From: Duane Spurlock ( duane@emazing.com)
Date: 26 Oct 2000

crimefactory@mBox.com.au wrote:

<< Just joined the list so I wanted to introduce myself.

I'm in the process of publishing a new crime magazine from Australia, Crime Factory, so I would be interested to hear from anybody who would like to contribute on the hardboiled genre.

Welcome to the list!

And great to hear about your magazine launch! Best of luck with it. Do you have a website up to support it yet, or do you expect to do so?

<< Can anyone provide information on writer Jerome Charyn? Is he still around?

Charyn's work is nearly uncategorizable when compared to the rest of the crime writing published in the US. In France, maybe Daniel Pennac's stuff comes close, but there's still a world of difference there.

Yes, he's still around and, apparently, working like a demon -- the guy seems to release two or three books a year. Not all crime-related or part of his Sidel series, but all over the place -- fiction, memoir, whatever.

As Neil Smith said, "He's nuts, and that makes the novels just amazing, doesn't it?"

Prolly so, and yes. I'm semi-nuts about his stuff myself. Here's the text I wrote for the Dec. 28, 1998, edition of Emazing.com's late, lamented (by me, at least) Crime Fiction Tip of the Day:


In his stories about Isaac Sidel, Jerome Charyn has written the most distinctive series of New York cop novels since Chester Himes recounted the adventures of Harlem detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones.

Sidel first appeared in BLUE EYES (1974) as a deputy police commissioner. During the course of the series, he has risen through the administrative ranks until he becomes NYC police commissioner, then mayor, and in the latest entry, CITIZEN SIDEL, he is a candidate for U.S. Vice-President. In each role, Isaac is the conscience-stricken moral man who feels he must use immoral methods to create order in a chaotic and conscienceless universe.

Charyn turned to writing crime novels after reading THE GALTON CASE, a Lew Archer novel written by Ross MacDonald. Besides the quest for truth and order that both Isaac and Archer follow, a reader would be hard-pressed to find similarities between the two writers and their fictional worlds. Charyn's storytelling style recalls that of fairy tales, and his protagonists take on larger-than-life characteristics--all quite suitable for crime stories set in the magical land of New York City. (Himes' tales of Harlem have a similar familiar-but-exotic feel.)

In CITIZEN SIDEL, Isaac faces off against the righteous criminals of his own political party and of the U.S. Government's intelligence agencies. As he battles institutional corruption while seeking to protect the innocence of a convicted orphan, Isaac comes to question his own moral center.

This novel is yet another great entry in the chronicles of Isaac Sidel.

I also contributed a bit on Charyn to the Comic Book Tip of the Day:


Jerome Charyn's literary novels offer a stylistic verve rarely displayed by U.S. authors these days. He's best known for his series of crime novels featuring police commissioner Isaac Sidel, the most distinctive New York cop novels to appear since Chester Himes' stories of Harlem detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. But few U.S. readers realize that Charyn also writes comics.

Note that you won't find any spandex-clad superheroes in Charyn's comics. The graphic novels he writes--most originally published in France as albums--have no continuing characters. However, his distinctive use of folklore, dark humor, magic realism, identity quests and violence reflect a singular imagination at work in each book. But anyone familiar with Charyn's Isaac novels will recognize the mythopoeic qualities he brings to his graphic novels. If you want a comic-reading experience that's completely different from that offered by the typical U.S.-produced graphic novel, here are some titles to look for at your local comic shop (some of these are out of print, so check the marked-down box):

The Magician's Wife Billy Budd, KGB Margot in Badtown Margot: Queen of the Night Family Man

I warned you: semi-nuts.
-- Duane Spurlock

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