Crazy Reads by S.W. Lauden

S.W. Lauden is back on the site today, this time to talk about his newest, Crossed Bones (Down & Out Books), the sequel to Crosswise, the book that introduced readers to series characters Tommy and Shayna. It seems several people, including me, have used the word “crazy” (in a good way) as part of their description of Crossed Bones, which got Lauden thinking about what that word means when describing art, what some of the craziest books he’s ever read are, and he invites you to share your “crazy” book thoughts.

Crazy Reads


That’s one word I’ve been hearing from people who have read my latest novella, Crossed Bones. Elizabeth White, talented editor, reviewer and hostess of this fine blog, said I had “…cranked up the crazy (in a great way) for Tommy and Shayna this time.” And Steph Post, accomplished author of A Tree Born Crooked and Lightwood, said “Lauden has written one of the craziest, wildest novels I’ve read this year…”

Those are very kind words coming from two amazing people, but it got me thinking about that word: crazy. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure that’s what I was going for when I wrote this book.

In my eyes, Crossed Bones is a violent love story disguised as a modern day treasure hunt with a cast of deeply flawed characters including warring tribes of drug-dealing pirate impersonators and ultra-violent bikers.

Okay, maybe it is a little crazy. Whatever.

I guess it comes down to what we mean by “crazy” when we use that word to describe things that people have created. It could mean unhinged, unpredictable, challenging or mind blowing. On the flip side, it might also mean incoherent, disjointed or irrational. There are almost as many definitions for the word “crazy” as there are songs with the word in the title.

Go ahead and count. I’ll wait…

While you were thinking of songs by Patsy Cline, Pink Floyd, Gnarls Barkley, Aerosmith and Beyoncé featuring Jay Z (among many others), I was busy making a few book lists.

All writers start out as readers, so sometimes it’s fun to think about the novels that left you scratching your exploded head. I’m not making any comparisons to my own writing here (that would be, well, crazy), and I’m not saying these books directly influenced Crossed Bones. What I am saying is that I have read some pretty crazy books.

Here are a handful that I would highly recommend.

Five crazy books that I’ve read in the last few years:

  • Genuinely Dangerous by Mike McCrary—I consider this author a friend, but there are things in this book I will never forgive him for.
  • Jungle Horses by Scott Adlerberg—Came to this one without any real expectations and had my mind blown in the best possible way.
  • Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias—If the opening few pages of this book don’t grab you, you’re already dead. Things only get more out of control from there.
  • Hard Bite by Anonymous-9—I’ve tried and failed to explain this book before. Best to just read it (cough, cough::monkey assassin::cough, cough).
  • The Criminal Zoo by Sean McDaniel—One of my publishers sent me a copy of this book. I wasn’t properly prepared for what I encountered.

  • Five crazy books that have stuck with me for many years:

  • The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart—Picked up a copy for a quarter at a thrift store when I was 17. Had no idea what I was getting into.
  • Geek Love by Katherine Dunn— A circus-geek family bred to be their own exhibit of human oddities.
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole—Duh. But still amazing.
  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut—Recently re-read this thanks to the Kurt Vonneguys podcast. Complicated concepts that seem hilariously simple.
  • Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges—”Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” and “The Library of Babel” are two of my all-time favorite short stories.

  • And here are five books with crazy reputations that are on my TBR pile:

  • Abnormal Man by Grant Jerkins—Reading this one next. Looking forward to it.
  • House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski—I know, I know. I’ll read it. I swear.
  • Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt—Reviewers had me at “fever dream” and “ghostly.”
  • Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones—Coming of age in a werewolf family.
  • Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem— Gun-toting kangaroo who works for the local mafia boss. How did I miss this one from 1994?

  • Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me. What are some of your favorite “crazy” reads?

    S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock PI series, including Bad Citizen Corporation and Grizzly Season (Rare Bird Books). His Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper novellas include Crosswise and Crossed Bones (Down & Out Books). Upcoming events, author interviews, and the latest episode of the Writer Types podcast can be found on his author website.


    • Anonymous-9

      May 5, 2017 - 12:15 PM

      Thanks for the mention! I, too, had my life changed by A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES and GEEK LOVE. Great article.

    • S.W. Lauden

      May 5, 2017 - 11:09 AM

      Thanks for having me back! And thanks for the inspiration for this blog post.

      • Elizabeth A. White

        May 5, 2017 - 11:44 AM

        Always a pleasure, and you’re welcome anytime. I guess Steph and I didn’t know what we were unleashing when we chose that particular word. 😉

        • S.W. Lauden

          May 5, 2017 - 3:19 PM

          For what it’s worth, I think you were right! I was just having fun with it.

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