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Author Archive: "Poe Ballantine"

Run for the Hills

Official dire prophecy USED to be issued exclusively under the authority of the cleric/sorcerer, but now the public trust for such tales has shifted to the province of the professional scientist. It makes sense. The scientist has models and stuff and has studied subjects deeply. Writers have minor credibility in this area but often discredit themselves by putting specific dates on apocalyptic predictions (see Mayan calendar).

I'd love to join the fray, too, but I'm always wrong. I actually went to live on a tropical island in the 1970s because I thought the whole Western Thing was coming down. Later I made a number of dubious moves, always keeping my life stripped down because the next depression/world war/plague/environmental catastrophe/monetary collapse was at hand. Last year I seriously went out THREE times to stock up on food.

What we forget is that even though it runs against our sentiments, we are at base interdependent, and even if we do grind our heels into each other's face too often, at least under THIS flag and in the matrix of THIS mythology, we've managed to pull together so far when the ...


The Official Story of How Poe Ballantine Came into the World

One day back in 1959 in San Clemente, California, Surf Dawg Rickey and Mysterious Felipe were strolling along the beach, boards under arms, when they ran into a slump-shouldered, hairy-backed man with a ski-jump nose and bags under his eyes who said his name was Dick. Dawg and Felipe felt sorry for this gloomy loner, so they let him sit with them at their beach fire and shared some of their malt liquor and ice cream bars. When Dick went in to surf, Rickey and Felipe were amazed at his moves and dubbed him "Tricky."

Tricky looked at you like a hound dog from under his heavy eyebrows and occasionally shivered his jowls as he spoke. He was homeless and only spent money on corn dogs and Anne Bancroft movies, his favorite the 1953 adventure Treasure of the Golden Condor with Cornel Wilde, George Macready, and Fay Wray (Bancroft would later go on to make a gorilla movie, too, which might explain her eventual attraction to the hairy-backed loner).

At night Rickey's ska band, the Doobie-Wah-Doobies, was usually playing somewhere to a packed house. Mysterious Felipe sat in ...


Determinism vs. Free Willy

Because I've lived a risky and unconventional life, I don't often struggle for subjects to write about. Spending time homeless on the streets of New Orleans, the sociopath with whom I lost my virginity, feeding the child of the junkies upstairs, getting kicked off the trains in San Antonio — that's all natural, electric material. However, when my neighbor, Steven, disappeared and was found three months later burned and bound to a tree a half a mile south of the college campus where he taught, as natural and electric as the material might've been, I wasn't sure if I wanted to write about it. Wisdom, my own safety, and the fact that I had never written about crime suggested that the mystery was better left unexplored. Among those opposed to a comprehensive treatment of the case were Steven's family, the college that employed him, the various law enforcement agencies who turned in uninspired performances, the criminology professor who tried to have an affair with my wife and then took over the investigation without authority, and last but certainly not least, the people who were responsible for the death ...


Talk About a Haunted House!

My good friend Abner Violette, a retired NASA electrical engineer (literally a rocket scientist) and owner of five radio stations throughout Nebraska and Colorado, is the most intelligent person I've ever met. He can talk with facility on just about any subject, from physics to falafel to the Foo Fighters. He is a Christian (though you'd never know it), an admirer of Robert Goddard and Wernher von Braun, and a firm believer in ghosts.

We've gone many times, to the delight of my young (Catholic) son, fully equipped with pyrometers and EMF meters and digital voice recorders and cameras to explore old buildings at night in pursuit of phantoms. Our trips are always fruitful — EMF spikes, batteries mysteriously draining, cameras shutting off by themselves, photographs with orbs, recordings of voices that aren't ours ("I see you grin!"), videos of flying what-nots, candle flames flaring up on request. Abner is not only a spook magnet but a great part of the serendipity of my book. After one of the people who I list as a prime suspect hastily left town and then sold his house, Abner ...


In Such a Crowded, Competitive, Opportunistic World, Why Would I Be the Only One to Write This Book?

It's the story of the century, the most baffling, bizarre, and beastly crime in anyone's memory. A beautiful, elegant, gentle, brilliant man, a theoretical mathematician, goes missing and is discovered three months later way back in the sticks in a horrifying pose. The town immediately goes into a panic. The local police travel in widening circles, scratching their heads and issuing cryptic statements. Many are convinced a serial killer is on the loose. Jim Hahn swears he saw FBI vans in town. Lisa Aschwege knows who did it. The gossipmongers jump aboard their gossamer machines. In a town where many do not lock their doors, we all begin locking our doors. And in spite of the fact that there are many here qualified to do so, including literature professors who teach up on the hill, NO ONE IS WRITING THE BOOK.

But apparently I'm wrong. For I'm sitting next to Floyd at the local bar. Floyd is a barfly in a brown cowboy suit who lives at a residential motel and tells everyone he's rich. Floyd is hard to get along with. Whether he's intentionally contrary, naturally cranky, ...


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