Old friend of Normal's Books & Records and Shattered Wig, former Baltimorean and co-editor of the dear departed Murdaland magazine, Cort McMeel returns to town triumphant after St. Martin's Press published his first novel, Short. The picture of Cort here is taken from a Baltimore City Paper article about Murdaland. Here is a link if you want to read more:
If you've ever met Cort before - say, at a bar, literary salon or howling drunkenly outside Melville's home - you surely remember him. He is an exuberant burly gent who is outspokenly passionate about literature like your old High School football coach on a few hits of mescaline is about Joe Namath's skills with the ladies. And he knows his shit, as they say. His magazine Murdaland is much missed (and not just because they were wise enough to solicit a piece from yours truly) and he now teaches modern literature - like Hammett, Chandler, Fat City, and of course Melville, in Colorado.
This colorful writer will be returning to Harm City on February 25th like the bulls in Pamplona chasing Hemingway's tired old ass to read from his new novel at Shattered Wig Night. His novel masterfully depicts a brutal cluster fuck in the world of energy traders. Here is an excerpt from the Denver Post's review of the novel:
The floor at a trading company is alive with a crazed energy, one that is captured to perfection in Cortright McMeel's engaging debut, "Short." A writer who has worked as a commodity broker and energy trader, he knows well the world he writes. This novel in stories juggles the lives of a multitude of rich and deeply drawn characters, all fueled in varying degrees by ego, alcohol and cholesterol.
McMeel's novel, if it were focused on the details of trading energy futures, would have limited appeal. It is not, and it does not. It is, instead, about the people who inhabit this world. The structure of the work, in which each chapter can stand on its own as a story, supports the actions of a huge cast of characters. The main players are seen off- stage as well as on: Gallagher with his artist wife, who feels smothered in Boston; Andrews with his family; the Ghost in his Boston penthouse, with a sweeping view of the harbor, one he cannot appreciate due to his failing eyesight.
It is this approach that spotlights the complexities of character, revealing the whole as a sum of the parts, much as a prism reveals white light comprising a rainbow of colors. The result is fueled by resonant high-octane prose that glues the reader to the pages; the temptation is to immediately go back and reread this singularly rich and satisfying work. The world in which these characters operate may be initially unfamiliar to the reader, but it is nothing that stands between the reader and the character. In the end, each character is rewarded for his choices, and the reader will care deeply about whether these rewards are just. That is the measure of the work, coming to live along side these characters in their often tawdry but addicting world.
(Photo From the Baltimore City Paper)