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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Hey hey, it's the update 

And first, for those who wrote in after Friday's kvetch-inflected post, thank you. It finally hit me what the problem is--I'm not very good at reacting to cars that honk at me or are otherwise in the way when I'm in the middle of parking. Throws me off my rhythm or something. Anyway, having pinpointed the problem, I do believe I will solve it--or else, another five years of clawing my way through driver exam hell awaits...

But you all want links. So, without further adieu:

I'm a teeny-tiny bit disappointed with the NYT Book Review this weekend--not sure why, and perhaps it's just me. But what's there to see this time around? Hmm....Michael Wood's puzzling over a book that compares/contrasts film critic Pauline Kael and general critic Susan Sontag. I'm confused too--how did the book proposal work, exactly? Also, Neil Bremel finds the parts of Peter Esterhazy's CELESTIAL HARMONIES to be greater than the sum, and Jodi Kantor is underwhelmed by Maureen Orth's delving into the cult of celebrity worship.

Moving to the Book World, it focuses much of its attention on WWII-based books--timely, as it's the 60th anniversary of D-Day (already? Wasn't the 50th not that long ago? God, time flies...) Otherwise, Jennifer Howard struggles with Claire Tristram's AFTER, a novel of taboos and terrorism; Alice K. Turner has some fun with THE RULE OF FOUR; Ron Chernow grapples with his addiction to research, an affliction I am ridiculously in the throes of myself; and Darryl Lorenzo Wellington is on board the PUSHKIN AND THE QUEEN OF SPADES bandwagon.

The Guardian Review has some choice crime fiction-y stuff, like Robert Edric's severe disappointment with Susan Hill's foray into the genre after 30+ years of writing ghost stories. It seems she's gone for the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" formula of serial killer/thriller. Ah well. Meanwhile, Matthew Lewin rounds up the newest thrillers by Jonathan Nasaw, Jonathan Kellerman, Jeffery Deaver and Robert Goddard. In more mainstream fare, there's the already hotlinked piece on the late, lamented B.S. Johnson, Maya Jaggi's lengthy profile of Jeanette Winterson, the painstaking process of restoring William Blake to rightful glory, and Nicholas Clee goes gaga for Gerard Jones' GINNY GOOD, albeit with an acknowledgement that the book is "difficult to market."

The Observer is, quite simply, All About Robert McCrum. Not that I'm complaining in the slightest, as his recollection of 25 years in the book publishing world is funny, timely, and bloody well-written. Then there's his Top Ten books of all time, given in honor of the ongoing Hay Festival. Sure, it's a fairly traditional list, but hell, it's a good starting point. Also, Rachel Cooke looks at the B.S. Johnson biography and declares that as a "book about a man who cares about novels by a man who cares about novels, you should run out and buy it if you care too."

Over at the oh-so-lovely G&M, Margaret Cannon offers up a slightly sparser-than-usual crime column. Included in the roundup are new novels by Mary Higgins Clark, Nicci French, Jeffrey Miller, and Yasido Uchida, as well as an interesting compendium of female characters in crime fiction and film, HARDBOILED AND HIGH-HEELED, that Cannon really raves about. Meanwhile, Rebecca Caldwell interviews the judges of the Griffin Prize to figure out how the hell they can sift through so much poetry and judge who's the best; Martin Levin suffers from Bush Burnout, considering how many books on the current prez are being published on a daily (it seems) basis; and Morley Callaghan's complete stories, now collected all together for the first time, garner some nice notices.

The best of the rest:

Perhaps the Big Interview of the weekend is with Val McDermid, whose latest Tony Hill/Carol Jordan bestseller (hey, check the Sunday Times list in a couple of weeks and you'll see) THE TORMENT OF OTHERS is just out in the UK. The Sunday Herald profile looks at her hard-won success, how raising a child may (or may not) affect the graphic subject matter of many of her books, and the difficult breakup she had with her partner of 11 years.

Mark Billingham, who is about to embark on his longest (and strangest, according to his itinerary--Austin to NYC to Phoenix in 48 hours??) book tour yet, is interviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the usual things, mostly about his new-to-the-US Tom Thorne novel, LAZYBONES.

Randy Wayne White gets the Q&A treatment by one of his semi-local papers, the Southwest Florida News-Press.

Cosmo editor and mystery novelist Kate White, whose books I keep turning to when I want an instant dose of enjoyable brain candy, is interviewed in the Times-Dispatch.

David Montgomery rounds up some of the newest up-and-coming writers on the crime fiction scene, like P.J. Tracy, Ace Atkins, Denise Hamilton, Jonathon King and Chris Mooney.

Another day, another profile of Hari Kunzru. This one actually names his girlfriend. Aside from that, it's fairly boilerplate, methinks.

Oh, bloody hell--I'd totally forgotten that Helen Fielding's new book, OLIVIA JOULES AND THE OVERACTIVE IMAGINATION, is just about to be released in the US. To "celebrate" this momentous occasion, the Albuquerque Journal interviews Fielding on the change of pace. Meanwhile, I'll just sob quietly that more deserving authors can't get the same amount of press coverage.

Dan Pope (whose byline is curiously absent from the piece) details a far-too-common affliction for debut novelists--the curse of the second novel.

And anyone who reads this blog long enough knows that the book industry is a tough nut to crack--but the Bradenton Herald decides to take a whack at that old chestnut by talking to a few people about how it's oh so hard to make it.

Looking for mysteries in any city, any town? Carole Barrowman of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel lists a dizzying variety of books for your reading pleasure, whether you're looking to read about Manhattan, LA, or Peoria. OK, I made the last one up, because as far as I know, there are no mysteries set in that town...but if I'm wrong, well...?

Orhan Pamuk's SNOW is getting reviewed in a lot of places, but the one at Scotland on Sunday seems to sum things up quite nicely, deeming the new work a "stirring read."

I'm not exactly sure why Dorman Shindler needs to slag off the thriller genre as a whole in his review of Lee Child's THE ENEMY, but I suppose it's just too much work to leave a primarily positive review as is instead of justifying it somehow.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer gets on the RULE OF FOUR bandwagon, and call for the inevitable--a sequel. Ah, but don't you know such a thing will either a) be a while or b) never see the light of day if you reference that earlier "curse of the second novel" article?

Self-help books....for kids? That does seem to be the new trend, according to Eva Gzowska of the Independent. Bloody hell, what's next, self-help primers for pets? Oh, wait....

And finally, Emily Maguire, I love you. Thank you for writing this, really.

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