A week for writers and lit lovers

Sunday, November 8, 2009

October and books, writing etc

I started October reading Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith, one of my favourite mystery writers. His protagonist is Arkady, a Russian police detective and in this book, the wall is down and Moscow is crumbling all around him. I then read Cruz Smith's Havana, which I believe is one of his best. It takes place before the end of Communism in Russia. Arkady is sent to Havana to investigate the murder of a Russian and the locals don't like him at all.

After seeing the film, Where the Wild Things Are, I read Angels and Wild Things: the Archetypal Poetics of Maurice Sendack. Now I want to read all the Sendack's children's books again. Weird, but wonderful.

Started in on Scarecrow by Michael Connelly but did not finish it - too gory. I like this author's police procedurals set in present day Los Angeles. Usually they are not too gruesome. I moved on to his Lincoln Lawyer, a fast paced and first rate crime novel.

Day After Night by Anita Diamant is the story of women interned by the British after the war in Israel. I enjoyed this book very much, probably even more than Diamant's Red Tent.

What else? Skim by Mariko Tamaki (author) and Jillian Tamaki (illustrator). a graphic novel. Into the heart of a 16 year old girl. Riveting stuff cleanly, sparingly written accompanied by marvellous illustrations.

Stet by Diana Athill, recommended by Scott Steedman. A not very interesting memoir by a woman who spent a life time working for Andre Deutsh Publishing in London. Like many editors, her self confidence is amazing. She just knows how to meddle and fix an author's work. Often she picks clunkers. Saul Bellow’s book is too long, says she. So what say I.

The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – Odd si fi of a man who time travels again and again. And then again. And once more. At page 159 I am still looking for a plot. A conceit built into a best seller but many members of my book club loved it. I am still slugging on.

A wonderful book than I gave away and did not get the author's last name. Blond China Doll by Hannelore ? is a memoir of a Jewish family that escaped to Shanghai in the thirties only to find themselves facing the Communists in the forties. Very interesting information about the refugee community in Shanghai. Also of note: At a time when the Canadian government refused to take in Jewish refugees from Germany, the Chinese government opened its doors.

October ended with an email saying one of my non-fiction pieces (The Economic History of a Family) will be published in the American magazine The Copperfield Review. It will also appear on line in November. My article about the shingles vaccine was published in the local Seniors' newspaper and will appear on the blog tomorrow. In October, the Canadian literary magazine, Other Voices, published my story titled Currents.

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