would have to be a box set. And what a belter it would be, too!
A Moment Worth Waiting For is the first in a recently completed trilogy and is essential reading for British men of an uncertain age, such as myself, and anyone with an interest in British pop culture.
Favourite film in 2016?
I actually didn’t see too many films this year. I enjoyed Captain America: Civil War, Zoom, High Rise, Inherent Vice, Afterlife, Hell or High Water, Blue Ruin and Green Room.
But I think, like 2105, it was another great year for telly. I watched a lot of good TV this year, most of it American and mostly crime fiction. Second seasons can be problematic, as True Detective showed, but Fargo’s second season was even better than the first – cinematic, sharp dialogue, great music and top turns from Kirstin Dunst et al.
Better Call Saul was also on top form in its second season, bittersweet and painfully funny. Happy Valley had another powerhouse performance from Sarah Lancaster and quality writing.
Marvel’s Luke Cage was probably the coolest show this year and with the best soundtrack. It dithered off a bit toward the end but still had a lot of punch.
Hap and Leonard was all loose-limbed charm, great acting and great music. Capturing the spirit and feel of Joe Lansdale’s great books.
Goliath gave the boring old legal thriller a kick in the eye. Billy Bob Thornton was particular appealing as washed up Billy MacBride but the rest of the cast were no slouches either.
Ray Donovan is probably my favourite telly show. It’s now the fourth season of TV’s most gleefully nihilistic and cruelly funny show. Great acting and top directors like John Dahl and writers like Michal Tolkin.
Favourite song of the year?
Until The Real Thing Comes Along by Band Of Holy Joy and Husbands by Marker Starling.
Any downsides for you in 2016?
There are still no jaunting belts, as in The Tomorrow People.
Are you making resolutions for 2017?
No. I’m sure to break them. I know EXACTLY what I’m like … for better or for worse …
What are you hoping for from 2017?
Like everyone else, nice things as much as possible.
Paul D. Brazill’s books include The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Cold London Blues, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc member whose writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovenia. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including ‘The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime’. He has even edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here.