FALL READING: POLITICS, NOIR, SURREALISM & THE DEATH OF EXPERTISE

NEW FALL

As you can see I’ve got a lot of reading to do. A surreal trip to Paris, then down the rabbit hole into the Trump Zone courtesy of Matt Taibbi and Joshua Green.  Deeper still into Pascal Garnier‘s latest. And hey — look, Michael Connelly has launched a new series!  Can’t wait to dive into Jane Casey‘s latest novel — oh yes, I’m a Maeve Kerrigan groupie.   Take my word for it, I’m an expert even though nobody listens to experts anymore, right Tom?

Full report soon.

Advertisements

Pin the Tale: The Summer Random Reading Game

Okay, it’s time for my annual “Pin the Tale,” in which you randomly select one of 8 fab books by clicking  from the list of “here”s below.  Don’t peek at the covers until you’ve made your selection. All make fine beach reads.

On your marks, get set…. go!

The High Lit life here.  Snicker & guffaw in the hallowed halls here.   Berserk circus hijinx here. Behind the obscenes in scary Oz here.  Thai one on  here.  Catch some ruthless thrills here.  Iceland means murder here  The bitter half of a happy marriage here.

 

Six Favorite Reads of 2016

img_20160922_190046-1

Here are a few of the books I enjoyed over the year.

51uhn18xycl-_sx324_bo1204203200_-1
2016 was a surreal year (in more ways than one), so I dove right in at the source and refreshed my sensibility with THE SURREALISM READER: An Anthology of Ideas, edited by the goddess of surrealist studies, Dawn Ades (also  Michael Richardson and Krzysztof Fijalkowski). This seminal collection includes contributions by both critics and movement luminaries. Among the latter,  two not to be missed highlights: Marcel Mariën’s “Non-Scientific Treatise on the Fourth Dimension,” and Leonora Carrington’s “What Is a Woman?”
My kind of reference—and it sure beats Trump’s surreality TV.  Thank you, University of Chicago Press!

 

sphinx

 

While swimming in  experimental waters, I’m glad I found a sandbar and Anne Garréta’s novel SPHINX. It’s not surprising that one of the few female members of Oulipo penned  one of the most engaging Oulipian novels to date. It’s a remarkable genderless love story— complex and mesmerizing.

 

 

 

 

51rmtwdbqvl

 

I couldn’t wait to curl up with RAZOR GIRL and—sure enough—Hiaasen had my number again. As expected, the book had  enough black humor to float the boat and a finely drawn character— (how could he miss with a detective demoted to a food inspector in Key West)— Andrew Yancy . The guy  surely  deserves  a sequel (Ya listening Carl?) But I won’t call this novel  a “page-turner” because I refuse to resort to cliches.  (Oops, too late.)

 

 

crow-girl

 

What? Another book with “girl” in the title, there must be some mistake. Well, instead of GIRL ON THE TRAIN which derailed midway through for me, I’m recommending THE CROW GIRL  If you’re hungry for a hefty helping—784 pages—of Swedish noir., it doesn’t get any better (or darker) than this. A superb translation, too.

 

 

 

1471661808076941319173

 

Got twists? This novel is a corkscrew,  and, yes, there are moments when you say “couldn’t happen,” but then you have those nagging second thoughts after watching the local news and it doesn’t matter anyway because THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR is just plain creepy fun. A clever first novel by author Shari Lapena.

 

 

 

51juchr1cl-_sx331_bo1204203200_-1

 

French PI Aimée Leduc needs no introduction, of course, nor does her creator, Cara Black. I was a bit worried Cara. Black had run out of Paris neighborhoods, but then along came MURDER ON THE QUAI and I gladly donned my beret. The book is a “prequel” that will satisfy fans of the series—especially since Aimée’s backstory has often been alluded to and was begging to be told.

For those who’ve yet to meet Ms. Leduc, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning.

 

 

Enjoy these wintry reads and have a great 2017!

 

 

Chills

Here are a few cool  titles we’re looking forward to.

[click on covers for more info]

crow girl

cabin 10

You Will Know Me

Harrow

91tQOSJCMTL

loney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND watch for our reviews of  Peter Lovesey’s new novel and a prequel to Cara Black’s popular series.

lovesey51JuC+hr1cL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)

Dark Drama

disclaim

That novel on the nightstand isn’t hers. Its main character, however, is too familiar. Catherine has no idea who left the book, but she soon recognizes the villain. Her own past. The pages are mirrors, reminders of the secret she has kept from her family all these years, even though they, too, are part of the story. She has gotten away with it. Or at least that’s how the mystery-book’s author, fixated on her unsavory role in a tragic death, sees it. They’re here to make sure her family reads it, too.

Disclaimer is a fast-paced read with dark drama at every turn. It weaves in two families whose lives are twisted by misunderstandings. Told in alternating characters, short addictive chapters, with surprises all the way.

 

DISCLAIMER: A NOVEL
Renée Knight
Harper

CLICK HERE TO BUY ON AMAZON

Get Lucky

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is awash with Gillian Flynns i.e., Gillian Flynn wannabes. Further down the food chain you’ll find the same phenomenon – writers who think they’ve found a different shade of grey but, sad to say, they haven’t. Sadder still, more than a few get reeled in by commercial publishers and are not thrown back.

luckBut there’s some good news, too. The success of GONE GIRL (which I read and enjoyed long before the hype) has also inspired a few writers with original voices to persevere and tell their tales.

A case in point is Jessica Knoll. Her edgy voice is a mix of cleverly demonic observation, acidic wit, and relentless intensity. Even if her novel, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE (Simon & Schuster) had no plot, I’d stop reading only at gunpoint.

You can dip inside the book’s 300+ pages and find lines with a life of their own.

Here’s an example:

“I spotted her right away when I stepped off the elevator—slouchy leather pants (if fake, good ones) perfectly balanced with a crisp white button-down and sharp silver heels, a Chanel purse dangling from her forearm. If not for her round beer face, I might have turned right around and pretended I didn’t see her. I don’t do well with competition.”

Knoll didn’t need to open the novel with a hook like “I inspected the knife in my hand.” She could just as easily have begun with the next two sentences:

“That’s the Shun. Feel how light it is compared to the Wüsthof?”

So right from the git-go (notice I didn’t say “gone-go”) you know there’s wicked stuff ahead. And something wicked is what I reach for on muggy summer nights.

No plot summary here, I don’t want to spoil the fun. It is not a book of constant twists. There are definite shades of the film “Heathers” here, and Knoll nails  the voice and glib cruelty of teens. I urge you to avoid reading jacket flaps, descriptions on Amazon, online reviews, and all those blurbs that drop Gillian Flynn’s name.

This novel walks on its own.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER