Friday, January 27, 2006

Field of Blood

I just finished reading my first library book (Ash & Bone by John Harvey) and it was wonderful. I've moved on to my second, Field of Blood by Denise Mina and so far, so good. And I did a little cross-referencing between Amazon, and the library, and it turns out that they have most of the books I'm going to want this spring and summer(John Harvey, Denise Mina, Declan Hughes, and Sarah Waters). Even the American editions of books that come out first in the UK are showing up here fast. And one Irish novel will be published here before it comes out there. My favorite bank teller told me today that I can get library cards from some of the neighboring suburban library systems, too. I know this must sound silly but this library thing is fantastic. I've spent the past decade and a half buying books and now I'm just borrowing them. This reminds me of when I first got glasses, how I was amazed at how much there was to see that I had been missing.

Its also been very liberating to read books in hard cover without worrying about soiling them. Not that I am reckless with the library copies but if I happen to be reading a crisp, new first edition of something, I have to be very careful to keep it in the best condition possible. Which means I can't read it with lunch or sometimes can't take it out of the house or carry it in my bag. I can do those things with library books. I have a friend who sometimes passes along hard covers and I get them same thrill reading them. Sometimes I'll find traces of a meal splashed on the corner of a page and be bowled over by the sight of it. For the record, I at sushi and a sandwich while reading my first library book and didn't soil it at all.

Tomorrow I will return my first book to the library and look around for a bit. I will have to go to a branch library (in West End) because the Mayor is having a meeting in the main public library and that sounds like too much of a hassle.

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.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Visa and the Damage Done

I just got back from Ireland. I went to Galway for about a week with my dad. We made a pilgrimage to Kenny's Bookshop in Galway City before it closed its doors for good. (They'll continue with their internet store. And I heard rumors - which have not been independently confirmed - that they will open a new retail space in a new development in the docklands area of the city.) It was a great bookstore and I am glad I got the chance to go before it closed. (I was there when I was 10 years old but don't remember it.)

I also went into Charlie Byrne's Bookshop. And a place called Dubray Books, Eason Books, and Hughes & Hughes.

Kenny's was great. They had rooms and rooms of books. The place looks small from the photo but there were dozens of rooms in the place. In fact, on my third trip to the store I was still finding new rooms of books. We were there on their last day of business and the place was mobbed.

Charlie Byrne's has to be one of the best bookstore I've ever been to in my life. Really fantastic stock. It kills me that I can't go in there every week.

This is what I brought back with me:

Sleepyhead - Mark Billingham
Lazy Bones - MB
The Burning Girl - MB
Scaredy Cat - MB
Lifeless - MB
State of the Union - Douglas Kennedy
Imagination of the Heart - Vincent McDonnell
Always the Sun - Neil Cross
The Necropolis Railway - Andrew Martin
The Dark - John McGahern
Memoir - JMcG
The Swing of Things - Sean O'Reilly
An Accident Waiting to Happen - Adrian White
Beyond Black - Hilary Mantel
Juggling - Barbara Trapido
The Photograph - Eamonn Sweeney
Call the Dying - Andrew Taylor
The Brooklyn Follies - Paul Auster
Arthur & George - Julian Barnes
Missing - Mary Stanley
A Game with Sharpened Knives - Neil Belton
The Moon Tunnel - Jim Kelly
Priest - Ken Bruen
City of Tiny Lights - Patrick Neate
Single Obsession - Des Ekin
Tokyo - Mo Hayder
Desire Lines - Annie McCartney
A Kind of Homecoming - Eugene McEldowney