Sunday, May 16, 2004

Just another Massive Weekend Update 

No rants this weekend, just links, links, and more links. Going around the horn:

The big Book of the Week, obviously, is Neil Lanctot's NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL, the fascinating account of the league that made stars of the likes of Satchel Paige and Cool Papa Bell. The New York Times adored the book, while the Washington Post was just as laudatory. You better believe I'll be reading this book--although I'm still waiting for an account, even a short one, of Jackie Robinson's Montreal days...

Otherwise, the Grey Lady features a whole sub-section on children's books, which I'll just link to en masse, Benedict Nightingale's take on John Gielgud's letters (anxiously awaiting being plucked from my own TBR pile) and an interesting (though not-quite-positive) review of Michael Kruger's THE CELLO PLAYER.

And at the WaPo, Dennis Drabelle rounds up the latest in mystery fiction, choosing to give good reviews to the new Anne Perry, Boris Akunin, Richard Barre and Katharine V. Forrest, while extolling less enthusiasm for David Housewright's return to print.

The Guardian review is rather swell this week, but mostly for Ali Smith's appreciation of Angela Carter, who happens to be one of my all-time favorite writers. THE BLOODY CHAMBER? A beautifully brilliant collection of short stories that modernize fairy tales in new and startling ways. THE MAGIC TOYSHOP? Full of wonder and horror with the kind of prose you can literally sink your teeth into and taste all sorts of merry delights. I suspect I'll be tackling Smith's favorite, THE INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN, fairly soon. Also in the Review is Adam Thorpe's explanation of why he works best under pressure, an abridged excerpt of Peter Ackroyd's new introduction to Henry Fielding's JONATHAN WILD THE GREAT, and Nicholas Clee namechecks our friends at the Literary Saloon. Very cool!

After the Guardian, there must be the Observer, which has a long feature on Hari Kunzru and how he overcame the weight of being a Bonus Baby to produce a second novel, TRANSMISSION, that's vastly different from the first and still pretty good, according to Rachel Cooke. Also, James Wood, who recently had a little tete-a-tete with The Reading Experience, gets a nice review for his new collection of essays, and Robert McCrum gets snarky--well, as snarky as he'll ever get--about a call for a "Poetry Olympiad." All I have to say is....oy gevalt.

I'll start my Globe and Mail roundup with, of course, Margaret Cannon's crime column. Even if she actually likes the new Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown book. But one has to forgive these sort of things. She also reviews new releases from Sylvian Hamilton, Anne Perry, David Rotenberg, Thomas Wheeler, and Stephen White. Otherwise, there's a blistering rant about a new short fiction collection by writers under the age of 25, Martin Levin's analysis of a new book that tries out a little revisionist history with major events, and Annabel Lyon's take on Booker shortlist favorite Colm Toibin's THE MASTER.

On the Australian front, David Sedaris gets quite the lovely write-up at the Sydney Morning Herald, as he'll have a new book coming out fairly soon. Never realized his popularity was global, but there you have it. The paper also takes a look at a newly reissued book, LIVING ALONE AND LIKING IT, that still resonates with women today, almost 70 years after its initial publication. While at the Age, Sue Turnbull positively sniffs at Michael Connelly's THE NARROWS for being too "gimmicky" and basically having too many Easter Eggs. Hey, I guess not everyone's happy he was basically saying a big "f**k you* to the movie of BLOOD WORK....

And in the roundup-free news:

Jim Born, whose upcoming debut novel WALKING MONEY will be out next month (and has some major-league buzz attached to it) is interviewed in his hometown paper, the Palm Beach Post. He's got an interesting background as an investigator for the DEA, and as an adviser to people like Elmore Leonard and the folks at the late, lamented Karen Sisco. The article doesn't mention that Born made a whole host of new friends during Edgar Week, but hey, they can't reveal everything...

Somehow I missed Oline Cogdill's column from last week, when she gave nice reviews out to John Sandford and David Hiltbrand, whose debut KILLER SOLO is about rock tours, groupies, sex, drugs--in other words, a book I definitely want to read, and soon. This week she takes on Terrill Lankford's EARTHQUAKE WEATHER and is suitably impressed by the book's style, pace and subject matter.

Sir Walter Scott's home attracts many visitors, but now that his last descendant has died, there are questions as to what will happen to the ancestral lodging. The Sunday Herald makes a visit and tries to ascertain the future of the house.

The Arthur Conan Doyle archives will likely get a pretty penny when they are auctioned off on Wednesday--$3.5 M, it looks like--but in the meantime, a bigtime Holmes scholar's death gets the inquest treatment, since the man did die in rather bizarre circumstances...

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel adds its voice to the consensus that Lee Child's THE ENEMY is a damned good thriller, although the reviewer really seems to harp on the whole genre/formula thing. Dude, it's a cleverly written ass-kicking book. What else are you looking for? And only thirteen more books before we must mourn Reacher's passing....

Lara McClintock, the sleuth of Lyn Hamilton's archeology mysteries, is back for an eighth installment, much to the liking of the Toronto Star's Jack Batten.

A few mysteries are collected together in the roundup by the Grand Forks Herald: John Sandford's latest Lucas Davenport novel (I can't be the only one who's totally lost track of which title is which) gets a nice nod, as do new releases from David Hiltbrand and P.J. Tracy.

Speaking of the pseudonymous Tracy, the duo--Patricia and Traci Lambrecht, that is--are profiled in the Albuquerque Journal, where they reveal how the plot for book #3, MILK RUN was formulated as they drove along a completely deserted small-town street.

More from the Michael Connelly publicity racket: he's interviewed in a fairly boilerplate Q&A fashion by Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald.

Les Roberts picks up two mysteries for his column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Richard Barre's ECHO BAY gets his seal of approval, but Dick Cady's THE EXECUTIONER'S MASK doesn't get quite the same level of praise.

And finally, who'd have thought that Being Jordan would be so, well, difficult? Actually, the Scotsman reviewer of Katie Price's over-the-top autobiography isn't so sure about that--and doesn't find much in the way of redeeming values about the book, either.....

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