Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

A Couple of Quick Recommendations

Between the new job and wrapping up my school year, I’m afraid I’ve fallen hopelessly behind in… well, everything else, including here at the Junk Shop. So in an effort to get caught up, here is a brief stub of a column recommending a bunch of cool things I got that came in the mail or that someone brought to my attention that, in turn, I thought I should bring to YOUR attention.


The mighty Sam Elliott in his best movie EVER.
Not even a little bit kidding.

In my circles, everyone loves Sam Elliott. He’s always good. He elevates whatever he’s in. But he rarely gets to be the star. He’s usually the wise older guy who’s off to the side.

Those days are over. Because The Hero was written especially for Elliott and he OWNS it.

Everyone else in it is great too — Krysten Ritter, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, and of course Katharine Ross — but it is Sam Elliott’s movie from start to finish and he just rocks it out. If this doesn’t convince America and the world of what I’ve known since The Quick and the Dead, well, there’s just no hope left for humanity. Opens today. Go see it. It is brilliant. Here’s the trailer.


The Hammer! I have been a fan of Max Collins channeling Mickey Spillane since the days of Ms. Tree, something that’s not a secret to anyone who’s been a regular or even an occasional reader of my columns over the years.

In fact my second outing right here at the Junk Shop was all about Quarry.

So I’m not going to go over all of it again except to tell you that the latest Collins/Spillane Mike Hammer novel is out and I thought it was one of the better of these ‘posthumous collaborations’ Collins has done. I keep thinking that he has run out of the Hammer manuscripts Spillane asked him to clean up and finish, but I guess there are still a couple left to go.

This is the blurb for The Will to Kill: Taking a midnight stroll along the Hudson River, Mike Hammer gets more than he bargained for: a partial corpse on an ice floe. The body is that of an ex-police captain, who spent the last years of his life as a butler to a millionaire—also now deceased. Were both master and servant murdered? Captain Pat Chambers thinks so. But to prove it Hammer must travel to upstate New York to investigate the dead man’s family, all of whom have a motive for murder.

I really don’t have anything to add except that I liked it a lot and if you are a fan of Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer, or Max Allan Collins, you’ll like it too.


When the West was Weird… I turned in the manuscript for the Western novel to the publisher this week, and I’ll be able to tell you more about that project in the weeks to come, I hope. But in the meantime, I want to tell you about a couple of others I had nothing to do with at all.

I’ve loved the ‘weird western’ genre since the days of The Wild Wild West and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula.

In recent years, it’s been making a comeback. Although it never REALLY went away.

But anyway. I tried my hand at one and at about the halfway point, in a frenzy of terror that I had accidentally duplicated something that someone else had already done, I ordered a copy of Laura Gilman’s Silver on the Road.

Reading it, I was hugely relieved to discover that Ms. Gilman’s sorcerous Wild West was nothing like mine…. and hugely delighted to discover that it was a really terrific book.

The blurb: Isobel, upon her sixteenth birthday, makes the choice to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opportunities to people who want to make a deal, and they always get what they deserve. But his land is a wild west that needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in. Inadvertently trained by him to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel circuit through the territory. As we all know, where there is magic there is chaos… and death.

I loved it so much I immediately ordered the follow-up, The Cold Eye.

And it is a very worthy follow-up tale. The blurb: In the anticipated sequel to Silver on the Road, Isobel is riding circuit through the Territory as the Devil’s Left Hand. But when she responds to a natural disaster, she learns the limits of her power and the growing danger of something mysterious that is threatening not just her life, but the whole Territory. Isobel is the left hand of the old man of the Territory, the Boss—better known as the Devil. Along with her mentor, Gabriel, she is traveling circuit through Flood to represent the power of the Devil and uphold the agreement he made with the people to protect them. Here in the Territory, magic exists—sometimes wild and perilous. But there is a growing danger in the bones of the land that is killing livestock, threatening souls, and weakening the power of magic. In the next installment of the Devil’s West series, Isobel and Gabriel are in over their heads as they find what’s happening and try to stop the people behind it before it unravels the Territory.

They’re great books and I heartily recommend them. I am broke and a cheapskate, but I still want real books, so I got mine in remaindered hardcover. But you can get these as e-books as well, if that’s how you roll.

And in other Weird West news, The Dark Tower trailer is out.


That’s all I’ve got for you till we get a bit more settled, but I hope it will divert you till we can get our act together here.

Back next week with something cool.


    1. Edo Bosnar

      Yeah, but since that column, I ended up reading pretty much every Quarry novel except the most recent one (Quarry in the Black). And I see that a new installment (Quarry’s Climax) is going to be released in a few months. So there’s that.

      “The Hero” looks awesome, definitely want to see it.

  1. Pol Rua

    On the subject of Weird Westerns, a couple of years ago, I stumbled across a HBO anthology series that ran for two seasons back in the 90’s called ‘Dead Man’s Gun’ which is criminally unknown.
    It’s an anthology series where the only recurring element is the titular gun which dispenses EC Comics-style ironic justice to everyone who ends up in possession of it and if you haven’t seen it is, I suspect, right up your proverbial alley.

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    Love Sam Elliott and this looks fantastic and is getting tons of press. About damn time!

    Looking at the blurb for Silver on the Road, the notion of that devil sounds rather like Kim Newman’s Derek Leach, from The Quorum (and a few Diogenes Club stories). He is also a dealmaker who is totally fair, even sometimes allied with the side of angels (and a satire of the excess of the Thatcher era).

    The Wild Wild West was a childhood favorite that continued into adulthood (well, until that abomination of a movie) and that makes the Weird Western enticing. I tend to prefer the sci-fi/steampunky ones, over the supernatural. The short-lived but criminally under-rated tv series, The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne had a great episode, “The Ballad of Steely Joe,” that revolved around the James Boys and Passepartout building a steam powered robot gunfighter. The whole series channeled a bit of that, as well as the Victorian adventure and proto-sci-fi novels, such as Verne and Wells. It needs a dvd release. Also quite enjoyed NBC and Kenneth Johnson’s Cliffhangers, especially The Secret Empire segment, with a reworking of the Gene Autry serial The Phantom Empire (itself pretty darn cool). Of course, I can’t leave out Bruce Campbell and The Adv. of Brisco County Jr.

  3. fit2print

    First I’ve heard of “The Hero” — terrific news! Sam Elliot is on my short list of veteran actors whom I consider American treasures. Others on the list include Tommy Lee Jones and Edward James Olmos (just to name the first two that spring to mind).

    I’ll be keeping an eye out for “The Hero” and, in the meantime, rewatching a couple films that I’d encourage fellow Elliot fans to seek out: TLJ’s “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” and EJO’s “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez.”

    On a separate note, let me take this opportunity (once again) to beg some publisher…. any publisher! … to compile a collected edition or editions of “Ms Tree” ASAP and, at long last give MAC’s (yep, today is three-initial short form day) comic-book masterwork the deluxe treatment it deserves. Can I get an “Amen”?

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