Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reading is apace

I looked up from closing the cover on another great book and it was February. That means I read three books in January, quite a pace for me. All good ones too. In my effort to try to find more things to blog about this year I figure what I read is a good place to start. So the first in my monthly roundup includes:

Lucky At Cards by Lawrence Block

Off the top of my daunting pile of Hard Case crime titles (only 31 to go. I think I was the only person excited about them slowing their output to once every other month) What can you say about Lawrence Block? I actually know way too little about his work but he is synonymous with great crime stories. This one did not disappoint. 40 years old without a whiff of staleness. Great pulpy fun all around.

Stone Quarry by SJ Rozan
This was my first SJ Rozan book. She has been on my list of writers to get to but since she writes a series, which I am not partial to, I have been slow to get to her. This is one reason I shy away from series. Her writing is so crisp, so controlled and the book I really enjoyed so now I feel like, "Well, crap now I have to go read all the other Bill Smith/Lydia Chin books." Will I? Maybe not right away but soon. Rozan's prose is just so effortless and tight I started to just marvel at the way each sentence felt like it could go together in no other way. Like they emerged fully formed from a womb. I never once had to go back and re-read anything for clarity. A real pro.

The Pistol Poets by Victor Gischler

Gischler has to be one of the flat-out most entertaining crime writers going. This one, like Gun Monkeys before it, is just mad. It goes in every crazy direction at once, soaked in blood and a twisted sense of humor that makes me feel better about myself. I feel sorry for whoever has to do the back cover summaries on a Gischler novel. How do you sum it all up in so few words?

All in all a great month of reading.

I had one abandoned book, Missy by Chris Hannan. I started it in Dec. but never got back to it. I was really excited for this one so it was a let down when I just balked at the style and language. It is set in the 1800s so the narrator talks in a kind of proto-Deadwood period speak that, while sometimes very evocative and gorgeous, really took me out of the story. I found it too much of an affectation and I kept focusing on the words and the unique turns of phrase instead of the story. It also took too long to get going. It made me realize an interesting thing: if your plot summary and the hook you use to sell a book doesn't happen until 150 pages in, maybe the top needs tightening. Just maybe.
I want to know if anyone else has been distracted by the writing style, even if you love it. Seriously, Missy has some great writing in it, I just found it too "written", y'know?
This happen to anyone else?

Up next is a double feature of Richard Powell pulp classics in one volume. I loved Say it with Bullets so I am looking forward to more from this forgotten pulp writer. After that I have so many choices and a wish list that is growing...time to take a speed reading class.

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