Mar 24, 2010


A list of crime fiction authors that I don't have time to write about but do highly recommend, especially for Gentle Readers:

Barbara Cleverly's
Joe Sandiland mysteries set in India in the age of the British Raj.

Barbara Nadel, Francis Hancock, undertaker, London, 1940.

Colin Cotterill, Laos after the Vietnamese communist takeover, Dr Siri, undertaker.

Rennie Airth, Inspector John Madden, England in the aftermath of WW.

Magdalen Nabb, Marshal Guarnaccia, Florence, Italy.

Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, Scotland Yard.

Mehmet Murat Somers, the Hop-ciki-Yaya series set in modern Istanbul's transvestite community.

James Church, Inspector O, North Korea

Robert Van Gulik, Judge Dee, ancient China.

Ariana Franklin, Dr. Adelia Aguilar, medieval England, .

Amanda Cross, Kate Fansler, English professor, New York City.

Donna Leon, of course, Venice.

Andrea Camilleri, Sicily. 

Gianrico Carofiglio, lawyer Guido Guerrieri, contemporary Italy. Everyone loves this series.

Nicolas Freeling, Inspector Van der Valk, 1060's Amsterdam. 

Jason Goodwin, Yashim Togalu, Ottoman Empire, court eunuch, Istanbul 1836.

Michael Genelin, contemporary Slovakia.

Kate Atkinson, the Jackson Brodie series set in Scotland.

Pierre Magnan, Commissaire LaViolette, France.

Mar 20, 2010

h/t to Ruth Ross
The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.
- Mark Twain on literature

Mar 17, 2010

Math of Publishing Meets the E-Book

from the New York Times

In the emerging world of e-books, many consumers assume it is only logical that publishers are saving vast amounts by not having to print or distribute paper books, leaving room to pass along those savings to their customers.

Publishers largely agree, which is why in negotiations with Apple, five of the six largest publishers of trade books have said they would price most digital editions of new fiction and nonfiction books from $12.99 to $14.99 on the forthcoming iPad tablet — significantly lower than the average $26 price for a hardcover book.

But publishers also say consumers exaggerate the savings and have developed unrealistic expectations about how low the prices of e-books can go. Yes, they say, printing costs may vanish, but a raft of expenses that apply to all books, like overhead, marketing and royalties, are still in effect.

All of which raises the question: Just how much does it actually cost to produce a printed book versus a digital one?  Read more...

Mar 10, 2010

THE BOY WHO DARED by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

from Episyllogism

Review by Bob Lane, MA
Jul 21st 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 30)
The June 29, 2009 issue of the New Yorker has an article about the election protests in Iran. The article, for obvious reasons, has no by-line. The author, in describing the events of the “green” uprising, visits a friend in Tehran. He tells us of his friend:

He bought a satellite dish, so that the family can now watch the BBC’s Persian Channel – or, at least, when it isn’t jammed. “It has shown us that everything we have been watching here, most of our lives, is full of lies,” he said.
We all know of the actions taken by the government in Iran to block images and information about the clashes between the protestors and the rulers. It is impossible when listening to the historical novel The Boy Who Dared not to compare the events of today in Iran with the events in Germany in the 1930s and 40s. The only difference is the technology.

How Will The End Of Print Journalism Affect Old Loons Who Hoard Newspapers?

from the Onion News Network

Mar 5, 2010


New in the store: The Vegetable Growers Handbook: a users manual for the vegetable garden by Frank Tozer. This is a great source of straightforward information about vegetable gardening. Includes some herbs and edible weeds. Everything you need to know, for beginners and experienced gardeners. Just in time.

review by

This highly practical book contains all the information you need to successfully grow over 50 common vegetables. There are specific, step by step, instructions for each crop; soil requirements, variety selection, raising transplants, direct sowing, protection, harvesting, seed saving, storage and more. After telling you what to do (and when), it also tell you why, by explaining in detail how crops grow. A book with imagination, it doesn't stop there, but also discusses many unusual crops, culinary herbs and more. It then goes on to unusual growing ideas, edible flowers, enhanced nutrition foods, additional uses for common crops, and even how to use common edible wild plants and garden weeds. There is also a small selection of outstanding vegetarian recipes.

Mar 3, 2010

DARK DREAMS by Michael Genelin

I have just finished Dark Dreams, the second of Michael Genelin's series taking place in Slovakia. I really appreciate having this insight into a part of the world that I know nothing about. The books are hard to promote, no one wants to travel to Slovakia, but they are good and important.







Michael Genelin from theopenplace:

Where Did That Character Come From?

During a reading in Portland last week, a reader asked how I create my characters. I explained the characters generally create themselves. 'The Muse' speaks, and they appear. Or do they? The answer is sometimes 'the Muse', and sometimes me. My heroine, Jana Matinova is a doppleganger for a woman I know, respect and admire in Slovakia. She is brave, courageous in adversity and unflagging in following through with her convictions. She is the model for Commander Matinova but is not, as in the novel, a commander in the police. Jana's (fictional) supervisor in the police, Colonel Trokan, is also a doppelganger of someone else I know in Slovakia. Not a police officer, but charming, bright, serious about his work, and when the occasion calls for it, very, very humorous. For me, the two jumped onto the page. They were there just waiting to be written. The readers I talked with at the reading also felt the characters, as written, were alive and real. And yet, there are other characters for her, and others, that also jumped onto the page who were not, to my knowledge, drawn from real life.

So, where did they come from, who created them? When they appeared on the page fleshing themselves out they were as real to me as people that I know, as real as Matinova and Trokan in their actual personas. There they were, talking, walking, independent human beings who acted seemingly without any real volition on my part. They did what they did, surprising me; they were individuals as interesting as those based on 'real' people. And, surprise, we had never been formally introduced. I've had critics talk about these characters, seeing them as people who itched and scratched just as the other characters did. And their itching and scratching on the page astonished me. Who magicked that person into the book? One critic said he wanted to see a certain character again, perhaps as a protagonist of another novel, simply because he was so vividly real. He was? Well, he was real, on the page, if I do say so myself, although we had not met each other before the casting director (the Muse) slipped him into the story.

So, where do characters come from? I think the story must be real to the writer. If it is, the characters are real. If not, the book probably fails. I guess I have a partnership with 'the Muse': We write the stories together; and the characters. And if I haven't met the characters before, if they're newly introduced by 'the Muse', I'm very happy they show up while I'm writing. It's always nice to meet someone new. They're interesting people, and besides, it wouldn't be a very good story without them. As a writer, I welcome everybody's assistance. Even strangers.