Reading and all that

I’ve been reading all kinds of interesting articles in the evenings this week and am not sure if I will find time to write about them all, but will have a go.

There has been a lot of criticism of the International Thriller Writer award shortlist for being all male (see for example Sarah Weinman, who also cites the lovely and talented author Elaine Viets on the topic). David Montgomory posts an explanation from the organisers (it is a press release) on Crime Fiction Dossier. Reading it reminds me of those accusations we get at Nature about the (confidential) peer review process having been unfair to an aspiring author in some way. Very commonly, an author will say "reviewer 3 was so biased and unfair. Anyone can tell they aren’t an expert. You editors just don’t know how to choose the best reviewers, you should have chosen Dr X." Of course, Dr X almost invariably is the reviewer in question. That is why the press release on Crime Fiction Dossier rings true to me. Also, it is good enough for David Montgomery so I that counts for something.

Marie the Deep Thinker (who I hope is still speaking to me after I admitted on her blog that I don’t like vampires) has a lovely post about writing places, complete with a picture of hers. I don’t really have one place as I lug my laptop around to wherever seems quietest, but if I get my act together camera-wise, I might snap a few choice areas (pretty similar to Marie’s, actually — though luckily I don’t have the neighbours from hell, just a bit noisy). In the meantime, I look forward to seeing some photos of a few dens on some blogs in the near future.

I haven’t had chance to read the report "Transforming Publishing" by the Association of American University Presses, but Booksquare discusses it in a post "The Secret Life of Digital Books". Here’s the rub: "university presses are facing unique challenges: large collections, low volume sales, and lack of infrastructure" — Booksquare advises them to partner with Google and/or Microsoft (presumably as some libraries are doing with Google already). The rest of the post is about the HarperCollins digital scanning project, but if you want to read about the university presses the links are provided in the Booksquare post.

I need another book recommendation like a hole in the head, but hey, what are all these booky blogs that I love to read for if not to draw the readers’ attention to worthwhile reads? I thought myself pretty knowledgeable in the crime fiction area but Dick Adler of Paperback Mysteries reviews a second book by Peter Spiegelman, called Death’s Little Mysteries. According to Mr Adler, the first book by PS, Black Maps, was brilliant, and his second even better. From the review these books sound very much my cup of tea  (with or without spout) — ex-cop-turned private detective struggling with personal tragedy; character study and psychological insight provided. Irresistible. Sigh.

The heroic future prime minister of Britain, Tim Coates (go and swat flies, Gordon), has been on a roll with a series of superb satirical posts about the parlous library system. Today he identifies one of the many handicaps faced by libraries — the lack of the publisher discount which market forces dictates (or dictated) went to booksellers. Tim tells it far better than I could, so please read his post, then read some other ones, then add your comments! Thank you. (If you live in the UK and want your grandchildren to be able to go to a library and read books, vote for Tim.)

As some bloggers have already noted, Paperback Writer has some hilarious advice for celebrities wishing to "write" their autobiographies or convey to us other pearls of their wisdom. Ten very useful tips for celebrity authors: 1. Find out what a book is. 2. Learn to read. etc

Returning to Sarah Weinman, she has a great post on What Mark Billingham Spends His Money On. (Mark B being last year’s winner of the CWA award and apparently a well known comedian, though I only know of him via the crime fiction aspect.) What interests Sarah is not so much that, but Mark B’s observations on the small world of crime fiction authors, who all read each others’ books: "[I]nevitably I’m reading books by mates, because crime fiction’s quite a small world. Then you’ve got that weird thing of reading books by people you know, which is kind of odd. It changes the way you read. It gives you a different perspective on the people that wrote them because some of the stuff is very dark and twisted and you’re thinking "Hang on, I was in the pub with that bloke last night". "

OK, that’s as far as I’m going to get, duty calls.

2 thoughts on “Reading and all that

  1. Having gone to Amazon (UK) to order PS’s book, I see that he’s written three, the one Dick Adler reviews at the link above is the third book, not the second.

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