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.

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Spring Forward

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We just received a copy of the latest addition to the super Akashic Noir anthology series: OAKLAND NOIR, edited by Jerry Thompson & Eddie Muller.  Up to now, my favorite has been SAN DIEGO NOIR which is filled with dark gems. But heck, Oakland is a natural for the series, with its shadowy crimes and disgruntled cops. Looking forward to diving in. The book goes on sale April 4.

ORDER

 

28BOOKULLRICH2-blog427-v3Speaking of Noir,  it doesn’t get any darker than this new biography of Hitler by Volker Ullrich. With all that has been written about him, you’re probably wondering what’s left to say. Well as it tune out, there’s plenty.  The most compelling book on Hitler’s early days and rise to power.  ORDER

 

 

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Here’s my hot pick for Spring…. take a trip to Hong Kong’s crime zone and discover Kwan Chun-dok — a veritable Chinese Sherlock Holmes. But what makes this masterful novel unique is its background history of Hong Kong…following the detective’s 50-years tracking down criminals.

This beautifully designed edition from Grove Press deserves a vote for best cover of the year. Tip of the cap to Gretchen Mergenthaler.

ORDER

 

 

 

Apples and Oranges

appleWe finally made the big move from Windows to Mac. That’s right, since 2008 we’ve been working with Windows computers and software. Changing tools was not as simple as, say, switching from an old car to a new model from a different manufacturer. It required several months of planning, as well as implementation.

The first order of business was porting over thousands of files created over the years, reorganizing them, archiving, and (in some cases) deleting, and then setting up shop in the clouds — namely,  Adobe’s Creative Cloud. That meant getting all new versions of the apps we reply on, as shown in the screen-shot below.

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Adobe Photoshop topped the list, and switching to the Mac version required updating all the various plug-ins, such as Retrographer for special effects. (A review of the Mac version will appear in January.) In some cases the apps we used had no Mac version, so replacements had to be found and tested.

But now all the grunt work is behind us. We’re back!—armed with MacBooks and iPads and ready for action.

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Thanks for your patience.

Happy New Year to all!

Hot Summer Quick Picks

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Gallic Press guarantees a long hot summer with the latest translation of Pascal Garnier‘s TOO CLOSE CLOSE TO THE EDGE. We first discovered this novelist with the release of MOON IN A DEAD EYE which was one of our Favorite Books of  2014.  Then we read THE PANDA THEORY and became hopelessly addicted. This latest short novel is noir for the course.
CLICK TO BUY

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You can’t miss with Don DeLillo—his best novel since WHITE NOISE.
CLICK TO BUY

 

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If it’s too hot in the sun, this one will give you chills. THE LONEY is eerie, odd, and beautifully written. Andrew Michael Hurley is a poet of terror.
CLICK TO BUY

 

Simon & Schuster

Wrong is an understatement with Trump at the helm, but E.J, Dionne sets the record straight on how far  out the GOP has gone.
CLICK TO BUY

 

CHEDDAR

C’mon, who doesn’t love it. Here’s the scoop,  CHEDDAR: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese? Is it lunch time yet? Say cheese!
CLICK TO BUY

 

 

Give & Keep (a holiday book guide)

We’re not doing a “Ten Best” list this year — it’s too frustrating having to leave out so many good titles. Instead, below, you’ll find cool new books that’ll make great holiday gifts.

Merry Reading!

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SONDHEIM

ON SONDHEIM: An Opinionated Guide
by Ethan Mordden
Oxford University Press

Here’s a smart (and, yes, highly opinionated) guide to the master’s works. Stephen Sondheim is, of course,  the brilliant lyricist-composer who has redefined American musical theatre. Mordden’s guide is an illuminating introduction to the man and his work.

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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A IS FOR ARSENIC: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
by Kathryn Harkup
Bloomsbury Sigma

OK, here’s a fun one for Christie fans. Clearly,  Christie’s cup of tea was tainted; that is to say, she preferred using poison to kill off her characters than other messier methods. This penchant for the deadly dose is, in part, explained by the author’s education  and knowledge of lethal chemicals. Kathryn Harkup explores the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen Christie mysteries, and illuminates  the science behind the author’s fiction.

Drink up!

CLICK TO ORDER

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trolley

THE TROLLEY PROBLEM MYSTERIES
(The Berkeley Tanner Lectures)
by F. M. Kamm
Edited by Eric Rakowski
Oxford University Press

For the budding philosopher on your list,  Kamm’s work poses the  classic “trolley problem” that asks the reader to confront a moral dilemma. “A train is ripping down the track at full speed, headed straight for five unsuspecting workers. If you could push the person walking next to you onto the track and save those men, would you do it?” Hmm. Those two sentences lead us to a variety of complex questions and scenarios. Indeed, a ride on this trolley won’t soon be forgotten.

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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GRAPHIQUE de la RUE: The Signs of Paris
by Louise Fili
Princeton Architectural Press

If you love Paris (and who doesn’t?) then this love letter to French lettering is for you. Graphic designer Louise Fili has been photographing street signs in the city for over 40 years and her  book is filled with glorious color reproductions of distinctive typography. Includes  classic gold-leaf and dimensional Art Deco, Futurist, and Art Nouveau architectural lettering.

It’s a visual delight!

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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And speaking of France…

DEATH IN BRITTANY
A novel by Jean-Luc Bannalec
Minotaur Books

A new mystery series,  introducing Commissaire Georges Dupin, a slightly cranky detective who solves his cases via injections of coffee and fine  food. In fact, it’s his frequent pauses to partake during the murder investigation that make  this novel such a delight.

Bannalec’s  descriptions of this quaint coastal region will have you booking a flight there. DEATH IN BRITTANY was our favorite mystery of the year. A most promising debut and  we can’t wait for Dupin’s next case.

CLICK TO ORDER

 

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COLOR ME CALM: 100 COLORING TEMPLATES FOR MEDITATION AND RELAXATION
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y Lacy Mucklow
Race Point Publishing

Last but not least, when the stress-filled holidays come to a roaring end on New Year’s Eve, chances are you’ll be left feeling wiped out and jittery. If so, here’s a gift you can give yourself— an adult coloring book designed to erase the stress and, perhaps,  send you into a Zen-like trance. You’ll not only feel relaxed, but you’ll have a book filled with your own colored art. It’s soothing, fun to do, and lovely to look at.

Heck, coloring ain’t for kids anymore!

Color Me Calm

example by Carla M. Wilson

CLICK TO ORDER

 

GekkoPod; for Shots that are Tricky & Odd

gekA brainy stocking stuffer for anyone shooting snaps with a smartphone. Instead of a tripod, attach your phone to the GekkoPod and twist the bendable legs  around an overhead branch, a bench, a chair – anything you can think of.  Want to take a selfie at a skewed Noirish angle? With GekkoPod it’s a snap (no pun intended!). I also discovered another handy use for this little critter. I will often be out at a coffee shop without my laptop and want to catch up on the news while I sip and snack. I use the Gekkopod as a secure stand, so I don’t have to lean the phone against a sliding salt seller. Nice!

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The Gekkopod comes with an adaptable mount for phones, GoPro mount, and standard screw for cameras.

Check it out at gekkopod.com

Deck the Halls with P.G. Wodehouse

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This season, if you want to give the gift of laughter and a cozy escape from these dark days, you can’t go wrong with a novel by the humorist P.G. Wodehouse, the creator of Bertie Wooster and his valet extraordinaire, Jeeves. In the past, I’ve had to make do with uninspired dog-eared paperbacks found in secondhand bookshops but, now—thanks to the great Overlook Press — we have The Collector’s Wodehouse editions. This uniform series in hardcovers is handsomely crafted, designed by Peter B. Willberg, with wonderful cover illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski.

By my count, there are 46 titles in the series, which is more than enough to keep the merriment flowing throughout the New Year.

Furthermore, these novels need not be a “guilty pleasure” since, in between the chuckles and guffaws, one can savor the sentences of a master stylist. Here, for example, is Bertie’s take on a violin solo at a local concert hall in The Mating Season:

Except for knowing that when you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all, I’m not really an authority on violin solos, so cannot state definitively whether La Pulbrook’s was or was not a credit to the accomplices who had taught her the use of the instrument. It was loud in spots and less loud in other spots, and it had that quality which I have noticed in all violin solos, of seeming to last much longer than it actually did.

I recently went on a Wodehouse binge, reading in quick succession the delightful A Damsel in Distress, The Mating Season, and Meet Mr Mulliner.  That trio simply whets my appetite for more, and you can bet I’ll be toasting P.G. on New Year’s Eve.

Cheers!