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By Ron Churchill

You don't have to know Reporter Editor in Chief Mike Hudson or live in Niagara Falls to appreciate Hudson's fifth and latest book, but it helps.

"Never Trust the World," released last week through Power City Press and Amazon.com, is a work of fiction, but its depiction of Niagara Falls, N.Y., along with its corruption, dilapidation and poverty, is a frightening reflection of the Cataract City.

The book is a 75-page novella and 30 pages containing seven short stories.

Through his main character, Hudson has created a Niagara Falls version of "Taxi Driver's" Travis Bickle. The disgust for the city and its politicians, the love affairs and the violence are all locked up in a story the back cover claims "will make you nauseous."

Smalltime hood Danny, motivated by suspicious surveillance of him and the mysterious murder of his girlfriend, carries out bloody revenge on the politicians, mafia dons and a judge he believes to be responsible for the murder and the degradation of the city.

"Street after street of abandoned houses, decaying slums, abject poverty and human misery. Stray dogs fucking in vacant lots. The snow blackened with soot. (Danny) fought off the urge to vomit. What had he ever seen in this place? Why had he even come here to begin with?

"And at the few decent restaurants along Pine Avenue the lawyers ate their lunches with phony developers and hatched plans about how to get this or that state or federal grant or loan, tables away from other lawyers who were eating their lunches with corrupt government functionaries in charge of doling out the various grants and loans, doing millions of dollars' worth of business that would never result in the creation of a single private sector job or even make the place seem less bleak."

Hudson said in a telephone interview, "I think this offers a more accurate picture of the city than the Chamber of Commerce-type boosters that are put out there."

Danny, a lowlife criminal hooked on cocaine, booze and cigarettes, can't figure out why things are happening around him, or to him, or who is really pulling the strings. Is it the FBI? The book, a compulsive page-turner, reads like a paranoid's dream, and Danny wants the story to end on his own terms.

"What can you say about a town that would let a two-bit hood like Carbo run things year after year? Danny wished he had some dynamite, a boxcar full of dynamite so he could blow the whole stinking place to kingdom come ... the whole place leveled so that only the falls themselves remained."

The novella touches on several hot spots -- the casino, Lois Gibbs, Love Canal, the demise of Falls industry, and the Magaddino Funeral Home.

One of the short stories in "Never Trust the World," titled "I Died a Million Times," was recently published in Paraphilia, Los Angeles' hottest literary magazine. The story is about a man dying, apparently of alcoholism, in a rented room in Mexico.

"Women will cry when they learn of my death," the story begins. A nurse brings him alcohol and heroin. "Have you done much heroin? Have you seen it cooked in an old sterling silver spoon over a Zippo lighter, then drawn through a cigarette filter and into a syringe? Have you tied your arm off with a rubber tube or a leather belt or a piece of scratchy rope? Have the veins in your arms gotten so hard and tedious that you've taken to injecting it into your stomach or feet or scrotum? Have you died a million times?"

Luc Sante, author of "Low Life," said, "Mike Hudson tells it straight from the shoulder -- artfully, but without a trace of bullshit. He's the heir to the old tradition of newshounds, driven to go for broke day in and day out."

Hudson has recently published "Jetsam," a book of short stories and essays; "Mob Boss," about the legendary Stefano Magaddino, former head of the Buffalo mob; "Diary of a Punk," about his journey as lead singer in Cleveland's 1970s punk rock band the Pagans; and "Niagara Falls Confidential: Murder, Mayhem and Madness in the Honeymoon Capital of the World."

"Never Trust the World" is available online at Amazon.com and locally at the Book Corner on Main Street.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Dec. 13, 2011