Monday, April 25, 2011

New Books and the Discovery of the Summer

Here is my latest haul:
The London Satyr - Robert Edric (1st ed, UK)
Edric should be more popular than he is.  Satyrs, too.

Hanging Hill - Mo Hayder (1st ed, UK)
Her books are always thrilling and/or terrifying.  You see those words on jacket copy all the time - but really, when was the last time you were terrified by a book?  Rarely happens.  The one person I've come across who plays with the supernatural but explains it all nicely is Mo Hayder.  She a crime writer from the UK who writes terribly scary novels.  Pig Island, Ritual, Skin, The Devil of Nanking - all flirt with haunted/demonic/paranormal stuff but there's always real things behind whatever is going on.  (This always struck me as important but apparently its the basis for everything done in Scooby Doo - somebody always tries to make the house look haunted to cover up their misdeeds.  But I maintain that she (Mo) does it very well.  And I always was a giant Scooby Doo fan.) Tremendously good entertainment - I am looking forward to this one.

The Fetish Room: The Education of a Naturalist - Redmond O'Hanlon and Rudi Rotthier
Redmond O'Hanlon is the Hunter S. Thompson of natural history writing (minus the drugs, a hell of a lot smarter, with a better employer - the TLS, and much more charm and humility.).  He did not write this book - Rotthier did but apparently the publishers felt it would sell better with O'Hanlon's name listed first.  I don't care - I just want to hear more stories from him/about him.  (Also - one learns that 'the fetish room' has many other meanings on the internet when one searches for a book cover with safesearch off on Google Images.)

The Strangers in the House - Georges Simenon
This is a nice New York Review of Books trade paperback edition.  I have an older Penguin edition (with a movie tie-in cover) that is a different translation.  I never read my Penguin copy (I have an entire bookcase devoted to Simenon and have yet to read my way through all of them) and am interested to compare the new and old translations.  
 361 - Donald Westlake
 This needs no introduction.

Get Real - Donald Westlake
This is the last Dortmunder novel.  I am currently on the ninth one (I think), What's the Worst That Could Happen? and will be sad when I  run out of Dortmunders.

What I Tell You Three Times Is False - Samuel Holt/Donald Westlake
This is the third Samuel Holt book - I don't have the first two.  I grabbed it because I rarely find used Westlake for sale anywhere (though I just found copies of Deadly Edge and Butcher's Moon dirt cheap now that I already own and have read them).  My first impression of this Samuel Holt thing is that it doesn't look very good.  That will probably turn out to be wrong and even if not, a bad Westlake is better than the work of most others.  I don't think I would have ever considered reading this if it were by someone else.
Clare DeWitt and the City of the Dead - Sara Gran (advance reading copy)
Now this - this is dynamite.  I've blogged about two of Sara Gran's earlier books, Come Closer and Dope before.  This is her fourth novel and is the first of a new series.  This woman is insanely talented - and really cool.  And she has a fantastic blog -  (And no, I do not know her.)  This is an advance reading copy - the book is not published until June 2, 2011.  I've only just started to read it - the story concerns the search for a missing person in New Orleans 18 months after Katrina.  (Also - season two of David Simon's Treme has just started - I hope it is as wonderful as the first.)  I see that this book is already generating good word-of-mouth in its run up to publication.  I hope it continues to do so and that it becomes a hit.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Started Early, Attacked by Dog

Everything had been wonderful in our first week of dog ownership.  My wife walks and plays with the dog every night before she goes to work - she works midnights and is a police office.  Our little dog always puts her in a good mood before she leaves to work some pretty mean streets.

So last night, she is on a radio run and when she gets on the scene, the complainant has a poodle.  This poodle runs up to my wife and happily jumps all over her legs/pants.  They spend a happy moment together and then everyone gets down to business.  I don't know what the call was about but everything was resolved relatively quickly.

Later that night, responding the second time to reports of a family fight at a different location from the poodle house, she rolls up with other officers and as they are approaching the house, the unleashed pit bull who lives there runs directly at her (from what I gather, the dog had his choice of targets) and attacks her.  She tried to shield her face and vital organs by facing into a corner and kick off the attacking dog but got bit in the leg and hand.  By some miracle no real damage was done (the dog's teeth didn't penetrate her gear - but left tooth-shaped  bruises).  They couldn't shoot the attacking dog because she was caught in a corner with the dog between her and the other officers.  Luckily, another officer was able to get at the dog's collar and yank it away from her and then the rest of them subdued the pit bull.  

So, now after attracting two dogs in one night (and never having encountered any problems ever before), we have to wonder if the scent of our dog makes my wife a target at work for other dogs.    Maybe the pit bull smelled the poodle on her.  Or maybe the poodle smelled our dog.  Or maybe it was just bad luck.  This town is full of pit bulls and I am kind of getting worried.  Lots of cops own dogs - can doing so make one more of a target?  Or is this just the way a person who never had a dog thinks?

(Note: that isn't a photo of the dog in question - just some random pit bull I found on the net.)

(Note:  Jackson Brodie explained some of what to to if attacked by a dog in Case Histories.  Neither of his methods would've worked here - the breaking of their legs trick or stuffing one's fist/arm down the dog's throat.  I know my wife had training on dog attacks - but in this case, the dog was almost instantly on her.  Don't know how you train someone for that.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Started Early, Took My Dog

Novels are influential.  I often find myself wanting something that I have just read a character in a book doing or wanting.  Or eating.  An example - recently we were trying to plan a vacation and as I had just read Richard Stark's The Green Eagle Score, I suggested we go to Puerto Rico - mainly because Parker seemed to enjoy the place.  Or when I read Sunday by Georges Simenon - a character had his morning coffee in a bowl - that, for some reason, made me long for coffee bowls.  Took me a long time to get a set, but I did.  And they are wonderful.  I realize these examples are of things of no great importance but that is probably a good thing as one would not want major life decisions unduly governed by incidental details in a novel.

I recently read Kate Atkinson's newest novel, Started Early, Took My Dog.  Early on, Jackson Brodie, the PI who anchors four of Atkinson's books, gets a dog.  He witnesses someone abusing a small dog and decides to hit the dog's abuser and take his dog.  The dog, a border terrier, is with Brodie the rest of the book.  And him having this dog really made me want a dog.  (I had a Beagle puppy for five days when I was five years old but haven't been around any since.)  I started researching dogs on the internet.  And thinking about taking dogs on walks.  Then, last week at work, I learned of a situation where someone had to give up her dog because it snapped at her granddaughter.  So I called my wife, asked her what she thought, and now we have one.  And its just a great as I thought it would be.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Steam Pig and Trouble on the Horizon

I just bought a new copy of James McClure's first novel, The Steam Pig.  First published in 1971, it is a police procedural set in South Africa and is the first in a series starring an Akfrikaner and his Zulu partner.  I bought a used paperback copy of it some 20 years ago on the advice of an old bookseller on the south side of Chicago. (Her store was stuffed to the ceiling with books, poorly lit, drafty, and always filled with cigarette smoke, but I got a lot of wonderful stuff from her over the years.)  I also acquired the rest of the books in the series.  Of course, I never got around to reading them - but I have thought about them on and off over the years.  (The gestation period for me to starting reading something after I buy it can sometimes be a decade or more.)

For whatever reason, I've become interested in reading McClure now.  The problem is all of his books are packed away in boxes and stored in the crawlspace of my dad's house in Chicago - some 700 miles away.  I recently picked up a copy of Snake, McClure's fourth in the series, as back up travel reading.  Which means I've purchased two of these books twice.

I just found out that my dad might be moving next year - and that I have a year to figure out what to do with the 20 or so boxes of books in his crawlspace.  Realistically, I have room for maybe two boxes of these books.  The rest will have to go.  Even if he weren't moving, how long are we allowed to keep boxes in our parents' houses after we've moved away?

I know I have McClures to rescue, plus several Jim Thompson pulps - actually, maybe a lot of noiry/pulpy things from a phase I went through way back then.  I have been wanting to rescue my copy of The Best of Frederic Brown with the Richard Corben cover - something I had forgotten about until I read OlmanFeelyus's review of it last summer.  I salvaged all my Philip K. Dicks several years ago but I know I still have some old SF paperbacks I want.  Boxes of old issues of The New Yorker?  I love my old copies of that magazine but I think they take up too much space.  Getting rid of them will hurt.  The rest of these books?  Obviously, I don't need them all.  I'm going to take pictures of what I discard and this record of biblio-exsanguination will be proof that I don't keep everything and that I am not some demented hoarder.  Is one even a hoarder if one only collects one kind of thing? 

Lastly - I think it is a good thing I have a new copy of The Steam Pig as I think this is the cover of the copy that is in storage.  Can't comfortably read that in pubic, can I?