Periscope Depth

I just stand by and watch you fight your secret war

Before it can take over the world1, indie publishing has to overcome the perception that self-published authors are crap. Self-published authors don’t do a lot to help this notion (I could link to some particular offenders, but that would be cruel). Then again, legacy published authors aren’t always the best shepherds of their image either; consider Q.R. Markham, the lauded new author whose debut Little, Brown & Co. novel, Assassin of Secrets, was found to be heavily plagiarized2. But there’s a burden of proof on a self-published author that doesn’t exist for someone with a penguin on the cover.

Well, we take the world as we find it, not as we wish it. The perception exists. All I can do to counter it is keep producing well-reviewed neo-noir crime thrillers and calling out good indie work when I find it. This post is the latter.

I bought a copy of Fingers Murphy’s “Everything I Tell You is a Lie” when he released it for free (as part of his KDP Select promotion) on Amazon. It’s a slim little novella, but for its word count it doesn’t lack for impact. “Everything …” is a slick, evocative noir fable. Well, I say “noir,” but really it owes more to the existential fiction inspired by noir. Like Camus’s The Stranger, it follows a man recounting the choices and circumstances that led him to prison, where he’s about to be released after serving a sentence for homicide. It engrosses us in a small town story of the cycle of violence, neglect and pent-up rage that can ruin multiple lives.

Murphy writes with a mature, considered style, filling the story with true-to-life details that make it seem like a real narrative about real people in a real place. It’s a pleasure to read. There’s a slight tendency for the narrator to indulge in abstract introspection, but, since the frame story is about a man in therapy on the eve of his release from prison for murder, that’s almost to be expected.

My sincere wish is that Murphy turns this same stylistic laser on bigger and bolder subjects. Fortunately he’s got a few other titles to his name (if that is his name3) that promise to be meatier tales about desperate men in bad scenes. That’s the sort of story I go for, as anyone who’s read Too Close to Miss can tell you, so I’ll be checking his other stuff out.

1. It won’t. If it took over the world, it wouldn’t be “indie,” now would it? Not that there’s a particular virtue to independence, but the niche exists because it works.

2. By bloggers, natch.

3. I’ve been assured it isn’t.