Friday, June 17, 2016

Introducing Davis Falk

Ever try to find a needle in a haystack? Of course you haven't. Me neither. The idea is preposterous. No one would do that. Stupid question, sorry I asked it. How about this one:

Have you ever tried to find out something about John Smith in an internet search? Google returns seventeen million results. Bing returns seven million. And if you look for ol' John as an author on Amazon, you'll get 12,702 results. What's my point?

While I am not John Smith, I suffer from the same problem, getting lost in the proverbial pile of fermenting cattle food (no offense, other Michael Davises). According to, there are over sixteen thousand people in the United States with the name Michael Davis.

I prefer my focus to be on writing, not marketing. But I do want people to read my work, so I need to market it. It is difficult to stand out in a crowd of people with the same name. So I have decided to start using a pen name.

Pen names have been used throughout history for various reasons. Voltaire, Mark Twain, and Lewis Carroll are all pen names. There is even a rumor that William Shakespeare was a pen name. Some more recent ones include Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, and Lee Child.

My new pen name is Davis Falk. It should be obvious how I chose the first name, but in addition to its relation to my real name, it is said to be a popular Southern name. Falk is adapted from William Faulkner, one of my favorite authors. I will start using this name with the release of my new short story, "The Spaceport Was Empty" of which you can read a sample in a post in a few weeks.

What does this mean for readers? There will be a new blog at It will be this one. The old web address will continue to work. But the name will change. Hopefully this will all be seamless and the only difference you will see will be the title of the blog. But at least now you are warned! Thanks for your patience and understanding with this change. And thanks for reading!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Movie Review: Barn Burning

Barn Burning is a forty-minute television adaptation of William Faulkner's 1939 story by the same name. It was broadcast in 1980, and stars Tommy Lee Jones as Abner "Abe" Snopes. Jimmy Faulkner, nephew of the author, also appeared as Major de Spain in this, his only acting role. The house used in the film as Major de Spain's house is historic Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi, which was Faulkner's home for more than thirty years, and is now a museum in his honor, maintained by The University of Mississippi.

Barn Burning is a dark tale of a man with no hope, only malice. Abe Snopes is a tenant farmer who, with his family, is almost constantly on the move because he likes to burn the barns of his landlords. The family members are dragged along, apparently believing, as Abe tells the boy Colonel Sartoris Snopes (the narrator) that "You stick to your own blood." Abe has a twisted sense of justice, and though he sees himself as the lowest of humans, he does not accept his own evaluation, lashing out at his betters and provoking them to even worse treatment of him. He ultimately comes to the end he seems to have been seeking as an escape from his miserable existence.

Faulkner's story focuses on a singular personification of evil in a man with no recourse, no hope of change or any goodness in his life. He is doomed from start to finish. Colonel Sartoris, "Sarty," represents the observant reader with a sense of balance. He both identifies with Abe, and sees Abe's misanthropy with objectivity. The family around the two hint vaguely at a better past and a worse future. But Abe seems to be evil from beginning to end.

Thirty-five-year-old Tommy Lee Jones is excellent in his portrayal of this very flat character, and his performance is the highlight of the film. Interestingly, this is not the only time he has played a pyromaniac. He also played a bomber opposite Jeff Bridges in the 1994 film Blown Away, which I consider to be an excellent film as well.

Barn Burning has been called boring, but its starkness left me wanting more, and if you are in my camp, it may be an excellent lead-in to The Snopes Trilogy, for which it is a prequel.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Book Review: Lee Child's Persuader

Now that I have read several books in the Jack Reacher series, it is hard to believe I have yet to review one. But it's true! This series is immensely popular, but I had never heard of Lee Child until I caught my mom reading one of his books. Then I got a bunch of them free from my aunt!

So in case you are like I was, here's the skinny. Jack Reacher is a drifting ex-army MP who goes around finding trouble and setting things right. He usually leaves a trail of busted-up bad guys and not a small number of bodies in his wake. He makes his own rules, but he does have rules.

Persuader is the seventh book in the series, and was first published in 2003. I found it more interesting than the other two I have read. They were set in the plains states, this one is set in New England. Jack gets involved in a DEA operation in order to settle an old score against a soldier-gone-bad who killed Jack's partner. He infiltrates a bad guy's household, which contains even badder guys, and others whose badness Jack has to determine in the course of the story. It's an operation gone bad, and gets worse.

Jack's character is fairly easy to understand. He likes to keep things simple. He's confident. He doesn't use bad language, because he doesn't have to. That's something that is particularly refreshing to see in a novel.

This story will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very end, which is exactly the thrill I got from Worth Dying For, the fifteenth book in the series. You don't know what the bad guys are doing or who is in charge. And you don't really know if Jack will achieve his goal and get the bad guys. Only one thing is certain. When it's all over, Jack is moving on, and you won't know where he's going until you read the next book.

Lee Child is a Brit who lives in New York, which is conveniently close to his publisher, Dell/Random House. They must find it difficult to keep the presses running fast enough. He has written twenty-one Jack Reacher books in nineteen years, and contributed short stories to several others. He writes faster than I can read!