March 5, 2019
Let’s have one more from the fine three-novels-in-one-book Fletcher Flora collection from Stark House. We’ve had quotes from the first two books in there (check out all of the Fletcher Flora Cocktail Talks to see those – and more!), and to bring things all full circle and such, wanted to have one from the last book, Take Me Home. While it was probably my least favorite of the three, it, like the others especially when taken all together, shows the versatility and reach of Flora. Take Me Home is definitely still a good read, just leaning more towards noir-ish slice of life of a few characters in, if not desperate, awfully close, states. As opposed to the more mystery-side, or crime side, of the first two books. And the below quote about port is one no-one wants to miss.
“Dark port would be nice,” she said. “It’s not so dry as some of the others, and besides, it’s stronger than most of them.”
“You mean it has more alcohol?”
“Yes. Port has around twenty per cent and most of the dry wines have only twelve or fourteen.”
“That’s a good thing to know. I’ll remember that.”
“Oh yes. Port is six or eight percent stronger.”
“A bottle of dark port, please” Henry said to the clerk.
–Fletcher Flora, Take Me Home
February 26, 2019
As I chatted with you about in our previous Fletcher Flora Cocktail Talk posts that were up here recently, I’ve been reading a three-pack book (meaning, it contains three novels) from this sadly lesser-known pulp/pocketbook star, and in the second book, Let Me Kill You, Sweetheart, you can really see what set him apart, as it has a level of creativity in how it approaches what should be a straightforward murder, with multiple narrators (including the killer, though we don’t know who it is until the last sentence, and the murder victim) and backstories. It’s pretty neat. And, it has a nice hotel bar where a fair amount of action – or in-action – takes place, including the drinking of Miller High Life! Now, way before the MHLife renaissance, my pals and I were big, big fans of the American beer, because it’s nice on a hot day, because it was a sort-of outsiders beer (and we were sort-of outsiders), because it didn’t cost a ton of $$ (and we didn’t have a ton of $$), and, well once we started, why stop? So, seeing a MHLife quote in a book from Fletcher Flora from 1958 was neat. And love that they call it Miller’s High Life. Read it, and you’ll agree:
An hour later, at eleven-thirty, the taproom of the Division Hotel was almost deserted. The only persons present were Bernie Juggins, the bartender, and Purvy Stubbs. Purvy sat on a stool and stared moodily into half a glass of Miller’s High Life that was going flat. He hadn’t drunk from the glass for quite a long time, and it looked like he sure as hell was never going to drink from it again, and for all Bernie could tell from looking at him, the fat bastard might be dead.
–Fletcher Flora, Let Me Kill You, Sweetheart
February 19, 2019
Well, when I posted an earlier Leave Her to Hell Cocktail Talk, I should have mentioned (or at least alluded to) that there might be more, but I wasn’t sure. However, in hindsight, why would I only want one, when there are multiple swell drinking scene in this book (which, as you learned when you read the earlier post, which you did read, right? but whichin you learned I’m reading via a you-should-own-it collection of three Fletcher Flora novels, said collection put out by Stark House). Heck, I’m guessing now that I’ll have even more from Kansas-born Mr. Fletcher (sadly gone from us a few years now), so you have that to look forward to (and if you need even more, see past Fletcher Flora Cocktail Talks, too). However, with that said, and with my admiration for said writer, I can’t completely agree with his final assertion in the below quote, which has three classic drinks in it. Three! Though, with novelists, you never know that the protagonist’s point of view is the authors, so really, maybe Mr. Flora loves an Alexander, and is having one right now at whatever afterworld bar he’s hanging at. Here’s hoping!
I looked right. A cocktail lounge was over that way, beyond a wide entrance and down a step. A number of people were drinking cocktails. There was no music. I recognized a Martini, which was all right, a Manhattan, which was better, and an Alexander, which you can have. Everything was very elegant, very sedate. Maybe someone saw me, maybe not.
–Fletcher Flora, Leave Her to Hell
February 12, 2019
I’ve only had one Cocktail Talk from the wonderfully-named Fletcher Flora, which makes some sense as until recently I had only read one of his books, Park Avenue Tramp
(don’t miss the Park Avenue Tramp Cocktail Talk
, by the by). Now, I’m diving into a three-pack of his novels, put out by the smashing Stark House, starting with the also wonderfully-named Leave Her to Hell
. So, there may be more from this Kansas-born author, who is lesser-known than he should be, due to his more character-driven, a bit literary-minded at times, often a little different from the standard pulp-and-pocket-book style, and also (I found out in the book’s intro), due to a bad agent who sold his books to unreliable published. Agents are important, kids! Leave Her to Hell
is a worthy read, too, with a neat detective lead (Percival Hand – wish there were more books with him), and a good story with quick dialogue. However, really, I picked this particular quote cause they’re about to be drinking gin-and-tonics, a normally fair-weather spring and summer sipper, and it’s really cold here, and snowy, and I like thinking about sunshine drinks when it’s cold!
“I like you, Mr. Hand,” she said. “I like your looks.”
“Thanks, I like yours, too.”
“Would you care for a drink?”
“Why not? It’s a warm day.”
“I had a gin and tonic before you came. Do you drink gin and tonic?”
“When it’s offered. A gin and tonic would be fine.”
–Fletcher Flora, Leave Her to Hell
June 19, 2018
Recently got my hands on another one of the superb (if you’re into such things, which I hope you are, so we can be friends and all that, though of course we could maybe still be friends even if you aren’t, but it’s not quite
as easy) Stark House Noir Classics collections. Often these are collections of out-of-print books by a single author, but in this one, there are three authors from the pulp-y period. All are worthy reads – your favorite is up to you – but the one I’m highlighting here is Park Avenue Tramp
, a book by Fletcher Flora (great name, too, and one I hadn’t been acquainted with before) about booze, a dangerous (in a sort-of different way) broad, a piano player, and bleakness in the best way, the way true noir books deliver it. Enough so that I was fairly, oh, downbeat for a moment when finishing this tale. Then I moved on to the next one (which is nice in these collections). A bar plays a central role, too, which is also nice, and where we get the below Cocktail Talk quote from.
She looked at him gravely and decided that he was undoubtedly a superior bartender, which would make him very superior indeed. It might seem unlikely on first thought that a superior bartender would be working in a little unassuming bar that was only trying to get along, but on second thought it didn’t seem unlikely at all, for it was often the little unassuming places that had genuine quality and character and were perfectly what they were supposed to be, which was rare, and it was exactly such a place in which a superior bartender would want to work, even at some material sacrifice. She felt a great deal of respect for this honest and dedicated bartender. She was certain that she could rely on him implicitly.
“Perhaps you can help me,” she said. “In your opinion, what have I been drinking?”
“You look like a Martini to me,” he said.
“Really, a Martini?”
“That’s right. The second you came in I said to myself that you were a Martini.”
–Fletcher Flora, Park Avenue Tramp