Mr. Monk and and the Epinion

MM_in_Trouble.revised  Mark Baker at epinion has given MR. MONK IN TROUBLE a thumbs-up. He says, in part:

I often found myself laughing out loud or at least chuckling and smiling as I went through the book. But it isn't all laughs. Mr. Goldberg always does a great job with these characters, and he allows us several moments that are very touching and even enlightening about them. They continue to be real people very recognizable to fans of the TV show.

[…]I have enjoyed these books so much, I don't completely feel like I've lost Monk yet.

Thanks, Mark!

Go See Avatar

Avatar-james-cameron-movie-1024x576  It doesn't matter whether you're into science fiction or not, if you love movies, you have got to see AVATAR. Even if you don't love movies, go see it. Visually, AVATAR is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in a movie theater. At first, the 3D feels like a gimmick…you're very aware of it and the glasses. Even the initial shots of the blue creatures look like typical CG. But once the movie gets to Pandora, you are immersed in a spectacular world and you will totally forget the technology that got you there. The images on screen are stunning, detailed, and utterly convincing…and the 3D puts you right into this make-believe world in a way that no other movie ever has before. It doesn't matter that the script and characters feel achingly familiar (think DANCES WITH WOLVES with blue aliens), or that the villains are one-note, one-dimensional cliches in an astonishingly fresh, 3D wonderland.  What you're seeing is so amazing, that the serviceable, on-the-money dialog and predictable characters are irrelevant. It's an experience. It's not just the 3D that's incredible, it's the realism of the computer-generated world. Every leaf, every drop of water, every machine, every creature, looks like a real thing, not some computer-rendered object. The blue aliens actually look as if they are made of flesh-and-blood instead of code. This movie is a monumental step forward in film-making that you have to experience. AVATAR is going to make a trillion dollars…and it deserves ever penny.

Kindle Virtual Stocking Stuffers

51ZgYDCwYlL._SS500_  You've bought a Kindle as a Christmas present for that special someone. Now all you need are some good, cheap books to take it for a "test read." Look no further, my friend. My 2004 novel  THE WALK is now available in a $1.99 Kindle edition. Here's the dust jacket copy:

It's one minute after the Big One.  Marty Slack, a TV network executive, crawls out from under his Mercedes, parked outside what once was a downtown Los Angeles warehouse, the location for a new TV show. Downtown LA is in ruins. The sky is thick with black smoke. His cell phone is dead. The freeways are rubble. The airport is demolished. Buildings lay across streets like fallen trees. It will be days before help can arrive.

Marty has been expecting this day all his life. He's prepared. In his car are a pair of sturdy walking shoes and a backpack of food, water, and supplies. He knows there is only one thing he can do … that he must do: get home to his wife Beth, go back to their gated community on the far edge of the San Fernando Valley.

All he has to do is walk. But he will quickly learn that it's not that easy. His dangerous, unpredictable journey home will take him through the different worlds of what was once Los Angeles. Wildfires rage out of control. Flood waters burst through collapsed dams. Natural gas explosions consume neighborhoods. Sinkholes swallow entire buildings. After-shocks rip apart the ground. Looters rampage through the streets.

There's no power. No running water. No order.

Marty Slack thinks he's prepared. He's wrong. Nothing can prepare him for this ordeal, a quest for his family and for his soul, a journey that will test the limits of his endurance and his humanity, a trek from the man he was to the man he can be … if he can survive The Walk. 

"Harrowing and funny…"
—Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 

"Lee Goldberg's hard-to-classify but not-be-missed The Walk, set in the aftermath of a major Los Angeles earthquake, pokes fun at the TV industry in the midst of disaster…"—Jon Breen, The Year In Mystery and Crime Fiction, 2004  

There are also a bunch of my previously out-of-print novels available now on the Kindle, including MY GUN HAS BULLETS, BEYOND THE BEYOND,  and my very first book .357 VIGILANTE, all priced at $1.99.

Snail Lady

If I wrote about a character doing this, nobody would believe it:

She collected snails, liking their portable hiding place and the impossibility of telling which was male and which was female. She traveled with snails in her luggage and kept hundreds at home. If she was bored at dinner parties, she might get a few snails out of her purse and let them loose on the tablecloth. As she didn’t eat much, she was often bored at dinner parties.

The woman being discussed is Patricia Highsmith.

Where To Find the Oldest Magazines on Earth

14bb80aff086fbd965171014f41959b8  It’ s not unusual to see magazines that are a year or two old in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. But that’s nothing compared to what Alan Barer found in the waiting room at Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs:

On the low table was a copy of the magazine, Palm Springs Life.

Flipping through I glanced at the obligatory page of the movers and shakers at a charity costume gathering. There dressed in western garb with toy six-guns at her sides was cousin Jan.Knowing that Jan had moved from the valley a few years ago, I checked the date.

Unbelievably, the magazine was over twenty years old.

The woman he is referring to, by the way, is my Mom, Jan Curran.

How To Be The Saint on a Limited Budget


Many thanks to the Davy Crockett Almanack for leading me to The Tainted Archive, and their post on "How to Emulate THE SAINT On A Limited Budget." The tips include:

3- You must maintain an air of mystery. To truly emulate the Saint you must create an aura of unpredictability around yourself. Always get up and hour or so before your young lady and sneak out, not returning sometimes for weeks on ends. Never say where you've been and always counter questions with other questions such as, 'has a bald oriental man been around looking for me?' or 'Life's too short. Let's go eat oysters and sip bubbly.' Another way to become an enigma is to jump up, asking if it's the police every-time the doorbell rings. When you do this slip a hand into your suit pocket as if you are reaching for a non existent gun. Whilst it is understood that some of these things will be difficult for a married Saint – it can still be done. Simply carry out the steps listed above but prepare yourself for divorce proceedings. Disappearing for weeks on end has been known to annoy certain wives.

The Girl Who Played with Cliches

I hated THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. I thought it was a boring, cliche-ridden, bloated mess. The Lisbeth Salander character was, by far, the best thing about it…unfortunately,  the story centered primarily on Michael Blomkvist, a thinly disguised, idealized version of the author himself and the magazine he founded. It's an awful book.

Girl-who-played-with-fire  The only reason I read the sequel, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, is because so many people told me it was a much better book than TATTOO…and that it would make me understand the phenomenon. To some degree, they are right. The first third of the book is centered on Salander and her adventures abroad and back in Sweden…which actually are a lot of fun to read, if you can get past all the cliches (more on that in a minute). Salander is a great character that's stuck, unfortunately,  in two lousy novels.

The instant Michael Blomkvist returns, and even before he takes the spotlight, the book becomes overwhelmed with dull exposition (which is repeated endlessly, telling you the same facts over and over and over again), ridiculous coincidences, and pointless scenes that neither move the story forward nor reveal character. The characters become so thin that calling them "cardboard" would be giving them more substance and depth than they actually have. As if this wasn't punishment enough for the reader, the cliche-count radically increases as the book slogs on until it seems like there's one in every paragraph. Here are just a few of them:

"Nutty as a fruitcake"

"Go jump in a lake."

"he's pulling my leg."

"too many irons in the fire."

"out like a light."

"keep it under our hats."

"like a hot potato."

"you're clutching at straws."

"afraid he'd spill the beans."

"the penny dropped." 

"she's a loose cannon."

"cool as a cucumber."

"fight tooth and nail."

"kept her nose clean."

"fly in the ointment"

And so it goes, on and on, one dusty old cliche after another. By far the most used cliche in the book is "Hung out to dry/hang out to dry." It was used a dozen times before I gave up counting. I doubt these are Swedish cliches, so I blame the translator for being a lazy hack…and his editor for not doing his job.

This is a truly terrible book on just about every level. That said, it's marginally better than TATTOO by virtue of the first third.

The Voices in Our Heads

There's a terrific interview with my brother Tod over at The Writers Inner Journey. Here's an excerpt:

"That I am able to ruminate on these rather dark issues for great lengths of time is somewhat disturbing in that I think the difference between what is clinically considered insane and what is clinically considered a writer isn’t that different—we both have voices in our head for prolonged periods of time and, occasionally, have intense conversations with them—but I think the only time I’ve been frightened by an idea was when I didn’t think I knew how to write it or wasn’t confident in my ability to do the story justice."