Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Today Is Your Birthday!

Today is my birthday, but that is a big by-the-way, because as we age (not that I am aging), our birthdays come to signify less significant changes than they did when we were younger. The difference between 12 and 13--huge. The difference between 15 and 16--huge. The difference between 38 and 39--not much. The difference between 71 and 72--duh. As we age we appreciate each new birthday not for the growth it implies, but for the marker along the path of life's journey that it represents. I can say that at the age of 43--which is what a man born on December 5 in the year 1964 would be on this day--that I love my three children more than ever. I really miss my son, who is serving in Iraq, and I am sorry that I did not answer the phone at 3:00 a.m. this morning when, apparently, he called. Hey, Junior, call back. Wish your olde man a happy birthday. I can say that I love my four brothers--we are a tight crew--we sail our ship just fine. Well . . . there is brother # 4, the one who became a Greek Orthodox monk--but you know what, he's just fine too. He's part of the crew, too, in his own Greek Orthodox Monk kind of way. The brother was seeking something spiritual and he found it, I hope. Deal with it, remaining brethren. I can say that I really love my wife more than ever. I say this without subterfuge or guile, which is what we can do when we are olde enough not to be shy about such things. I can say that I miss my mother, who passed away this year. I wish she had lived to see my new book ALL OR NOTHING. Well, I read sections of it to her last year, and she laughed a lot and told me the book would be a success. Thanks, mom. She loved my first novel HOOCHIE MAMA, which is weird because she was a born again Christian and not much into raunchy detective thrillers per se--but she loved her son and she loved his book and she urged him to write a sequel. Okay, mom. I will. One day. My father left a message on my machine today--he was singing happy birthday. Well, now. I can say that I am happy that I have five books in print. I can say that I am happy about my latest story, "CRIP," which will be appearing in a collection called LAS VEGAS NOIR sometime next year. I wrote it so that it would blow you away. I wrote it so that you would want to read it a second time, then tell a friend to read it. I never wrote a story like that before, but I felt my mom looking over my shoulder. I wrote a creepy, raunchy story that even she would have loved. I can say that I am happy that I am a teacher. I love teaching. I love young people. They make me feel young at 43. I am young at 43 thanks to my students. I never want to do anything else but write and teach young people. Okay, I have a lot of students who are not young--and I love teaching them too. One day I am going to write a guidebook for young people (as though I know how to be young--heck, I did not even know how to be young when I was actually young--I have always been a young 43, even at 23, even at 12--I remember asking my pastor to explain that part of the book of Genesis when Onan had sex with his wife and then spilled it on the ground--I kept asking him, "Spilled what, pastor? What did he spill?"--Pastor never really did explain). I think it is time to polish up that book that I have been working on for a decade--I think it will be my life's work, my magnum opus. I have a lot to say in it about love and faithfulness and God and religion and spilling it on the ground and sleazy car salesmen. The book is called THE FAITHFUL and it features the two lovers (16 year olde Elwyn and 43 year olde Sister Morrisohn) whom you met in my collection CHURCHBOYS AND OTHER SINNERS. I had a publisher who was interested in it a few years ago--maybe I will contact them--maybe I will contact my new publisher Akashic, see if this is the kind of book they like. Sleazy car salesmen, spilling it on the ground, 43 year olde church ladies with 16 year olde church boys . . . hmmmm.

I decree that we replace the new word "old" with the olde word "olde." Here, here now!

Lipshitz 6

Lipshitz 6
Reading T Cooper for Christmas

Punk Blood

Punk Blood
Jay Marvin

Breath, Eyes, Memory

Breath, Eyes, Memory

Anonymous Rex

Anonymous Rex
Reading Eric Garcia for Christmas

Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill
Reading A. Manette Ansay for Christmas

Nicotine Dreams

Nicotine Dreams
Reading Katie Cunningham for Christmas

Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz
Pulitzer Prize Winner!!!

Edwige Danticat

Edwige Danticat
New Year's Reading

Greed

Greed
This Brother Is Scary Good

One More Chance

One More Chance
The genius Is At It Again/The Rapper CHIEF aka Sherwin Allen

Sandrine's Letter

Sandrine's Letter
Check out Sandrine's Letter To Tomorrow. You will like it, I insist.

All or Nothing

All or Nothing

Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

Foreword Magazine--"Not shame, not assault, not even murder is enough reason to stop. Allen’s second novel, All or Nothing, is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable. P’s inner dialogues illuminate the grubby tragedy of addiction, and his actions speak for the train wreck that is gambling."

Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

World Series of Poker

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At Books and Books

At Books and Books
Me And Vicki at Our Reading

Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.