I was not allowed to watch movies growing up.

It wasn’t just movies. There was a long list of things I wasn’t allowed to do. Dance, date, curse, masturbate, listen to rap music, read comic books, play Dungeons and Dragons, etc.

My father was a small-town fundamentalist preacher, and he spent most of his life thinking of things I wasn’t allowed to do. Or so it seemed to me.

There was only one movie theater in Yuma, Colorado. It was a small, brick building located on Main Street next to an auto parts store, and it played one movie a month. I was not allowed to enter it. My father considered Hollywood a bastion of liberal heathens and devil worshipers, and movies were the propaganda they used to convert us to communism.

Well, modern movies. Old movies were okay. Preferably with John Wayne or Ronald Reagan in them. Old movies didn’t have cursing or nudity or subliminal Bolshevic ideals. Old movies were innocent. Old movies were wholesome. Old movies were American.

So for eighteen years, while my peers were out dancing to MC Hammer and being indoctrinated into Marxism by John Hughes, I sat at home watching Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and Cary Grant and those glorious Hepburns. Over and over again.

And I loved it. I mean, I didn’t love being locked in the house with my father listening to Rush Limbaugh and Lawrence Welk. But I loved those old movies. The quaffed hair, the fast dialogue, those giant cars. And the hats! Oh, the hats!

Eventually, I would escape my father and attend college, where I watched all the modern movies my peers were talking about, and I loved them too but not in the same way. Very few hats, for one thing.

In many ways, my first novel, THE MEAN REDS, is a love song to those old movies that helped me survive a lonely, repressed childhood. The narrator is a delusional young man who smokes too much weed and drinks too much whiskey…and obsessively watches too many old movies until the line between reality and cinema begins to blur in unhealthy ways. The title of the novel is from a line in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. There’s a cat in the story named Audrey Hepburn, and the chapters are all classic movie titles. There are numerous other Easter eggs hidden throughout the plot that reference old movies. You don’t need to recognize any of them to enjoy the book, but I’m hoping other cinephiles will get a kick out of them.

If you’re interested movies or books or murder mysteries or noir or cats named Audrey Hepburn, please consider ordering my first novel, THE MEAN REDS.

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