Posts Tagged under the dixie moon

Blog, Reviews & Press

Ex-junkie Fiction

June 13, 2013 by

Over at Eric Beetner’s excellent blog, Joe Clifford and Tom Pitts sit down to chat about books, crime, writing, and a whole lot else. Beetner asks some great questions, and gets some great answers. 3/4 of the way through, Joe and Tom give a nice shout-out to Ro Cuzon. We pull that quote below, but the whole conversation with these three excellent writers is worth the time. You can find it here.

What do you think about some of the ex-junkie fiction out there like William Burroughs or Donald Goines? Does it capture the truth of it? 

J: We all love William Burroughs, the man. But did anybody really enjoy Naked Lunch? Cool guy. I’ve just never been sold on Burroughs the writer. Jerry Stahl’s Permanent Midnight was pretty spot-on, although the writing didn’t hold up for me in subsequent readings. Which isn’t much of a knock. Like I said, my favorite writer is still Kerouac, and I can’t read him anymore either. There’s Ro Cuzon, another ex-junkie noir guy. I recently read hisUnder the Dixie Moon, which uses dope in the peripheral, and I think he nails it. But, again, it’s fiction, so you have some leeway. I suppose Jesus’ Son is fiction too, but it doesn’t read that way.
T: No shit. Good call on Burroughs. Junkie is his most readable book. He’s one of many who I realize I like the idea of better than the work of. Denis Johnson? I can appreciate Jesus’ Son, but it doesn’t compare to a master work like Tree of Smoke. But, really, the book I like best by Johnson is Nobody Move. It’s his take on noir and it’s great. His fans hated it, but it’s a clean, tight crime tale that’s worth picking up. I concur with Joe on Ro Cuzon’s book too. When I read Dixie I was amazed at how it kept getting better and better and better. The plot thickened to the point where I thought I was on the brink of its climax for three-quarters of the book.

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.

Reviews & Press

Ro Cuzon in Library Journal as 2012 Staff Pick

December 7, 2012 by

HUGE congratulations to Ro Cuzon! Under the Dixie Moon is a Library Journal Staff Pick for one of the Best Books of 2012. Here’s what they say:

“A no-holds-barred, sexy and violent noir with a liberal dash of NOLA, Ro Cuzon’s Under the Dixie Moon is one part Charlie Huston’s Hank Thompson novels and one part Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder titles. It delivers an unblinking look at the dirty underbelly of a corrupt society, complete with ugly consequences and melancholy endings.”

Check out the rest of their excellent picks here.


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


New Orleans. Real and Imagined

October 23, 2012 by

Every location in Ro Cuzon’s gritty crime novel Under the Dixie Moon is a real place, and this custom map invites you to walk the same wet streets and dark alleys as ex-junkie and haunted hero Adel Destin. He’s navigating the heat and shadows of New Orleans in search of killer who is targeting women on fringes–and whose targets are getting to close for comfort. He could use the company.


The Music of Dixie Moon

October 17, 2012 by

Few towns inspire noir like New Orleans. And no town inspires better jazz. So Ro Cuzon, a New Orleanian himself, built a playlist celebrating both. His Under the Dixie Moon is soaked in the jazz, blues, soul, funk and hip hop of New Orleans. As one Amazon reviewer said perfectly,

“In New Orleans, brass band musicians carry instruments that have been dented and then hammered flat again. The music that comes forth is battered and raw, throaty and shot through with the seasoning of experience. If you like to taste the grit of the real on your tongue, read Ro Cuzon’s “Under the Dixie Moon.” It gives some of the great brass bands a run for their money.”

Snatch some of these for your playlist as you’re reading–or writing.

  • Louis Armstrong – St. James Infirmary
  • Soulja Slim – I’ll Pay For It
  • Juvenile – Slow Motion (Feat. Soulja Slim)
  • Juvenile – Back That Azz Up
  • Rebirth Brass Band – Feel Like Funkin’ It Up
  • Rebirth Brass Band – Do Whatcha Wanna
  • Rebirth Brass Band – Roll With It
  • Sidney Bechet – Si Tu Vois Ma Mère
  • Sidney Bechet – Petite Fleur
  • Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes – Ya Herd Me?
  • Mystikal – Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against The Wall) – Extended Version
  • Mystikal – Shake Ya Ass
  • Diplo feat. Nicky Da B – Express Yourself (feat. Nicky Da B)
  • Mac Rebennack – Storm Warning (Long Version)
  • The Neville Brothers – Yellow Moon
  • Earl King – Street Parade
  • The Dixie Cups – Iko Iko – Original
  • Jelly Roll Morton – Buddy Bertrand’s Blues / Mamie’s Blues
  • Jelly Roll Morton – Dead Man Blues
  • Jelly Roll Morton – Tin Roof Blues
  • James Booker – Besame Mucho
  • James Booker – Junco Partner
  • Professor Longhair – Mardi Gras In New Orleans
  • Professor Longhair – Big Chief
  • Glen David Andrews – Just a Closer Walk With Thee
  • Glen David Andrews – I’ll Fly Away
  • Lee Dorsey – Working In The Coal Mine
  • The Meters – Cissy Strut
  • The Meters – Just Kissed My Baby
  • Ernie K-Doe – Here Come The Girls
  • Dr. John – Right Place Wrong Time
  • Kermit Ruffins – Didn’t He Ramble
  • Kermit Ruffins – I Got a Treme’ Woman
  • Kermit Ruffins – Just A Closer Walk With Thee
  • Trombone Shorty – On Your Way Down
  • John Boutté – A Change Is Gonna Come
  • John Boutté – At The Foot Of Canal Street
  • John Boutté – Gloryland
  • John Boutté – Just A Closer Walk



Reviews & Press

A no holds barred, sexy, violent noir with a liberal dash of NOLA

October 10, 2012 by

The latest review of Ro Cuzon’s Under the Dixie Moon:

“A no holds barred, sexy and violent noir with a liberal dash of NOLA, Ro Cuzon’s Under the Dixie Moon is one part Charlie Huston’s Hank Thompson novels, one part Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder novels, delivering an unblinking look at the dirty underbelly of a corrupt society, complete with ugly consequences and melancholy endings. The plot hits all the right genre notes — corrupt cops, perverted serial killer, lesbian bartender — but Cuzon nails the relentless pacing and gritty tone, and creates a compelling ensemble cast that rises above their archetypes, led by the enigmatic Adel Destin, who’s absolutely begging for a turn on the big screen. An impressive debut and highly recommended.” – Guy Gonzalez


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