Sunday, February 01, 2004


Mark Watson is a stand-up comic, novelist, and writing a sitcom for the BBC. A busy career path for anyone, but especially so for a young man of 23. He's also eschewed the "write what you know" concept in his upcoming debut, BULLET POINTS, which stars a fortyish psychiatrist to the stars who's looking inward at his own life and failings. Hard not to be jealous, but I think I'll give the book a try when it's out.

Elmore Leonard is interviewed at the Sun-Sentinel this week; it's a fairly long profile that claims he invented "the South Florida novel" and gets into his next project: A COYOTE IN THE HOUSE, his book for teens that's due out in June. Related, Dutch talks about the books that have been adapted to screen and how successful they are. The TV show KAREN SISCO is brought up, which, alas, will not be coming back to the TV airwaves in March as planned. Considering it was the only drama I watched in the fall, I'm kind of bummed.

Espionage, or Spy Lit: there's a rich history of such novels, and Wesley Wark takes a good look at them in the Globe and Mail. Also in this week's G&M Book review is a thumbs-up for Lillian Nattel's novel THE SINGING FIRE, which sounds lovely in a magical realism kind of way. Kind of like Jonathan Safran Foer's EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED but with more research and actual attention to detail.

Peter Guttridge rounds up the usual suspects in crime fiction of late: Pete Dexter's TRAIN, Peter Robinson's PLAYING WITH FIRE (another excellent installment in the Inspector Banks series) Ian Rankin's WATCHMAN, which was written way back in 1988 and only reissued now, two offerings from Bitter Lemon Press (devoted to translating foreign crime novels into English) and Jane Jensen's DANTE'S EQUATION, which Guttridge was impressed with especially.

In other mystery roundups, David Lazarus of the SF Chronicle raves about Joseph Finder's PARANOIA, is less enthusiastic about Laurance Klavan's THE CUTTING ROOM (memo to Ballantine: did you not realize how popular Louise Welsh's novel is? Sheesh) and pretty much trashes Harley Jane Kozak's debut mystery DATING DEAD MEN. Interesting, the last one, because it's about the first bad review I've seen of that book anywhere--the trades all loved it and word of mouth has been quite good. Of course, it could be because folks are desperate for a book that fills the mold Janet Evanovich left behind about four books ago....

Liz Hoggard examines the literary recluse, or when writers simplyi refuse to do any publicity whatsoever. Should they be commended, or disdained?

Israeli literature is getting a lot of press this week. Richard Eder reviews A.B. Yehoshua's new novel for the New York Times, while Linda Grant of the Guardian Review looks at the country as a whole in relationship to its literature, and whether one can write about anything else except the conflicts and terrorism.

I'm a little bit surprised that there's a market for Sherman Alexie's work in the UK, but considering how good a writer he is, why shouldn't there be? Maya Jaggi at the Guardian loves his new collection, TEN LITTLE INDIANS.

Michael Dirda's regular column in the WaPo especially caught my eye this week; he presents an in-depth look at an old gothic classic, Sheridan Le Fanu's UNCLE SILAS.

The Sunday Glasgow Herald has a smattering of book news this week: a general rave for Manda Scott's second installment in her Boudica trilogy, a short interview with Paul Auster, and the news that a famed Scottish murder that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's KIDNAPPED has been "solved" by US academics.

And finally, Terry Teachout's Blog Manifesto is nothing short of essential. Although I would have to disagree on one point: popular blogs can take weekends off when necessary....

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