Posts Tagged under the carib sun

Blog, Other People's Books

JUNKIE LOVE by Joe Clifford

May 1, 2013 by


In a spoon, mix some On the Road with a drop of vinegar and a squirt of water. Bring to a boil and let it cool, then add just the right amount of Catcher in the Rye. Suction through the balled up cotton of a cigarette Pulp/Noir filter. Find a vein. Inject and wait for the rush.

Junkie Love, Joe Clifford’s second novel (his third book if you include his great short-story collection Choice Cuts) is as raw and candid a story as you’ll ever experience. It’s a gritty literary memoir that reads like the fiction of a James M. Cain or Jim Thompson and will take you on a visceral trip down the darkest alleys of drug addiction.

Early in the novel, Joe wonders “how a good-looking, lapsed Catholic from Connecticut turned into a no-good, thieving junkie, homeless on the streets of San Francisco.” Junkie Love is, at least in part, the author’s attempt to answer that question. At this stage in the story, however, one of the explanations Joe offers us is that he may have read too many books. 

There aren’t many possibilities left for true adventure in our world today for a rebellious young man stuck in a small town, his mind ablaze with the stories of Conrad, Melville, and the spirit of the Beats, his dreams pulsing to a rock & roll soundtrack. There are no more riverboats languidly wheel-paddling up and down the Mississippi River, and hopping freight trains across America just doesn’t have the same romantic appeal it once had before the Interstate Highway System. In theory, one can still embark on a ship across the oceans, though it is hard to imagine anything more boring that being stuck on one of these storm-proof, container-laden supertankers for weeks on end with a foreign crew.

This, I believe, is one of the numerous reasons why the world of drugs can appear so seductive to many young people. Dark and dangerous, but still romantic—at least in an 18th Century Romanticism sense—drugs represent one of the last, readily accessible roads away from conformity and a square, boring life. For kids who may not fit in with the mainstream and polite society, kids who feel they are different, special even, drugs are the ultimate fuck you.

And they make you high.

They are of course also a trap.

Some, the lucky ones, will realize this and pull back in time. For others, it will be too late.

Joe Clifford belongs to the latter group, a young man who went to San Francisco with rock & roll dreams of making it as a musician, only to end up living on the streets, swallowed whole by a spiraling addiction to methamphetamines then heroin. Committing crimes to feed his habit, he ends up betraying and breaking the heart of everyone who ever loved him, as junkies are wont to do.

Very few people make it out of that world; fewer still end up creating art out of their experiences. Poignant, horrific, and at times uproariously funny, Junkie Love is not only a journey through hell and back but also a story of redemption and hope.

One must be careful not to glorify an addict’s ‘war stories’, Joe points out somewhere in the book. This is very true, for any junkie’s suffering is, at least originally, self-inflicted.

The fact remains that, in a roundabout, twisted, painful way ten years in the making, Joe Clifford may have achieved what he set out to do when he first hit the highway in search of adventure. “The best teacher is experience,” writes Jack Kerouac in On the Road. Joe Clifford embarked on a wild perilous trip, pushed his luck as far as it would go and almost didn’t make it back. But he did, and in the process found his identity and his own unique voice, creating music not out of notes but out of words.

Go west, young man, go west. It amazes me that Joe and I both headed that call the same year, in 1991. He was twenty-one at the time, I was twenty-two. He came from Connecticut and I from France, but we both ended up in the same place, physically and metaphorically. Although we never met back then, we lived in the same San Francisco neighborhood, and, to be sure, frequented some of the same places and characters.

Two decades later, we are both published writers. We both have families of our own.

Sometimes, real-life Noir stories have happy endings.

Ro Cuzon is the author of the Adel Destin crime series, including the critically acclaimed Under the Dixie Moon and Under the Carib Sun. Hailed by George Pelecanos, Sean Chercover, Laura Lippman, and James Sallis as a writer to watch, Ro’s novels are all available here at the Rogue Reader and at ebook retailers everywhere. 





Ro Cuzon, Storified

March 5, 2013 by

The book discovery startup Bublish hosted a chat with Rogue author Ro Cuzon last week, and the conversation is up on Storify. Here’s the full conversation.

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Bryon Quertermous Interviews Ro Cuzon

February 22, 2013 by


Besides having a surname that’s the envy of us all, Bryon Quertermous runs a kick-ass blog over at Coping With Sanity, and today he talks with Ro Cuzon about all sorts of things–sleazy New Orleans, writing and marriage, and social media. Bryon’s an acquisitions and developmental editor for Carina Press, the digital first single title arm of Harlequin publishing. His short stories have appeared in PlotsWith Guns, Thuglit, and Crime Factory, among others, and in the anthologies HARDCORE HARDBOILED (Kensington Books), THE YEARS FINEST CRIME AND MYSTERY STORIES (Pegasus Books), and UNCAGE ME (Bleak House Books).

Bryon: I first met Ro Cuzon in the roundabout way we meet people in this day and age. I heard about his books first at Bouchercon this past year in Cleveland when his publisher sponsored a pretty smooth dive bar launch party. We then connected here and there online and I was able to chat with him again at the annual Milwaukee area crimefest Murder and Mayhem in Muskego. So trust me when I say this cat is cool and worth a read and a follow on Twitter.

Read on ->



The Rogue Reader + Bublish

January 25, 2013 by

Remember what it felt like to browse in bookstores? Shelf after shelf of books, calling to you by their art or author, often surprising you with a new story or writer. The element of serendipity and unintended discovery isn’t as easy to come by in the chaos of social media and the immensity of virtual shopping. That’s why we’ve partnered with new tech start-up Bublish to try to recreate that bookstore experience.

Bublish welcomes authors to build discrete book pages that include an excerpt from one’s book surrounded by author commentary about that excerpt, placing it in its creative context and giving it real-world connection. The results are surprisingly moving. As much as we love Twitter and Facebook, what gets left out too often is context. Bublish builds a place for authors to share the story around the story.

In a few of our Bublish pages: Ro Cuzon talks about his friend’s bar that served as a gathering place after Katrina and inspired the bar in Under the Dixie Moon; Ro relates his memories of the gritty St Bart’s that inspired Under the Carib Sun, a place very different from the common vision of a pristine island for the wealthy; Michael Hogan talks about the legendary art that organizes his literary mystery Sistine, and the gritty rust-belt town that sits at the center of his noir Dog Hills; and Edward Weinman talks about the real Iceland at the heart of his crime novel The Ring Road, a land of isolation that drives people to despair, or, if they’re lucky, hope. You can click on the images below to preview our work with Bublish, or follow the links above to see Bublish in action.

Pop over to Bublish and browse around. If you stumble upon an author or story you like, perhaps it will remind you of the feeling you once had of pulling a random book off a bookstore shelf and, improbably, finding it was the perfect fit.


Ro Cuzon’s Adel Destin Series Continues

November 12, 2012 by

In the span of a single month, I have gone from having a mere handful of readers (namely, my wife, a few friends, five wonderfully generous fellow authors, and my agent) to several thousands strangers willing to spend some of their precious free time and hard-earned cash on a story I wrote. It is an amazing feeling—even if, after twenty years and some eight or nine novels, it still feels a bit surreal.

At any rate, it’s been just over a month since this crazy ride began, and it seems right for me to come out and thank y’all— for buying Under the Dixie Moon and making it a Barnes & Noble bestseller several weeks in a row; for writing reviews; posting, tweeting and emailing me all those appreciative comments about the book and its protagonist Adel Destin. 

You’re responsible for making a long-delayed dream come true.

While some of you have already found their way to my second novel Under the Carib Sun, I’d like to point those who haven’t to the Caribbean prequel of Adel Destin’s hustles & peregrinations through the streets of New Orleans. Adel’s been in my life a long time–a character that’s come fully to life for me, and now for all of you. 

Which brings me to the big news: official as of today, due to the response to my first two books, a third Adel Destin crime novel will be published by The Rogue Reader in spring 2013. Crescent City Stomp will return to Adel Destin’s New Orleans, where the past never dies and you always look over your shoulder.

– Ro Cuzon

Shorts & Excerpts

The St Bart’s of Cuzon’s Carib Sun

November 8, 2012 by

When Laura Lippman is asked about Ro Cuzon’s crime novel Under the Carib Sun, she immediately compares it to the DC-based crime fiction of George Pelecanos: “It tells the story of the people who choose to work and live in a place we think we know, with only glancing interest in the rich and powerful who make it their playground.” If Ro’s portrait of the underbelly of the island is accurate, it’s because he knows it as well as he knows the New Orleans of his first novel, Under the Dixie Moon. Because he lived there, walking the beaches and drinking with the locals. Here’s Ro on the St Bart’s he knows, followed by an excerpt from his novel. Dig it:

“I moved to St.-Barts from San Francisco in April 1996, six months before Adel does in Under the Carib Sun. Like Adel, it was a rather sudden decision (although I wasn’t running from anyone, except maybe myself). I arrived there at the end of the tourist season with very little money saved, no job prospect, and no place to stay.

“My first year there is unfortunately reduced to foggy memories of parties, beach lounging, and countless hours of snorkeling, but there are two things that I still remember vividly. One is my first job there: digging a 20x5x7ft ditch on a steep, insect-infested hill, ten hours a day under the broiling for what amounted to slave wages. The other, which I will never forget as long as I live, is the landing on one of shortest commercial runway in the world on a very windy day. It became the first scene I wrote when I started work on Under the Carib Sun. Maybe because nothing says Welcome to Paradise like one’s near-death experience.”

An Excerpt from Under the Carib Sun (An Adel Destin Novel) by Ro Cuzon:

“Gonna be okay, folks,” he nodded fervently, “we’ll be touching down real soon now.”

Adel noted the beads of sweat on the pilot’s forehead, the tension in his face. He could smell the man’s perspiration fogging the cockpit and regretted taking the first seat in the cabin. He turned to his window and glanced at the symphony of blues outside, bright azure meeting deep ultra-marine on the lazy curve of the horizon. A band of indolent white clouds throwing their distended shadows on the water’s surface below. No land in sight.

We’ll be touching down real soon.

One way or another.

The nineteen-seater lurched wildly to one side, then dropped again.

Oh, mon Dieu!” gasped the woman.

Adel noticed his own white-knuckled grip on both armrests and wondered if he was about to die. Here. Now. A few days shy of his twenty-ninth birthday, on his way to tiny tropical St.-Barts, French West Indies. Ironically because he thought Marseille had become too dangerous for him.

read more →


October’s Rogue: Ro Cuzon

October 1, 2012 by

All month long we’ll be featuring Ro Cuzon, a crime writer George Pelecanos calls a “rising star of the new generation of noir novelists who are moving the form forward in exciting, innovative ways.” His first two novels, Under the Dixie Moon and Under the Carib Sun are available now wherever you buy ebooks–for your Nook, Kobo, Kindle and more.

The Blues and getting punched in the face were the two biggest influences in Rodolphe Cuzon’s development as a writer. Born in Brittany, France, Ro boxed for several years as a teenager and dropped out of high school to play guitar in a band. He has lived in France, San Francisco, the Caribbean, and Brooklyn, and finally settled in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. He’s earned money as a waiter, bartender, construction worker, painter, landscaper, as well as other, unmentionable activities. His fiction has appeared in CrimeSpree Magazine and the Noir bimonthly Thuglit.

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