Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Adapt and Evolve

Leave it to Sarah to tell me my new Mystery Strumpet column has gone live, which she deems has an "adaptive quality." Feel free to pop on over to Bookslut to read "Audio Slave," a not-entirely straightforward rundown of the crime genre's better recorded adaptations.

It includes my take on the audio-only serial novel The Chopin Manuscript, read for your pleasure by our man Alfred Molina. Yes, you know him from someplace. He's Doctor Octopus, among many better dramatic roles. More importantly, he's the man who will live forever in our hearts for nine breathless words: "You throw me the idol, I'll throw you the whip!" You can also get a more cautious second opinion on the audiobook from David Montgomery at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Meanwhile, the column also allows me a moment to flog the brilliant and impassioned human rights activist-slash-comedian Mark Thomas, and touches on the thespian performances of books by Elmore Leonard, John D. MacDonald and other usual suspects, with special appearances by Darrin McGavin, Henry Rollins, and Burt Reynolds.

In utterly unrelated work, I published an interesting article this month on the curious resurrection of Florence "Pancho" Barnes, the groundbreaking aviatrix and hooch-monger to test pilots and astronauts at the Happy Bottom Riding Club.

A few other items of note...

Denise Hamilton lent me better words than my own a few months ago when I was ruminating on Los Angeles in a Mystery Strumpet column. Today at LA Observed, she revisits her city's past with Judith Freeman, the author of the new literary hybrid The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved. They walk the city in a fascinating slice-of-life piece that attempts to conjure up the departed writer and his somewhat mysterious spouse.

I work for the other guys, but it's worth glancing at Publishers Weekly's "Best Books of the Year" list (although it seems awfully damned early to go to press with it already). There's a few truly great novelists on the list (Mohsin Hamid, Denis Johnson) but it feels like a soft list to me. I'll give you The Collaborator of Bethlehem as one of the year's best books period, and I'm glad to see Charles Ardai on the mystery list, but that Ruth Rendell title is about as thrilling as watching grass grow and putting James Lee Burke and a ton of other crime/mystery/thriller writers in with the big kids in the general fiction category doesn't suddenly make them Graham Greene.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is reporting that the idiots prosecuting comics shop owner Gordon Lee (arrested for giving away an artsy-fartsy comic book by the gifted Nick Bertozzi depicting Picasso in the buff) blew their prosecutorial advantage already. It's a mistrial.

And someone in London thinks they've captured an image of the illusive graffiti artist known as "Banksy." Flower power, man.

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