Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crime books you should plotz, they're so good

Shots e-zine has asked a worldwide panel of crime-fiction experts and me to choose books to die for, the occasion being celebration of a new book called, as it happens, Books to Die For.

The book is a collection of essays by some of the world's best crime writers (Megan Abbott, Christopher Brookmyre, Ken Bruen, Sara Gran, Jason Goodwin, Allan Guthrie, John McFetridge, Adrian McKinty, Jo Nesbø, Leonardo Padura, David Peace, Scott Phillips, and many more) writing about their favorite crime writers, and it's coming soon to a country near you.

Each contributor was asked, in the editors' words, for
"passionate advocacy: we wanted them to pick one novel, just one, that they would place in the canon. If you found them in a bar some evening, and the talk turned (as it almost inevitably would) to favorite writers, it would be the single book that each writer would press upon you, the book that, if there was time and the stores were still open, they would leave the bar in order to purchase for you, so that they could be sure they had done all in their power to make you read it."
I have yet to see the book, but I did get the lowdown from one of its editors, Declan Burke, over a restorative fruit juice after Crimefest in Bristol this year, and the book sounds like a cracker, with a surprising choice or two.

Those are the captains and sailors of the great ship Crime Fiction. Among we critical barnacles clinging to the hull, Shots leads off with Barry Forshaw on Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene, and me, on how Bill James' Roses, Roses changed my life. I know I'll check back often as the Shots list grows; you should, too.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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Anonymous solo said...

I don't want to kvetch, Peter, or even to kibitz, and I certainly don't want to be considered a putz or shlemiel, but what the shtup does koltz mean?

And congratulations on this latest addition to your authorial cv.

August 22, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Plotz means collapse, to drop dead, even. So a book so good you should plotz is a book to die for.

Just to avoid any possible confusion, I'm not in the book. I merely made one of a series of posts on the Shots site in conjunction with the book's publication. You may therefore withdraw your congratulations without prejudice.

August 22, 2012  
Anonymous solo said...

Ah, you mean books that would make you plotz.

What? They didn't tap you to provide some 'passionate advocacy' of crime fiction. What a bunch of momzers!

August 22, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I know both editors. Each is a landsman of yours, and each is a mensch.

All the contributors are authors, which is a fair decision to make. Of all the talk about crime fiction, online and elsewhere, how much is authors talking about their own favorite authors? Not much. Hence the interesting premise of the book.

August 22, 2012  
Anonymous solo said...

I instantly recognized mensch as Yiddish and German as well, of course, but if I had not googled landsman, I would have thought it was just a seafaring term, and one for those poor bastards like me who, like Samuel Johnson, thought that being on a boat was like being in prison, only with a greater chance of drowning.

The litfic v genre wars continue. What the latter camp really need is their own champion, and that champion is likely to be a man or a woman who has no skin in the game. A critic, in other words. In the right hands crime fiction could be turned into something ethically, morally, socially, culturally and artistically superior to literary fiction. These things are merely a matter of fashion. All crimefiction really needs is to find its own Carl Lagerfeld.

A book by a bunch of crimewriters telling us how wonderful crimewriting is, is going to do nothing worthwhile. That's just pissing into the wind.

August 22, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I, too, hope the contributors don't waste time talking about how wonderful crime writing is. Instead, I hope they bring insight to bear on their favorite books, whether those books happen to have been written by Dostoesvsky or by Chandler.

August 22, 2012  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

Roses, Roses is so friggin' amazing. I almost NEVER read books out of order, but that one spoke to me, so I read it without knowing anything about the characters, and I was still dazzled. I've since gone to the beginning of the series, but I'm needing a copy of Lolita Man to keep going.

This looks like a very promising collection of essays.

August 23, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You are reader of great taste and discernment with tastes strikingly similar to my own, and you're beginning with Bill James exactly as I did.

After I read Roses, Roses, I read each book as I could get it, regardless of series order, until I was caught up. That was Book 19, Naked at the Window, and I've since read each new book in the series as it appeared.

Here's a handy list:

1. You'd Better Believe It (1985)
2. The Lolita Man (1986)
3. Halo Parade (1987)
4. Protection (1988)
aka Harpur and Iles
5. Come Clean (1989)
6. Take (1990)
7. Club (1991)
8. Astride a Grave (1991)
9. Gospel (1992)
10. Roses, Roses (1993)
11. In Good Hands (1994)
12. The Detective is Dead (1995)
13. Top Banana (1996)
14. Panicking Ralph (1997)
15. Lovely Mover (1998)
16. Eton Crop (1999)
17. Kill Me (2000)
18. Pay Days (2001)
19. Naked at the Window (2002)
20. The Girl with the Long Back (2003)
21. Easy Streets (2004)
22. Wolves of Memory (2005)
23. The Sixth Man and Other Stories (2006)
23. Girls (2006)
24. Pix (2007)
25. In the Absense of Iles (2008)
26. Hotbed (2009)
27. I Am Gold (2010)
28. Vacuum (2011)
29. Undercover (2012)

Here’s my interview with Bill James. And, in a slightly less professional vein, here’s a picture of me with Bill James.

August 23, 2012  

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