Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reading Roundup


Valley of Bones by Michael Gruber, not yet reviewed, is the follow up to the dark and magical Tropic of Night.  The short version: Once again set in Miami and featuring Afro-Cuban detective Jimmy Paz, Valley of Bones opens with a thud--followed by a splat--when a man leaps (or is hurled?) off the balcony of a swank Miami hotel.  When detectives enter the room to investigate they find Emmylou Dideroff, a former nun who has visions of St. Catherine and apparently had good reason to kill the deceased, although she denies that particular sin.  As did its predecessor, Valley of Bones consists of several complementary narratives, one of which is the longhand confession (a la Augustin) of Emmylou.  And, as in Tropic of Night, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy...

The Insider by Reece Hirsch, not yet reviewed, is a fast-paced legal thriller.  The short version:  On the day Will Connelly is finally going to be made partner in his law firm he watches a co-worker plummet past his window to his death.  Unfortunately for Will things go downhill from that point, as he is dragged into an unhealthy relationship with the Russian mob in San Francisco and forced to feed them insider stock tips.  A full review will follow, and I don't want to give anything away except to say that toward the end of the book there is a wonderful set piece--scary and very funny--which takes place amidst the feathers and leather of the Gay Pride Parade on Market Street.  A notable first novel by attorney Reece Hirsch.

The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning, not yet reviewed.  The short version: homicide cop turned bookman Cliff Janeway is hired to determine which books are missing from an amazing collection of mostly classic children's literature (among the most difficult of book genres to find pristine examples, as they're often so well-loved by the children who read them).  He is quickly drawn into the search for the thief, and then into the search for the killer in a thirty year old homicide.  John Dunning proves (as bibliophiles have always known) that books are sexy and exciting.  

Book Finds by Ian C. Ellis, reviewed here.  The short version: Ellis takes the novice book collector step by step through the process, beginning with the anatomy of a book and ending with several useful appendices on such subjects as the collectibility of current authors and how to identify first editions from publisher to publisher (because, of course, they can't make it easy for us by all doing it the same way).  All told, an informative, interesting, readable book.


Caroline's Daughters by Alice Adams, a lovely, thoughtful domestic drama set in the mid-eighties in San Francisco.  

Far North by Marcel Theroux, another recent entry in the ever-growing genre of post-apocalyptic fiction...haunting and--quite literally--chilling.

A Gentle Madness by Nicolas A. Basbanes.  Bibliophilia, bibliomania...what more do we need to say?


Once again, far too many to list them all.  I did a bit of buying from Amazon this's not at all politically correct to say this, but gods help me I love Amazon so.  It's all there, every single thing.  I have never looked for a book and not found it on Amazon (and if it's there but too expensive, chances are you can find a copy or three over at Alibris for less dough).  Anyway, in my pursuit of learning to collect books more wisely and to clean up and maintain the ones I do collect, I picked up the aforementioned Book Finds, as well as The Care and Feeding of Books Old and New by Margot Rosenberg and Bern Marcowitz.

Now I know how to fix up that slightly askew first edition of Mary Stewart's The Hollow Hills and the really attractive (even if it is a book club edition) copy of The Human Factor by Graham Greene, two of my favorites from this week's book hunting.

Probably not worth even the twenty cents I paid, but look at it...The Cannibals (which, if you look closely at the title, hides within it the name of CBS, the network that actor/producer Keefe Brasselle was apparently wronged by) is an expose of the TV industry in the sixties.  Oh yes.

On the more literary end of the spectrum, lovely pristine firsts of admittedly lesser works by Toni Morrison and John Updike.

And finally, this beautiful little ARC from Ecco arrived yesterday.  It's the thirtieth anniversary edition of John Fowles meditation on nature and human creativity and the connection between them.


EnriqueFreeque said...

Good grabs, good info all around. Never heard of that Fowles one you got. And being such an aficionado of Alexander Theroux, I've always been curious of his nephew, Marcel's writing. His first novel (don't remember the title) but do recall it being raved about. Hope his PA is a good one.

Quick tip: B&N has bins filled with 75% off titles, and not just garbage. I got a cool coffee table book on Woodstock for a couple bucks, and another one listed at $40 featuring writers and their artwork for a measly $9

Rebecca Glenn said...

Guess I'm heading over to B&N tomorrow. Sigh. I can't stop.