Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: Lee by Crime Factory Publishing (2013)

LeeLee by Crime Factory Publishing
(featuring stories by Scott Phillips, Heath Lowrance, Johnny Shaw, Jenna Bass, Adrian McKinty, Jake Hinkson, Ray Banks, James Hopwood, Erik Lundy, Eric Beetner, Luke Preston, Nigel Bird, Ryan K. Lindsay, Andrew Nette, Cameron Ashley and Jimmy Callaway)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"I bet you're a big Lee Marvin fan aren't you? Yeah, me too; I love that guy." - Mr Blonde to Mr White in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.

I was watching Reservoir Dogs the other night and the second I heard that throwaway line again I knew that it was going to open my review to this collection of short stories about Lee Marvin. Sadly on opening the book I discovered that Mike White (not the actor/screenwriter but a different Mike White) had used the same idea for his introduction. Instead I shall quote the character Stillwell from the concluding story by Jimmy Calloway:
"Lee Marvin was always fun to watch, with that look on his face like he knew he could fuck you up if he had to but he'd rather not."

Lee Marvin at the Point Blank Wrap Party

As a prominent figure from recent pop culture history, everyone has their own image of Lee Marvin that is immediately brought to mind when his name is mentioned and it is his iconic status that the wonderful people at Crime Factory Publications (you may remember them from my recent gushing review of Fierce Bitches) have taken advantage of in commissioning this series of stories featuring the larger than life personality himself.

I don't know how much of each of these stories was based on hearsay, extrapolated from minor fact or just plain flights of imagination but the combined effect is that of the telling of fireside tales, of making Marvin in to a mythical being who lived hard, fought hard, drank hard and fucked hard and accepted nothing less from those around him.

All 17 stories are written by a different individual, in a different style and from differing points of view, they combine to tell of a full and crazy life, from 1944 on a hospital ship to 1987 as news of his untimely death by heart attack is heard by a young fan via many interesting, entertaining, bizarre and hardboiled events along the way. As his biographer, Dwayne Epstein, is quoted as saying on the cover, Lee Marvin is smack dab in the centre of the action where he belongs.

There's the time he turned down Jaws, the time he took a bullet for John Ford, the time Andy Warhol gave him PCP laced cigarettes, the time he needed a really big gun for shooting Point Blank, the time he hit someone, the other time he hit someone, the building he burned to the ground, the time he was arrested, the other time he was arrested, the time at the Oscars, the thing with Warren Beatty, the time with the boiling hot coffee, the time when he stole a car, but sadly no moment when Warren Oates could turn up and out crazy him.

It seems like every individual involved with creating this collection has a real affection for Marvin and that transfers to the stories told even when he's a painted as a total bastard. I had a blast from start to finish, making the decision not to get out of bed until the book was read, there goes Tuesday, and would highly recommend this collection to fans of film noir, noir fiction, Lee Marvin and jokes about Englishman, Welshman and Americans waiting to use a toilet. So get on over to Crime Factory and order your own copy of this excellent short story collection without hesitation.

Need more Marvin? Here's a Top 10 List to keep the fun coming.

View all my book reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment