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Saturday, January 10, 2004

Weekend notes 

As I detox from watching too many hours of skating in one shot (more later, perhaps) here's some links and things for your usual enjoyment.

First, Marilyn Stasio's back, and she's got her usual skewed, and feared, take on the latest in mystery. She finds Linda Fairstein's new novel to excel in the courtroom scenes, isn't nearly as impressed with Jilliane Hoffman's much-hyped debut, but is rather taken with Russell Andrews' APRHODITE and Ken Bruen's THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS. She closes with a look at a new edition of Cornell Woolrich's stories.

Margaret Cannon's crime column is rather hefty this week. To sum up: great reviews for Ed Dee, first-timers Blake Crouch and Jodi Compton, good reviews for Canadians Janice McDonald and Gwendolyn Southin, so-so for Jonathan Gash, and puzzlement over the new Mickey Spillane novel.

Meanwhile, Chris Petit rounds up various thrillers for the Guardian: positive remarks about Henning Mankell, Fredrich Glauser and Newton Thornburg, and less enthusiasm for Jonathan Kellerman's latest standalone.

Also the Guardian, Xan Brooks raves about Pete Dexter's TRAIN, Julie Myerson has a much different reaction to Leslie Marshall's first novel, and Joseph O'Connor explains how his writing got its roots in a very particular piece of work.

At the Observer, Robert McCrum takes aim at the reports of imminent cutbacks in books being published; not surprisingly, his viewpoint differs somewhat. As well, a point for the naysayers on Jonathan Lethem's new novel, Tim Adams enjoys the memoirs of novelist James Brown, and Rachel Cooke trashes Stephen Whitehead's attempt to "explain blokes."

Thomas Mallon's 1920s-set novel caught my eye after I saw a review of it in the New York Times last week; now I'm especially intrigued because Donald Westlake's raving about it in the WaPo.

Go see what Lizzie has to say about Laura Miller's latest column. To be fair, there is that new book about writer's block, but on the other hand, at least 3 other pieces ran about said book in the last couple of months, so why is Ms. Miller so late to the bandwagon?

It's bloody hard to title a book. Go with something snappy, or true to the book, or something that will sell? Hopefully, the final title will incorporate all those ideas. (link from Moorish Girl.)

And what of diaries? Usually a bastion of teenage angst-ridden years, other times offering keen insight into a writer's mind. Susan Hill looks at the perhaps dying art of diary-keeping.

Then there's literary agent Arielle Eckstut. One day in April, she went on the radio to reveal her shocking discovery: the previously undiscovered sex scenes in Jane Austen's novels. Documenting her research in her book Pride and Promiscuity, she's convinced a whole lot of people--academics and laymen alike--that her findings were real. But that radio broadcast? It was done on April 1, of course...

And finally, Thomas Meehan is hot, hot, hot--not bad for a 70ish man. But 25 years after ANNIE was a huge Broadway hit, he's riding high with the success of The Producers, Hairspray, and many more musicals and projects.

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