What books are on your night stand right now?
All non-fiction and just occasionally dipping into them: “My Last Sigh” by Luis Bunuel, “The Erotic Dream Machine: Interviews with Alain Robbe-Grillet on His Films,” “Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic” by John ‘Drumbo’ French, “Midnight Surprise” which is, I believe, a still unpublished manuscript by a variety of Japanese film critics on the movies of Japanese director Tai Kato. Also I refer often to “The American Cinema,” a book on film directors by Andrew Sarris (someone who was enormously influential on me as far as writing on film – I’ve gone off him a bit as I find a number of his criticisms to be needlessly mean-spirited + he NEVER went back to update this book, which he had plenty of time to do – he just died a couple of years ago) – this book now, at times, seems dated, and it ends before the boom of great 1970s films. I believe it came out in 1968.
What was the last great book you read?
“The Long Day Wanes” by Anthony Burgess (though I think the novel’s ending is needlessly mean-spirited); before then “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy, “Already Dead” and “Tree of Smoke” by Denis Johnson, “Small g” by Patricia Highsmith. The non-fiction “Methland – The Death and Life of An American Small Town” by Nick Reding.
What's your favorite book (s) that no one else has heard of?
Too many to mention, but almost anything by David Goodis (especially “Down There” aka “Shoot the Piano Player), Jim Thompson’s “The Nothing Man” and “Savage Night”, James M. Cain’s “Past All Dishonor”, anything by Italian writer Leonardo Sciasia, any of Georges Simenon’s roman noirs (especially “Belle,” “Red Lights” & “The Blue Room”), J.G. Ballard’s “The Drought” and “The Drowned World” + his short story collection “The Voices of Time”, Giuseppe Lampedusa’s “The Leopard”, Giovanni Verga’s “The She Wolf and Other Stories”, “The Orange Eats Creeps” by Grace Kilanovich, “Uncle Silas” by J. Sheridan LeFanu, any of the collections of ghost stories by M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood, William Burrough’s “The Cat Inside”, Donna Lethal’s “Milk of Amnesia”, Peter Orr’s “Stay Out of New Orleans” (Pete writing under the name P. Curran), the non-fiction “Methland – The Death and Life of an American Small Town” by Nick Reding, “Beneath the Underdog” an autobio by Charlie Mingus, “Germinal” by Emile Zola, “The Possessed” (aka “The Demons”) by Dostoyevsky, “Les Chants de Maldoror” by Lautreamont, “The Monk” by Matthew Lewis, “Tess of the D’Urbevilles” by Thomas Hardy…once again too many to mention…
What were your favorite books as a child?
“Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne, “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, nearly everything by Edgar Allan Poe, sci-fi by Andre Norton then later in high-school Philip K. Dick & J.G. Ballard. I think I was starting to get into Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain by middle of high school.
At what age did you begin writing?
11 or 12 maybe?
What book-to-movie do you felt succeeded the best?
PLAY IT AS IT LAYS w/ Tuesday Weld (from Joan Didion’s book), the original END OF THE AFFAIR w/ Deborah Kerr (from Graham Greene’s book), THE GRIFTERS directed by Stephen Frears (from Jim Thompson), AFTER DARK, MY SWEET directed by James Foley (from Jim Thompson), THE MOON IN THE GUTTER directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix (from David Goodis), THE END OF THE ROAD with Stacey Keach and co-scripted by Terry Southern (from the book by John Barth, who hated the film), ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES with Lino Ventura, directed by Francesco Rossi (from Leonardo Sciasia’s book, “Equal Danger”), KWAIDAN directed by Masaki Kobayashi (from Lafcadio Hearn’s book), THE CONFORMIST directed by Bertolucci (from Alberto Moravia’s book), BELLE DE JOUR dir. Bunuel (from Joseph Kessel’s book), THE LONE WOLF & CUB film series dir. by Kenji Misumi and others (from the Kazuo Koike manga), THE HEART OF THE MATTER w/ Trevor Howard (from Graham Greene’s book), OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS dir Carol Reed (from Joseph Conrad’s book), CONTEMPT by Godard (from Alberto Moravia’s “A Ghost at Noon”), the original GET CARTER dir. by Mike Hodges w/ Michael Caine (from Ted Lewis’ “Jack’s Return Home”), ROSEMARY’S BABY dir. Roman Polanski (from Ira Levin), THE LEOPARD by Visconti (from Giuseppe Lampedusa’s novel), JESUS’ SON dir. Alison Maclean (from Denis Johnson), the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS dir. Don Siegel (and better than Jack Finney’s book), SAINT JACK w/ Ben Gazzara (from Paul Theroux), THE WOMAN CHASER dir. Robinson Devor (from Charles Willerford book), COCKFIGHTER dir. Monte Hellman (from Charles Willeford), THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE from George V. Higgins’ book (there are others I cannot think of at the moment.)
What books, if any, about the California music scene do you feel got it right?
Depends on the era, but if you’re referring to punk rock circa 1977–1982, the book I have a chapter in, “Under the Big Black Sun” by John Doe, Tom DeSavia & Friends, comes pretty close.
You're organizing a literary gathering. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
That’s hard because I’d count in stuff like being able to get along with them, them not having any ‘attitude’, as well as for their literary achievements. For instance, I’d like to include Patricia Highsmith, but probably wouldn’t as she was very difficult. I guess many writers are difficult. Also they’d have to speak English, which would omit a lot of them (LOL – I’m serious). Maybe Joan Didion, Terry Southern & Graham Greene.
Now you're organizing a private concert. Which artists/bands do you invite?
Not sure, but probably jazz guys, such as Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus
Whom would you want to write your life story?
Can’t think of a single writer who I’d trust (besides myself)
What do you plan to read next?
Nothing in the near future. Too emotionally fucked-up at the moment.
Do you have any readings or events coming up? Where? When?
Nothing in the near future. Maybe a slight chance of an event with music & film writer Joe Carducci (his latest is a film book called “Stone Male”) in November in Los Angeles; possibly a couple of events in mid-to-late January 2018 preceding the 8 city reunion tour (on the west coast) of my band, The Flesh Eaters. I’m presently working on a compilation of my previously written articles and essays, plus new writings, on international noir/neo-noir from the mid-1930s through today (though most films mentioned will probably fall between 1945 – 1990). That book will probably not be finished for another couple of years as I’m still trying to catch up watching at least 100 movies (almost all foreign) I’ve never seen before (although I now have DVD-Rs of most of them.) So nothing new for a couple more years.
Where can people buy your books?
Amazon is the best place. There’s a Chris D. author page on there (although their search engine sucks, so you may come up with a lot of other people more famous with the name Chris whose last name begins with a D.) You can also search under Chris Desjardins if Chris D. doesn’t hit right off the bat. People can also go to my public Facebook page, Books by Chris D., as I occasionally have Direct-from-the-Author sales on there (though it’s been a while).
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