Wednesday, May 05, 2010
First Wednesday Book Review Club
You can find more book review right here on Barrie Summy's blog.
ROGUE MALES, Craig McDonald
I actually don't read a lot of non-fiction, but here I am writing about a non-fiction book two months in a row.
Craig McDonald came to my attention when he did an interview with my daughter, Megan, for a mystery magazine (it is now available with other ones on his website, I think). I was impressed with how knowledgeable he was, how much he knew out about her through her writing, how well-prepared he was to respond to her answers and not just pose another unrelated question, how he looked for ways to make his subject shine, how the interview came off like a couple of people chatting in a coffee shop.
McDonald is also the author of several terrific novels himself, most recently PRINT THE LEGEND. His novels have great historical and psychological depth, showing a skill for research that he brings to this project as well. I am hoping he will write another book of interviews called FEMALE OF THE SPECIES or something like that.
(Art of the Blood, 2006) was McDonald's first foray into a collection of interviews.
ROGUE MALES looks at sixteen men who set the bar awfully high: James Crumley, Elmore Leonard, Daniel Woodrell, Alistair MacLeod, Andrew Vachss, James Ellroy, Max Allan Collins, Stephen J. Cannell, Craig Holden, Pete Dexter, Randy Wayne White, Lee Child, Tom Russell, Kinky Friedman, James Sallis, Ken Bruen.
These are some of my very favorite writers and McDonald managed to find the essence of each one. No two interviews are alike because he is able to frame his questions to fit the writer, to find out what makes them the writer they are. There is no standardized set of questions up his sleeve.
You can sense how comfortable each writer is with both him and with what he asks them, how they "get" that McDonald "gets" them. This rapport makes for wonderful interviews. You won't come away liking all of these writers--that isn't the point. But you will understand why they write the books they do, what writing is like for them-the process, the ups and downs, their themes and obsessions. And you will want to read their books if you haven't already. Isn't that the point?
I highly recommend both books of essays and the three novels McDonald has written. You won't be disappointed in any of them.