Monday, September 09, 2013

Ron Faust: An Unforgettable Writer

Photo and Bio from When She Was Bad
Ron Faust is the best writer you have never heard of.  He was less than prolific, publishing 15 novels over four decades, but the novels he wrote were something special.  He was compared to Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, and Peter Matthiessen by critics, but he never got the break he needed, or his writing deserved.  His work leaned toward thrillers, but there was a substance, an atmosphere, to his novels, which is uncommon in the genre.

Mr Faust’s work was published in bursts.  His first six novels were published between 1974 and 1981; the first two titles were published in hardcover by the Bobbs-Merrill imprint Black Bat Mystery, and the remaining four appeared as paperback originals from Fawcett Gold Medal and Playboy Press. 

The next five titles, probably his most commercially successful, were published by TOR and its imprint Forge between 1993 and 2001; each was published in hardcover, and the first three were also published in mass market.  Mr Faust’s name left the bookstore shelves for a few years until Bantam published three novels featuring Dan Shaw, a law student and working paralegal who always found trouble, in 2004 and 2005.  The Dan Shaw titles have been favorably compared with John D’s Travis McGee, and he is Ron Faust’s only recurring character.

His most recent title is an adventure novel titled Jackstraw, which was published earlier this year as a trade paperback by the independent Turner Publishing, and I’m pretty certain it will be his last.  The copyright for Jackstraw is held by Mr Faust’s literary agent, and while I was unable to find an obituary, get a response from his agent, or find anyone who knew Ron Faust more than in passing, I have the rotten feeling (and I hope I’m wrong) Mr Faust is dead.  

The biography on Ron Faust’s TOR titles featured two distinct pieces of information, (i) he made his home in Wisconsin, and (ii) he played professional baseball.  I found a Ronald T. Faust in the Social Security Death Index born in Illinois on March 13, 1936 and died on August 31, 2011 in Wisconsin.  I also found a reference on Baseball-Reference.com to a Ronald T. Faust who played two seasons in the Evangeline League in Louisiana in 1955 and 1956.  He was a pitcher with two teams; he had a career record of 2 – 5 with a 6.34 ERA in 25 games.
It appears Ron Faust passed in 2011 with no fanfare, not even an obituary in a local or regional newspaper, and I find that damn sad.  I can’t say anything about the personal Ron Faust, but I know his work, and its only serious flaw; it simply is not large enough for one of the great writers of his generation.  UPDATE: I received verification from Ron Faust's literary agent that he has indeed passed. 
The following is a bibliography of Ron Faust’s published novels.  I have included references to each edition I know of, and also references to notable passages in critical reviews.  If anyone knows of any additional titles, or any information about Ron Faust please comment on this post, or email me.      
Tombs of Blue Ice.  Published in hardcover by Bobbs-Merrill in its Back Bat Mystery imprint in 1974.  It was retitled as Snowkill and published in the early 1980s by Leisure Books.  It was republished with the Snowkill title by Turner Publishing in 2013.
The Wolf in the Clouds.  Published in hardcover by Bobbs-Merrill in its Black Bat Mystery imprint in 1977.  It was issued in mass market by Popular Library in the late 1970s, and in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2013. 


The Burning Sky.  Published as a hardcover by Playboy Press in 1978, and then in paperback in 1982.  It was issued with the title The Killing Game in the United Kingdom.  It was republished in paperback by TOR in 1998, and in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2013.

The Long Count.  Published as a paperback original by Fawcett Gold Medal in 1979.  It was republished by Turner Publishing in 2013. Read the Gravetapping review.

Death Fires.  Published as a paperback original by Fawcett Gold Medal in 1980.  It was republished in paperback by TOR in 1997.

Nowhere to Run.  Published as a paperback original by Fawcett Gold Medal in 1981.  It was republished in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2013. Read the Gravetapping review.

In the Forest of the Night.  Published in hardcover by TOR in 1993.  It is scheduled to be republished in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2014.  From the Publisher’s Weekly review: “Faust’s clear, unadorned prose and his deft, pure characterization ring with the force of Hemingway or Graham Greene. 

When She was Bad.  Published in hardcover by TOR in 1994.  It is scheduled to be republished in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2014.  From the Publisher’s Weekly review: “Throughout, Faust's prose is as smooth and bright as a sunlit mirror.

Fugitive Moon.  Published in hardcover by TOR in 1995.  It is scheduled to be republished in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2014.   From the Publisher’s Weekly review: “Faust captures Moon's mania and cynicism in a wildly entertaining, hyperbolic narrative voice that spins off in blistering flights of cultural critique reminiscent of vintage Hunter Thompson. With his irreverence, dead-on black humor and memorable narrator, Faust has created a fugitive for all seasons.”

Lord of the Dark Lake.  Published in hardcover by Forge in 1996.  It is scheduled to be republished in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2014.  From the Booklist review: “Faust (the American mystery writer, not the German tragic hero) has it all: lyrical prose, complex characters, and provocative plots.”


Split Image.  Published in hardcover by TOR in 1997.  It is scheduled to be republished in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2014.  From the Booklist review: “The talented Faust has written another stunning crime novel, conjuring up a plot of dark and nightmarish irony.” Read the Gravetapping review.

Dead Men Rise Up Never.  Published as a paperback original by Bantam in 2004.  It is scheduled to be republished in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2014.  This is the first (of three) title to feature Dan Shaw.

Sea of Bones.  Published as a paperback original by Bantam in 2004.  This is the second (of three) title to feature Dan Shaw.  It is scheduled to be republished in trade paperback by Turner Publishing in 2014.  From the Publisher’s Weekly review: Faust tells a thrilling story in lean, tight noir prose (‘McNally and Cavaretta wore old-timer cop suits, shiny at the elbows and knees, with one-and-one-half-inch cuffs, and ties that had seen a lot of burgers and fries pass by’).


The Blood Red Sea.  Published as a paperback original by Bantam in 2005.  This is the third (of three) title to feature Dan Shaw.   

Jackstraw.  Published as a trade paperback original by Turner Publishing in 2013.  From the Publisher’s Weekly review: “Snappy, realistic dialogue and Jackstraw's snark propel the narrative, and he emerges as a charismatic, though potentially polarizing, villain with traces of a conscience.

10 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I started reading Faust with the publication of his GM originals and after that bought all I ran across. I reviewed the Dan Shaw novels on my blog, I think, and When She was Bad, too. Sad to think of him as forgotten by most readers. He was very good.

Ben Boulden said...

Bill. I actually read both of your Faust reviews when you posted them, and again when I was preparing this post. My first exposure to Faust's work was when I stumbled across IN THE FOREST OF THE NIGHT as teenager in my local library. In truth, it was the David Morrell blurb on the front cover that sold me, and since then I have read each of his new novels as they come out. My favorite is WHEN SHE WAS BAD.

Mark Loveday said...

He is quite simply my choice author, and I read a lot of books. My personal favourite of his is Fugitive Moon, a classic of its genre. I hope you are wrong on his passing.

Ben Boulden said...

Mark,

FUGITIVE MOON was a terrific novel. It had a very original voice. Unfortunately I received an email from Mr Faust's literary agent today and he verified Ron Faust's death. It's a shame there will be no more new novels.

Ben

Peter Brandvold said...

"I withdrew two cigarettes, gave one to Jan, and struck a match. She inhaled, drawing the smoke all the way down and holding it there until, when she finally exhaled, the smoke was hardly visible. Jan had a suicidal way of smoking."--The Wolf in the Clouds

Mark Loveday said...

Ben, I am really surprised none of his books have been made into movies. 'When She was Bad' would be great! Really sad to learn his passing has been confirmed. I regret now all those years I meant to but unfortunately failed to write to him and express my admiration.

Ben Boulden said...

Mark. I absolutely agree with you about WHEN SHE WAS BAD. It is probably my favorite of his novels, and it would translate very well into film. Maybe an independent film would fit it best, which would allow the filmmakers to capture the dark, cold relationship between the protagonist and the woman.

I was also really saddened by the news of his passing. He was really a mystery man. His work was great, but there has never been much else about him out there.

Kaleo Griffith said...

Ron Faust is coming to audiobook! I just finished narrating "A Wolf In The Clouds" & I'm currently recording "Dead Men Rise Up Never". Thank you for your interest in him. I'm passionate about his work as well. Perhaps you might enjoy his work in audio...
It will be on Audible.com in the next few weeks..
Best,
Kaleo

RLW said...

I hope they publish all his books on audio. I just finished "A Wolf in The Clouds" It was fantastic. I am looking forward to more.

Kaleo Griffith said...

I've just finished narrating all of his Dan Shaw titles. Wow, I'm a huge fan now. If you'd like to hear the audio, go to Audible or Amazon and let me know your thoughts. Enjoy!

Kaleo Griffith
www.KaleoGriffith.com