Thursday, April 10, 2014

Read for the Weekend: THUGLIT and ALL DUE RESPECT

This week the standalone review comes with two changes. First, it's a little early. Second, I'm actually going to be reviewing two different things -- magazines. Both due to the short size and the great quality of these publications, I'm going to discuss them as a whole rather than reviewing actual issues. Believe me, these are ones worth following. With that in mind, I'll quit slapping gums and we'll get down to business...

All Due Respect is a crime fiction magazine -- no detectives, few happy endings. The stories within its pages are filled with characters you probably don't want to know in real life and if you do know them, you probably wish you didn't. ADR frequently features some of the best writers that the genre has to offer. The zine began online but is now also in print, published by Full Dark City Press. There have been two issues of the print version and that's the incarnation I'll be talking about because that is what ADR is now.

Edited by the great Chris Rhatigan (whose name reminds me of Lovecraft), ADR is a quarterly magazine featuring crime fiction, interviews, and non-fiction like reviews. The first issue contains Craig's Book-end favorite Chris F. Holm with a short story and an interview about the COLLECTOR series, which I previously reviewed here. You'll also get to cozy up to some deranged tales spun by the likes of Todd Robinson, Renee Asher Pickup and more.

The second issue features a story by Owen Laukannen and an interview with Laukannen by the previous interviewee, Chris F. Holm. In both issues, the main attraction was chosen well -- great stories, great interviews. Also in ADR #2, you'll find Eric Beetner, David Siddall (who has a book coming out soon...stay tuned!), and more. It features more of the gritty, dark, hardboiled noir fiction that you should expect when these names pop up.

One final feature of ADR is their attempt to review every book published by Hard Case Crimes. If you know your way around crime fiction, you should know this name. Hard Case Crime publishes books by the greats like Jason Starr and James M Caine. This is a daunting, noble and somewhat insane endeavor on ADR's behalf and I applaud them for it. When you pick up an issue of ADR, you also get to read about other great crime novels to read.

One word of warning: the one-two punch of Todd Robinson's "Good Dogs" and Renee Asher Pickup's "Amanda Will Be Fine" in ADR#1 will mess you up. These stories are expertly crafted and almost too effective in their execution. I don't know if there's a "Congratulations. You done gone and disturbed your readers' brains" award, but there should be and these two should win it. Unbelievable but if you're not into dark fiction, perhaps you should tread lightly.

Speaking of Big Daddy Thug (Todd Robinson)...

 Todd Robinson is the creator and chief editor of His short fiction has been featured literally friggin' everywhere. He's done all kinds of cool things in cool places and should not be suspected of any wrongdoing and deserves your total trust. (Please don't hurt me, Mr. Thug)

As it says up there, Thuglit contains "writing about wrongs". This, again, is crime fiction. The characters are losers, drifters, grifters, crooks, and thugs. Thuglit is another publication that is not afraid to take you to the dark side of town. The only potential difference, of course, is that Thuglit may just drop you off and leave your ass when you get there.

There are a whopping 10 issues of Thuglit available and they're all full of twisted, dark, mean fiction. If this is your thing, you can find other publications out there but you won't find any better than Thuglit and ADR. All the fiction published in Thuglit is not created equal but I've never run across a single story in a Thuglit that did not satisfy overall. I don't know what kind of dark magic Todd Robinson is practicing over there, but whatever he's doing works because Thuglit is still just as solid as it ever was.

In a world full of television shows and novel series and video games, it's sometimes easy to forget that fiction magazines exist. Indeed, some of them may not have made it in the current literary climate. However, ADR and Thuglit come with the highest possible recommendation from Craig's Book-ends, as do the folks involved. Whenever you see the name Todd Robinson or Chris F. Holm or Chris Rhatigan or Ed Kurtz or any of these folks, you can expect quality. Check them out. Let me know what you think.

I'll be here to talk after you stop shaking.

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