Monday, 15 August 2011

PUSH-UPS: Lenny Kleinfeld

So, what you pushing right now?
The one novel I've written. Hopefully sometime before the end of this interview the title will come back to me.

What’s the hook?
It's a hardass comedy of manners, in which a couple of Chicago homicide detectives investigate a pointless murder commissioned by a self-indulgent Los Angeles billionaire, committed by a rigidly self-controlled professional hit man who, when he's not butchering people, is hell-bent on making a world-class Syrah.

And why’s that floating your boat?
It was published two years ago and ain't quite dead yet. It got a starred review from Kirkus and sold 93% of the initial print run. On the other hand, the publisher was a tiny company that printed a total of 1500 copies, so that percentage mainly serves to illustrate Mark Twain's line about there being lies, damned lies and statistics.

However, I upchucked a Kindle edition, and now, as I mentioned—wait, right, the fucker's called Shooters And Chasers—the novel's in its not quite dead phase, a police procedural zombie lurching about the internet and surviving by eating the occasional brain.

When did you turn to crime?
In fifth grade my teacher ran out of useful homework ideas and ordered us to write a story about, oh, anything. I wrote a story from the point of view of a sniper who was trying to assassinate America's then Vice President, Richard Nixon. Apparently at age eleven I already loathed the guy.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?
Genre is irrelevant. There's interesting writing and there's writing that reminds you life is short and there are no refunds on your wasted hours.

And, what’s blown you away lately?
My wife and I were recently in Lisbon, where we spent a good deal of time being swallowed whole by Hieronymus Bosch's epic triptych, The Temptation of Saint Anthony. He completed it in 1505 and it's still one of the most contemporary, technically brilliant, violently, perversely, wittily twisted works of art on the planet. And the colors are pretty.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Eric Larsen's Devil In The White City. The non-fiction book doesn't have a screenplay spine. But the life and crimes of its main character, Herman Webster Mudgett, a hardworking serial killer who stalked Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893, certainly do. He built a combined pharmacy/boarding house that featured hidden passages, a gas chamber, and a killing room on the third floor which had a disposal chute for dumping corpses into a lime pit in the basement. Done right, a flick about Herm could be Psycho on steroids.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?

Shout us a website worth visiting …
C'mon, I'm 62. My idea of a hot site is Yahoo's NBA page, where I can check the Chicago Bulls box score dead quick, mate.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
One summer during college I worked as an assistant maitr'd at an upscale, mobbed-up Manhattan restaurant, where my most important task was to slip medicine to the capo of one of the city's major crime families, because he didn't want his underlings to know he had stomach problems.

Yes, he did tip well.

You can visit the zombie HERE