Monday, February 2, 2009

This and That

  • On the advice of AndiF I read one of Laura Lippman's mystery novels, Baltimore Blues, and I truly enjoyed it.  I liked it much better than the Sue Grafton novel I read.  So I think I've found my next series.  I did, however, come up with a theory on why I like British crime novels better than American crime novels - there are seldom any lawyers in British crime novels.  Lawyers abound in American crime novels and the authors who aren't lawyers always get something wrong, which I find distracting.  This one had nothing glaringly wrong, which I appreciated. 
  • via Mobylives, check out this really cool website developed by The Abbey Library of St. Gall (a library of medieval manuscripts).  You can virtually leaf through manuscripts like this bible.   The British Museum had an exhibit of some of their most famous books available virtually when I was there last and I spent a long time playing with the computers.  It's great to be able to do this at home.
  • Over the weekend I went to see New in Town, the new Renee Zellweger-Harry Connick Jr. comedy.  It's a bit uneven, some funny moments and a few portions that drag a bit.  But we wanted to see something light and there isn't much out right now that's light.  We enjoyed it for what it was.
  • The Globe and Mail has a Q&A with one of my favorite authors, PD James.  An excerpt:
  • Lynn Roy, Pictou, N.S. Dear Ms. James, I'm a great fan of your books and past TV dramas on PBS. I was wondering what your routine is when writing a novel — that is, what time of day do you write, and does it take months or years for a novel (do you have a deadline to meet)?

    P.D. James I write early in the morning and by hand, and then dictate to my excellent secretary when she arrives, and she puts it on the computer. It is rare for me to write a novel in less than a year, and with the necessary research and planning, this means there are usually two years or more between books. In the end there is always a deadline to meet because the publisher will have included the work in his catalogue of forthcoming publications and put time aside for copy-editing and proof-reading, etc.

  •  Here's a deconstruction and defense of Updikes' sentences.  Yes, yes, something perhaps only I enjoy, but I enjoy it.   A sample:
  • Sentence #1:

    Men emerge pale from the little printing plant at four sharp, ghosts for an instant, blinking, until the outdoor light overcomes the look of constant indoor light clinging to them.

    Heavy alliteration on the “p” plays to the plodding of the pale people who emerge from the printing plant.  The sentence turns on a dime, dropping the alliteration and transforming the men into “ghosts for an instant.” That instant lasts the space of the following comma—the blink—and the blinking strips them of their ghostliness.  Needless to say, “ghostliness” describes a thing one is, not a quality one has, but Updike’s inverting the effect here—the men appear ghostly to each other as their eyes adjust to the light, but Updike would have us believe they become ghostly, only to rematerialize as daylight strips the indoor light from their bodies.

  • The Guardian had a fun, but somewhat sad, interactive feature in the weekend edition. You can click through and see photos of bookstores that used to line Charing Cross Road in London. Most are gone now. I think I was born in the wrong era.