Books for all tastes

Some more book recommendations, if you are running short.

Brothers Judd review Ian Rankin’s "Let it Bleed" and give it an A-plus. They say: "That’s the Rebus series in a nutshell: No one else, seemingly in all of Scotland, wants to live by Calvinist/Old Testament morality any more, but it’s the only way he knows how to live."

Language Log appreciates "The Book of Lost Books" by Stuart Kelly — an incomplete history of all the books you’ll never read, according to its subtitle. "From far ancient times to Sylvia Plath and Georges Perec, books have been wiped out by their authors (or their families), through accident or forgetfulness, and (far too often) in the purifying fire of ideology."

Michele of Scholar’s Blog reviews Marcus Sedgwick’s novel (aimed at "young adults") "Dark Horse". Cathy has a previous title, "The Foreshadowing", on her to be read pile, but "Dark Horse" sounds pretty good also, about "a pivotal moment in the life of a small, apparently Nordic tribe, called the Storn, who are largely isolated from other peoples except through its irregular contact with itinerant traders."

Powell’s Books reprints a classic 1873 Atlantic Monthly review of that superb novel, "Middlemarch". At the end of his thoughtful analysis of Eliot’s books, Arthur George Sedgwick concludes: "one cannot help feeling that to properly analyze and explain George Eliot, another George Eliot is needed, and that all suggestion can do is to indicate the impossibility of grasping, in even the most comprehensive terms, the variety of her powers. An author whose novels it has really been a liberal education to read, one is more tempted to admire silently than to criticise at all." (One assumes that Arthur and Marcus Sedgwick are not related.)

Elaine of Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover has succumbed to buying and reading "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Stetterfield. She loves it. I’ve been dithering for a while on whether to break my usual rule of waiting for the paperback, and Elaine’s post may persuade me. I know just what Elaine means about rushing out to buy a book because of the initial buzz — I have yet-to-be-read copies of "Labyrinth", "The Traveller", "The Last Templar"  and a few others languishing around the house, bought on that wave of enthusiasm in the wake of a review.

And here is an extremely useful post by Uriah Robinson alias Norm of Crime Scraps — all the 10 Martin Beck detective novels in reading order. I’ve just ordered the first, Roseanna, from Amazon. It was written in 1965 by Swedish wife and husband team dubbed "Woo" by me but in actuality called Maj Sjowello and Per Wahloo. Uriah/Norm also links to an article about the authors and their series.

And while on crime fiction, Peter at Detectives Beyond Borders reviews "The Big Ask" by Shane Maloney, fifth in a series about Australian politician Murray Whelan. "The author of this book, its setting and its characters are entirely fictitious. There is no such place as Melbourne. The Australian Labor Party exists only in the imagination of its members. " Peter will provide a full review of the book when he’s finished it, but his interim observations are worth a read.

I don’t know whether I’m going to read "The Wheelman" by Duane Swierczynski, but I’m linking to Dick Adler’s review on the Rap Sheet because I like the title of Dick’s review: "Wheelmen don’t eat quiche".

Which leads me on to my final link for this post, which is an interesting post by David Montgomery on Crime Fiction Dossier, asking "Do book reviews sell books"?

Alternative endings and contemporary art

How it should have ended is a website featuring original cartoon versions of alternative endings for movies. It is going to take them a while (here is a link to the archive page), but so far you can view different outcomes to Star Wars (A New Hope), Lord of the Rings, Matrix Revolutions, Braveheart and others. I haven’t viewed any because I don’t want to download the software, but I’ve heard that they are quite good,and the site looks professionally put together.

And here’s a blog of about the same vintage as Petrona (about a year), the Contemporary London Art blog (CLAB). It features "reviews, slightly late news and overheard gossip about the London art world", and was created because the blogger couldn’t find a single place on the web dedicated to contemporary art exhibitions in the city. There are some good links from there too, for example to ArtRumours, "an undercover expose of the arts world"; the NY Arts blog; and Artkrush, "an e-magazine covering the key figures, exhibitions and trends in international art and design". Of course, a strong theme of the posts on CLAB is that more money and support is needed for "non-mainstream" arts, with plenty of rants against the government et al. But among all that, there is some good art information and criticism.

(Source: The Times.)