Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pulchritudinous Pulp

  • Lawrence Block's In the Midst of Death
  • Elmore Leonard's Mr. Majestyk
  • Connie Willis's Firewatch and Other Stories
  • Stephen King's Thinner
  • John Barnes's Orbital Resonance

Right now I'm slogging through the appropriately-named From Here to Eternity. It's going to be a while.

I'm also reading an excellent novel in manuscript by my buddy Mike Jasper.

Before that, though, I was on a pop novel binge. I had all sorts of intelligent things to say about the books above, but I'm afraid I lost my chance. I'll just say I enjoyed all of them. The Block is especially noteworthy for the way theme is worked in without slowing down the story. The Leonard book is one of my favorites of his, up there with City Primeval. (He just wants to harvest the melons!) I prefer earlier Leonard. He had an identifiable voice back then, without mannerism.


  1. Imported on behalf of: Mike Jasper
    Nice batch o' books there. The only one I've read is Thinner, which I quite liked all those years ago. I'll have to check out Block, and I'm embarrassed to STILL not have read any Elmore Leonard. What's wrong with me?

    Another wonderful writer I'm currently enjoying is Richard Russo. Holy shit -- even his chunks of exposition are amazing, and funny. I'm loving his NOBODY'S FOOL, and it's even better than STRAIGHT MAN -- I have to clamp my jaws shut at night while I'm reading to keep from waking Elizabeth.

  2. Imported on behalf of: Lee
    McInneshin, who sometimes lurks about these parts, mentioned *Nobody's Fool*, so I've had it on my to-read list for a while. I quite liked *Straight Man* myself.

    I've read half a dozen or so Leonard novels, and they were all good. They're plentiful in used books stores. Spend a few minutes reading around, and take home the one that grabs you. I think you'll agree he's a very good writer to study for craft.

  3. Imported on behalf of: McLurkish
    Congratulations on your publishing. Am sad that I wasn't in time to make royalties joke first. (I just got my first publication--not out of the presses yet. The academese in the title makes me want to kick myself in the head. Was it three colons? Four? The big payment is a single copy of the anthology...)

    It's hard for me to tell if I've read the Leonard or Block--they tend to blur together a bit, especially those Matt Scudders (lessee, he a drunk or AA?). I'd recommend Swag (Ordell's first appearance, I think) or Stick from Leonard, if you like, say, Richard Stark.

    How does Thinner hold up? The last King I re-read was Cujo, and while I could figure out why my 14-year-old self loved it, it was no longer to my taste.

    The Connie Willis title story is of course a historian's fantasy, though I'd have to say I despise her "comedies".

    As far as Nobody's Fool, the donut-anus and world's biggest booger scenes are among the funniest in American literature.

  4. Imported on behalf of: Lee
    Congrats on the publication, Michael! Do you have any parentheses in your title? That's the real mark of the beast.

    Scudder's a drunk in this one. It's the third in the series.

    I know what you mean about the Willis stories. I found the collection very uneven, but I usually find any story collection uneven. I tend to judge them by the strongest stories, and there were a couple of stand-outs here. I liked "A Letter from the Clearys," myself.

    *Thinnner* was a lot of fun, about what I expected. It seemed like it was written in a big hurry, but I can't seem to get worked up about the flaws in King's writing. That would be missing the point somehow.

  5. Imported on behalf of: McI
    No parentheses. I think yer American Studies and C'Lit crowds are more into that sorta thing, given their propensity to playing with the language. There was some joke I can't quite remember that one of my fellow grad students at Minnesota used to make about (e)sc(h)atological, but I suppose it wasn't quite clever enough to remember.

    "Letter from the Clearys": post holocaust in Colorado? (I guess she has at least a few set like that.)

    I musta read that Scudder, since I went through them in order at one point.

  6. Imported on behalf of: Lee
    Yeah, you got the right Clearys.

    Parentheses: For example, *T-t-talkin' 'Bout My (Trans)gen(d)er(ed)ation: Locating the Feminine East in John Entwhistle's "Boris the Spider."*

  7. Imported on behalf of: Dan
    Oh man, that's funny. LOL even.