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Thomas Burchfield's Blog

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Dec.13.2013
  The word “boss” used to carry strong political flavor, a term used to define specific individuals who, though often unelected, wielded absolute power in big cities and large towns, power with little or no accountability. A boss was a species of dictator. His sword was the “political machine...
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Nov.22.2013
THE FIRST FOUR DAYS Though unreliable, patchy, faded and embossed, some of my memories of that November Friday and the following weekend remain keen as sunlight glinting off an icy pond, even if they’re not particularly unique among my age group, race, or class. I was nine years old, a fourth...
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Nov.07.2013
  It should be no surprise that we who live in Castle Burchfield would tune in to at least the opening episode of the new Dracula miniseries broadcast on NBC on Friday nights. But I doubt there will be a second look. Dracula the series is definitely a lavish, eye-filling concoction. The...
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Sep.14.2013
  Joyland  (Hard Case Crime) seems at first a change-up by genre master Stephen King. It has many qualities found in his other books, but violates fan expectations in ways that are very pleasant and surprising. Joyland  is not really a genre novel at times, but a slice-of-life novel...
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Sep.01.2013
Luca Zingaretti as Montalbano For awhile now I’ve been nudging you to check out the programming broadcast via MHZ Networks, an independent public TV distributor based in northern Virginia. MHZ presents programming for “A Globally Minded Audience.” It specializes in international news, a kind of...
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Aug.16.2013
John le Carré is about the best genre writer sitting in my bookcase—he writes literate espionage thrillers with exquisite style, keen observation, and dark wit. His books are complex in texture and thought and are rich with detail, atmosphere, and mystery. They bear re-reading, becoming a...
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Jul.23.2013
  THE LAST BULLET . . . . Morning: The writer is preparing his upcoming novel for distribution and review to his select group of beta readers when nausea suddenly surges from his gut. Who the hell wrote this crap? he grumbles, his mouth still crusted with sleep. Then he sighs: He knows the...
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Jul.12.2013
  Bellefleur, a Joyce Carol Oates novel from 1980, sat on my shelf for a while before I finally opened it in the mid-2000s. I  stepped through the door half-expecting some earnest, weepy, melodramatic family saga-soap opera, by way of East of Eden and Oates’s 1971 naturalist novel,...
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Jun.28.2013
  Any of you who were around to watch the original Twilight Zone  on its first broadcasts, or ever cracked a book of fantasy and horror fiction, likely grew up with Richard Matheson somewhere in the background. The prolific genre writer, who died this week at 87, is best known for his...
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Jun.24.2013
The sudden, saddening death of Sopranos  star James Gandolfini has inspired rolling waves of tributes from all over. Many have been deep-dish pieces on the place of Tony Soprano and the show in art and pop culture, the larger society, and the secret compartments of ourselves (mostly the ones...
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May.11.2013
  It took some months before amiable Wyomingite Craig Johnson, who friended me out of the Twitter/Facebook blue (as have David Morrell and Peter Straub), emerged to me from the Internet’s blizzard as the novelist Craig Johnson, the one behind Longmire, the very popular, well-regarded, A&E...
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May.03.2013
When I read fiction, I’m seeking experience apart from mine; an island, a ship, afloat from everyday life (wondrous as the everyday can be in its own terms.) I want a trip to the other side of what I know. I’m on a quest for adventures that I wouldn’t otherwise have (or even want to have)....
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Apr.16.2013
  Heavens to Bilbo, Peter Jackson does go on, doesn’t he? Ever since his masterful Heavenly Creatures (1994), he seems to resist the idea that brevity might be the soul of excitement. Take, for now, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (now available on DVD). I like parts of many of Jackson’s...
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Apr.09.2013
  [Spoilers ahead.] It happened last year, and it has happened again this year: I have stumbled on a book by a favorite author that stumbles; a book that’s not as good as other of his works that I’ve read so far; a narrative that, for a few reasons, did not work for me, and I suspect may not...
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Apr.02.2013
It was time for my annual trip through Western literature’s canon, and so, because its settings and themes are similar to those smoldering under my work-in-progress, Butchertown, I pulled on my reading boots and took an epic hike through The Inferno of Dante (or Dante’s Inferno as it’s more...
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