Friday, September 30, 2011

Okay, Bring On the Baseball Post Season!!

Tonight: The Playoffs - the path to the World Series begins. Haven't decided yet who I'll root for since my own team, the NY Mets, are not in it once again. 

I usually root for the underdog.


Note: painting by Cassius Coolidge (1834 - 1944)

Friday's Forgotten Books: SPEAKING OF MURDER Interviews with Masters of Mystery and Suspense - Edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg

If it's Friday, it's Forgotten Book Day, the weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at her blog, PATTINASE  Don't forget to check in and see what forgotten books other bloggers are reminding us of today.

My entry is, SPEAKING OF MURDER Interviews with Masters of Mystery and Suspense - edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg - published in 1998 by Berkeley Prime Crime. With a forward by mystery author Ed Gorman.

Each chapter of SPEAKING OF MURDER is done up simply in question and answer form. There are 21 suspense novelists whose answers are as varied and intriguing as their books.


Stephen King

LS (Interviewer Lee Server): Somebody said, "Bachman is King without a conscience." (Talking about Richard Bachman, King's writing alter ego.)

SK: Stephen King is a family guy, a grounded individual whose morals are recognizable as roughly the same as the morals of most of the people who read his books. They are fairly well grounded in terms of sanity and morals. Which is good, because a lot of people read the books. I assume that most of them have their wheels on the road. But Richard Bachman does not have all his wheels on the road. That's just the way it is.

Mickey Spillaine

CLPS (Interviewer Charles L.P. Silet): You begin a story with the ending?

MS: Sure I do. Why do you listen to a joke? The biggest part of the joke is the punch line, so the biggest part of the book should be the punch line, the ending. People don't read a book to get to the middle, they read a book to get to the end and hope that the ending justifies all the time they spent reading it. So what I do is, I get my ending and, knowing what my ending is going to be, then I write to the end and have the fun of knowing where I'm going but not how I'm going to get there.

Elizabeth Peters

D.J. (Interviewer Dean James): Is there any truth to the rumor that you are the illicit love child of H. Rider Haggard and Dorothy L. Sayers?

EP: Make that illicit grandchild, if you don't mind.


The authors featured in SPEAKING OF MURDER:

Stephen King
Patricia Cornwell
Mary Higgins Clark
Sue Grafton
Mickey Spillane
Anne Perry
Tony Hillerman
Sharyn McCrumb
Joan Hess
Ed McBain
Simon Brett
Elizabeth George
Peter Lovesey
Marcia Muller
Carolyn Hart
Ian Rankin
Elizabeth Peters
Dominick Abel
Bill Pronzini
Minette Walters
John Harvey

For some reason I missed Volume II of SPEAKING OF MURDER which has another fabulous list of author Q&A. So I'm adding it to my shopping list. Here's that cover:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

20 Favorite New Yorker Covers

Art by Ana Juan.

Art by Lorenzo Mattoti.

Fold-Out Art by Owen Smith.

Art by Sempe.

Art by Anita Kunz.

Art by Art Spiegleman.

Art by Ian Falconer.

Art by Chas. Addams.

Art by Edwin Drooker.

Art by Arthur Getz.

Art by Arthur Getz.

Art by Charles Saxon.

Art by Carter Goodrich.

Art by Charles E. Martin.

Art by Michael Sowa.

Art by Lou Romano.

Art by George Booth.

Art by Saul Steinberg.

Art by Sempe.

Art by Arthur Getz.

Of course this list is very fluid, liable to change at any moment. After all, I haven't seen EVERY cover ever published by The New Yorker and lots of them are not available to link online. (Though lately I've seen quite a few while doing research for this post.) And especially difficult to choose since I've loved most every cover done by the best topical artists over the years.

Lately I'm in a New York frame of mind especially after watching THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, and being reminded what a homey sort of place NYC can be.

And to top it off, Saturday I'll be posting the work of an artist whose vivid and lively paintings of NYC life have just about knocked me out. All that PLUS a new short story challenge. Stay tuned.

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day......!

It's raining again, yet again and yet again the pump is at work in the basement. Tra-la-la.


Note: Artwork by Peter Spier from his book, RAIN.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's New Book

Well, not really new, NEW, it was written when Doyle was 23, but THE NARRATIVE OF JOHN SMITH, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first novel, is newly published this week. Originally 'lost in the mail' (yes, I kid you not), it was eventually re-writen by Doyle (left unfinished), and now these many years later,  the British Library is publishing it.

I hadn't heard the news until I read the scoop on Elizabeth Foxwell's blog, THE BUNBURYIST. 

Since I'm usually a day late and a dollar short, I'm playing catch-up. But, figuring there might be a few of us left who didn't know about it, here's a link which gives much more detail about the manuscript.

In conjunction with the publication of THE NARRATIVE OF JOHN SMITH, The British Library is having an exhibition of the actual manuscript and other Doyle ephemera.

Arthur Conan Doyle

To read about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, please go to his Wikipedia page.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What I Watched Last Night: THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt

What a treat! I hadn't expected to love this movie but I did - I do. If you haven't seen it, I'm asking you right now - WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

This is a film about thwarting fate. Fate in the guise of mysterious fedora-garbed men who work for an equally mysterious 'chairman' (read - God) whose job it is to keep us (read- humans) corralled - making sure we don't stray off the life paths that have been 'chosen' for us.

These 'adjustment bureau' types don't like it when a human suddenly does something unexpected.

Matt Damon is David Norris, a popular politico - the youngest Congressman in NYC history. When a photo from his college past derails his Senate campaign, David goes to work for a law firm, biding his time. Despite the gaff, fate has a wonderful political future in store for him. (Can you say: White House?)

David is not supposed to meet dancer Elise Sellas  (Emily Blunt) - much less is he supposed to fall in love with her. But he does and she does - in one of the most charming scenes (set in the men's bathroom at a hotel) I've seen in years. Damon and Blunt are incredibly real. Their scenes together are a wonder to behold.

But fate has different plans for David and Elise. It's up to the adjustment bureau to adjust this little snafu.

This film is a total delight from beginning to end as we watch a befuddled David accosted by his handlers, who include the wonderful Anthony Mackie as Harry Mitchell and the equally wonderful John Slattery (of MAD MEN fame) as Richardson.

Anthony Mackie

John Slattery

They play two adjustment bureau employees who must undo the 'not supposed to happen' merging of David and Elise's paths. (Paths - literally. There's an actual book they carry around that shows these paths - kind of like a destiny subway map.)

But what do you do when your heart tells you that you've met the right woman?

Terence Stamp appears later as an ominous higher-up who tries some very tough love. He makes David see that Elise's dancing future is in jeopardy if she stays with David. Plus, oh by the way, fate has grand plans for you, David. Plans that don't include Elise. You have a chance to do great things, but only if.....

Guilt. It works every time.

A fabulous love story. A fabulous (and occasionally spooky) action movie. I thought I wouldn't like seeing Matt Damon in this sort of film - Jason Bourne is stamped on my heart and brain. But I shouldn't have worried. Damon is perfection as the anti-Bourne. (Is there nothing this guy can't do?)

And the setting, oh the setting, New York has rarely looked better or friendlier or more like a home town.

My only quibble with the film is that it's never made completely clear why Elise would derail David's future and vice versa. I mean, I sort of got it - something about Elise being a loose cannon sort of personality and David not -  but I would have liked something more definitive.

A further fun aspect of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU is the political cameo role-call early in the film. Personages such as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NBC newsie Chuck Scarborough, politicos John Podesta, James Carville, Mary Matalin, former Attorney General Madeleine Albright, talk show host Jon Stewart and others. I really enjoyed seeing Matt Damon interacting with 'real' politicos.

David Norris and NYC Mayor Bloomberg

So, in the end, what happened to the concept of  'free will'?

See the movie.


Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profoundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.



Note: Painting by Ivan Kramskoi (1837 - 1887)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Want To Re-Read.

Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the gals at THE BROKE AND THE BOOKISH. Each week there's a new topic and a new list to work on. Don't forget to check in to see what books other bloggers are talking about today.

If you read this blog you know that I re-read my favorites all the time, most especially vintage mysteries, i.e. Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and others. But I also re-read all my favorite classics as well. So finding books I want to re-read that I haven't already, was a real struggle.

But I've managed to come up with ten that for one reason or another, I haven't re-read yet, though I definitely plan to.


Top Ten Books I Want To Re-Read:

1) THE OLD SILENT by Martha Grimes

Actually this is one of my favorite Richard Jury books in the series - perhaps my number one favorite - (I even own a signed copy) but I've always been afraid that if I re-read it, I'll find fault. Richard Jury (love that name!) is such a melancholy character. I do wish one day Grimes would write a happy ending for him. But that's just me, I suppose.

2) SHADES OF GREY by Jasper Fforde

Oh definitely need to re-read this one, if only to grasp more of the detail in this tale of a world (sort of like ours) in which most of the population can only see in shades of grey. A departure from Fforde's Thursday Next books.

3) LOST IN A GOOD BOOK by Jasper Fforde

The second in the Thursday Next, Literary Detective, series set in an 'alternate' reality. Fforde has such an inventive and quick witted mind that his books can't possibly all be grasped in the first reading. Especially when the story is chock full of fantasy, puns, literary allusions and brief detours inside the actual pages of a book, oh, and occasionally a bit of time travel.

4) WELL OF LOST PLOTS by Jasper Fforde

The third in the Thursday Next books. Same reason as above.

5) SOMETHING ROTTEN by Jasper Fforde

The fourth in the Thursday Next books. Same reason as above and also because I want to meet up with Hamlet again. This time, Shakespeare's Danish prince is hiding out at a boarding house in the 'real' world - Swindon, Thursday Next's home town (in an alternate England). Hamlet's on the run from the Goliath Corporation which has outlawed all things Danish including Danish pastry.

6) A DIRTY JOB by Christopher Moore

Moore is another author who occasionally must be read twice if only because I'm always thinking he can't have meant that - can he? This man has a dangerous mind.

The story involves a newly bereaved father left alone to raise his little girl. Of course, this being a Moore book, the little girl just happens to be the grim reaper. What is a father to do?

7) THE ALIENIST by Caleb Carr

Carr's best book. A story set in the colorful and dangerous world of turn of the 20th century New York City. (Theodore Roosevelt is one of the characters.) A person unknown has been quietly killing off his victims, though the crimes have yet to be linked. The police are stumped simply because they're not aware that serial killing exists. It's up Dr. Lazlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or 'alienist' and his friend, reporter John Schuyler Moore to put the pieces of a deadly puzzle together.

8) MOHAWK by Richard Russo

From the back cover: "Mohawk, New York, is one of those small towns that lie almost entirely on the wrong side of the tracks."

This is Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo's first book. In it  he explores the lives of Mohawk's blue collar citizens in his own inimitable style, a mixture of wit and sly, precise vision. Russo is about the only 'modern' literary writer who writes stories I actually want to read.

I read this a long time ago and I think it's time for me to visit the town of Mohawk once again.

9) CRYPTONOMICON by Neal Stephenson

Such an undertaking requires a large chunk of time. But boy, will it be worth it. I loved this monumental book the first time around and am prepared to love it again. I got lost in it the first time and I am prepared to get lost in it again.

10) THE BOOK OF Q by Jonathan Rabb

You've heard me talk about this title before. It's the book that DA VINCI CODE should have been if written by a talented writer. 'Q' is a story about conspiracy in the Catholic Church - a long hidden document, you know the routine. But oh so moody and intriguing, so intelligently worked out, so well-written.