Archive for October, 2010
October 31st, 2010 Posted 9:18 am
“Divorce,” Ingrid explained to Nigel, halfway through a very long walk, easily their longest ever, a walk that took them out of Riverbend, onto Main Street and all the way to the Village Green. But divorce meant nothing to Nigel, or to any other dog, even the smartest that ever lived. Did it have meaning for any animals at all? Ingrid scrolled through a few in her mind – bears, deer, crocodiles, geese. She just didn’t know enough about their habits to know. And even with those creatures that mated for life, none of whom came to mind at the moment, did the offspring even bother to stick around for more that a few weeks or months? Life was pretty short for most animals; on the other hand, they had no inkling. Only human beings had inklings about the end part. What was that quote? Ingrid remembered Mom saying it, one day when she’d dragged the whole family to some strange art thing at the Wadsworth Museum in Hartford: Death casts a shadow backwards. Oh, boy. “Death casts a shadow backwards,” she said to Nigel. His stubby tail drooped, but that might have because he was getting tired. Ingrid was feeling a little droopy herself.
From Into the Dark.
October 30th, 2010 Posted 9:28 am
Book Notes By John Wilson
To Fetch A Thief: The third installment in the adventures of Chet and Bernie.
In January 2009, Atria Books published a novel by Spencer Quinn, Dog on It, that took the familiar noirish conventions of the private-eye novel and gave them a twist: the narrator is a dog. Gimmicky? Cloying? Terminally cute? It could have been all of these, but it wasn’t. The voice of Chet the dog is winsome, funny, and somehow—by the alchemy of fiction—utterly persuasive. So who was this unknown author, Spencer Quinn? The bio on the jacket flap was skimpy.
No wonder. “Spencer Quinn,” it turned out, is none other than Peter Abrahams, “my favorite American suspense novelist,” Stephen King has said (and one of my favorites too). He followed with Thereby Hangs a Tail in January 2010 and now, in time for Christmas gifts, To Fetch a Thief, the third installment in the adventures of Chet and his partner Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency. Like its predecessors, this new story is based in “the Valley,” somewhere in the American Southwest, ranging out from there (in this instance, across the border). The case involves a missing circus elephant, Peanut, for starters, but soon ramifies.
If you haven’t yet entered Chet and Bernie’s world and are inclined to investigate, best to start with Dog on It. If you find that it’s your cup of tea, you’ll quickly get through all three books and join the rest of us impatiently looking forward to number four. While you’re waiting, you might want to visit Chet’s blog.
John Wilson is the editor of Books & Culture.
October 29th, 2010 Posted 8:59 am
Count Dracula appeared right in our house! Walking down the hall with his arms raised up high! He was way taller than I’d imagined. Of course I attacked him right away – homeland security is my job. But it was only Bernie – I found out just a bit too late – trying on his Halloween costume. No one told me Halloween was coming. I like all the holidays – Thanksgiving especially – but not Halloween. What gets into people on Halloween? You tell me.
October 28th, 2010 Posted 9:37 am
“Whatcha reading?” says Spence.
“Life,” says Admin. “The new Keith Richards autobiography.”
“How is it?”
“Way better than I expected. And the parts where he talks – and the whole thing does have a conversational tone – about music are really terrific. The story of him, Brian Jones and Mick Jagger living in a squalid apartment in Chelsea and listening to records of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and all those guys 24/7, taking it all apart and putting it back together, living on practically nothing but a love for music, is mesmerizing.”
“And the not so good parts?”
“That would be all the stuff about drugs. It’s tedious. And the beginning – this not very credible or creditable scene of a drug bust in Arkansas in the ’70’s – is really misconceived. Where was the editor? If you’re going to read it, skip right to chapter two, Keith’s boyhood in a crummy town near London.”
“I always liked that song You Got The Silver – Keith sings that?”
“Yeah. It’s amazing how … soul, no other word for it, can overcome the lack of a great voice when it comes to singing.”
“Don’t you try.”
Admin laughs. Spence laughs, too. Hey! They’re getting along.