Wednesday, August 11, 2010

If you like X, you'll love Y

A colleague who knows I read crime fiction asked if I liked Guy Ritchie's slam-bang English gangster movies.

I did, I said, and I suggested that if he liked those movies, he might enjoy reading Allan Guthrie and Ken Bruen, his Brant and Roberts novels and his three collaborations with Jason Starr especially.

Then I thought, isn't this a fine way for authors and publishers to find new readers? Find out what people like to do, watch or think about, then suggest books to match. And you can help! Just fill in the blanks in this simple equation

If you like non-book X, you'll love book (or author) Y

Thanks, and have fun!

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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58 Comments:

Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Many public libraries' Web sites offer "if you liked this book, you might like this book" suggestions; some also offer "if you liked this movie, you might like this book" (and not just the book-made-into-a-movie suggestion). The benefit to the reader is, of course, that the PL's suggestions are subject/author driven, not buyers-who-purchased-this-also-purchased-this suggestions one finds at commercial bookselling sites.

I'm curious to know if other readers have found this suggestion (liked this movie? read this author/book!) successful among their friends/associates. I'm afraid I don't have a very good batting average with it. Even getting people to read the, dare I say, literary sources for "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep" can be a hard slog sometimes.

Me, I could read a book by Allan Guthrie at least once a month (if he could write them that fast) and I'm loving Ken Bruen's "The White Trilogy" (and "The Hackman Blues") like I haven't really gone for KB's Jack Taylor novels (with the exception of the first 2) but can't say I've ever really liked anything Guy Ritchie has directed, even cult favorite "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

August 11, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Amazon.com will offer a selection of books if one ordered a particular book, with the view that they're offering similar books.

But sometimes the selections are downright hilarious and don't reflect one's reading taste at all.

August 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I, too, am sometimes skeptical of what Amazon regards as similar books. Yes, they're crime fiction, but ...

August 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth: I know the people-who-bought-this-book feature at online booksellers; I hadn't seen something similar at libraries.

Guthrie in most of his work and Bruen in the Brant novels and his collaborations with Jason Starr (of which I recommend especially "Bust" and "The Max") give you all the fun you'll get out of a Guy Ritchie movie and infinitely better characterization, greater depth of feeling along with a seriousness of purpose that in no way detracts from the fun.

I was thinking of expounding on how much better the books are and how superior to movies. Think of it: You've read novels by Guthrie, Bruen, Adrian McKinty and Declan Hughes in recent months, and you've enjoyed them for the most part. That's quite a number of good books, and that's just four authors. How far back would you have to go to find as many good crime movies, as many movies that were as good as and provided as much pleasure as those books?

What spurred me to make the post is not just the possibility that I could get readers to try some good authors, but that I could get people to realize, if they didn't know it already that, yes, books are better! So I hope people will come with X's that are not books.

Having said that, I've just rented two movies: "Night Moves" and "The Lineup." But the latter has commentary by two guys who write books: Eddie Muller and James Ellroy.

August 11, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

OK, let me try with the "if you like this ice cream flavor"...

If you like vanilla ice cream, you might like M.C. Beaton or Elizabeth Peters.

If you like fig-and-cardamom gelato (available at Scoops on Heliotrope Dr., L.A.!) you might like Andrea Camilleri.

Or... what about favorite alcoholic beverage? If you like single malts or other kinds of scotch whiskies, you might like [insert Scottish crime fiction writer's name].

If you like Jameson/Bushmill's whiskey you might like [insert Irish crime fiction writer's name.]

If you like gin you might like [insert English crime fiction writer's name.]

If you like martinis you might like [just about any American hard-boiled crime fiction writer from 1920-1965.]

And if you like gimlets the way Philip Marlowe made them, you will definitely like Raymond Chandler.

My alcohol choices have definitely been shaped by my reading of period crime fiction. It's a sensory way of connecting with the past, and present. Johnnie Walker scotch (Hammett), Tanqueray gin (Chandler), grappa (Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen), Sicilian nero d'Avolas (Andrea Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano), etc. I squealed (well, almost) when I spotted a Donnafugata red Sedàra at World Market recently. The label has an illustration of a palazzo often used as a location for the Montalbano TV series.

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous adrian said...

Peter

I think it should go from more well known to less well known.

It works quite well with beer.

If you like Guinness you'll probably like Murphys or Beamish.
If you like Sam Smith's you'll probably like Black Sheep Ale.
Or even brands: if you like Sam Adams you'll probably like Fat Tyre or Dogfish Head.

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Adrian, that brand example is spot on. Now I'm dreaming of a Dogfish Head ale. Made a pilgrimage to their pub in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, a couple of years ago. Their Blue Hen vodka is also excellent. Sadly, not available here in L.A.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I am gobsmacked. All I can say is that Donnafugata is now one of my favorite words. Philadelphia is notably lacking for places to get a good fig and cardamom gelato. Hmm, but I think I know just where to look ...

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

OK, Adrian, if I like Brawler, I might like ... Hmm, that's local.

If I like, er, a light, slightly bitter German white beer ... come on, you must know some slightly bitter white German crime writers.

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, Philadelphia's Capogiro Gelato offers a fig and mascarpone ice cream and other unusual gelato combos. I'm a sucker for fig-and-almost-anything gelato. Pistacchio-and-almost-anything gelato. According to the WWW, a new Capogiro Gelato parlor opened recently in your quartiere.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

My crime reading has not been nearly as bound up with drinking choices. I went on a Dibdin kick a few years ago, well after I'd tried grappa and thought it was going to sear the enamel off my teeth.

I'm no whiskey drinker, but I am i two-fisted reader of Scottish and Irish crime fiction.

I like a fine vanilla ice cream, but I've never read M.C. Beaton or Elizabeth Peters.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Literally in the next block!

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"Donnafugata is now one of my favorite words."

From the Donnafugata Web site: The term “Donna Fugata” translates as “Fleeing woman” and is a reference to the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV´s Hapsburg wife Queen Maria Carolina who in the early 1800s had to flee their court at Naples (under Spanish rule at the time) when Napoleon’s troops arrived. They fled for Sicily to the country estates of a local prince, and the whole story is immortalized in the famous Sicilian novel “Il Gattopardo” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. This story was the inspiration for the name of the brand (their vineyards are located in the same area where the king and queen stayed in Sicily), and also for the image of the woman with the flowing hair on all of the wine labels.

v-word = draincop

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"... I'd tried grappa and thought it was going to sear the enamel off my teeth."

I notice Zen usually adds it to his coffee on a cold Venetian morning in "Dead Lagoon." He cut back when he realized he was getting in to work half tipsy. A nouveau riche friend once took Zen to lunch in Rome and encouraged him to enjoy the post-prandial single malt he had ordered for the two of them. I think Dibdin had Zen think that the taste of it reminded him of some tarry cough medicine his mamma had made him take when he was a boy.

Crime fiction has helped me to choose sipping liquor instead of guzzling liquor. What red-blooded p.i. would slurp an Appletini, for ex?!

"I'm no whiskey drinker, but I am a two-fisted reader of Scottish and Irish crime fiction.

"I like a fine vanilla ice cream, but I've never read M.C. Beaton or Elizabeth Peters."

And therein lies the difficulty of the question you have posed to your readers. Can the twain meet?

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Draincop is obviously a cool word.

I didn't know the history, but I could figure out that Donnafugata must have something to do with a fleeing woman. And I did read "Il Gattopardo" years ago.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I would not so much spit out an Appletini as I would shoot anyone who used the word in my presence. Hmm, if you hate the idea of Appeltini, you might like Nero Wolfe.

Why not? If you like vanilla ice cream, you're sure to like Derek Raymond, David Goodis, Andrew Vachss, Yasmina Khadra, Jim Thompson ...

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Hmm, in other words vanilla goes with every crime fiction writer? Kinda like choosing a sundae topping? IE, any topping is good on vanilla but change your ice cream flavor and the topping choices decrease? What about the decision to or not to add nuts, schlag, and/or a cherry? Decisions, decisions.

Check out that Donnafugata bottle label, you'll recognize the site.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

If you like steak, you'll like noir.

If you like sea bass, you'll like drawing-room mysteries.

If you like shepherd's pie, you'll like cozies.

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Linkmeister, what kind of mysteries will vegetarians like?

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous adrian said...

Elisabeth

That vodka sounds great. Cant get it in Melbourne either. You can get the beers though.

Peter

How about the bitter, German, funny, Marcel Reich-Ranicki? Not a novelist but a critic which is even better.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

You know, Elizabeth, I puzzled about that and couldn't come up with a style that worked. Feel free. ;)

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fine vanilla is not for the coarse-palated rabble.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, what kind of mysteries will vegetarians like?

i can tell you what kind they might write: Ones like Allan Guthrie's. He's a vegetarian.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If you like eggs, you'll like hard-boiled.

I was trying to figure out where steak would fit in. I'd say if you like a steak, you'll like Mickey Spillane.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

adrian said...

How about the bitter, German ...


I thought you were building up to a beer.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

"I'd say if you like a steak, you'll like Mickey Spillane."
Beat me to the punch, Peter
(although to be fair, since you started this thread you always had a head-start on me)

But I would venture a 'rare' steak, or, at least one that leaks blood, if not oozes it


Howsabout, if you like 'banana peanut butter jelly sandwiches', you'll love Kinky Friedman?
(and are a serious Elvis The Pee nut, to boot)
Whoops! :)

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

If you like books about bank robberies, you'll order eggs "poached."

August 12, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Three Stooges fans prefer their eggs 'scrambled'

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK:

If you like a bloody steak, beaten tender with a meat mallet until it doesn't know what hit it, you'll LOVE Mickey Spillane.

If you like peanut butter, you're AMERICAN! You want Nutella, go to France.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I like that, Kathy. If you like your eggs poached, you'll LOVE Donald Westlake's Bank Shot.

Michael Stanley's A Carrion Death would also work with poached. It's set around a game preserve in Botswana.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, Three Stooges fans don't eat eggs, just pies.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

no, eggs, Peter
They THROW pies!

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Having said that, I've just rented two movies: "Night Moves" and "The Lineup."

Interesting movies, Peter. Chosen at random or was there some motivating intelligence behind those picks?

I like most of Don Siegel's movies. And I like Eli Wallach, too. And to tell the truth I've always wanted to shove a man in a wheelchair off a balcony. But don't tell anyone that, Peter.

I hope the excitement of Night Moves wasn't too much for you. A man your age has to be careful, you know. Too much stimulation can have adverse consequences. Sorry, Peter. Just kidding.

The Hackman character in Night Moves describes watching an Eric Rohmer movie as being like watching paint dry. Given that Penn was an acknowledged fan of the French 'New Wave', one has to assume this comment was an attempt to show how unhip the Hackman character was.

But Penn went one better than Eric Rohmer. Night Moves is like watching paint after it has already dried.

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Al Guthrie said...

"I could read a book by Allan Guthrie at least once a month (if he could write them that fast)"

Elisabeth -- how I wish!!!

August 12, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

solo, I'm a huge Rohmer fan, and I initially took offence when I heard Gene Hackman's character say that, but then I realised that it was just the writer putting words in his mouth I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was.

Arthur Penn didn't make too many movies, and with the possible exception of only 'Target', most of them were at least interesting, but I think 'Night Moves' may be his best
(even better than the more acclaimed 'Bonnie and Clyde')

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, how many times do you suppose all four or five of the Three Stooges had to endure wisecracks when anyone served them pie at dinner?

August 12, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

How many stars in The Heavens, Peter?
How many grains of sand in the Sahara Desert?

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I dunno, TCK. Let me google that.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, I chose movies that happened to have come up in discussions here. I'd enjoyed the Eddie Muller/James Ellroy commentary on "Crime Wave," so when "The Lineup" was available, I grabbed it. I think you had recommended it, as a matter of fact.

Ellroy and Muller talked at length about Eli Wallach's performance, and their comments were incisive and accurate. He was excellent. And if I ever go skating again, I'll be sure to look up for men in falling wheelchairs.

I haven't watched "Night Moves" yet. Perhaps the Hackman character's line was Penn's try for endearing self-deprecation.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I passed up the lime and cilantro sorbet as well as the basil gelato today in a favor of a delicious cream-cheese gelato.

Hmm, Basil Gelato. Good name for a fictional detective, the fiery temperament and pugnacity of his Sicilian father tempered by the decorum inherited from his English mum.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Basil Gelato, eh?
Any relation to Holly Golightly?

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, cream cheese gelato. My, sounds ultrarich! Having a fine gelato vendor in your backyard could be dangerous!

That lime and cilantro sorbet sounds like a perfect dessert after Mexican food! I'm gonna look for it here!

It's true that if an ice cream/gelato producer can make a super vanilla, then their other ice creams/gelati are probably good, too. Vanilla is a kind of bellwether flavor. Here in SoCal, McConnell's of Santa Barbara and Fosselman's Ice Cream Co. (Alhambra) are prolly the best ice cream makers. This select list does not include the fabulous flavors that are available at Scoops and other one-of-a-kind gelato joints.

TCK, I love Eric Rohmer, too. For some reason his typically-French gabfests don't annoy me the way many French films do. Perhaps because the mostly endearing characters are all like people we know, even like ourselves. I particularly like "Summer (Le rayon vert)", and "Full Moon in Paris (Les nuits de la pleine lune)".

Mention of Gene Hackman reminds me of Ken Bruen's "The Hackman Blues," which I read recently. In it, a character imagines himself a look-and-sound-alike for the American actor. Needless to say, he isn't.

And mention of guys name Basil always reminds me not of Rathbone but of the beloved British children's character, Basil Brush. A foxy fella!

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Capo Giro branch near me is open only in the spring and summer, so I avoid that particular danger. And there are two Mexican resturanrs just as close to me as is the Capo Giro.

August 12, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Elizabeth, Rohmer's films are of a consistently high standard, although I prefer his comedies to the earlier 'Moral Tales', with the exception of 'My Night At Mauds'
(other great favourites included 'Conte D'Automne' [Autumn Tale] and 'The Aviator's Wife', which is almost like one of Hitchcock's light comic films)

btw, just finished by first Ross MacDonald/Lew Archer novel, 'Black Beauty'
If you have read this and Declan Hughes first novel, 'The Wrong Kind Of Blood', did you see strong similarities?
Seems uncanny to me

August 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Basil Gelato may be a distant relative of Holly Golightly ... fifth cousin, maybe.

August 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

TCK, I certainly did see similarities between Ross Macdonald and Declan Hughes. Even more pronounced in the first DH I read, "The Price of Blood (The Dying Breed)"--his 3rd Ed Loy novel--than the 1st (WKOB). I believe this is quite deliberate on DH's part based on what I've read. For ex, see this useful interview, http://januarymagazine.com/profiles/dhughes.html
I have no problem with it; in fact, I love it. I think DH is pretty successfully mining RM's subjects of family and the past for a 21st century readership. DH is my favorite "discovery" to date in 2010.
I've read about half of the Lew Archers. They are so good I'm parceling them out slowly as there will be no more.

And, yes, Rohmer's "Autumn Tale" is also a beautiful film.

August 13, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Not related to this post but perhaps of interest to US cable TV viewers...?

Turner Classic Movies will air the fine film noir, "Act of Violence," 1948, starring Robert Ryan and Van Heflin tomorrow, Friday, at 2:30 PM Eastern, 11:30 AM Pacific.

Evocative cinematography by Robert Surtees makes Los Angeles look like the frightening place it can be for a man on the run. Many recognizable landmarks, nighttime shoots. And if you only know Mary Astor from "The Maltese Falcon," get a load of her jaw-dropping performance as a barfly/hooker: "So you're unhappy. Relax. No law says you gotta be happy. Look at me. I'm not happy — but I get my kicks. Gee, I don't know how anybody could stand it if they didn't get their kicks."

This film is also available on DVD.

August 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. That Robert Ryan could be a pretty scary guy.

I wonder if the "Act of Violence" is part of any of the recent noir reissues, with commentary by the excellent Eddie Muller or any of his not-quite-as-excellent colleagues.

August 13, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, Eddie Muller has not provided commentary for AOV--yet. Have you seen the complete list of DVDs he does provide commentary for at:

http://www.eddiemuller.com/completelist.html

Turner Classic Movies has lots of interesting tidbits at:

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=2421

including a trailer.

August 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll take a look. Thanks.

If I'm in the mood for noir but don't have a specific title in mind, I'd just as soon rent a movie with commentary by Muller. I quite liked the way he highligted especially dark, noir elements in "The Lineup,"

I've heard the man's commentaries, watched a short film he made, and I'll soon attend an event he's a big part of. I may just have to read some of his writing one of these days.

August 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Elizabeth , I just finished 'Sleeping Beauty' last night, and was more convinced than ever about DH's MacDonald connection.

I'll check out your DH link, but I was thinking that, aside from general plot considerations, DH makes similar extensive use of dialogue, although his background in the theatre would have inclined him to this.

I thought MacDonald perhaps overused dialogue somewhat in 'Sleeping Beauty', but he still managed to draw vivid characters and was excellent in portraying mood and milieu.
I've been told that he re-uses plots and characters, and families such as the Lennoxes may be a feature of many of his novels.

I've got a few more of his books on order so I'll get a better sense of him after reading 3 or 4.

As well as 'Night Moves', I think now that the 'Chinatown' script may have had considerable Ross MacDonald influence.

As I mentioned to Peter on another thread, 'The Dying Breed' is my favourite of the three DH I've read so far: I thought for the most part it was wonderfully over the top with a nice blend of the crime novel and the Gothic horror.

I'm, also, very familiar with the general locations, and the type of characters that populate it, and, indeed, there was an 'industrial school for young offenders' in my hometown

August 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm embarrassed to announce that I have never seen an Eric Rohmer movie.

August 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A family called the Lennoxes? Could that have been a tip of the hat to Terry Lennox in Chandler's "The Long Goodbye"?

August 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

A family called the Lennoxes? Could that have been a tip of the hat to Terry Lennox in Chandler's "The Long Goodbye"?
I wonder.
Speaking of influences, although its a relatively late MacDonald, he still hadn't shaken off a certain Chandler influence

August 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

"I'm embarrassed to announce that I have never seen an Eric Rohmer movie."
As a rule I'm not a fan of filmed plays, or where there's an excessive reliance on dialogue, but Rohmer is a notable exception.

Perhaps his greatest strengths are he uses the dialogue to gradually make a characters flaws make help make them more endearing.

Also the way he uses environment, background and locations to tell his stories, and shape the characters

August 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not having read Macdonald, I don't know where the Chandler influence
stops and the homage begins.

August 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, TCK. I can assemble a Rohmer list from the movies mentione in comments above.

August 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I've no doubt you'll conclude Gene Hackman's 'Night Moves' character got it wrong, too, Peter

August 13, 2010  

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