TOUGH BABY, my second Martin Fender novel, originally published by Viking Penguin in 1990, is now available in the Amazon Kindle store here for your Kindle, iPhone, iPad and other digital devices. We have a stunning cover, I think, featuring a photo by Mona Pitts of Neon Beige photography (the model is Jana).
As you may know, Rock Critic Murders (also in the Amazon Kindle store) and also, as an enhanced iBook for the iPad here, with music, video, and dozens of photos) was the first in the Martin Fender series, which stars the blues bass player Martin Fender, a wisecracking dude in the hardboiled private eye tradition, and his Italian girlfriend, Ladonna DiMascio, along with a cast of Austin music scene regulars, some of whom are wholly fictional, and some of whom are only lightly fictionalized real characters. The plot finds Martin coming home from a grueling road trip with his band, whose members immediately get into trouble with the law, their girlfriends and a gang of biker chicks. Martin himself ends up being dosed with tranquilizer at a party and wakes up with a terrible hangover, accused of attempted murder. The weapon used in the crime: His Fender bass. Payola, perversion and the usual random chaos and mayhem stir the gumbo full of urgent blues music, smoky clubs and quirky characters. You’ll dig it.
JAMES ELLROY DUG IT ENOUGH TO SAY:
“TOUGH BABY IS A HARROWING NOVEL OF THE JIVE, DECADENT WORLD OF ROCK N’ ROLL. MURDER, TWISTED SEX, PAYOLA-A REAL DEGENERATE MILIEU GULLY REALIZED. MARTIN FENDER IS A GREAT, UNIQUE, HARDBOILED HERO AND TOUGH BABY ILLUMINATES A WORLD RARELY SEEN WITH POISE, CLASS AND PRECISION.
SPEAKING OF JAMES ELLROY, ALSO NOW OUT:
New book from University of Mississippi Press, Conversations with James Ellroy, edited by Steven Powell, which includes a chapter by my terrible self on Ellroy titled, “Dead Women Owned His Soul.” Written for the Chronicle in early 1997. Ironically, later that year, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer and, facing 4% chance of survival, took Ellroy’s advice and began to write about my own spectral past, including the murder of my girlfriend, Dianne Roberts by a serial killer in 1976, in my memoir, Never the Same Again.
NEVER THE SAME AGAIN is always available in print form at Austin’s BOOKPEOPLE, and is now available in Amazon’s Kindle Store here.
JAMES ELLROY said of NEVER THE SAME AGAIN:
“Never the Same Again is a harrowing, wrenching, spellbinding work of great candor and soul. Read it, think with it, dig it.”
MICHAEL CONNELLY (Concrete Blonde, Lincoln Lawyer) said:
“Never the Same Again is an important work. Jesse Sublett’s pursuit of his dreams — undaunted by societal standards of success and failure — is the true chronicle of a generation. Making choices, taking chances and then facing the consequences, however bizarre and unexpected they may be, Sublett takes us on a ride through life that is crazy, funny, and sometimes deeply tragic, but ultimately, an inspiring and always highly readable survivor’s tale.”
JOE NICK PATOSKI (Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossroads, Selena, Willie Nelson An Epic Life) said:
“Jesse Sublett is one of the few of my generation to actually run the thread through the eye of the needle and be able to tell me what it’s like. He defined punk in Austin, Texas, the future Live Music Capital of the World, when everyone else was still trying to figure out how to walk properly in cowboy boots so they could get next to Willie. By the time newcomers bearing guitars, drums and big ideas started flooding the city to cash in on its music scene, he’d ditched his axe and his band the Skunks for a typewriter, and, using Austin and music as his canvas, painted a picture as black as any Lou Reed ditty as a rock and roll crime writer, living vicariously through his character, Martin Fender. When that turned boring, he wrote scripts and screenplays, playing on his vast knowledge of Texas and the American West. Then he got cancer right at the cusp of forty–the trendsetter was once again get ‘way ahead of the curve–and has written about the Big C and the inevitability of aging and death in a manner far more chilling and dark than any bad ass Skunks’ rant, his novels, or any of his retellings of the how the west was really settled. It’s powerful stuff, mainly because he keeps reminding me, he’s one of us. He just got here quicker than we did. Reading is believing.”
MARGARET MOSER, rock critic, said:
“On a cold and otherwise unremarkable Austin night in February 1978, something happened in a campus-area club called Raul’s. The first punk show was scheduled, featuring the debut of a band called The Skunks. Bassist and lead singer Jesse Sublett was handsome and erudite, brimming with piss and vinegar. His vision of the band as an apolitical garage-rock trio manifested during the punk explosion. Its attitude and energy fueled his desire to make rock ‘n roll that mattered, a dream that came true at Raul’s: The Skunks, quite literally, helped put the cosmic cowboy kingdom of Austin on the rock & roll map. That evening was a turning point in Austin’s musical history. Dozens of bands came in The Skunks’ wake. The sounds and scenes shifted from punk to New Wave to hardcore to cow punk and back but always The Skunks blasted away with unrestrained defiance. They were the premiere recording and touring band of the first wave of Raul’s bands and their music still pulses with the lifeblood of that era. The authentic sound and skull-rattling vibrancy of their music, however, was never successfully documented on vinyl, however, making the recent discovery of two dusty cassettes (one in Sublett’s closet, the other in that of friend, photographer and long-time fan, Glenn Chase) a chance to address that gap in the band’s permanent legacy for posterity and, not inconsequentially, in a digital format. The Skunks’ classic lineup was well in place by the time these Back Room and Max’s Kansas City shows were recorded. Sublett and original Skunks drummer Billy Blackmon hit a groove when guitarist Jon Dee Graham joined in early 1979, evident in every track. Its 15 potent songs of love, angst, and other matters of the young heart form a gloriously exuberant soundtrack from the days when rock ‘n roll could save the world with three chords and a lotta volume.”
KATHY VALENTINE (Go-Go’s) said:
“Jesse was a great help to me in my formative rocker years. As a 16 year old struggling musician, I was enthralled to meet a real live rock guy who looked just like he stepped out of the Faces or the Stones. He was so damn good-looking he scared and intimidated me. He was already living the life I had only dreamed of so far. By befriending me and accepting me, Jesse gave me the fuel to keep the idea lit. He supported my first feeble attempts at becoming a pop star, turned me on to Lou Reed and the New York Dolls, tried to make me appreciate Patti Smith, showed me how to play the riff in “Shake Appeal” by Iggy Pop, and helped launch my first credible band, the Violators. Jesse also inspired my early songwriting a lot. He was one of the few musician pals I had who was actually and prolifically writing his own songs instead of only banging out covers. His songs were clever; the humor and intelligence in the lyrics reminded me that you don’t have to be Elvis Costello or Ray Davies to write great, cool songs. Jesse and I stayed in touch over the years, and after the Go-Go’s broke up, he participated in my first identity crisis band, the World’s Cutest Killers. It was LOTS of fun, and we almost got a record deal, but then we didn’t. The songs we wrote together during that period have provided material to plunder for almost a decade now. I still call Jesse up periodically and say, “Hey, Jesse, remember that tune we wrote? I’m thinking of reworking it…” When Jesse got cancer, he was unknowingly taking on another inspiring role model job. If I ever have to go through a similar experience I only hope that I would do so with the grace, courage and humor that he showed me during the whole ordeal. My admiration and respect for Jesse is very nearly boundless — as a songwriter, as a musician, as a story and essay writer who actually found and writes with his own voice, and above all–as a human. The way he has pursued his passions and interests have made his life an excellent example of how to get by in the world with style and substance.”
RICHARD LINKLATER (director Slacker, Dazed & Confused, etc.) said:
“Jesse’s odyssey of growing up in a small Texas town with a head full of big ideas, and his relentless drive to take them in the direction of his artistic intuition, is a moving story that captures an important cultural moment. Having grown up in Huntsville, Texas, I can really relate. Surviving the horrible murder of his girlfriend in 1976, and going from punk rock to fatherhood, his story becomes a universal one, and he makes it sing with authenticity.”