Some more catching up — on reality and fantasy, in various guises.
Over at book-blog.com, Debra Hamel has reviewed Plague Maker by Tim Downs. From the review, the book looks to be a well-written and suspenseful mix of bioterrorism (specifically, germ warfare experiments) with anguished characters facing tragic personal issues — looks worth a read (when the paperback is released on UK Amazon, that is, which probably won’t be until September). In the meantime, Debra’s review is tagged on Connotea Detective, along with a recent batch of reviews from Armchair Interviews, and many other crime fiction news items.
Books, Words, and Writing (the commafull blog) has two postings about fairy tale sites. The first posting, "great resource for fairy tales" has been checked out by Jenny, who said it is a good booklist but does not have many interactive features (as, sadly (?), she’s come to expect from websites — well they can’t all be like Flickr!). The second posting, "more about fairy tales", links to what looks more up Jenny’s street, a fairy-tale generator. She is very keen to try this out, and I’ve sent the link to her, but she’s been too busy with the usual rounds of school, parties, drama club and so on to try it yet. But from the sample that Amy posted on B,B,W, it looks pretty cool. Spooky, even.
Lars over at Brandywine books has been depressed recently. I probably didn’t help by going on at him about his titling of his posts (not) — to read any of them via rss you had to get to the post via one of Phil’s (Brandywine’s other blogger, who always titles his posts). Not that I don’t like to read Phil’s posts, but when time is short one just wants to read particular articles at each alloted slot. Phil and Lars have sorted it out now by prefacing each post with the appropriate initials. And Lars has cheered up, thanks in part to a nice plumber and a compliment about his book. Glad things are looking up, Lars. Now, guys, get back to Tolkien! (C. S. Lewis also acceptable — in fact there is an interesting controversial post on Brandywine about Kathryn Lindskoog and Lewis, which has garnered (at time of writing) 11 comments related to Lars’ question about the possibility of plagiarism.)
Mark Haddon has a new book coming out. From Maud Newton: "Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, has a new novel, A Spot of Bother, coming out in September. According to Publishers Lunch, the book is "a humorous and disturbing portrait of a dignified 57-year-old man trying to go insane politely, as his daughter decides to marry her inappropriate boyfriend, his wife has an affair with his ex-colleague, and he discovers a sinister rash on his hip." "
I very much enjoyed the "curious incident", I loved the way that the reader was drawn in to the narrator’s perception of the world, and the gradual realisation of the alternative reality he lives in as a result of literally believing everything people tell him. And it has Bob May’s chaos theory in it! What is more, the novel has this rare, J K Rowling-like ability for me to enjoy it as much as my children (simultaneously). A rare event indeed. So I am half-looking forward to, half-dreading, Haddon’s next book — it can’t be as good, can it?
Paperback writer has an amusing post asking what if rejection letters were written by writers instead of editors? "James R. Winter : What is it? Oh, yeah. Manuscript. Rejected. Why? It was okay until I grok’d it around page 100, when I realized where the book was going. Nowhere." See the link for Austen, Tolkien, Stephen King-style rejections and more, and the comments for about 50 others (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Poe….) — clearly an idea that resonates with a lot of bloggers! For me what was as interesting as the humour is that I had heard of (and even read) most of the selected writers. Rather different from the content of all those awards and "best writing" lists.
"Is it so bad to be who you are?", asks Ka. Her blog, incidentally, is called So What? Its subtitle: "when you don’t know what you’re talking about, say it louder". I found the blog via a link at Books, Inq., and it seems pretty cool. The post to which I’ve linked is about people in online communities who make up things about themselves — Ka muses on the reasons people have for these creations. Michael Allen (GOB), Frank Wilson and Inner Minx have recently written about The Wandering Scribe, a blog by someone who says she is living alone in a car on the edge of the woods, jobless and unable to find a way out. Nobody seems very sure if Scribe is real or fictional, least of all me. (But she does have a separate blog for PayPal donations.)
That’s all for now, have to go and person the taxi (my usual weekend job).