Friday, April 29, 2011

Deadlier than the mail: A list of books received

I'm suffering a surfeit of newly acquired books. They've come new, and they've come secondhand. They've come from bookshops in New York, Philadelphia, and Montreal, and by mail from authors, publishers and publicists. Today I found a crime novel on the window sill at my local bakery with a sign that said: "Take me. I'm free."

I enter a contest to win a book, my correct answer is not the one drawn, but the author sends me the book anyway as a consolation prize.

They're comics and they're traditional books, and they're by Garry Disher, Georges Simenon, Jason Aaron, Greg Rucka, and the authors I wrote about here. And it all leaves me with a vertigo of indecision over what to read next.

Some notes from my browsing:
  • Queen and Country: The Definitive Edition, Volume 4 is not so blessedly free, but it's a fine book anyway, with exciting back stories for key characters and, as always in this series, settings recent enough to lend a frisson of immediacy. Espionage fiction exists after the Cold War.
But the following, from Crash by J.G. Ballard, may be my favorite of the lot:
"He thought of the crashes of honeymoon couples, seated together after their impacts with the rear suspension units of runaway sugar-tankers."
Now, off on dinner break — with four books.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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17 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Crash might be my favourite novel from the 1970's. I think JG Ballard's reputation will only rise in the next few years.

April 30, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I had your assessment of the novel in mind when I spotted a copy at my local secondhand bookshop this week. I guess Ballard has appealed more to science-fiction fans and cyber-punk types, but the opening chapters of Crash have to be interesting for crime fiction fans as well. Perhaps my reason for saying this will be bit of a surprise when I get around to it in a future post.

My v-word: splarsh

Oh, and thanks for spending a bit of your precious bandwidth here at Detectives Beyond Borders, where every bit is special.

April 30, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Happy to spend it talking about Ballard. I love the amazing period he went through from 1973 - 1978 turning out strange and wonderful short stories and just as strange and just as great novels. I have a a feeling that Ballard will come to be seen as THE defining English novelist of the latter part of the twentieth century.

I dont know if your copy of Crash comes with the famous reader's rerport from a UK publishing house that said of the book "DO NOT PUBLISH - the author is clearly beyond psychiatric help."

April 30, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No, my copy's cover says "Now a major motion picture."

I have read about that reader's report, though. That's the greatest blurb ever. Beats anything even Ken Bruen could come up with.

April 30, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If I like Crash, what else should I read by him?

April 30, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

There are 3 distinct phases I'd rec.

The 1973 - 1978 period when he turned out the strange, relatively short brilliant novels: Crash, Concrete Island, High Rise & The Unlimited Dream Company and his best collection of short stories: Low Flying Aircraft.

Then there's the 80's when he produced his - arguably - best novel - the autobiographical Empire of the Sun.

And then if you're still hooked go back to the 60's and try my favourite of his early sci fi disaster novels: The Drowned World (which isnt at all the way you think its going to be).

April 30, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Funny you should mention sci-fi disaster novels and suggest one of them is not what I would expect. The only dated bit I've found in Crash's invocation of technology is its use of the word technology. The very word has lost whatever oomph it may once have had, and it seems a bit like a cheesy science-fiction robot.

I find it fascinating that an author could be a master of the strange, and then write Empire of the Sun. I haven't read it or seen the movie based on it, but it does not seem like what I'd expect from the author of Crash.

April 30, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

In Empire of the Sun he wisely plays everything with a straight bat, just telling us how things were. Its a good approach because the situation (the Japanese invasion of Shanghai and his 4 years in an internment camp) is outlandish, perverse, scary and strange and doesn't really need extraneous invention. But many of his obssessions are there anyway: cars, sex, planes, ruined cities, sudden acts of violence, people acting in extremis...

April 30, 2011  
Blogger Brian Lindenmuth said...

The new Stroby - Imagine a Parker novel if Parker was a woman.

The new Scalped - Possibly the strongest yet. Also the most moving, tragic and human.

April 30, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, that's why I was impressed by what little I had heard of Empire of the Sun, namely, that a man capable of such weird invention would play it straight. The man seems to have handled his material the way a greal composer or conductor handles an orchesta.

April 30, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Brian, that was precisely my impression of that opening page of Cold Shot to the Heart. It very much has the feel of one of the Parker novels that open mid-heist. I nominated Duane S. as a candidate to write a post-Stark Parker novel, but I may have to bump him off to make room for Stroby.

When I first started reading Scalped, I was a bit put off when Red Crow stepped in as a protagonist. This seemed a bit like a tendentious, tactical move to show that the bad guy has a human side. But that suspicion of Aaron's intentions has fallen away.

In re this Scalped being the most moving, tragic and human: Yep. It has Carol coming back to Agnes Poor Bear, not to mention that standalone story about the old couple.

April 30, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

"I love the amazing period he went through from 1973 - 1978 turning out strange and wonderful short stories and just as strange and just as great novels"

Adrian, you should check out Ballard's short stories of the early 60's, as included in the anthology, 'The Voices of Time', which, itself, is one of my all-time favourite short stories.

I love 'Crash', book and film, but I haven't read too many of his novels

ot: 'sfunny, I could swear that 'congstra' has previously been used as a 'word verifier'

May 06, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the recommendations.

Is "congstra" Viagra in King-size doses?

May 06, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I thought these 'verifiers' had to pass your gimlet-eyed Quality Control test before they could be used, Peter.

My first thought was 'conger eel', although, at a stretch, I suppose you could say the two nouns could be related

'paces' sounds somewhat more conventional, whether in its English or Latin meaning!

May 06, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No, the verifiers are entirely up to the google gods. I, too recently, noticed a verifier coming up for a second time. Perhaps the program that generates them is moving into its second cycle.

May 06, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Perhaps they've just run out of ideas.
Or think nobody notices these things!
:)

May 06, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have also occasionally noticed a verification word humorously or ironically appropriate for the comment's theme. Perhaps the generation of such words is not random.

May 06, 2011  

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