"All the heavy hitters...came out for USA Noir...an important anthology of stories shrewdly culled by Johnny Temple."
New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)
One of Zoom Street Magazine 's Favorite Books of 2014
Indie Books Roundup #1 Pick, Barnes & Noble Book Blog
Included in Zoom Street Magazine 's Summer Reading (Mysteries/Noir) Roundup
One of "100 Best Books for Readers Young and Old," HispanicBusiness.com
"Readers will be hard put to find a better collection of short stories in any genre."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A must read for mystery fans, not just devotees of Akashic's 'Noir' series, this anthology serves as both an introduction for newcomers and a greatest-hits package for regular readers of the series There isn’t a weak story in the collection...Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy mysteries published by Hard Case Crime, as well as for fans of police procedurals."
Library Journal (starred review)
"The 37 stories in this collection represent the best of the U.S.-based anthologies, and the list of contributors include virtually anyone who’s made the best-seller list with a work of crime fiction in the last decade...a must-have anthology."
Booklist (starred review)
"It's hard to imagine how the present anthology could be topped for sheer marquee appeal...Perhaps the single most impressive feature of the collection is its range of voices, from Joyce Carol Oates' faux innocent young family to Megan Abbott's impressionable high school kids to the chorus of peremptory voices S.J. Rozan plants in a haunted thief's head. Eat your heart out, Walt Whitman: These are the folks who hear America singing, and moaning and screaming."
"A less enlightened Temple cover collection of crime and mystery stories could easily reduce itself to stereotypical cartoons about white detectives with a whiskey bottle and a gun in the drawer but Akashic's series takes itself very seriously in its mission to represent all aspects of a city’s dark side."
Kirkus Reviews , Feature Story/Interview with Johnny Temple
"For those who prefer their crime closer to home, there is USA Noir, a veritable greatest hits of Akashic's long-running, acclaimed noir anthology series, rounding up solid gold blackness of the bleakest and darkest kind...Like Chuck Berry sang, 'Anything you want, we got right here in the USA.'"
Mystery Scene Magazine
Launched with the summer 2004 award-winning bestseller Brooklyn Noir, the groundbreaking Akashic Noir series now includes over sixty volumes and counting. Each book is comprised of all-new stories, each one set in a distinct location within the city of the book.
Featuring stories by: Dennis Lehane, Don Winslow, Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, Susan Straight, Jonathan Safran Foer, Laura Lippman, Pete Hamill, Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, T. Jefferson Parker, Lawrence Block, Terrance Hayes, Jerome Charyn, Jeffery Deaver, Maggie Estep, Bayo Ojikutu, Tim McLoughlin, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Reed Farrel Coleman, Megan Abbott, Elyssa East, James W. Hall, J. Malcolm Garcia, Julie Smith, Joseph Bruchac, Pir Rothenberg, Luis Alberto Urrea, Domenic Stansberry, John O'Brien, S.J. Rozan, Asali Solomon, William Kent Krueger, Tim Broderick, Bharti Kirchner, Karen Karbo, and Lisa Sandlin.
From the introduction by Johnny Temple:
"From the start, the heart and soul of Akashic Books has been dark, provocative, well-crafted tales from the disenfranchised. I learned early on that writings from outside the mainstream almost necessarily coincide with a mood and spirit of noir, and are composed by authors whose life circumstances often place them in environs exposed to crime...This volume serves up a top-shelf selection of stories from the series set in the United States. USA Noir only scratches the surface, however, and every single volume has gems on offer."
About the Author
Johnny Temple is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Akashic Books, an award-winning Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction. He won the 2013 Ellery Queen Award, the American Association of Publishers’ 2005 Miriam Bass Award for Creativity in Independent Publishing; and the 2010 Jay and Dean Kogan Award for Excellence in Noir Literature. Temple teaches courses on the publishing business at Wilkes University and Wesleyan University; and is the Chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council, which works with Brooklyn’s borough president to plan the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. He also plays bass guitar in the band Girls Against Boys, which has toured extensively across the globe and released numerous albums on independent and major record companies. He has contributed articles and political essays to various publications, including The Nation, Publishers Weekly, AlterNet, Poets & Writers, and BookForum.
Read an Excerpt
Best of the Akashic Noir Series
By Johnny Temple
Akashic BooksCopyright © 2013 Akashic Books
All rights reserved.
Writers on the Run
In my early years as a book publisher, I got a call one Saturday from one of our authors asking me to drop by his place for "a smoke." I politely declined as I had a full day planned. "But Johnny," the author persisted, "I have some really good smoke." My curiosity piqued, I swung by, but was a bit perplexed to be greeted with suspicion at the author's door by an unhinged whore and her near-nude john. The author rumbled over and ushered me in, promptly sitting me down on a smelly couch and assuring the others I wasn't a problem. Moments later, the john produced a crack pipe to resume the party I had evidently interrupted. This wasn't quite the smoke I'd envisaged, so I gracefully excused myself after a few (sober) minutes. I scurried home pondering the author's notion that it was somehow appropriate to invite his publisher to a crack party.
It may not have been appropriate, but it sure was noir.
From the start, the heart and soul of Akashic Books has been dark, provocative, well-crafted tales from the disenfranchised. I learned early on that writings from outside the mainstream almost necessarily coincide with a mood and spirit of noir, and are composed by authors whose life circumstances often place them in environs vulnerable to crime.
My own interest in noir fiction grew from my early exposure to urban crime, which I absorbed from various perspectives. I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and have lived in Brooklyn since 1990. In the 1970s and '80s, when violent, drug-fueled crime in DC was rampant, my mother hung out with cops she'd befriended through her work as a nearly unbeatable public defender. She also grew close to some of her clients, most notably legendary DC bank robber Lester "LT" Irby (a contributor to DC Noir), who has been one of my closest friends since I was fifteen, though he was incarcerated from the early 1970s until just recently. Complicating my family's relationship with the criminal justice system, my dad sued the police stridently in his work as legal director of DC's American Civil Liberties Union.
Both of my parents worked overtime. By the time my sister Kathy was nine and I was seven, we were latchkey kids prone to roam, explore, and occasionally break laws. Though an arrest for shoplifting helped curb my delinquent tendencies, the interest in crime remained. After college I worked with adolescents and completed a master's degree in social work; my focus was on teen delinquency.
Throughout the 1990s, my relationship with the urban underbelly expanded as I spent a great deal of time in dank nightclubs populated by degenerates and outcasts. I played bass guitar in Girls Against Boys, a rock and roll group that toured extensively in the US and Europe. The long hours on the road not spent on stage gave way to book publishing, which began as a hobby in 1996 with my friends Bobby and Mark Sullivan.
The first book we published was The Fuck-Up, by Arthur Nersesian—adark, provocative, well-crafted tale from the disenfranchised. A few years later Heart of the Old Country by Tim McLoughlin became one of our early commercial successes. The book was widely praised both for its classic noir voice and its homage to the people of South Brooklyn. While Brooklyn is chock-full of published authors these days, Tim is one of the few who was actually born and bred here. In his five decades, Tim has never left the borough for more than five weeks at a stretch and he knows the place, through and through, better than anyone I've met.
In 2003, inspired by Brooklyn's unique and glorious mix of cultures, Tim and I set out to explore New York City's largest borough in book form, in a way that would ring true to local residents. Tim loves his home borough despite its flagrant flaws, and was easily seduced by the concept of working with Akashic to try and portray its full human breadth.
He first proposed a series of books, each one set in a different neighborhood, whether it be Bay Ridge, Williamsburg, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Bed- Stuy, or Canarsie. It was an exciting idea, but it's hard enough to publish a single book, let alone commit to a full series. After we considered various other possibilities, Tim came upon the idea of a fiction anthology organized by neighborhood, each one represented by a different author. We were looking for stylistic diversity, so we focused on "noir," and defined it in the broadest sense: we wanted stories of tragic, soulful struggle against all odds, characters slipping, no redemption in sight.
Conventional wisdom dictates that literary anthologies don't sell well, but this idea was too good to resist—it seemed the perfect form for exploring the whole borough, and we got to work soliciting stories. We batted around book titles, including Under the Hood, before settling on Brooklyn Noir. The volume came together beautifully and was a surprise hit for Akashic, quickly selling through multiple printings and winning awards. (See pages 548–550 for a full list of prizes garnered by stories originally published in the Noir Series.)
Having seen nearly every American city, large and small, through the windows of a van or tour bus, I have developed a deep fondness for their idiosyncrasies. So for me it was easy logic to take the model of Brooklyn Noir—sketching out dark urban corners through neighborhood-based short fiction—and extend it to other cities. Soon came Chicago Noir, San Francisco Noir, and London Noir (our first of many overseas locations). Selecting the right editor to curate each book has been the most important decision we make before assembling it. It's a welcome challenge because writers are often enamored of their hometowns, and many are seduced by the urban landscape's rough edges. The generous support of literary superheroes like George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, and Joyce Carol Oates, all of whom have edited series volumes, has been critical.
There are now fifty-nine books in the Noir Series. Forty of them are from American locales. As of this writing, a total of 787 authors have contributed 917 stories to the series and helped Akashic to stay afloat during perilous economic times. By publishing six to eight new volumes in the Noir Series every year, we have provided a steady venue for short stories, which have in recent times struggled with diminishing popularity. Akashic's commitment to the short story has been rewarded by the many authors—of both great stature and great obscurity—who have allowed us to publish their work in the series for a nominal fee.
I am particularly indebted to all sixty-seven editors who have cumulatively upheld a high editorial standard across the series. The series would never have gotten this far without rigorous quality control. There also couldn't be a Noir Series without my devoted and tireless (if occasionally irreverent) staff led by Johanna Ingalls, Ibrahim Ahmad, and Aaron Petrovich.
This volume serves up a top-shelf selection of stories from the series set in the United States. USA Noir only scratches the surface, however, and every single volume has more gems on offer.
When I set out to compile USA Noir, I was delighted by the immediate positive responses from nearly every author I contacted. The only author on my initial invitation list who isn't included here is one I couldn't track down: the publisher explained to me that the writer was "literally on the run." While I'm disappointed that we can't include the story, the circumstance is true to the Noir Series spirit.
And part of me—the noir part—is expecting a phone call from the writer, inviting me over for a smoke.
Excerpted from USA NOIR by Johnny Temple. Copyright © 2013 Akashic Books. Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Part I: True Grit
Dennis Lehane, “Animal Rescue,” Dorchester, Boston Noir
George Pelecanos, “The Confidential Informant,” Park View, NW, DC Noir
Susan Straight, “The Golden Gopher,” Downtown, Los Angeles Noir
Pete Hamill, “The Book Signing,” Park Slope, Brooklyn Noir
Joyce Carol Oates, “Run Kiss Daddy,” Kittatinny Mountains, New Jersey Noir
Terrance Hayes, “Still Air,” East Liberty, Pittsburgh Noir
Jerome Charyn, “White Trash,” Claremont/Concourse, Bronx Noir
Part II: American Values
Maggie Estep, “Alice Fantastic,” Aqueduct Racetrack, Queens Noir
Bayo Ojikutu, “The Gospel of Moral Ends,” 77th & Jeffery, Chicago Noir
Tim McLoughlin, “When All This Was Bay Ridge,” Sunset Park, Brooklyn Noir
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, “Crazy for You,” Costa Mesa, Orange County Noir
Reed Farrel Coleman, “Mastermind,” Selden, Long Island Noir
Karen Karbo, “The Clown and Bard,” SE Twenty-Eighth Avenue, Portland Noir
Part III: Road Rage
Michael Connelly, “Mulholland Dive,” Mullholand Drive, Los Angeles Noir
Megan Abbott, “Our Eyes Couldn’t Stop Opening,” Alter Road, Detroit Noir
Lee Child, “Public Transportation,” Chandler, Phoenix Noir
Jonathan Safran Foer, “Too Near Real,” Princeton, New Jersey Noir
James W. Hall, “Ride Along,” Coconut Grove, Miami Noir
Elyssa East, “Second Chance,” Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Noir
Part IV: Homeland Security
Don Winslow, “After Thirty,” Pacific Beach, San Diego Noir
J. Malcolm Garcia, “Missing Gene,” Troost Lake, Kansas City Noir
Julie Smith, “Loot,” Garden District, New Orleans Noir
Domenic Stansberry, “The Prison,” North Beach, San Francisco Noir
Joseph Bruchac, “Helper,” Adirondacks, Indian Country Noir
Laura Lippman, “Easy As A-B-C,” Locust Point, Baltimore Noir
Pir Rothenberg, “The Rose Red Vial,” Museum District, Richmond Noir
Part V: Under the Influence
Luis Alberto Urrea, “Amapola,” Paradise Valley, Phoenix Noir
John O’Brien, “The Tik,” Scotch 80s, Las Vegas Noir
S.J. Rozan, “Lighthouse,” St. George, Staten Island Noir
Asali Solomon, “Secret Pool,” West Philadelphia, Philadelphia Noir
William Kent Kruger, “Bums,” West Side, St. Paul, Twin Cities Noir
Part VI: Street Justice
T. Jefferson Parker, “Vic Primeval,” Kearny Mesa, San Diego Noir
Tim Broderick, “Feeding Frenzy,” 40 Wall Street, Wall Street Noir
Bharti Kirchner “Promised Tulips,” Wallingford, Seattle Noir
Lawrence Block, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat,” Clinton, Manhattan Noir
Lisa Sandlin, “Phelan’s First Case,” Beaumont, Lone Star Noir
Jeffery Deaver, “A Nice Place to Visit,” Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan Noir