Monday, March 27, 2017

Stephen Haffner from Haffner Press reminds us that April 5, 2017 will be the 100th birthday of Robert Bloch and invites us to celebrate it by posting about various Bloch works. Anyone who would like to post a piece on my blog on the 5th is very welcome.

Things That Make Me Happy


My book talk at the Grosse Pointe Public Library went very well last week. More than 70 people turned out and I only knew about a dozen of them. They asked wonderful questions about my books, writing, other writers. It lasted nearly 90 minutes. I was so glad it turned out well because Diana Howbert, the librarian that set it up, had really pushed for having me and made all kinds of arrangements to make it a success. She even manged to get the local newspaper to publicize it--a real feat. I love my new side of town, but the GPPL is one of the great institutions of my life.

I am really enjoying my second William Kent Kruger novel, IRON LAKE. I broke my one author-one book rule to read it and am glad I did. I can hardly believe it was a debut novel. The writing is so skilled but not slick. My favorite combo.

There was a lot I didn't like about the movie PERSONAL SHOPPER, but Kristen Stewart, who was in every scene, was not one of them. What a terrific career looms in front of her.

I am so happy that Affordable Health Act is still in place. It may not be perfect but the draconian measures being put forth by Ryan and his band of thieves would have been disastrous. Crossed fingers they can be defeated on their plans for the tax code, the wall, etc.

I am thankful for my wonderful son, his wife, and Kevin who came to my book talk as they have come to all of them. And also to the friends who turned out for the third time. Family and friends, that's what it is all about, right? This was a long trip for all of them.

Loved Fran Lebowitz' BY THE BOOK piece in the NYT which managed to be humble and arrogant at the same time.

We were lucky enough to go to the DSO and hear Branford Marsalis and the DSO play  GABRIEL PROKOFIEV Saxophone Concerto (DSO premiere). Truly a stunning concert with Gabriel's grandfathers's ROMEO AND JULIET suite too. 
Sometimes I forget how many things I have to make me happy.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, March 24, 2017


(From the archives)
Not exactly a forgotten book since C.J. Box's BLUE HEAVEN won the Edgar in 2009. But I have been meaning to read it and since I did, here is my review. This is a masterful book that manages to tell a fairly complex story in a completely lucid way. There is no fat in the story. It takes place over 48 hours and you can feel those hours ticking by at breakneck speed.
Two kids in northern Idaho watch the murder of a man, see that they've been spotted and are immediately on the run. They are lucky enough to find themselves in the barn of Jess Rawlins, a rancher who is one of the few good men left in his neck of the woods. He is also a hardluck guy who has lost almost everything. But Jess must hide the kids, figure out if their story is true, and determine just who the murderers are and why. Can he trust that what they think they saw really happened. And is it fair to keep the kids away from their worrying mother.
Blue Heaven is a term for the part of northern Idaho that is now a haven for ex-policeman. And some of those ex-policemen have taken over Jess's town for their own purposes. The is an exciting read and a nice introduction to this part of the country. Not a false step in the story and Box creates great villains and great heroes. Not an easy thing to do.

Mark Baker, LA REQUIEM, Robert Crais
Yvette Banek, HEIR TO MURDER, Miles Burton
Joe Barone, A CAST OF VULTURES, Judith Flanders
Brian Busby, PILLAR OF FIRE Gordan Green
Bill Crider, HOMICIDE TRINITY, Rex Stout
Martin Edwards, JOE JENKINS, DETECTIVE, Paul Rosenhayn
Richard Horton,  Flower of Doradil, by John Rackham/A Promising Planet, by Jeremy Strike
Jerry House, THE SEVEN CARDINAL VIRTUES OF SCIENCE FICTION, ed. Asimov et al
Nick Jones, THE FOREVER WAR, Joe Haldeman
George Kelley, ONCE A PULP MAN, Audrey Parente
Margot Kinberg, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN A CASTLE, Shirley Jackson
B.V. Lawson, DEATH OF A BUSYBODY, Dell Shannon
Evan Lewis, NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH, James Hadley Chase
Steve Lewis/Barry Gardner, ALL SHALL BE WELL, Deborah Crombie
Todd Mason, THE BANTAM STORY, Clarence Peterson
Matt Paust, A VIEW OF THE CHARLES, Con Chapman
James Reasoner, KI-GOR AND THE FORBIDDEN MOUNTAIN, John Peter Drummond
Richard Robinson, IMPOSSIBLE STORIES, Zoran Zivkovic
Gerard Saylor, SNITCH JACKET, Chris Goffard
Kerrie Smith, LUSTRUM, Robert Harris
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, MR. MONK IN TROUBLE, Lee Goldberg
TomCat,MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA, Agatha Christie
TracyK, DANCERS IN MOURNING, Margery Allingham


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Books Set in Hotels

A lot of Christie's make great use of hotels but so does mainstream fiction. I  am thinking of MRS. PALFREY AT THE CLAREMOUNT (Elizabeth Taylor) and HOTEL DU LAC by Anita Brookner.
Any more?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Favorite Movies of 2007

  (Excuse wonky spacing). Can't seem to fix it.

Painted Veil                                                                                                                  Volver                                                                                                                                        Zodiac

Lives of Others
First Snow
51 Birch Street
Away From Her
Once
Hairspray
3:10 to Yuma
Gone Baby Gone
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
Starting Out in the Evening
Sweeney Todd

TODAY: I don't remember FIRST SNOW but I am going to look it up. The rest I still would vote for. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

We have been enjoying Escape to the Country on Netflix. If you like to look at the English countryside and watch couples explore houses, this is a great series. The houses are so much more interesting than the ones on similar U.S. shows. You don't hear repeated use of the words "open concept" and no one is big on stainless steel or cookie cutter kitchens. Although these are pretty pricey houses on the whole. Don't get me wrong. We are not looking at semi-detached houses in Manchester.

Been reading RUNAWAY by Alice Munro, which I read before but after seeing the Almodovar film Julieta I wanted to see how they used three stories for the narrative. Always amazed how she can tell a novel's worth of a story in a few thousand words.

Kevin and two of his friends were here on Thursday. So interesting to see how instead of playing a game they take it apart and film the game playing itself, adding dialogue and movement. Or instead of playing football they film each other catching the ball and them make it go backwards or in slow motion. They used two ipads and two iphones hooked together to get the effects . Pretty amazing but they don't know where India is on a map. Theirs is going to be a different world if there's a world left for them.

So kind of the Oakland Press is going an interview with me. The two Detroit papers have been singularly uninterested in doing this sort of story for years and in fact, have never responded to an email from Polis Books or me. Or even done a feature on Megan. But this smaller paper responded right away when the MWA contacted them about the Edgar nomination.

The movie A SENSE OF AN ENDING. It wasn't quite  as good as the very difficult book. But what I loved about it was seeing older people treated seriously, Older people who were not ill. And I loved seeing the faces of Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walters, Charlotte Rampling and several others still carrying a movie. Rampling is as mysterious as ever. Did she ever play an unambiguous person?

The fabulous soundtracks on so many TV shows now. Have really enjoyed the music on BIG LITTLE LIES lately. (Also ATLANTA, THE LEFTOVERS, THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE)

That I have a friend like Mary who went to Ulta with me to pick out makeup. Sounds like a small thing but I have never really learned much about it, coming from the hippie tradition. She's been my closest friend for 25 years and I love her. (As does Phil).



I know the things that make me happy tend to be books, movies, plays, music rather than personal relationship-related things. But you can just assume that my family always makes me  happy.