London underground book project plus rant

Thanks to James Long for this (USA) link: Boing Boing: London Book Project to flood the tube with free books. And Karen of Euro Crime tells me that she found this article in the Australian press, which leads to the London Book Project website in the country of origin (UK).

"Have you seen any books lying around on the tube?" Karen asks me. No, but I have seen plenty of scrumpled and dirty free newspapers. Londoners get one in the morning and three every evening. In the evening, I run a gauntlet at King’s Cross main line, King’s Cross underground, Vauxhall or Waterloo underground and Vauxhall overground or Waterloo main line of aggressive people leaping out at me in each location waving the darn things, each and every day. The rival newspaper "hand outers" (what is the word for people giving things away?) stand next to each other and make you feel like a character from Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds in order to get past them. I have taken to removing my daily (paid for) newspaper or book out of my bag and holding it in front of me to show that I do not require reading material, but it does not make any difference. By the time I get to Kingston (zone 6) the news-flappers have long since given up and one is left in peace.

In the mornings, I am refugee using the (slightly slower and marginally less annoying) overground train service to avoid the horrid underground (overcrowded, smelly, grotty trains and impolite behaviour of many fellow-travellers). In the evenings I use the tube because the train connection times aren’t good — ghastly experience. The book project is the best argument I have yet seen for returning to the tube in the mornings, but as I see it is an official London Underground initiative, I can’t help wishing they’d spend the money on improving the service, even though that probably makes me a Philistine.

Well, that was a bit of a blogger’s rant.  I hope I’ll be calmer next time.

A long day in the life of a blogger

Last night I was enjoying a novel experiment by Clare Dudman, Keeper of the Snails, who decided to record her thoughts every two hours during the day. Here is her first post, at 6.30 am, and here is her last, at half past midnight.  Reading this little window into Clare’s life is a strangely intimate experience, pushing the envelope of the boundary between flesh-and-blood and internet-based reality in social interaction.

Owing to the time-delay on my RSS reader, I thought when I crashed out at 10 pm-ish that Clare had finished at 6.30, but I saw at 8 am today that she’d kept going for 18 hours (and I assume she got up at least half an hour before her first post and went to bed half an hour at least after, so that makes 19 waking hours). I shall stop moaning about my 6 am starts forthwith, as my evenings end (or, rather, the functional part of me shuts down) at more like 10 pm.

Thank you, Clare, I enjoyed reading your diary for the day.

Crime round-up from the lost post

Here is my attempt to reconstruct the post that was lost in a Typepad server error last night.

Various crime-fiction blogs have bought the news of the Crime Writers’ Association "Dagger" awards shortlists. Karen’s two Euro Crime entries are useful because they contain short summaries of all the books. Here is her "International dagger" (code for "not originally written in the English language") list; and here (thanks to losing the post, I can now bring you this additional link) is the "main prize" shortlist. I have read only one book on the former list (though several of the authors) and none on the second, so won’t offer an opinion on who I think should take the prize. If you’d like to see all the other categories of shortlist as well, here is the lot (I assume) on Shotsmag, complete with useful summaries.

Peter of Detectives Beyond Borders asks, in the context of reading the excellent Karin Fossum, whether anyone can "think of crime fiction that features police or other investigators, but whose investigators are explored and portrayed less thoroughly than those they investigate?" If you have any answers, join Karen of Euro Crime and myself in the comments to Peter’s post.

David Montgomery of Crime Fiction Dossier provides a useful list of good sources for short crime fiction. I don’t read short fiction these days, but have read many a short crime-fiction story in the past, starting with Conan Doyle of course. If you like the format, I am sure David’s recommendations are worth checking out.

Elaine of Random Jottings throws her hat into the ring of reviewing Chris Ewan’s The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam. I’m definitely going to read this book based on this review and what I’ve already read about it, but from the size of my unread collection I am happy to wait for the paperback. In the meantime, according to Jessica Ruston of the Book Bar, you can visit the author’s MySpace page and make friends.

In celebration of The Rap Sheet’s first birthday, the blog has been collecting together recommendations of many people’s favourite overlooked, underappreciated or forgotten crime fiction author. There have been at least nine posts of all the nominations, and I’m glad to say they have all been gathered together into one post here. This is obviously a very useful link for any future time when I may be short of something to read.

I think that was all that I included in the lost post, so will end here.