Monday, June 30, 2014

Sabbath's Theater, by Philip Roth at EIL

I wanted to leave the Dana King promotion up till it had run its course, but just a quick note to say that my review of Sabbath's Theater is up at Escape Into Life. In the early days, I didn't think I'd much care for Roth, so never read him, but was later won over by American Pastoral. A friend in my book group persuaded us to read Sabbath's Theater, saying that five years ago she thought she would have been offended by it, but now found it very funny. And I think this is a book that may catch you at the right moment in life or the wrong one. In the end, I was glad I'd read it, but even ten pages before the end I had to put it down for a bit, groaning too much Philip, too much!

If you are in the mood for an outsize character who is part Fyodor Karamazov (the outrageous father), the Marquis de Sade (at least as played by Geoffrey Rush in the movie) and part Casanova (as played by Donald Sutherland, not Heath Ledger), then this is the time to read it. But I will warn you that Mickey Sabbath is someone you will have to grapple with. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Get 'em while they're hot--Dana King offers his books free for a limited time.

I am a little slow on the uptake sometimes. It took not one but two of my fellow bloggers to put up news of this to make me realize that,gee, I could do the same thing. Anyway, crime novelist Dana King is offering his four books free on Kindle from June 25-June 29. That means starting tomorrow in my time zone. I already have three of the four in one form or another, but I will definitely snap up the fourth in the next couple of days. Not that you need help with your selections because you can just grab them all up, but I have written a couple of reviews that you can find by going HERE , or you can get a brief description of each HERE on Paul D. Brazill's blog.

As we've been discussing over on Detectives Beyond Borders, where Peter Rozovsky first clued me in to the offer, writers make these generous offers to pick up a few more fans who then presumably will get the word out to others. So pick up a couple and spread the word in whatever way you typically do that. I'd link you to the Amazon page, but they won't be on sale till tomorrow.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Read outside the box

I came across an interesting piece in the Guardian yesterday about a prize I hadn't heard of before. It's called the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and it was developed to promote deserving and what you might call underrepresented British fiction. The author of the article is Matt Haig, who was also one of the judges (and, I might parenthetically add, the author of The Dead Father's Club, a modern take on Hamlet which I read enjoyed and rather summarily reviewed here a few years back). Haig articulates something about the current state of the book world which I increasingly felt during my sojourn in the book biz, but which I wouldn't have been able to state so well.

"Also, I don't think it is too controversial to point out that the market is increasingly being shaped by sales and marketing people, rather than editors and others who actually know what a good book is. So if a book does well, during the next two years you'll see many echoes of that book on the shelves. The once kaleidoscopic book world risks becoming 50 shades of safe. If you are writing a book that doesn't fit into the categories of mass-market thriller or book-club friendly WI-lit, then it is going to struggle to find a publisher. If it does so, then it will struggle to find a publisher that can justify spending the marketing money needed to make an impact."

One of the cool perks these winners get is having their portrait done in tintype by photographer Tif Hunter. You can see them HERE.

To see a bit about the books themselves, go HERE.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman--at Escape Into Life

Once again I must use this blog simply to steer you to my post at Escape Into Life to read my review of this great novel surrounding the events at the Battle of Stalingrad. I hesitate to call it a review--it is more an enjoinder to tackle this long work. We should not cower before a tome, as one of my friends put it in our recent discussion of The Way We Live Now.

One of the subjects Life and Fate tackles is how to keep our integrity and human freedom in the face of totalitarianism. It is interesting that in daily life, we evade, prevaricate and obscure the truth when we really have very little to lose. How hard was it, then, for those who faced prison and even death in these circumstances? If nothing else, we can all be just a little bit braver, since most of us do have that luxury.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Way We Live Now, at EIL

The long haul is over and I have not only finished what some call Trollope's masterpiece but have discussed it with friends and reviewed it. You can find the review at Escape Into Life. I am now very curious to watch the Masterpiece Theatre production of the story, not least because it is bound to fill in some of the details Trollope didn't bother himself over, such as what they wore, what they ate, what the scenery is like. Just the sort of thing that Masterpiece Theatre is good at.

One interesting surprise is that far from putting me off long bulky books, reading it has somehow given me a renewed appetite for them. I immediately plunged into Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman.

 At this rate, I may finally get around to reading A Suitable Boy.