Sunday, November 09, 2003

Not so bloody Sunday 

While the rest of the world focuses on Prince Charles' alleged gay tryst (I still can't get over that it's not the brother I'd expected) and the Paris Hilton Sex Tape (Shannen Doherty's line was classic), I'll continue to affix my fishy lens on the world of books, for now.

From my local paper: A detailed review of Val McDermid's newest book (with a really cool photo--Val, appropriate it for the next book cover!) and the debut of Choice Words, Peter Darbyshire's new roundup of the "book buzz on the Internet." Basically, if you're reading The Usual Suspects, you already know this stuff, but since the vast majority of people don't even know what blogs are, let alone twig to the literary ones, it's good for them. Cool.

At the Sunday-only rags: The Observer offers reviews of photographer-to-the-stars (and star herself) Annie Liebovitz's new book, a look at the finer points of punctuation, and yet another review of OLIVIA JOULES. No link here, sorry. I'm putting a moratorium on reviews of the book, so you'll just have to go and find it yourself.

There's also a hilariously resigned "review" of the upcoming Rod Stewart musical TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT, penned by whore-for-hire Ben Elton. What happened? This man, one of the minds behind horrifically brilliant BLACKADDER, is responsible for the drecky QUEEN: THE MUSICAL (cheap laugh: go to the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street and stare at the giant statue of Freddie Mercury that's above the roof of the theatre where the musical still runs. I mean, it's just weird.) and now this? One cannot believe it took Elton a lot of energy to create the backbone for this production:

How long, I wonder, did it take Elton to write this extravaganza? An hour? Two? Who knows, with a tea break, it may have taken a whole afternoon.

But like Rachel Cooke, I expect TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT to be a big hit. Even if there won't be a Rod Stewart statue to make fun of.

From the Washington Post's Book World: a fascinating account of the murder of Mary Phegan and the lynching of Leo Franks, 90 years after the fact; another review of THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL; Michael Dirda's take on the new translated version of DON QUIXOTE; and in the non-fiction book I most want to read, a biography on the corrupt life and times of Arnold Rothstein, the gambler who likely fixed the 1919 World Series and whose murder still technically remains unsolved.

More Canadian perspectives: Karen Tulchinsky brings to life the Toronto of old; Philip Marchand finds John Gould's Giller-nominated short story collection somewhat depressing; and a profile of Jack Hodgins finds his book may have trouble in the US market because it's sadly deemed "too Canadian."

Newsday has an interesting interview with Marion Ettlinger, whose new book features 20 years of author photographs. We also get to see how she sees herself.

Crime fiction-wise, John Sandford's newest Kidd novel, THE HANGED MAN'S SONG, is up to snuff; Susanna Yager offers up her roundup of the latest (link TK); and I can't find a link to the story yet, but Jim Driver, co-founder of the Do-Not-Press, offers up a British perspective on Bouchercon, and it may be the best article yet on the goings-on. He thinks it "would make a great Altman movie," and describes how all the would-be writers in attendance pretty much ignored him or any of the other UK publishers present; I guess Britain really isn't on most of these aspiring authors' radar. A pity.

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