Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Year, and thanks

Everybody and his brother is offering lists of the best books he or she read in 2006, so I'll do something different. Here is some of the crime fiction I've read or am about to read based on recommendations from you these past three months, dear readers. Thanks for letting me know about these wonderful books and authors. These discoveries have been the chief joy of this first venture of mine into blogging.

Happy New Year!

The Big Ask, Shane Maloney
Stiff
Something Fishy
Of All the Bloody Cheek, Frank McAuliffe
Rather A Vicious Gentleman
For Murder I Charge More
The Devil Taker, David Owen
Pig's Head
X and Y
The Dying Trade, Peter Corris
Bad Debts, Peter Temple
Kickback, Garry Disher
Sacred Games, Vikram Chandra
The Turkish Gambit, Boris Akunin

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

20 Comments:

Blogger Debi said...

This is what it's all about! Recommendations from fellow bloggers as opposed to mainstream reviewers.

Enjoy - and happy new year ...

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Happy New Year Peter, and thank you for all your excellent recommendations.

January 04, 2007  
Anonymous crimeficreader said...

Happy new year to you too, Peter!

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks, all.

You're welcome, Uriah. I've just added to the list The Turkish Gambit, which I think you recommended to me. Thanks -- and I'll thank you again when I pick up some Italian crime fiction over the course of this year.

I wonder about this whole mainstream reviewer vs. blogger conflict. I'll believe it's a real conflict the first time I hear of a blogger who turns down a lucrative mainstream reviewing job. Acknowleding that there are a lot of crappy reviewers is not the same thing as saying that mainstream reviewing is bad.

The real advantage bloggers have is that we don't have to be reviewers. We can write about older books, for instance, and we don't have to review them, we can discuss them and write essays about them. Of course, this is arguably what reviewers should be doing, rather than giving plot summaries and pat assessments.

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Peter, I totally agree.
We don't have a deadline and that allows us to be revolutionary and actually to read the books.
I might try to do a lengthy review in the next few months where I have not bothered to read the book and see if anyone spots it. It might be a good career move.

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Uriah/Norm: Regarding your proposed career move, it's been done: http://www.thelocal.se/5841/20061218/

I think the difference between me as a blogger and me as a member of what bloggers call the mainstream media is that as a blogger, I have the freedom to deviate from a review and veer off into an essay spurred by the book. This, of course, is not at all intrinsic to blogging. The New Republic has always done this with its arts and literary coverage, which is one reason that coverage has traditionally been so good.

I love to blog, but I'd guess that 90 percent of online sniping about the "mainstream" media is pure jealousy -- maybe more, if I were interested enough to read the sniping. I do know that most of the claims I read for blogging -- it will change the world, it is the new democracy, the agent of freedom, etc. -- is hucksterism, self-interest, wishful thinking and self-delusion. They are the stuff that opium dreams are made on.

January 04, 2007  
Anonymous David J. Montgomery said...

Speaking as someone who is both a blogger and a "mainstream" book reviewer, I've seen good work and lousy work on both sides of the aisle. I don't see any inherent advantage to either camp, although the print reviews are generally better edited and have fewer typos.

There is something to be said for the more spontaneous and freer aspects of blog reviews, which can be attractive in some instances. But that isn't the only thing you want in a book review.

Overall, mainstream work tends to have higher quality, as there is so much lousy blogging out there which pulls down the curve, and not as much lousy print reviewing (although it does exist).

It seems that most of the good bloggers end up reviewing in print anyway, which makes it a false dichotomy.

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

David, your thoughts are a refreshing change from both the giddy triumphalism of some claims on blogs' behalf and the snobbery of some replies to this in the mainstream media.

Your comments about the superior editing of mainstream copy are dead-on and much appreciated. Of course I appreciate them; I'm a copy editor even after my newspaper's new owner inaugurated his "Next Great Era In Philadelphia Journalism" by slashing sixty-eight of the newsroom jobs that remained after the last two rounds of buyouts.

The one advantage to blogging that I can see is one I've stated before: it frees the writer from the necessity of having to write reviews all the time.

As for good bloggers ending up reviewing in print, I have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply from the Inquirer's books editor to three proposals I've made to him. I consider myself a good blogger nonetheless.

January 04, 2007  
Anonymous David J. Montgomery said...

Well, you know how busy Frank is. Don't take it personally. Besides, you wouldn't want to take work away from me, would you? :)

On a more serious note, it's a tough time at the Inquirer. I'm glad to hear that you have been spared the axe thus far.

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Funny you should say that. I have had twinges of conscience at the thought of taking work from you and Maxine, who has also written reviews for Frank. I am happy to report that, as far as I know, neither of you has written about any of the topics I have proposed to him.

Hmm, maybe I should be just the opposite of happy!

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for your comment about the axe falling. I survived by about seven years. I might not make the next round of layoffs in a year or two, though. Any openings in Chicago?

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

The other obvious advantage of blogging is that the form is congenial to stray thoughts and short observations. When a newspaper columnist does this, on the other hand, he seems lazy.

January 04, 2007  
Anonymous Karen C said...

The blog reviews I like the most are the ones that you can get a genuine sense of the impact of the book from.

Mind you, being particularly new to the amateur reviewing game, it's a darn sight harder than it looks - particularly when there's something about a book that just works or just doesn't work - articulating why is my own personal nightmare.

January 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Yes, I can well imagine that reviews are hard, which is one reason my writing does not tend in that direction. I think of my blog entries as essays about books, perhaps sparked by a minor aspect of the book that one might not mention in a review.

I think if blogs have any impact on so-called mainstream reviewing, it could well be a shift in the form of reviews. Based on what they read and write on blogs, mainstream reviewers, at least good and perceptive ones, may move away from cookie-cutter plot summaries and pro forma value judgments and toward a freer but tightly controlled, on-point essay form.

I think you do a good job with yours. Ms. Redhead is not the first writer I've wanted to read based on your comments.

The reviews I like least, whether of fiction or non-fiction, are plot summaries followed by pat judgments: "This book will interest anyone interested in this fascinating period of history" and the like. And the reviews I HATE are ones that tell me anything is a "must read."

January 04, 2007  
Anonymous Karen C said...

You know, I think you would like it here very much. My part of the world is populated heavily with people who do not like to be told to do anything :) But that could say more about me than it does about anything else...

January 05, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

You may be right. You'll notice I have developed a certain attachment to certain types of Australian crime fiction. Hmm, even after the abject concessions that constituted my new labor contract, I still have a fair amount of vacation time left, so ...

The few Australians I have met have been disproportionately hospitable and amusing. A pair of Australians overheard me speaking English in Borgo San Sepolcro, Italy (birthplace of Piero della Francesca) once, and they insisted on buying me breakfast and would not accept my offers to buy them coffee or breakfast or something to drink.

It seems that none of Leigh Redhead's work is available yet at a reasonable price in the U.S. But I did just return from a send-off for the seventy-one people laid off by my newspaper -- I believe the term you use is "piss-up" -- and I threw caution to the winds after I got home. I ordered a copy of Diamond Dove from a bookstore in Victoria.

January 05, 2007  
Anonymous Karen C said...

Lack of Leigh Redhead book availability is exactly why I admire Text Publishing so much. The boss of Text just assumes that part of their role is to sell overseas rights for their authors and I believe they are starting to get some real success with that. I think Leigh Redhead is with Allen & Unwin and they don't seem to have a similar approach / level of success.

I'll look forward to hearing what you think of Diamond Dove - and you're right - "piss-up" is a term you'll hear a lot around these parts :)

January 06, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I may have to post an article about Text Publishing one of these days. They seem to be doing good work publishing authors I'm interested in or have recently discovered.

I was surprised to find that Leigh Redhead was not easily available in the U.S. I would think any publisher could have a field day promoting her -- assuming she's good, and, if she's published three novels so far, I have to think she has something more than an interesting background.

I have high hopes for Diamond Dove, and I'll keep you posted. In fact, my hopes are so high that I hope I'm not disappointed. It's the most raved-about Australian crime novel I've come across since I started this blog way back in September. Well, maybe it runs neck and neck with The Broken Shore.

January 07, 2007  
Anonymous David J. Montgomery said...

Well, if you want Australian crime fiction, there's always Tara Moss. She's available here.

:)

January 07, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I won't hold her Canadian birth against her!

January 07, 2007  

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