I recently finished a fiction anthology called, Lee. The book features seventeen short stories, all written by crime writers, and inspired by Lee Marvin — his life, his movies. The stories flow in chronological order with the first taking place in 1944 and the last in 1987, just after Lee died.
Frankly, I thought the concept was a little goofy, and I didn’t really expect the book to be that good. I bought it only because its publisher, Crime Factory, had published two of my short stories. I liked what they’d done in their journal, and figured I’d check out what else they’ve brought to the world.
I’m happy to admit that I was very wrong. Not only is every story in the collection really good, but it turns out that the concept really worked. In a word, the book rocks! It was fun to see how the different authors tackled the task of writing a Lee Marvin-inspired story. I particularly liked the stories: “1966: Just Swell,” Cameron Ashley; “1967: The Gun Hunter,” Eric Beetner. Beetner’s novel The Devil Doesn’t Want Me has now moved up to number three on my reading list, which hopefully means I’ll get to it in June.
I feel good that in my own little way I’m associated with these writers, at least tangentially.
Finishing Lee has also made me more interested in Lee Marvin’s movies. I watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence during a film class in college and was blown away by his performance, but I don’t think I’d seen another one of his movies. And I consider myself something of an old film buff. I took a step toward correcting this oversight last night by watching The Dirty Dozen — awesome!