Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five You Can't Miss: Brian Panowich

Considering I’m such a noob to the online crime fiction community, I still find myself lurking around the dark corners of the Internet trying to find the best stories out there. This column (Five You Can't Miss) has been invaluable for turning me on to some of the best writing I’ve ever seen, so I invited myself over to maybe return the favor.

1. Hatpin By Jen Conley
Ms. Conley has consistently turned out some of the best fiction on the planet, and this one over at Shotgun Honey is where my love affair with her stuff began. It’s full of hard as nails female characterization and a lesson in making every word count. Mary Mulligan is my dream girl.

2. Seeds By Chris Leek
Chris can throw dialogue into any situation, or timeframe, like it’s nobody’s business. From the world of a hardened black jack dealer in Pigeon, over at Grift Magazine, to trailer trash jargon like A Redheaded Woman, at The Flash Fiction Offensive, but nothing compares to the old western revenge tale Seeds, at The Big Adios. You would think Mr. Leek grew up on a mountain learning how to talk by listening to his uncles and cousins while they brewed up another batch ‘o shine. As good or better than any script Sergio Leone worked from.

3. Pit Stop By Les Edgerton
I bought the first issue of Noir Nation Magazine on a whim, not knowing who Les Edgerton was. It included his story Pit Stop and I read it in a fever. It was full of matter-of-fact straight talk that bowled me over. Not once did it feel like “writing”. That shit is what I had been looking for. Lucky for me (and you) the story was an excerpt from the BEST BOOK I’ve read in years called JUST LIKE THAT. Buy it. Read it. Break something. You’re welcome.

4. Folded Blue By John Rector
I know this story was written in 2011, but it’s new to me, so I’m breaking the rules a bit. Sometimes a story taps into something so raw and primal that the reader has no choice but to carry it around with them forever. There’s no un-ringing the bell. It’s yours now, whether you want it or not. That’s Folded Blue by John Rector over at Shotgun Honey. It’s the literary equivalent to a layer of greasy film you can’t scrub off. It’s brilliant.

5. Push, Push, Push By Ryan Sayles
I’m going to catch a little grief for including Ryan on this list, considering he’s a good friend of mine, and we’ve written a few books together (SEE HERE), but you know what? Fuck ‘em. The guy can write. I’m going to bend the rules a little further by recommending a story no one has read yet except the editors who keep rejecting it. (Yes, it’s that good.) In 2011, Sayles and I both submitted some stories to an anthology that was kicking off, and we both got rejected. I asked him to send it to me, and I can see why it keeps getting turned down.

Because it’s fucking brilliant.

Sometimes the world needs time to catch up to genius, or maybe they’re just scared. The story is one huge chunk of dread that sits on your chest and squeezes the life out of you. You know what’s coming. You know you can’t stop it. And as horrific as the ending is, it had to be that way. It makes sense. The world is a fucked up place. Anyway, all you editors looking for the next greatest thing, go read Push, Push, Push by Ryan Sayles and publish it, so the rest of the whole can be in the know. You can reach him at his personal email address or his private cell phone number 510-379-8640. Again, you’re welcome.


  1. Ditto--what Chris said. Thanks for including my little story. I've read the others and I'm humbled to be in such company!

  2. I'm flattered. The dudes on this list are in top form. For me to be in there is truly humbling. Thank you, Brian and Chris.

  3. Yes, thank you. Very flattered to be included in this list!

  4. I've read three of these and couldn't agree more. Smartly (yes, I went with that word) written post.