January 28, 2011
January 27, 2011
*** That Old Cape Magic, Richard Russo, 2009
This is why I prefer to read dead prolific guys. I have just officially come to the end of the extant Russo canon. Now what am I supposed to do? Wait for another Russo novel to come out? Ph, wait. There is the short story collection, which I haven't acquired, yet. I guess that's my option, since history predicts several years between Russon novels.
I had a surreal moment while reading this book. In one scene the protagonist looks at the clock on the nightstand and it's 12:07 AM. After reading that sentence, I glanced at my own nightstand alarm clock and it was 12:07 AM. And there was nobody to tell!
The saying is that even a bad Russo novel is better than a good day at work. This was not my favorite, but I really began digging it in the last 50 pages. And then he pulled together all the various threads from earlier, and it felt good. The first 200 weren't bad, but I've enjoyed the early pages of other Russo novels more.
I had the thrill of hearing Russo read a chapter from this novel at the 2009 Texas Book Festival. Later I saw him preside over the first Austin Literary Death Match. Russo is a funny guy, somebody I'm sure it would be a blast to have a drink or five with. I'm thinking I want a Russo vibe for the Muffin Man project. We shall see.
January 22, 2011
January 21, 2011
January 20, 2011
*** Void Moon, Michael Connelly, 2000
Connelly's third non-Bosch novel is the first to tell a story from the perspective of a crook, Cassie Black. Interestingly, law enforcement is almost invisible in this novel, making only token background appearances.
It's a good story, well put together, and Cassie is a very sympathetic character, despite her larcenous ways. I guess it helps that her victims are fairly despicable in their own right. In fact, you're hard pressed to find a good guy. Her partner is a pretty good guy, considering he's a career crook, her parole officer is good, and . . . well, I'm sure I'll think of another one. Give me some time.
I'm still very partial to Harry, but this is still a book worth reading. Have I convinced you to picke up a Connelly book, yet?
January 19, 2011
Leave a comment with an up/down vote. Imagine you're in a bookstore and you picked up this book and read the first page as follows. Would you:
- Turn the page.
- Put the book back on the shelf.
Note: Draft 2 is history. Now you can read the first 26 pages here.
To get on the list to learn about new novels, send an email to BradNotes@BradWhittington.com.
January 15, 2011
I took a post-Xmas accounting of my to-be-read shelf. There are 47 books up there, along with the 5 I'm currently reading. It's getting crazy. If I don't buy another book this entire year, I might clear it out. Fat chance.
January 13, 2011
*** Angels Flight, Michael Connelly, 1999
Starting out the year with more goodness from Connelly. Just when you think Bosch's relational tensions had been solved, think again!
I remembered much of this one, but misplaced the ending in my pea brain. However, it was just as good as a re-read as it was the first time. Although I did get a little annoyed (and amused) with the clumsy and not completely accurate explanation of how the internet works by Kiz Rider.
One thing I like about Connelly is how he is not afraid to waylay his running characters. No one is safe in a Harry Bosch novel!
January 12, 2011
January 9, 2011
A recent post at the Kill Zone blog prompted this post.
In my view, all you have to do to be a writer is to write.
I’ve noticed that many of those who object to that view express their disagreement in terms of how it makes them feel, and particularly in terms of what they perceive in the unworthy claimants to be lack of sufficient motivation, seriousness, or dues paid. They typically draw some subjective finish line that in their mind demonstrates a person has the requisite motivation, seriousness, or pain. A line that they themselves have already crossed, of course.
My view is that writers should take words more seriously. We shouldn’t create arbitrary definitions based on perceived threats to our self-image any more than a lawyer should re-frame a precedent to avoid looking bad during closing arguments.
Do we allow only Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer and their ilk to call themselves golfers, or does the guy who plays an occasional 9 and a full 18 on the weekends get to call himself a golfer?
Do we allow only Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, Joe Satriani and their ilk to claim to be guitarists, or does the guy who plays songs in his home for his own enjoyment and to entertain his kids get to call himself a guitarist?
In my humble, but accurate, opinion, anyone who expresses thoughts in the written word is a writer. As writers do, we can affix adjectives to qualify that appellation, such as casual, serious, deluded, professional, regrettable, accomplished, award-winning, best-selling, published, unpublished, or even the admittedly annoying, pre-published.
But we should respect the language, the process and the end result more than to stoop to redefining words based on self interest.
January 8, 2011
From The Mystery of Children by Mike Mason:
Children and stories are inseperable because children live stories. Adults live in their heads, relentlessly analyzing. But children experience life directly. To children life is a story in which they are the main character.
Adults, not content simply to be characters, want to be the author of their story. Being part of the story means surrendering control, but we like to think we can control our world, or at least a good chunk of it. At the very least we'd like to control our children!
Children know (or at least better than adults) that they have little control. They know they're not in control of their story, that they are not the author. To a greater or lesser extent, life simply unfolds for them. Only gradually do they enter into the state of self-realization wherein their actions become more conscious and deliberate.
To be a little child is to believe implicitly in good and evil, in heroes and villains, in the invisible, in miracles and mystery, in princess and dragons, in true love and in happy endings. To be a child is to be caught up in pure story, embracing the events of one's life uncritically because one trusts the Author.
January 6, 2011
**** The Art of Fiction, John Gardner, 1983
Although I read the excellent On Becoming a Novelist many years back, somehow I missed reading this one through the years. The first thing I read of Gardner was Grendel. It's a short little book from the POV of the monster in Beouwulf, and it will take the top of your head off and spin it around like a buzz saw. I tried reading Nickel Mountain two or three times, but could never get past the second chapter. I'm currently reading a biography of Gardner on the elliptical. Pretty good.
The Art of Fiction is worth re-reading several times. It's not so much of a how-to workbook, although he does get into great detail about writing poetically, down to examining in detail outlining the metrical stress of sentences. It's more of a higher level survey of what and what. Although Gardner was an academic and an expert in medieval literature, and could get pretty highbrow in his analysis and criticism, he quotes from a broad range of works, from Homer to Howard the Duck.
If you're serious about writing, you should read this book.
January 1, 2011
Remember that post about the guy writing a novel on Twitter? Turns out sections of it were quoted in the press release for the novel. That's one first - never been quoted in a press release before. But the other first is being called a humorist. Wow, I've graduated!
Here's the relevant excerpt:
Novelist and humorist Brad Whittington admits to a fascination with Palmer’s concept. But he’s not sure it will work.
“In my humble (but completely accurate and independently verified) opinion, Adam is stark-raving mad,” Whittington said.
“For me, the thought of putting my first draft out there for public consumption is mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly, spirit-suckingly horrific,” he said. “I’d rather pose nekkid for Field & Stream.”
Full release here.
- *** Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary
- ** Adventureland, Greg Mattola, August 5, 2007
- ** Morality for Beautiful Girls, Alexander McCall Smith, 2002
- *** Wodehouse: A Life, Robert McCrum, 2004
- *** Two O'Clock Eastern Wartime, John Dunning, 2001
- ** In Dubious Battle, John Steinbeck, 1936
- *** Good Night, Mr. Holmes, Carole Nelson Douglas, 1990
- *** Florence of Arabia, Christopher Buckley, 2004
- *** Songwriters on Songwriting, Paul Zollo, 2003
- *** Thank You For Smoking, Christopher Buckley, 1994
- *** Food, Ogden Nash, 1989
- *** Supreme Courtship, Christopher Buckely, 2008
- *** Zoo, Ogden Nash, 1987
- *** The Overlook, Michael Connelly, 2007
- *** Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds, Michael Hauge, 2006
- ** Walker Percy: A Life, Patrick Samway, 1997
- *** The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Lauren R. King, 1994
- *** Velocity, Dean Koontz, 2005
- *** Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, ... With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory, Roy Blount, Jr, 2008
- *** The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 2007
- **** Mere Churchianity, Michael Spencer, 2010
- *** Wry Martinis, Christopher Buckley, 1997
- ** To A God Unknown, John Steinbeck, 1933
- ** Passage, Connie Willis, 2001
- *** Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson, 2003
- *** Revision & Self-Editing, James Scott Bell, 2008
- *** Sh*t My Dad Says, Justin Halpern, 2010
- *** The Red Pyramid, Rick Riordan, 2010
- *** Rebel Island, Rick Riordan, 2007
- *** The Cure, Athol Dickson, 2007
- The Blue Umbrella, Mike Mason, 2009
- *** Tribes, Seth Godin, 2008
- *** Goodbye Hollywood Nobody, Lisa Samson, 2008
- *** Mucho Mojo, Joe R Lonsdale, 1994
- ** The Furniture of Heaven, Mike Mason, 1989
- ** Wonder o' the Wind, Phillip Keller, 1982
- *** Mowhawk, Richard Russo, 1986
- *** The Scene of the Crime: a writer's guide to crime-scene investigations, Anne Windgate, Ph.D, 1992
- ** Freezer Burn, Joe R Lansdale, 1999
- * The Island of the Day Before, Umberto Eco, 1994
- *** Plot & Structure, James Scott Bell, 2004
- *** Don't Point That Thing At Me, Kyril Bonfiglioli, 1972
- ** Levi's Will, W. Dale Cramer, 2005
- *** Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo, 2007
- ** After You With The Pistol, Kyril Bonfiglioli, 1974
- *** The Black Echo, Michael Connelly, 1992
- ** Something Nasty in the Woodshed, Kyril Bonfiglioli, 1979
- *** The Black Ice, Michael Connelly, 1993
- **** The Help, Kathryn Stockett, 2009
- *** The Concrete Blond4, Michael Connelly, 1994
- *** Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883
- *** The Last Coyote, Michael Connelly, 1995
- ** Levi's Will, W. Dale Cramer, 2005
- *** The Poet, Michael Connelly, 1996
- *** Inbound Marketing, Halligan and Shah, 2009
- ** The Road, Cormac McCarthy, 2006
- *** Trunk Music, Michael Connelly, 1997
- *** Robertson Davies: Man of Myth, Judith Skelton Grant, 1994
- *** Champagne for the Soul, Mike Mason, 2003
- *** Blood Work, Michael Connelly, 198
- *** The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga, 2008
- ** The Sign of the Book, John Dunning, 2005
- *** The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan, 2010