New paintings, new gallery, and books by K’WAN

original contemporary urban Parisian landscape
Rue Soufflot, 80x80cm oil on canvas

This is one of the paintings for my upcoming show in June at Carré d’artistes 6th arrondissement gallery— 66, rue Saint André des Arts, where you can already find my smaller paintings of Paris. 

When I first moved to here I was struck by how the post-twilight sky remained blue for hours. The blue hour, l’heure bleue (l’heure entre chien et loup) is that witching hour when the dogs leave the street and the wolves come out. The Blue Hour has inspired many creators. Givenchy made a perfume called L’Heure Blue. It’s a magic time of day when. Artist in Giverney painted it, maybe that’s when they were waking up after their hedonist parties.

Artists ask what I listen to while I paint.

Late last year I discovered audiobooks and listened to about thirty. Before audiobooks I painted to radio ADO because it has the best French rap music. La Fouine, Stromae and more, not to forget international artists like Maître Gims. But audiobooks trumped rap music for my working muse. Though I do still listen do radio ADO when I need a break.

After following a discussion on literary agent Janet Reid’s blog about diverse books, I decided to search for titles by non-white authors. I discovered K’WAN.

While painting Rue Soufflot I listened to Cary Hite perform K’WAN‘s Section 8. Cary Hite has a lovely voice, I was surprised to see how young he is when I googled him. What a resume he has. I’ll be looking for more audiobooks narrated by him.

Section 8 hooked me on the story and I needed to know how it started so I bought Hood Rat and skipped out on painting until I’d finished. I’m reading/ listening through the entire series. Still Hood was too violent for my taste but I want to know how the characters evolve.  Now I’m onto Welfare Wifeys and I can’t wait to read or listen to Animal.  K’WAN’s voice and stories has dwarfed what I thought would be the best book I’d read this year, Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg. But they are different kinds of crime fiction. Gangsterland seems like Disney in comparison.

K’WAN’s hood rat series is contemporary realism. Life inside Harlem of the late ’80s early ’90s. The books are gritty, graphic, heart breaking and have masterfully crafted plots. They show a cocktail of a love inside a brutal reality.  Sometimes I wish there were an appendix for the slang and the erotic, in my opinion, is for men. I particularly like how he weaves in backstory and how his characters are developed through action.. I started the series with Section 8 and it was clear to me where all the characters came from.

Don’t miss his novella Black Lotus is quite different from the hood rat series. It’s a classic detective tale with a wicked twist and no erotica.  The writing is tight and shows how K’WAN’s craft has evolved. It’s reflects his twitter profile “Writer, thinker, trailblazer.. author of over two dozen novels and just getting warmed up.” 

 I hope he makes a Black Lotus series.

I’d love to see his books translated into French. There is a borough north of Paris called Saint Denis where his message in the hood rat series should be heard. Surely every big city in the world has a hood like Harlem. I’d like to see K’WAN’s books translated worldwide.

He has a new release in February. The Fix.

 

Noilly Prat Parisian Cat

 

photo of Parisian cat
Cat at home in a Parisian Bistrot

While I’m painting up a storm for my upcoming show in June, I’m listening to Johnny Heller read Carole Nelson DouglasCat in Zebra Zoot Suit.  This could be Midnight Louie, Temple’s furry detective partner.

I haven’t read many books where animals speak, some think it’s gimmicky but Johnny Heller as Midnight Louie is fantastic. Carole Nelson Douglas’ comic word choice is delightful.

I love Johnny Heller’s voice. He read, or shall I say performed, Tod Goldberg’s Gangsterland.  Gansterland was my first audiobook this year. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read or listened to.

Last year I listened to more than thirty audio books. Johnny Heller has a fantastic voice. Marrying his narration with these two books is a win-win.