Saturday, November 22, 2003

And a lovely morning it is 

The sun is shining, it's not that cold...so naturally, like most weekend days, there won't be much content today.

Let's get right to it, and first we turn to the esteemed New York Times. A.O. Scott reviews Tobias Wolff's new (and first!) novel, OLD SCHOOL. Margo Jefferson takes a look at how to overcome the influences of TV and such on the seeming decline of books in the main culture; Charles McGrath examines just how the heck THE DA VINCI CODE became a bestseller; Jimmy Carter's "thin self portrait" is reviewed; and Adam Bellow's book IN PRAISE OF NEPOTISM "has great merit" even it's written by the son of a famous author.

Then there's Stasio's crime column. Kinda likes the new Deborah Crombie, enjoys Carolyn Hart's latest, is less than impressed with Cuban author Arnaldo Correa, finds Yasmina Khadra's rhetoric too over-the-top, even in translation, and rather likes the latest installment of Andrea Camilleri's increasingly popular series.

At the Guardian, Martin Kettle examines two new biographies of Kennedy and Clinton; author Nina Bawden is profiled a year after her husband was killed in a crash and she was injured; Dublin author Flann O'Brien is regarded very highly.

In thrillers, Mark Lawson appreciates Richard North Patterson's anti-NRA stance; and Chris Petit takes on a slew of new-ish blokey books, the last review (of Iain Duncan Smith's THE DEVIL'S TUNE) which I shall quote completely because it's just freaking hilarious:

I view thrillers by serving politicians with scepticism: how do they find the time, and haven't they got better things to do? Some vocational guidance for IDS: please - not a word used before in this column - do not consider writing another. Stop dreaming of Archer-type millions because, unlike the old lag, you show no facility for making things up. Not that there's anything wrong with your plot, apart from metal fatigue - art scams, theft, political shenanigans - it's the telling that's so clumsy. The style can only be called unhappy. I was struck by one sentence in particular: "The insistent aroma intrudes and pulls his heavy eyes open again on thin strands." What are these "thin strands"? I now look for them everywhere without success. Is this a torture scene?

Still laughing, I turn to the Globe and Mail, and Margaret Cannon's column on crime books. She adores William Tapply's new work, finds Minette Walters' DISORDERED MINDS a complex but worthy read; is extremely disappointed with Caroline Carver's DEAD HEAT; admires the new James Patterson; and many more, as it's a double helping of reviews.

At the Washington Post, Paul Skenazy takes on a host of mysteries. He likes the Khadra book a hell of a lot more than Stasio did, and has the same reaction to Arnold Correa's nove, finds a reissued Robert Wilson book to be "taut and terrific", and finds RIch Copp's book a breezy, favorite sitcom-like experience.

Looking at the National Post, there's a review of David Guterson's latest, calling it a "novel of ideas," while Lisa Gabriele looks at the heart of Amy Tan's memoir: an unforgettably crazy mother.

The Independent had a reporter at the National Book Awards, and this is his particular take. The paper also has an in-depth look at the William Hill Sports Awards, whose winner will be announced on Monday.

Finally, though I can't link to it, friend and colleague Ali Karim has alerted me to Carl Hiaasen's new deal in the UK. For a low six-figure sum, his next novel, Skinny Dip, will be published in September by Transworld, jumping ship from his longtime publisher MacMillan. It seems like an amicable parting, based more on the fact that Hiaasen "hadn't reached his potential" and might do better with a new publisher. Everybody wishes him well.

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