Sunday, January 2, 2011

Top Five for 2010: Richard Godwin

Richard Godwin: master short story writer, interviewer extraordinaire, soon-to-be-published novelist. (You can pre-order Apostle Rising, due out in March, here.) Awesome to have him at DBK today with his Top Five.

After much head scratching and re-reading of a plethora of great stories I have picked these five because they stand out individually. There are so many great stories out there it was hard to pick these. I also wanted to be eclectic, which is what Chris encouraged me to be when he asked me to do it.

The numbers are random, I hate league tables, I fed them into a permutational generator, so no one is first place, these are all equal.

1) AJ Hayes 'Savant'

Bill writes with an ease that may lull you into complacency. He knows a huge amount about literature and storytelling and this is obvious when you read him. This one grabs you by the balls and twists hard. He layers his narratives subtly and with a dexterity matched by few. He is able to play conflicting emotions off one another. I love this for its style and ambivalence.

2) Jodi MacArthur 'Pillow Talk'. Jodi has mastered horror writing and now has thrown down the gauntlet to many men on the crime scene. Watch out boys, this girl is coming to get you. She can hold your attention as she spoons your brains into a cooking pan. She unfolds her narratives with a sure hand. I loved this for its slow and decisive excavation of an inner horror.

3) Salvatore Butacci 'Peg In My Heart'.

Sal can muster so many forms of style it is impossible to list them all. He is always engaging, never dull and consistently humane and witty.

This story pegs you from the word go. It is about irretrievability and the way crime changes lives. It is told in Sal's assured style which captures both heart and mind.

4) Cindy Rosmus 'All Gone' the Original version. There is a story behind this story, an editor's re write, messing around around with something he evidently did not understand. Both versions are great but this is the better of the two. Cindy writes crackling electric prose. She never disappoints, she is the New Jersey Queen of crime and the nasty shock in the dark, her dialogue is always real and idiosyncratic to her characters. I loved this for its raw honesty and portrait of human despair.

5) Miss Alister 'Wasted Space'. Miss Alister is talented and subtle. Hugely so. She writes layered rich narratives that spin you on the head of a coin and let you land somewhere you never saw coming. She is versatile and cannot be pigeonholed and here she does crime as well as the best. There is so much more to her writing than a first glance reveals. I love this for its assured literary approach to the genre and its hybrid vision.


  1. Sweet Joey Ramone! What a bunch. Jodi makes me afraid of the dark, even with a Zippo to see with.
    Sal B. puts you ina nice mood of love passing in a bus station and being found at the end of the line . . . with a slight little Gotcha! that twists your guts at the end. Cindy Rosmus just flat punches you in the gut and laughs at you: poor Julio what did he ever do? Miss A has such a patient, almost gentle style that you don't get the horror of what she's saying until you're in too deep to quit. No matter what your IQ is. Richard, my friend, you can really pick 'em. Cool.

  2. Well, Richard, this is one of the last things I expected, but it’s gone and made my day. Thank you so very much for thinking of me and sticking me in with such fine company.

    Chris, this Top Five thing of yours sure is good for business. I’ve been having a blast working my way through all these picks you've been corralling here.

    And AJ, you're so gracious to all those Richard named. As Pamila Payne once wrote, “The mark of a fine person is one who encourages others,” and you got that mark.

  3. Thank you, Richard, for including my flash story, "Peg in My Heart," as one of your five picks. It is an honor!

  4. Richard, Henrietta would have been pleased to make your top 100 crime fav list let alone top five. What an honor! And to be in such fine company with Sal, Cindy, Miss Alister, and AJ.

    I'm not sure if I am master of anything, but with a scarlet scarf and a whip we can make people believe we are. (yes, that was a joke- actually- it wasn't- choose your own adventure!)
    Thank you for your kind words, my friend.

  5. You're all more than welcome. Thank you for writing such great stories, and Chris this is a brilliant idea.