Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Popular Fiction

There are books I can't read because the writing irritates me like the sound of fingernails scratching a blackboard. I won't name names. Suffice to say some of these books end up on the bestseller list.

Why do people read stuff I find unreadable? Here's an answer from 1905, quoted inMolly Gloss' novel Wild Life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Got It! Next Fiction AllSorts Selection

I thought I'd have to read and reject a couple dozen more stories before finding The One, but I lucked out. The selection for the March 17 Fiction AllSorts storytime is "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver.

I'll write more about it later.

Podcast: Novelist Kirstin Allio

Do you have an iPod? Here's a cool source for Podcasts: the LitBlog Co-op. An interview with Kirstin Allio is up front right now. Kirstin Allio wrote Garner, "an elegant, luminous, moving work of lyric prose. Every page shimmers." (quote from Carole Maso)

That pic? Yup. Kirstin Allio.

Superpatron alerts us to Google's newest library-related venture. They've got it set up so that Google Scholar is returning hits on Open Worldcat. Cool.

(the picture? That's the facade of the library at Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mice: They're Dirty

Don't touch that mouse.

Short Story Roundup: "A Shade Less Perfect" by Max Barry

As you know (I mention it incessantly), I read a story to adults once a month. The last two stories I've read (Anne Perry's "Lost Causes" in Thou Shall Not Kill and Alicia Gifford's "Toggling the Switch") were so good that the pressure is on to pick a really great one for March.

So. Candidate number one has been scratched off the list.

I enjoyed "A Shade Less Perfect" by Max Barry, but it's not quite right ... I want something more thought-provoking, I guess. But it is fun, and worth reading. Enjoy.

Friday, February 10, 2006

R. M. Meluch, Science Fiction Queen

I wish someone would reprint the earlier novels of R. M. Meluch: Chicago Red, The Queen's Squadron, Sovereign, War Birds, Jerusalem Fire -- I adored those books, and I believe they were published only in paperback. Thus, because paperbacks fall apart relatively quickly, your local public library, wherever you are, probably doesn't have any of her books today. Unless they've purchased the books in her new series -- Myriad is the first one, followed by Wolf Star, which just came out last month (and yes, if you're a member of what I like to call -- with capital letters -- Your Local Public Library, watch the catalog; we do have it on order). Publishers Weekly gave Wolf Star a starred review, saying, "this is grand old-fashioned space opera, so toss your disbelief out the nearest airlock and dive in."

As to the older books, if you find them, I recommend them. Let me know what you think.

Poetry Saves Lives

Daisy Goodwin says that learning a poem is the best investment you can make. "Everyone should have at least 10 poems that they can access at any time — building up a mental playlist of poems is a protection against boredom, mental atrophy, and you will never be at a loss when the batteries on your iPod finally run out. In an age of brandwashing, where advertising jingles and TV catchphrases stick in your mind, the ultimate luxury is to have what Coleridge called “the best words in the best order” always accessible."

Here's Dad's List of Poems to Memorize.

(great desktop collage is from agirlinlove.org!)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Robert Goddard: Underappreciated

Robert Goddard is an author I've liked so much that I'm trying not to read all of his books. Sounds weird, eh? I just want to know there's more out there if I'm desperate. Of those I've read, I am most fond of In Pale Battalions and Painting the Darkness -- maybe they were just the first ones I read!

Anita Shreve and Beyond

Do you like Anita Shreve? Everyone to whom I've recommended her books really enjoys them. She has a knack for a compelling story written well, or, as Barnes and Noble puts it, she "combines sweepingly romantic plots with a keen understanding of the emotional complexities inherent in any relationship."

If you've read everything by Anita Shreve and you want something similar, there are a bunch of librarians Out There who recommend you try these:

Aline, Countess of Romanones The Spy wore Red
Anthony, Evelyn
Atwood, Margaret The Blind Assassin
Berg, Elizabeth
Binding, Tim Lying with the Enemy
de Bernieres, Louis Corelli's Mandolin
Furst, Alan Series featuring Jean Casson
Harvey, Caroline The Brass Dolphin
Hoffman, Alice
Isaacs, Susan Shining Through
MacInnes, Helen
Picoult, Jodi Salem Falls
Tyler, Anne
Whitney, Phyllis

This list was "compiled by the subscribers [mostly librarians] of the Fiction_L mailing list." Find more Fiction_L booklists at Morton Grove Public Library's Webrary.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How Librarians Help the Book Publishing Biz

Are librarians key players in the bookselling game? Stop snickering. A good librarian can "sell" a lot of books in a day -- and that does add up to sales for publishers.

Bookmark This: Book Awards Page at Bookspot.com

This handy site -- has links to the winners of the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Pulitzer Prize, etc.

Mystery Author S. T. Haymon

S.T. Haymon
created the great series of mysteries featuring Inspector Benjamin Jurnet of the Norfolk county police.

"S. T. Haymon is not a prolific mystery novelist but she deserves more exposure. There is a certain cynicism about religion, especially organized ones, although she is obviously a deist of a very unregulated sort; a nice touch of the macabre; wonderful capsule sketches that bring characters to life (like those amazing people you find every now and then who do charcoal portraits of customers on the boardwalk and bring a true likeness to life in a minute or so, for very little money); an excellent prose stylist; and a writer with a true sense of humor too. What more can you ask for? But ... "(clicking here will take you to the rest of this precis at the very cool Grobius Shortling Mystery Novel Site)

I am in the process (thanks to a grant from our wonderful Friends of the Library) of collecting all of the mystery titles by Haymon for our library. Watch the catalog.

(photo above of a Norfolk sunset is from a page at Atmospheric Optics.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Backstory: Parrish's An Unquiet Grave

The blog backstory is "where authors share the secrets, the truths, or just the illogical moments that sparked our fiction." The latest entry has P. J. Parrish describing the genesis of their (P. J. Parrish is actually the pen name of two sister writers) latest mystery novel, An Unquiet Grave.

(the photo is of Eloise Mental Hospital on Michigan Avenue, Wayne County, Michigan)

Deborah Eisenberg: New Story Collection

Deborah Eisenberg's new story collection, Twilight of the Superheroes, gets a rave review in today's Christian Science Monitor, says Laila Lalami at MoorishGirl.com

Quote from the interview with Deborah Eisenberg at Ron Hogan's beatrice.com: "What's going on in this strange, sloshing organ that's encased in my skull?"

(image on the left is a PET scan of a physicist's brain)

Friday, February 03, 2006

What is a Blog?

The most interesting ‘blogs’ (Internet ‘web logs’) have these features:
1. entries are in reverse chronological order
2. unfiltered content -- the second somebody filters or edits the author it's no longer a blog
3. comments from readers
4. hypertext links to the world outside the blog
5. excerpted chunks of attributed text, sometimes at length, from other sources
6. a flip, informal, ironic tone, exemplified by Wonkette's Ana Marie Cox on her personal blog: "I am the editor of Wonkette, a guide to DC politics and culture, sort of."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Joseph Finder's Company Man

Company Man is "a superbly wrought thriller, played out among the cubicles of corporate America. Highly recommended."

I happened to listen to this one on CD while commuting, and the audio version was excellent. Scott Brick is a great narrator.

David Baldacci and Other Authors I Have Known

Memory is weird. If you were to ask me yesterday if I'd read anything by best-selling novelist David Baldacci, I'd have said, "Alas, no. I haven't."

And yet, today, looking through my reading journal, I see that I read his book Total Control in September of 2002. And, even reading the summary, I don't remember it. At all.

I guess his books just aren't my thing. I mean, if I'd really liked it, you'd think it'd at least be a little familiar. Well. Tastes differ, right?

Should I try another one?