Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I realize I have read the following since I last posted:
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
The Farming of Bones, Edwidge Danticat
The Known World, Michael Chabon
Werewolves in Their Youth, Michael Chabon
I've also read significant portions of David Copperfield and Moby Dick, but these are both titles I am working through slowly when I'm in the right mood.
I've also started trying to read a lot of classic crime fiction. It's a second (and less well-structured) reading project. Anyway--if you're a crime fiction reader, let me know some of your favorites. I'm very curious.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
These are listed in alphabetical order by author's name, but will not be read in this order. Goal date is January 17, 2017.
- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
- Running with the Demon by Terry Brooks
- The Last Days of Pompeii by Edgar George Bulwer-Lytton
- Possession by A.S. Byatt
- The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr
- The Love Knot by Elizabeth Chadwick
- The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
- The Blood Countess by Andrei Codrescu
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
- Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell
- Excalibur by Bernard Cornwell
- The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore
- The Passage by Justin Cronin
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
- The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
- The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
- Queenmaker by India Edghill
- Under the Snow by Kerstin Ekman
- Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
- The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan
- In the Woods by Tana French
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Grendel by John Gardner
- Helen of Troy by Margaret George
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
- The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
- The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
- The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland
- Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- Roots by Alex Haley
- Forever by Pete Hamill
- Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
- Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
- Chocolat by Joanne Harris
- Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
- Lord of the Dead by Tom Holland
- The Society of S by Susan Hubbard
- Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
- The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
- Ahab's Wife, or the Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund
- Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles
- The Burning Times by Jeanne Kalogridis
- The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis
- The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
- Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
- The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
- The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Wicked by Gregory Maguire
- Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
- The Covenant by James Michener
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
- The Green Knight by Iris Murdoch
- The Eight by Katherine Neville
- Anno-Dracula by Kim Newman
- The Red Church by Scott Nicholson
- The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates
- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
- An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
- The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
- Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
- Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
- Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
- Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault
- The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
- Christ the Lord by Anne Rice
- Angel Time by Anne Rice
- A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
- The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
- Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts
- Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott
- Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
- The Terror by Dan Simmons
- A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
- The Seventh Scroll by Wilbur Smith
- Ghost Story by Peter Straub
- Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth
- The Passion of Artemesia by Susan Vreeland
- The Religion by Tim Willocks
- The Keep by F. Paul Wilson
- Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
- The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
It was beautifully written and it was clear that Josephine Tey, already a successful playwright, knew and loved the world she was writing about. And that she understood the importance of the big picture, of the small things, and of the psychology of her characters.
And in the very first chapter there was the crime. Such an elegant, clever scenario:
" 'Chap fainted,' said someone. No one moved for a moment or two. Minding one's own business in a crowd today is as much an instinct of self-preservation as a chameleon's versatility. Perhaps someone would claim the chap. But no one did; and so a man with more social instinct or more self-importance than the rest moved forward to help the collapsed one. He was about to bend over the limp heap when he stopped as if stung and recoiled hastily. A woman shrieked three times horribly; and the pushing, heaving queue froze suddenly to immobility.
In the clear white light of the naked electric in the roof, a man's body, left alone by the instinctive withdrawal of the others, lay revealed in every detail. And rising slant-wise from the grey tweed of his coat was a little silver thing that winked wickedly in the baleful light.
It was the handle of a dagger."
An audacious murder, in the middle of a queue of people, all pressing forward, eager to see the final performance of popular musical.
The investigation fell to Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard. A detective without the gimmicks, or idiosyncracies of many of his contemporaries, but with a great deal of intelligence and charm, I soon suspected that his creator was a little in love with him ... quite understandably ...
There was little physical evidence, little witness evidence, but a careful, methodical investigation began, and in time the dead man was identified, his life examined, and suspects identified.
Often the story was quiet, but it was always engaging.
The characters were so well drawn, and they always offered me a question to ponder.
There were some great moments and some lovely diversions: a trip to the Highlands of Scotland in pursuit of a fleeing suspect stood out for me.
And the writing was wonderful. Josephine Tey wrote such lovely prose, balancing rich descriptions and perfectly observed dialogue, with intelligence and wit always threaded through.
Elements of the modern police procedural can be seen, but this is very much a book of its time. The language, the world it describes tie it to the 1920s, and references to the Great War emphasise its lasting impact on a generation.
I was caught up in that world, and with Inspector Grant and his investigation.
The resolution owed as much to luck - or maybe policeman's instinct - as solid police work.
I didn't mind that, but it did confirm my feeling that this was a good book rather that a great book.
And certainly more than good enough to make sure that I will read my way through the rest of the series ...