Saturday, December 11, 2010

Top Five Stories of 2010: Chad Eagleton

Today’s top five is with Chad Eagleton, whose fine work has been published in many venues, including the new and excellent collection, Discount Noir. And after reading his list, I'm now inspired to write a story about a "a midget prostitute and her razor-wielding chimp trying to smuggle tiger penis into a Tantric commune hidden within the Vatican." Now there's an idea that, as they say in the journalism business, has got legs.

Parnell’s Girl by Matthew C. Funk
Thrillers, Killers, n Chillers

Too many crime stories rest on their laurels, eschewing anything “real” about human existence and choosing the easy shock appeal of aberrant behavior and brutal violence without ever making a statement about…well, anything. Those stories are about as interesting as listening to teenagers play what’s-grosser-than-gross.

Matthew C. Funk doesn’t write those stories.

“Parnell’s Girl” showcases Funk’s immense and enviable talents: simple, direct prose that still manages to be stylish and evocative; an acute ear for dialogue; masterful use of the twist. And it’s the latter that sets this particular story apart for me. Often writers labor to concoct endings that surprise through trickery and deceit or by the simple art of pulling something nonsensical out of their ass. However, in “Parnell’s Girl,” the twist comes simply, from our own perceptions and biases as readers of crime fiction.

Funk is good enough that if I weren’t looking forward to his next story, I’d probably punch him in the dick out of spite.

Crimefactory # 1

I don’t care about car racing, football, or basketball. For an Indiana boy that doesn’t leave me with much to be proud of about my home state.

Until Frank Bill came along.

There’s a reason why he now has a two book deal with Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. People far more eloquent than me have praised his work, so I’ll just say that he’s operating at a level most of us will never reach.

His name alone is worth the price on the cover.

“Trespassing Between Heaven & Hell” is no exception.

Beasts by AJ Hayes
A Twist of Noir

When flash fiction is good, it demonstrates the ability to create character, setting, and plot with a miser’s pittance of words. Bad flash fiction is the equivalent of watching someone do half of a sloppy cartwheel and then being expected to clap at their ingenuity.

“Beasts” is good flash fiction.

I’ve always thought that one of the best compliments you can pay a writer’s story is to tell them that you haven’t forgotten it, that it stuck with you more than an hour after reading it.

It’s been four months since I read “Beasts”.

Life on the Mesa Keith Rawson
Beat to a Pulp

No matter with what criteria you judge him, Keith Rawson is impressive. His work ethic makes the Amish feel lazy. His output could cramp the fingers of most of the old pulpsters. He co-captains one of the finest crime magazines around. He’s a husband and a father. He works a day job.

The scary thing about Rawson, though? And lean close now, because he’s probably listening too.

…He’s always getting better.

“Life on the Mesa” is Rawson at his best. It’s a polished diamond; an absolutely flawless example of pacing, the proper use of the flashback, and how to sketch both character and environment. “Mesa” is a story so sharp it cuts straight through the normally, shatterproof glass that separates crime and horror fiction.

The Vigg Train by Christopher Pimental
Out of the Gutter #6, The Sexploitation Issue

Labels get thrown around a lot.


One of the problems with labels is that lesser writers will ape one particular aspect of what defines a label (a movement?) without understanding its purpose or its intent. A good portion of online crime fiction is frequently dominated by writers who think that merely concocting something involving a midget prostitute and her razor-wielding chimp trying to smuggle tiger penis into a Tantric commune hidden within the Vatican is alone, in itself, worthy of rock star adulation.

Christopher Pimental defines transgressive in ways those writers can never hope to understand with a skill and purpose they don’t have. “The Vigg Train” is something you must experience for yourself.

 When you’re done, if you think you’re still up for it, seek out “The Bitch Pit.” It’ll make you delete all your midget prostitute and razor-wielding chimp tales.

Chad Eagleton lives in Indiana with his dog and a wife who's hotter than a mook like him deserves. His work has been published in Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Bad Things Pulp Pages, Beat To A Pulp, Darkest Before The Dawn, Crimefactory, the now defunct Pulp Pusher and Muzzleflash. You can read his story "The Black Friday of Daniel Maddox" in the collection Discount Noir. Fans and stalkers can find him at or


  1. Chad- Nice picks and great commentary. This f*ck'n cracked me up big time

    "Funk is good enough that if I weren’t looking forward to his next story, I’d probably punch him in the dick out of spite."

  2. I'm glad to see you included Mr. Rawson's "Life on the Mesa." I've seen a few different versions of this and it was quite impressive (perfecto word here) to see him turn it into a masterpiece.

  3. Brilliant list again. The ones I know are superb - real diamonds every one. Frank Bill, Keith Rawson, AJ Hayes and Matthew Funk I'm behind all the way. Only reason Mr Pimental isn't there is that I haven't seen it - that will soon be rectified, of course, which is why I came along. Such a series, Chris - thanks.

  4. That's a fast crowd, Chad. Very fast. Bill, Rawson, Pimental and the Funk set a high bar and keep clearing it with feet to spare. I really like rereading their stuff. It's like going to writer's school every time I do. Every paragraph or so I -- honestly -- find myself muttering, "Son Of A Bitch! That's how you do that."

  5. Damn, brother, thanks for the praise and including me on this list. It's pleasure to be included in such a great group of stories.

  6. Very much appreciated, Chad, there will also be a much more polished version of this story coming out next year. And trust me if one Indiana boy can do it, so can another.

  7. Very cool. Thanks, Chad.

    As for the others on the list: I feel small in their shadows.

    Anyway, both stories are being spit-shined for an upcoming collection and I appreciate that you have given them a second breath.

    Keep writing hard. I'll remind folks that your "Double-D" is still one of my favorites.

    (Oh, and please don't mention "razor-wielding chimp" and "penis" in the same sentence ever again.)

  8. Solid. This was both a slap on the back and a kick in the ass. I'll keep aiming higher over that bar thanks to gracious comments like these. Much appreciated.

  9. Some great pick here, I'll be catching up on these.


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