Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books

 QUEEN'S GAMBIT by Walter Tevis

I am not sure what drew me to this book. I know nothing about chess and the book was chock full of chess matches. I was unable to follow the moves and,
in fact, had never heard of terms like the "middle game" before.
Beth, an orphan, is taught chess by the janitor at the school/orphanage where she lives. She begs him to learn and at once excels. Once adopted, her adopted mother uses (in a benign way) her ability to support them. Both of them are in flight from any real world. 
We follow Beth from match to match across the years. She picks up some bad habits in terms of substance abuse along the way. An interesting book about a child prodigy and how she makes the jump to an adult champion. Highly recommended especially for those who play the game.

Sergio Angelini, MURDER WITHIN MURDER, Frances and Richard Lockridge
Yvette Banek, WARRANT FOR X, Philip Macdonald
Les Blatt, DEATH OF AN AIRMAN, Christopher St. John Sprigg
Brian Busby, BLONDES ARE MY TROUBLE, Douglas Sanderson
Bill Crider, THE VIOLENT ONES, Brant House, ed.
Scott Cupp, SOME OF YOUR BLOOD, Theodore Sturgeon
Martin Edwards, THE MAN WHO LOST HIS WIFE, Julian Symons
Ed Gorman, KILLER, Dave Zeltserman
Rick Horton,  Ace Doubles: Conan the Conqueror, by Robert E. Howard/The Sword of Rhiannon, by Leigh Brackett
Jerry House, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, Flint and Spoor
George Kelley, DEEP QUARRY, John. E. Stith
Margot Kinberg, BLANCHE ON THE LAM, Barbara Neely
B.V. Lawson, GOOD COP, BAD COP, Barbara D'Amato
Steve Lewis/David Vineyard, THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE PENCIL, Gordon McAlpine
Todd Mason, CONJURE WIFE, Fritz Leiber
Matt Paust, THE CONSEQUENCES OF DESIRE, Dennis Hathaway
James Reasoner, TERROR STATION, James V. Swain
Kevin Tipple. A DANGEROUS THING, Bill Crider
TomCat, SCHEMERS, Bill Pronzini
TracyK, FUNERAL IN BERLIN, Len Deighton
Westlake Review, ENOUGH, Donald Westlake

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Your ten desert island books?

No collections count. Single volume books only. I have read only three of these so their reputation precedes them.

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
Selected Stories of Alice Munro
The Bible
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
Middlemarch, George Elliott
The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Edgar Allen Poe
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
A Secret History, Donna Tartt

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Directed by John Houston and based on the novella by Carson McCullers, this is a film that is probably too much for most people (like me). What was interesting and odd and beautifully written in the novel, became sinister, frightening. hysterical (in its true meaning) and occasionally laughable in the movie IMHO. Never a fan of either Liz Taylor or Marlon Brando's acting styles, I should have known this was not the film for me. Anyone see it?
I am still looking for a film where Brando (or Taylor) works for me. Brando comes closest in STREETCAR but even there his hysteria, suited to that film, I guess, wears on me. Brian Keith is the saving grace in REFLECTIONS.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection from HANZAI, Japan

"Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection" by Yumeaki Hirayama from Hanzai Japan

hanzai japan 

reviewed by Patti Abbott

Yumeaki Hirayama’s debut as a novelist came in 1996 with the psycho-thriller Sinker—shizumu mono (Sinker). In 2006 he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Short Stories with Dokuhaku suru yunibasaru yoko merukatoru (The Universal Transverse Mercator Speaks), and his collection of the same title took first place in the 2007 Konomys rankings. He won the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize in 2009, and the Haruhiko Oyabu Award in 2011, for his noir novel Diner, set in a restaurant where professional hit men gather. Among his other works is the 2011 story collection An Outsider’s Death (original English title).
Hirayama’s story in HANZAI JAPAN, “Monologue of a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection” looks to be related to his prize -winning collection. The anthology’s goal was to collect stories that managed to be both speculative and crime-oriented. The introduction advises us that Japanese crime writers enjoyed subverting the genre from the earliest days. And the combination here makes the likelihood even greater. The use of the supernatural adds some nice seasoning to crime stories. And the story of a crime can provide a fulcrum to science fiction.
In this story, the protagonist is a map. Though given the nature of the collection you might expect this to be a futuristic global navigation system, instead it is an ordinary paper map. Ordinary in appearance, that is. But this map has the ability through inner maps to provide supernatural guidance for its owner, a taxi driver. It can rearrange itself to provide a route to suit a need. This anthromorphized map functions as a sidekick.
Crime enters the tale when the taxi driver begins murdering then hiding the bodies of female passengers. The map makes himself an accomplice by finding burial sites that will go undetected. When the master (as the map calls him) dies, the story only grows more complex.
It is impossible not to admire this story. The abilities of the map have been laid out with great imagination and care. The consistency of the idea is thrilling. The murders take place off screen and are of much less interest than the relationship that exists between the map and the taxi driver(s). Highly recommended for fans of superb writing.

For more reviews from HANZAI, JAPAN, go to SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE 

What anthology has worked for you of late? 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Night Music: Adele

An Immediate Bond

Meeting new people in a new neighborhood I have found out something that I should have known. If we meet someone who reads, especially fiction, and someone who is a movie watcher, we become friends almost at once. We have so much to talk about right from the beginning.

Whereas if our only bond is living on the same street, what's there to say after comparing where we came from?

I can almost claim to be instantly closer friends with a new person that reads than older ones who do not. Do you find this? Are your closest friends readers?