MySpace is Ok on one score

Note to parents: relax on the MySpace front. The site isn’t being used by prowling over-45s with dubious motives. The vast majority of users (as opposed to visitors) are "aged 14-30, with a skew to the lower end". Read the analysis at the excellent Dana Boyd’s Apophenia blog (link below). I’d believe her rather than comScore and co.

Mind you, if you are worrying about anything else going on in MySpace apart from the possibility of "inappropriate adults" doing unmentionable things, you won’t find out at the link.

Link: apophenia: comScore misinterprets data: MySpace is *NOT* gray.

Marriage surprises

"I was watching the news the other day when I see that yet another husband is suspected of killing yet another wife who has gone missing. It’s pretty much automatic to suspect the husband in cases like this. This is one of the factors I had not considered before getting married."

Read on at the link below. I wonder if Scott Adams will ever write a detective novel? Would be fun to read, if so.

Link: The Dilbert Blog: Marriage Surprises.

Inscription No-Nos

The other day, Kimbofo, on her blog Reading Matters, wrote about the point of introductions in books. She doesn’t see the point, and asked her commenters what they think. My view is that I like them, if I’ve enjoyed the book. I don’t read them before I read the book, but if I’ve enjoyed the book I invariably want to find out more about it, and if all you have in front of you is an example of "the moribund medium" (as an ex-web editor of Nature was wont to refer to anything printed), the introduction is a pretty good way to find out something about the author and why  he/she wrote the book.

But what annoys me, I wrote in my comments to Kimbofo’s post, are acknowledgements. Is it just me, or have they become longer and more effusive these days? I think of acknowledgements as a brief note of one or two names of people who made a significant contribution to either the content of the book or to getting it published. Quite often, one sees acknowledgements that go on for a couple of pages. The author feels moved to thank everyone he or she ever met, as well as everyone in the publishing company and a few unmet role models or sources of inspiration. Who is supposed to read these fulsome tributes? What are they for? Readers of the book will not know any of these people and will never meet them. The author’s friends and relations would probably be much more pleased to be sent a signed copy with a personal message of appreciation from the author. And trees could be saved.

Now paperback writer has weighed in, completely coincidentally I am sure, with a post listing the ten things you probably shoudn’t inscribe in your novel. Link below.

Link: Paperback Writer: Inscription No-Nos.

Involuntary witness

I am fairly sure by Crimescraps out of Eurocrime, or vice versa, I recently came across a book so highly recommended that I could do nothing but read it. Involuntary Witness is by an Italian author, Gianrico Carofiglio, who according to the blurb is "an anti-mafia judge in the southern Italian city of Bari". First published in 2002, the book has been translated into English by Patrick Creagh, and was published in the UK in 2005.

Guido Guerrieri’s marriage is on the rocks and he’s a corrupt lawyer, representing people whom he despises for the money. From the Sartre-like pit of existential despair when it all goes wrong,  Guerrieri’s life begins to turn around when he is finessed into taking on the defence of a Sengalese man, a beach-peddler accused of murdering a small boy. The "Mockingbird" court case plays out in parallel with Guerrieri’s spiritual rehabilitation and redemption.

I loved this fast-paced and compelling story. Not only for all the above reasons, but because of its sense of place. I’ve written before about placeism, and in that context of how John Grisham, although usually weak on plot, excels at conveying it. Carofiglio’s Bari is in the same mould — the details of life in this small Italian town illuminate the eternal dramatic themes. And it is good on plot, too.

This is a perfect miniature of a book –much shorter than Grisham, and all the better for it.

See here for the book’s entry on the Italian Mysteries website.

Eurocrime reviews this book here (Karen Chisolm) and here (Karen Meek, who is Eurocrime herself).

Amazon UK listing is here, and Amazon US here. Go on, buy it!

Happy birthday, Frank


Happy birthday to my very good friend, Frank

enjoy your day, and many more like them.