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  • I'm a writer, journalist, and the editor of The Gambit, the alt-weekly newspaper in New Orleans.

    Journalism: My work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Globe & Mail (Canada), The Times- Picayune (New Orleans), The Oregonian, and Willamette Week, as well as in magazines including Details, Vogue, Publishers Weekly, and Portland Monthly.

    Publishing: Tight Shot, my first novel, was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Its sequel, Hot Shot, was roundly ignored by everyone, but was a far better book. I'm also a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

    Stage: I was a member of the Groundlings and Circle Repertory West in Los Angeles, and am a playwright (see "Stage" in the right-hand rail).


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August 22, 2007


Ron Franscell

Americans' reading habits are just more evidence of our laziness, which seems to grow boundlessly. We prefer the simple, passive processes of information consumption, and are willing to sacrifice a little bit of imagination for the convenience. Our much-vaunted American obesity isn't just physical, but it's apparently intellectual and spiritual, as well. I blogged on this one, too, at


I'm too busy reading blogs!


Up here in Canada, we have a chain called Chapters, which is similar to Barnes & Noble in the U.S. There were such high hopes for it when it opened -- along with its sister Indigo -- because, of course, it was going to use those huge spaces to bring us all manner of offbeat, small-press, hard-to-find books.

Yeah. Just like when the multi-screen theaters opened, and they would show brand-new blockbusters on two screens, and the other four would be reserved for art, foreign, classic and rarely-scene movies. We all know how that worked out.

My local Chapters is still, admittedly, an awesome resource for magazines, especially some of the very hard-to-find literary magazines. Amazingly enough, our government even FUNDS these, which still floors me.

But ... every time I go in there, the tables of Dr. Phil and Harry Potter and What Color Is Your Aura This Week are multiplying, and moving deeper into the store. And the section selling candles, soap, baby toys, gardening items, boxed cookies, iPods and wrapping paper is four times the size it was six months ago, and it's destined to grow larger.

The last six times I've gone in there looking for a book that wasn't really offbeat, but wasn't on the best-seller lists, I came up empty. I was able to order them through the company's Web site, but still ... the last time, I could have bought one of 200 different diet books, but only two titles by John Steinbeck. Go figure.


I bet the percentage would drop significantly if the survey asked people how many books they read "not counting the Bible."


I guess I'm making up for a lot of folks who don't read with my recent tallies. I'm on book 74 for this year and finished 124 books last year. :D

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  • Booklist:
    "A worthy successor to Tight Shot, Allman's insider view of the seamier side of Hollywood is not only hip and entertaining but also has something serious to say about our insatiable hunger for tabloid thrills."

    Washington Post:
    "Barbed, breezy and often pretty and entertaining. Allman can be very funny, and Hot Shot complements nicely the less forgiving takes on Los Angeles as the future of us all. "



    "Allman turns a very sardonic pen loose on Hollywood's glitz-and-glamour crowd in this entertaining first novel... An impressive debut and an almost sure thing for a sequel."

    New Orleans Times-Picayune:
    "Allman clearly knows those of whom he writes. He's got L.A. nailed."

    Publishers Weekly:
    "Snappy debut... Readers will look for a sequel."


    A French Quarter convenience-store clerk has a hilariously traumatic encounter with a pair of Shreveport tourists. Part of Native Tongues 3 (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2001; Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago; 2006).
    An upper-class black caterer finds comeuppance and redemption. Part of Native Tongues 4 (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2005).
  • MY-O-MY
    A recreation of an evening at the notorious New Orleans 1950s female-impersonator nightclub My-O-My (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2005).
    A lonely man discovers purpose when he intercepts a televangelist's letters from his neighbor's mailbox. Part of the Dramarama New Plays Festival (Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; 2004).
    A black father discovers that no good deed goes unpunished when he helps his white neighbor bail her son out of Orleans Parish Prison. (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2004; Walker Percy Southern Playwrights Festival, Covington; 2007).
    An evening of comedies. In The Stud Mule, the world's richest woman arranges to be impregnated by a doltish escort; in Snatching Victory, an earnest college student runs afoul of her lecherous professor and the dour head of a women's-studies department (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2003).


  • Patty Friedmann: <i>A Little Bit Ruined</i>

    Patty Friedmann: A Little Bit Ruined
    One of the first post-Katrina novels, and probably destined to be one of the best. Friedmann's sequel to Eleanor Rushing finds her crazy heroine still holding everything together after the storm (after a fashion), until she has to leave New Orleans and she falls apart physically as well as mentally. Mordantly, morbidly funny.

  • Tom Piazza: <i>Why New Orleans Matters</i>

    Tom Piazza: Why New Orleans Matters
    The best post-Katrina book I've read. In 150 small pages, Piazza explicates the New Orleans experience simply and beautifully. I'll be passing this one on to anyone who wonders "But why would anyone want to live there?".


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