Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oh, for the love of weekends and bookstores. I sometimes feel like a lil old school marm when I think and write about my Saturdays (at least Saturday mornings) at bookstores. I've been good lately. I've been trading in books as much as I've been buying them. This past Saturday I traded in about six or seven books, Michael Cox'sThe Meaning of Night, was one of them, but I came out of Hand-It-Back Bookstore, I had some great buys. Jacqueline Winspear's Pardonable Lies, Michael Dibdin'sBlood Rain, Robert Wilson's Blind Man of Seville, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent and a great Modern Library paperback of Vanity Fair and an older, but perfect Penguin paperback of Middlemarch.

I've been on a mystery kick these past 12 months that started with Andrea Camilieri's Inspector Montalbano series. Now all I want to buy, touch, look at, think about are mysteries. Historical mysteries especially, but really anything will quench my thirst. In less than 24 hours I finished Dibdin's Blood Rain. It was my first Aurielo Zen mystery and I loved it. The ending blew me away and I had never read anything of his before. And though it's a series, I've never been one that cared enough, or felt the need to, begin a series with the first installment. Now I'm going to read all of Dibdin's Zen novels. They're quite similar to Camilieri's Montalbano series, but without the sense of humor, but that's not a bad thing. Dibdin was able to articulate the intricate workings and mechanisms of the Sicilian mafias. Crime families paying each other back with atrocious murders, cops getting killed by explosives and detectives risking their lives to get at the truth...whatever that is. And, the language is brisk, brusk and perfectly noir.

"Outside, the sky was falling. As yet it was just a light dust which appeared on Zen's coat like mist. It seemed to be pink. He walked back along the bridge, pausing at the same spot as before to light a cigarette. A gentle aerosol, soft yet solid, had soaked the night, thickening it and covering every surface with a patina of reddish dust."

Now reading:
Jacqueline Winspear Pardonable Lies
William Makepeace Thackery Vanity Fair

On deck:
Robert Wilson The Blind Man of Seville

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I enjoy writing late at night. Well, not late, but after 10 p.m. or so. I actually turn down most, if not all, the lights, flip open my well worn, well used iBook and begin writing, my hands illuminated by the glow of the ever bright screen. No books open, television on as background noise for comfort and countless words coming to mind. None of the words are original. They're normally words, sentences or plots that I had read earlier in the day. I don't worry about this. I find solace in this. At times. At other times I fear for my loss of creativity, if I had ever had any to begin with. But it's the words in my books that spark my imagination and excite me every time I crack open a new book and fold over a new cover, flip through the yellowing pages and begin my newest challenge. It's dark and quiet in my apartment. The light from the t.v. acts as my lamp, but my books light my way.

Now reading:
Jon Fasman The Geographer's Library

Now watching:
Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s African-American Lives 2

Monday, February 04, 2008

What's going on? I'm half way through Perez-Reverte's The Painter of Battles and I can barely get through it. Maybe I'm being finicky, but it's just not working for me. I get the idea of it. The premise is a war photographer, Andres Faulques, retires to a drab castle-like house on the coast of Spain. Instead of taking photographs, he begins to paint a mural of the history of war on his outside wall. With the sound of water crashing against the castle wall, the painter of battles (Perez-Reverte uses Faulques's name, but I enjoy writing and hearing 'the painter of battles') contemplates his color options, like using siena and blue to make black instead of using black itself. Then one day, a stranger appears. The painter of battles doesn't recognize this stranger, yet it is a man he photographed years ago. The photograph won a prestigious award and garnered the painter of battles fame and recognition. However, the photo sent the other man's life in a downward spiral. He appears and confronts the painter of battles and tells him he is going to kill him. They then spend evenings talking about life, death and the power of art. All the while, the painter of battles knows this man wants to kill him, but still he does not react to this. Is he withdrawn, resigned to his fate? It's like a Jim Jarmusch film. Two people in a cafe smoking cigarettes and speaking about their philosophy of life. It's just not enough to excite me. Blasphemy, I know. I'm not looking forward to my train ride tomorrow morning. Lunch is suddenly not looking too appetizing.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Friday night we went to Barnes and Noble for a coffee and to browse some books. Families, couples and friends, ran among the aisles, blocked magazines and waited impatiently in the cafe line...and I loved it all. We've begun to visit Barnes and Nobles when we have downtime on the weekends. It's how we both relax and make our next plan of attack. Friday night my fiance bought two books and though I left empty handed, I had countless ideas for my next purchase.

So when we were out Saturday I made sure I made our parade of errands took us to Cambridge so I could go to one of my favorite bookstores, Lorem Ipsum. Ok, it may not be my favorite bookstore, but I do have over $150 in store credit there. How did this happen? When I moved in with my fiance, we rented a beautiful, but small apartment. New stove, new refrigerator, new chandelier, no space...for my books. Of my 400 or so books, at least 225 were sold to Lorem Ipsum for well below what was paid for them in the first place. Its sort of like the college bookstore market of $.25 on the dollar. I don't want to cry again right now, so I'll move up to the present. At Lorem Ipsum, I was able to walk out with three books (and my fiance got another) and only $25 against our credit. I wasn't thrilled with the selection yesterday, but of course I was able to find a few stragglers. A mass market copy of James Ellroy's White Jazz, Kevin Baker's Paradise Alley and Jon Fasman's The Geographer's Library. But they'll have to wait a few days so I can spend some time with Arturo Perez-Reverte and The Painter of Battles.

Now reading:
Arturo Perez-Reverte The Painter of Battles

Just read:
Michael Gruber The Book of Air and Shadows

Now watching:
Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood

Friday, February 01, 2008

It's been awhile and I've been out of touch the past year, but I haven't stopped reading. Far from it. I've found some new friends...John Dunning, Anthony Burgess, Andrea Camillieri, Ross King and Michael Gruber to name a few. Yes, I know they have all been writing for years, but that's one of the joys of literature, right, finding a writer for the first time. "Ocian in view! O! The Joy!" Each reader has the opportunity to discover what others know, but had previously been unknown to them...like the Pacific to William Clark and Merriweather Lewis.

It's going to take awhile for me to get this blog up and running at full steam, but I'm prepared to begin. Since I last wrote, I've gotten engaged, set a wedding date, moved in with my fiance and booked a honeymoon. And with that, I will get my thoughts together as much as possible and try to post again this evening.

Currently reading:

John Dunning The Bookman's Promise

On deck:

Arturo Perez-Reverte The Painter of Battles