Sunday, January 22, 2006

Long Overdue

I went to the public library today. I had to return two overdue books - they were due back in August of 1991. One was a terrible novel called Mercy by David Lindsey. Never finished it - gave up after 30 pages or so. I saw a bit of the movie years later and it was crap, too. The other book was The Borderless World by Kenichi Ohmae. Can't say it left much of an impression on me. Even though these books were 15 years overdue, I didn't have to pay any fines. And I got a new library card.

I used my new library card to check out three books. I got the new John Harvey novel Ash & Bone, Jim Kelly's The Fire Baby, and Denise Mina's The Field of Blood. I tried to buy the Jim Kelly book in Ireland but couldn't find a copy. And I couldn't find any cheap American copies. It never occured to me that I could find it at the library - but there it was. On the whole, I was kind of surprised by all the books I found. I thought our library was strapped for cash but they had a lot of new books.

I'm reading the John Harvey book now. He's a great writer, one of my favorite crime writers of all time. He wrote a series of police procedurals set in Nottingham and stopped after ten books. After a bit of a break he's back with what seems to be a new series featuring a retired English cop. Ash & Bone is the second book. Flesh & Blood, the first, was pretty good. A new one is due to be published in the UK in April. (I have the English editions of most of his books and now that I'm seeing the American editions, I am shocked by how bad the American dust jackets are.)(Same for the Denise Mina book. What were they thinking?)

Both Harvey and Mina are very concerned with why crimes happen, especially the larger social forces that tend to produce crime. Its a very smart approach. And when well done, crime novels can tell us just as much (or more) about our world than literary/straight novels.

I don't know how much I'll use the library. I have a ton of stuff I really want to read already at hand. And the few things that are coming out that I want won't be out in the US for at least a year. But I may try and get Dope by Sara Gran when it comes out. And if they get a copy of her previous book, Come Closer, I'll get it. And maybe in March the new Sarah Waters. And I want to read more Paul Auster and I know they have his books.

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