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  • gilwilson 10:32 PM on June 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a prairie home companion, , , , , , , detective stories, garrison keillor, guy noir, , , , sue scott, tim russell   

    “Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny” By Garrison Keillor 

    “Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny”
    By Garrison Keillor
    Performed by Garrison Keillor, Tim Russell and Sue Scott
    Published by HighBridge Audio
    4 hours

    Every book you read or hear has to be fun in some way. Sometimes it’s just that you enjoy getting lost in a mystery or escaping realism with some adventurous fantasy. Whatever the reason each book will take you somewhere and it should be fun. This time around I listened to a book that was pretty much nothing but fun. “Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny” is pure fun and a romp through a mystery and adventure with some great humor and classic literature references, and even a few pop culture jabs thrown in to keep the story fresh.

    If you’re not familiar with the character of Guy Noir then on Saturdays from 5pm – 7pm central time you need to tune in to your local public radio station and find Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” This fun piece of what is left of radio variety shows in America launched the character of Guy Noir, Private eye. It’s always fun to hear when Guy Noir segments come on the show and find out what kind of crime needs solved by the private dick with a penchant for literature.

    The Guy Noir character and stories parody the conventions of the pulp fiction novel and the film noir genre. He works on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building in a city that “knows how to keep its secrets”, St. Paul, Minnesota and first appeared in prairie home companion broadcasts around 1995. This time around Guy gets his own story and in this 4 hour fully dramatized audiobook you get a humorous adventure that will keep you laughing and if you are overheard listening to this audiobook, the literary references and the plays on words will make you sound more intelligent.

    This story opens up with Guy staring down the barrel of a gun held by a wheezing geezer gangster that goes by the name of Joey Roast Beef. Joey is demanding to know what sort of money-making scheme Guy is involved in with stripper-turned-women’s-studies-professor Naomi Fallopian. It also seems that everyone knows about Guys weight loss pills. Naomi has hired Guy as security for the Elongate product of weight loss pills (which actually turn out to be tapeworms). While Naomi promises Guy to be the love of his life (and he falls for this oldest female scam) she’s off gallivanting around the world spending her millions from selling tapeworms to the rich.

    In the meantime Guy, who has taken one of these wonder-pills, is losing weight and all of a sudden the women in his life are finding him attractive. Saving himself for Naomi and saving the tapeworm queens and eggs from the despicable Larry B. Larry, Guy looks death in the eye, falls in love and finally faces off with the capo del capo del grande primo capo, Johnny Banana.

    Will Guy lose his worm fortunes and women? Give this hilarious adventure a listen and find out. The performance is the perfect over the top performance you would expect from Garrison Keillor. If you’re not familiar the three actors in combination with hilarious sound effects and incidental music will keep you listening just to hear what happens next and anticipating the next laugh. Fun stuff here.

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  • gilwilson 10:38 PM on September 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , black mask, , detective stories, , , , ,   

    “Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark -And Other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine” Edited by Otto Penzler 

    “Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark -And Other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine”
    Edited by Otto Penzler
    read by Eric Conger, Oliver Wyman, Alan Sklar, Pete Larkin, and Jeff Gurner
    Produced by High Bridge Audio
    Approx 7 hours

    When I say the words “Pulp Fiction,” what comes to your mind?  Maybe the movie of the same name?  Keep that in mind because I’ve got a surprise for you.  For me the movie was the first thing that would come to mind, but recently I’ve been listening to audio books of stories from the days of the Pulp Fiction magazines.

    This latest audio book is a real gem.  “Black Mask 1” is the first in the series of stories turned to audio books from the “Black Mask” pulp that was printed between 1921 -1950.  These stories all have that great film noir/gumshoe detective feel and make for some great short stories.  In its hey day, “Black Mask” printed stories from some prominent authors of the day, and this first edition starts out with a bang with some great and fun stories.   Before we talk about those, remember the movie “Pulp Fiction?”  The movie was, in its early days, actually titled “Black Mask,” because Quentin Tarantino drew his inspiration from the pulp magazine.

    Each of the stories is read by a different narrator and each one does a superb job of reflecting the story’s emotion and the sound of the time.  If you close your eyes while listening to “Black Mask 1…” in your mind you can easily visualize a film noir gumshoe detective movie from the same era of these stories.

    The introduction to the audio book is written  by Keith Alan Deutsch and read by Eric Conger.  It gives a very nice history of the age of the pulps and especially that of “Black Mask” magazine.

    The stories included in this collection are:

    “Come and Get It” by Erle Stanley Gardner; read by Oliver Wyman.
    Erle Stanly Gardner was a self taught lawyer who took on the extra job of writing for the pulps to make up for the lack of money he earned as a lawyer, after a few years he turned his writing into full time and created the character, Perry Mason.  This story “Come and Get It” ran in the April, 1927 issue of “Black Mask” and features the character, Ed Jenkins.  Ed Jenkins is known to many as the Phantom Prowler, because he can never be caught.  This time around Jenkins is warned by a crook that a woman with a mole on her hand will try to kill him.  In trying to track down this woman, Jenkins discovers a plot by the local crime boss to steal the city’s best jewelry.  Jenkins sets out to foil the plot of the crime boss and the lady with a mole.

    “Arson Plus” by Peter Collinson (Dashiell Hammett); read by Alan Sklar.
    Peter Collinson (Dashiell Hammett) worked for the Pinkerton Detective agency and was one of the folks that brought down actor Fatty Arbuckle.  Published originally in the October, 1923 issue of “Black Mask,” and tells the story of a detective that comes in to investigate a shady arson which the local sheriff has considered the case closed.  The best part of this story is the reader in this case.  Alan Sklar’s voice fits the story perfectly and keeps you listening with what his cigar and gin soaked voice.

    “Fall Guy” by George Harmon Coxe; read by Pete Larkin
    George Harmon Coxe wrote in the sports, romance and sea stories but his best known works are his detective stories.    This story first appeared in the June, 1936 issue of “Black Mask,” and tells of newspaper photographer “Flashgun” Casey who gets called on to deliver ransom money for an old gal pal who had some photos taken when she was younger that she doesn’t want released.  You know the story, she was young, needed the money, so nude photos were taken.  Casey helps her out but finds out things are not all on the up and up.

    “Doors in the Dark” by Frederick Nebel; read by Pete Larkin
    Frederick Nebel created the stories featuring the tough detective Steve McBride and the wisecracking Newspaper reporter Kennedy.  Warner Brothers bought the McBride series and made nine films, in the movies Kennedy was turned into a woman by the name of Torchie Blaine and the object of her affections was McBride.  This story was originally published in the February, 1933 issue and tells the story of an apparant suicide of one of McBride’s friends.  But something doesn’t sit right with McBride so he investigates deeper even though every single clue only leads back to suicide.

    “Luck” by Lester Dent; read by Jeff Gurner    Introduction by Keith Alan Deutsch; read by Eric Conger
    Lester Dent created Doc Savage under the name of Kenneth Robison and was very successful with this series.  After Savage, Dent created the loner boatman Oscar Sail who is the subject of this story.  Originally published in the October, 1936 issue and is an earlier draft of one the Oscar Sail stories.    In this story Sail sets out to find some seedy characters, all the while setting up slot machines to pay off to some lucky gambler, never himself.

    Each one of these stories has its twists and turns that keep you guessing as to what happens next, which is what makes them so fun to hear. I know I’m looking forward to the next edition.

     
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