My next-door neighbor stopped by to lend me a book he’d just finished by the late, great Boston private-eye mystery writer, Robert B. Parker. Entitled Cold Service, I’d say it was an apropos title: it left me cold. I could barely turn the pages without yawning. I told my neighbor that Parker was once the top dawg of mystery novelists, rivaling the great Raymond Chandler. But nobody, regardless of what they do – writing books or any other profession – stays at the top forever. Cold Service, Parker’s 32nd story about Spenser and Hawk, proves that point.
Writing tonight is slow going because I sprained my wrist last weekend – writing. Not driving nails with my new pneumatic nail gun. Nope, writing. Scared hell out of me until my doctor told me it wasn’t the onset of carpel tunnel syndrome but just a sprain. So I’m putting this wonderful cream on my wrist and wearing a support glove. Hunt, peck, correct, hunt, peck, correct. I’ll be all better by next week.
I listened to the Audible version of John Sandford’s latest, The Investigator. Full disclosure: I’ve been a HUGE Sandford fan for many years and was interested to see how introducing a new lead character, Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter Letty, would go. It went well. I was chagrined to read a few Amazon reviewers griping about Letty. Probably male chauvinist pigs. Letty, you done good. John, more Letty novels, please. I see we have another “Prey” novel (#32 – a coincidence? naw) from Sandford coming in October, which unites Virgil Flowers on a case with Lucas. Woo-Hoo! Looking forward to that!
On the other hand, I’m working my way through (ouch – my wrist hurts) Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were the Mulhaneys with my reading group. Oates is, and has always been, a fine, engrossing writer, but perhaps of another era (1996) when we were more disposed to read long and slowly. I did a rough castoff and Muhaneys clocks in at about 182,000 words, densely packed into 454 pages. The issue for me hasn’t to do with it being a good story well told, but rather one that is so commonplace in today’s over-saturated media world that it isn’t so very unique to read about any longer. On top of that, my reading group reads a new book every third week, and with my writing and editing schedule that’s sometimes a tough deadline to make.
A rare occurrence occurred this past week. I’d been asked by a formidable indie press to read and review a book. It intrigued me at first because it was written by a millennial in the “hybrid genres” style, which commonly forsakes a lot of the traditional modalities of written expression. Unfortunately, this writer (in my sometimes humble but other times – like this – not very humble at all) just didn’t have the intellectual strength to heft such a work. I sadly had to inform the editors that I would not be publishing a review.
Whenever possible, I’m buying my books from Barnes & Noble, The Final Page (my local new and used bookstore), or Wonder Books online. I prefer to buy a book when it directly benefits the author, but that’s not always possible. And I don’t read e-books, especially not Kindles. I find it seriously offensive that Amazon drives readers to the Kindle version, followed by Audible, while cloaking print formats because Amazon makes more money from Kindle sales. Also, have you noticed how more and more movies in Amazon Prime are no longer free with your subscription? BOO!
I do enjoy listening to books, but I’m very discriminating about those I listen to instead of reading. In other words, I tend toward mysteries, thrillers, even sci-fi – the lighter fare – but rarely serious literary fiction or nonfiction. Some books just have to be savored by reading them on the printed page. One interesting book I recently chose from Audible was Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future which, once I finished listening decided to buy the hardcover – not just for myself but for my son as well.
The power of the book.