Monday, May 24, 2010

Crimefest goes to the world capital of used books

The Hay-on-Wye festival doesn't start until Thursday, so we were able to beat the crowds today.

Your humble blogkeeper's haul in the secondhand-book capital of the world included The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg, Strange Loyalties by William McIlvanney and The Caterpillar Cop by James McClure for the modest total of just £8.95.

Thanks for the last of those to Stanley Trollip, one half of the Michael Stanley writing team, whose praise for McClure's seminal Kramer and Zondi series reminded me that it was time to get off my keister and read him. Thanks, too, to my fellow browser Emily Bronstein, who came across the McClure on our Hay expedition and said, "Look what I found."

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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36 Comments:

Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

'gritty yet poetic literature' is how Wiki describes McIlvanney.
I think his compatriot Rankin is seriously overrated: I enjoyed some of the tv series, especially those starring Ken Stott, but I thought his prose rather mundane and uninspiring, and not at all what I'd been given to expect

May 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

McIlvanney may seem a tad literary to some crime readers, by which I mean stylistically self-conscious. He'll often stop the narrative in its tracks to offer longish descriptive passage or interior monologues. The poetic grittiness eased me over the atypical-for-crime-fiction pacing.

Rankin was a subject of discussion over dinner tonight. I've read three of his novels, and I have nothing much to say against him except that they didn't grab me the way they grabbed many other crime readers.

I thought the lengthy descriptions of life on an oil rig in Black and Blue were well-enough written and thematically fairly daring. I also felt that he could have trimmed many pages from them to the novel's advantage.

May 24, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I'm glad we can agree on Rankin: I've often wondered whether its a case of me being hyper-critical, or perhaps of being the boy who shouted the Emperor has no clothes on.
I've also thought though that it might be a case of somebody who cultivates the UK print 'Meeja' being rewarded with favourable reviews, akin to the way Terry Venables used to cultivate the English football journalists.

You might be interested to know that the writing project I refer to in my blog is that I'm planning on 'rewriting' that novel of my late father, which will be my own first shot at 'writing' a novel.
I'll probably post in more detail on my blog as I get more and more into the project
If you're interested I could email you 'the original' which I saved in the form of 12 (chapter) text files.


btw, your buddy Declan Burke was reviewing the latest Irish crime writer on RTE Radio tonight: gave it a big 'thumbs up'.

Sounds like McIlvanney may belong to the Ellroy-Bruen school of crime writing

May 24, 2010  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Peter,

Again, thanks for all the Crimfest 2010 info. Almost felt like I was there. Hopefully, I will be making it to Crimebake in November, as it is local to me.

I fully plan on giving Rankin and mcilvanny a read, after I finish The Big-0 and The Dead Yard.

May 24, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Please give a review on the Camilla Lackberg. I can't get her books in my public library, so may take the plunge and order them from Book Depository (if that is a secure way to do this), which promises free shipping anywhere.

May 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, Rankin has had a long enough string of success that cultivation of the UK print media cannot be solely responsible. Also, I have only ever discussed his work with Rankin fans from America, who presumably would be immune to the effects of any such cultivation.

I shall follow via your blog your progress on that interesting project.


Is Kevin McCarthy the author whom Declan Burke reviewed? And McIlvanney may be of the Ellroy/Bruen school, but they don't quite study in the same classroom.

May 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I shall give Camilla Läckberg a mention when I read the book. I had seen the book cited recently for its humor, which intrigued me.

May 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're welcome, Sean. Crimebaks is new to me. It sounds like an event situated on Cape Cod.

May 25, 2010  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Camilla Lackberg does get some strange reviews because as far as I can remember there was not many laughs in The Ice Princess. The Caterpillar Cop [and The Steam Pig], which I read around the time of the Boer War, must have been a great antique find or have they reissued them?

May 25, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, you're probably right about Rankin; but he did seem to be garnering praise from a wide variety of sources which to me weren't justified from what I read.

I think Declan might have been reviewing two new novels, but I only caught his review of Irish crime journalist, Niamh O'Connor, debut novel.

As regards my project: I've stripped the novel down to its constituent parts, using the very useful yWriter5 software program: I'm currently reading a 'How To' writing book and have another FOUR on order(!!!),- for the various elements of novel writing, - which I'll be devouring, probably before the World Cup starts, and might have dived into my Chapter One before The Big Kick Off.

I gave a crime fiction-reading friend a copy of the book to read and have asked her opinion on what I consider unsatisfactory elements in the novel that I want to clean up, or sort out.
(and then there's the question of the 'argot' dad employed: I'm not sure I would be comfortable writing dialogue in that style so I may do some updating, in style, if not time period)
I'll probably do more regular posts on that front once I post a few more film/book reviews

May 25, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

kathy I can unreservedly recommend the Book Depository to you, which I've ordered from many times and never had any problems with

May 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, Camilla Lackberg had been on my list for a while. The passing mention of the book's humor ratcheted up my interest.

Soho Crime is reissuing or has reissued Steam Pig in the U.S. The Caterpillar Cop was an antiquarian find for £3.

I am abashed to add that I discovered today I had made the error of buying a book I already owned (Not the McClure or the Lackberg). This happens to many of us, I suppose.

May 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, that sounds akin to restoring an old painting at least as much as it sounds like writing a novel.

May 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have heard good things about the Book Depository, and the idea must be catching on. I was having trouble tracking down a book in the UK, and the publisher suggested I try a UK Book Depository. I assumed this is an affiliate, offshoot or copy of the Book Depository.

May 25, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Perhaps so Peter, but it fulfils a number of functions for me: its personal resonance, - and I haven't dismissed a Robert Altmanesque 'Long Goodbye' subversion; working with a proven, readymade plot to see whether I can add to the ever-growing band of Irish crime writers; or,failing that, seeing where my true forte lies.
The dialogue will probably be 100% original; character descriptions, likewise, although I haven't completely ruled out altering motivations.
It could be as different from the original as the Werner Herzog 'Bad Lieutenant' is from the Abel Ferrara: I'm just keeping my options completely open at present

There have been at least two previous occasions where I intended to 'take the plunge' into full-time novel-writing, and I chickened out for the safe 9-to-5 option.
Now I'm determined to give it my best shot.
Remember where you read it first! :)

on Book Depository, I think in almost every case its been a UK source, but there may have been one or two US orders: either way, I'm sure I've never even had to wait overlong for delivery

May 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That ought to be an interesting project however it turns out.

I first heard about the Book Depository from Australian readers and have since associated the company with Australia. But it is indeed a UK company, so the "UK Book Depository" is, in fact, the only one, as far as I know.

May 25, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I'm intrigued by the fact that the Book Depository offers free shipping everywhere and that their prices are not bad at all.

And I may have to take the plunge and order Indridason's "Hypothermia," from them as I cannot wait until September for this book, especially as it's now on the Daggers' shortlist.

Also, I may order a Lackberg book from them, although I just noticed one of her books is available from the library here.

Just an fyi: Petrona has a good list of books which were possibles for a Dagger. I just read, "In Free Fall," which I hope this blog will discuss, and I'm going to work my way through the books starred on that list as well as the Daggers' shortlist.

And Book Depository will be needed for some of the titles, which are not at my library nor local bookstores.

May 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, In Free Fall is on my to-read list. I think Australian readers love the Book Depository because it gives them access to books that otherwise would have cost them heavy shipping cjharges. The Eurocrime blog is another place to read reviews. Petrona's Maxine is one of its reviewers.

May 26, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, I've been reading Euro Crime for a long and many of Maxine Clarke's reviews there, as well as those by other reviewers.

But, having discovered Petrona, now I read that daily and have printed out lists of recommended books, including those triple-starred from the possibles for the Dagger.

When I was about to give up on "In Free Fall," Petrona's blog encouraged me to read on, which I did and am glad I did.

However, it's a complicated book and would be a good discussion point, although doing that without the dreaded spoiler, will be a challenge.

May 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Petrona should be proud that she encouraged you to persist with "In Free Fall." I am an impatient reader, and I've probably given up on a book or two that I'd have enjoyed if I'd kept at it.

May 26, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

It was worth pushing myself to finish, "In Free Fall." Now I'm having to push myself to finish a book on the possibles list for the Theakston and will continue.

Caved in and ordered "Hypothermia," from Book Depository as well as "The Janus Stone," Elly Griffiths' second in her series.

And bought a Garry Disher--my first--from a real brick-and-mortars store, and like it already.

But plan to spend the summer reading the favored books at Petrona's website, related to the Dagger and Theakston awards, as well as others. And, checking in with Euro Crime, too.

Just what is it about international crime fiction that has it over that from the U.S.? I don't want to criticize U.S. writers, as I like many of them, but with fiction from abroad, the envelope is pushed, the challenge to think is there, even to learn.

Not to mention spending the summer in Sweden, Iceland, rural England, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and so many other places, without moving from a park bench or a cafe seat--and really escaping!

May 26, 2010  
Blogger Maxine said...

Thanks so much for all the nice remarks, Kathy (and I can call you Kathy now instead of "k" as my blog seems to think you are called an email address!)
I thought Dark Matter (as In Free fall is called over here) was a bit pretentious - I've enjoyed other books more. Any of the announced shortlist would be a great read. If it is humour you want, Peter, Badfellas is full of it (and short)!

May 27, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Maxine, I tried Tonino Benaquista years ago and was not a fan. But I picked up "Someone Else" at Crimefest and liked its opening. I also liked what the author had to say about the book, so I bought a copy. And that's a good argument for Crimefest and for crime-fiction conventions in general.

May 27, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Just to mention Petrona's list of recommended titles, I'm definitely going to read Claudia Piniero's book and Dominique Manotti's as well, in addition to several other recommended books, as well as the Daggers' shortlist.

May 28, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I think I'll have read all the books shortlisted for the International Dagger by awards time. I'll be interested in learning what you think of Manotti, her brisk, sharp dissection of French politics and power, and her terse prose style.

May 28, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Manotti will be a challenge, which I welcome. I like political themes. I love Vargas' books but don't think their writing styles are at all similar, from what I read.

My goal is to read the Daggers' shortlist but also the triple-starred books at Patrona's list of possibles in running for the Dagger.

God sidetracked by "Cold in Hand," by John Harvey,which is a good read, I think, in the running for the Theakston, although I'm for Elly Griffiths' The Crossing Places.

Want to read a lot of those, also; too bad errands, sleep and needed tasks get in the way.

May 28, 2010  
Anonymous Emily (Em) Bronstein said...

And besides the McClure and Lackberg, I had a whole selection for you to pick up at that last bookstore that you DID NOT make it to. Shame!

Count me as another Book Depository fan as I have something like 26 open orders and 227 completed ones and the orders may have multiple titles. And that's only for the past few years. Sigh.

em

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Emily (Em) Bronstein has ...

And besides the McClure and Lackberg, I had a whole selection for you to pick up at that last bookstore that you DID NOT make it to. Shame!


My in box chopped off the end of your surname. For a moment I thought Emily Bronte had posted a comment.

I am now sorrier than ever that we did not find that bookshop. I'm not sure how many books I'd have had room for, but, just for fun, what else did you find -- unless you're cruelly taunting me for losing that store among the jumble of Hay-on-Wye's many street corners.

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, from what I've read, Vargas and Manotti are not at all similar in theme or style.

I haven't read John Harvey.

May 29, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Count me as another Book Depository fan as I have something like 26 open orders and 227 completed ones and the orders may have multiple titles. And that's only for the past few years. Sigh.

How many years book reading in that 227, Em?

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Twenty-six open orders is what impresses me.

May 29, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I shudder to think of how many unread books I have
(now where did I put that bigeek icon?)

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or maybe big geek icon, for who but a geek wold read this much?

May 29, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

26 open orders and 227 shipped orders, both impress me. Gosh, that's 100s of books.

I may allow himself a book a month to catch up on European authors, and would like to also reach Australians so may order those, too, and NZer Vanda Symon.

May 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've ordered more than a hundred times from ABE, but never near twenty-six orders at a time. Emily is worthy of respect if not awe (but not disbelief, of course).

May 29, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I need an opinion on Camilla Lackberg asap, if anyone can give me one.

June 01, 2010  

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