Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Roundup

Oh, what fun it is catching up with the real world. That old psychic whiplash will turn your head around. While I was gone, much of Greece burned to dust, Pavarotti sang his last aria, and the Pet Crock report turned out to be aptly named.

In other words, business as usual.

Halfway around the world, I saw Communists rally, swam in the salty seas, dodged heroin addicts in the shadow of the Acropolis, danced at a big fat Greek wedding, and learned much about Greek history. I even traded anecdotes about crime novelists with a pair of smoking Athenian desperadoes I met near the legendary battlefield at Marathon where the Greeks handed the Persians their asses back to them on a platter back in 490 BC. (Who knew George Pelecanos was Greek? The guy's a hero in the tavernas of Athens, let me tell you).

If you're wondering what the book critic takes on vacation with him, I had advance copies of Walter Mosley's new Easy Rawlins novel Blonde Faith - and I cannot recommend strongly enough that anybody who digs Walter beg, borrow or steal this book as soon as possible - and Charlie Huston's teenage wasteland The Shotgun Rule, a hell of a coda to the pulp artist's Henry Thompson trilogy and the promise of great things to come.

In case you missed it, you can review this month's crime and mystery picks by yours truly at Bookslut in the column "Grab Bag," shedding light on new titles by Andrew Vachss, Michael Marshall, Jason Starr, and other hard men of American literature. On the other side of the ocean, Colleen Mondor does a nice one-two punch on Cara Black's Parisian mysteries. Back here in New England, Shaw Miller goes toe-to-toe with Brock Clarke, whose satire An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England will soon be the subject of a feature review in the Rocky Mountain News, by yours truly. Circle of life, baby.

In non-violence-releated writing, the Kirkus Reviews Cooking Special is online, where the nice folks at Kirkus paid me perfectly good money to interview British wunderkind Jamie Oliver, BBQ architect Ted Reader, and Monterey Fish Company boss Paul Johnson, among myriad others. You foodies can also check out new titles by the lovely Giada DeLaurentis, Nigella Lawson, and an intriguing title by photographer Melanie Dunea called The Last Supper, where geniuses like Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller were asked to convey their wishes for their very last meal. This could be highly entertaining, in a savory, dark sort of way.

In other news...

I missed Clive Owen's carrot-gnawing performance in Shoot 'Em Up this weekend, but I'm finding the companion site, Bulletproof Baby, almost as entertaining.

Eco Libris wants me to plant a tree for every book I read. Then they send along a thank you note. Printed on paper. Something's amiss with their logic, recyclable paper be damned.

Sarah Weinman does a nice decontruction of David Peace's nuclear noir Tokyo Year Zero at the L.A. Times.

Ian Rankin is everywhere on the eve of the UK publication of Exit Music, reportedly the last Rebus novel (and why don't they publish these things simultaneously in the States, for chrissakes? Must find the cash to go to Waterstone's for Thanksgiving). The Guardian does the interview dance with Ian at the Covent Garden Hotel. The Rap Sheet, bless their black little hearts, has a rundown of more Rankin appearances throughout the UK. Sarah (again) nails the hoopla on the head with her comment, "I'm much more anxious to see the evolution of Ian Rankin, writer than the continuation of Ian Rankin, franchise."

Looks like there's another virtual watering hole to talk crime: a new message board called The Big Adios is open for business, including a guest spot by the much-lauded Tom Piccirilli, whose new novel The Fever Kill is currently on my to-do list for the week.

And on that note, I'm back at work, riding the commuter train of doom to post-vacation depression. See you around the water cooler.

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