Monday, August 28, 2006

Door Number Three

Here is my review for Door Number Three by Patrick O'Leary over at Fantasy Book Spot. This book is brilliant and its time for it to be re-discovered.

The Guards by Ken Bruen - review

Here is my review for The Guards by the always brilliant Ken Bruen over at Mystery Book Spot.

Bubba Ho-Tep

Here is my review for Bubba Ho-Tep, the story, over at Fantasy Book Spot

Shotgun Opera by Victor Gischler - review

Here is my review for Shotgun Opera by Victor Gischler over at Mystery Book Spot.

Penny Dreadful review

My review for Will Christopher Baer's 2nd book in the Phineas Poe trilogy, Penny Dreadful is up at Mystery Book Spot here. I think it is the strongest book if the three. Take a look.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Over at Fantasy Book Spot there was recently areview posted about The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford.

In the forum section there is an interesting debate taking place as to the reliability of Diego as the narrator. I think thats its an interesting subject that hasnt really been broached anywhere else.

I'm one of the participants and would love to hear what other readers of this fine story think.

Genre Fiction Awards

Any reasonable person can see why a publisher would want to make sure everyone knows that a book or an author has won an award.  Noting it on a books cover, an authors bio, on his/her web site, at a convention, wherever really.
But what I'm curious about is the designation "nominated for..." or "...nominee" 
Are genre fiction publishers more inclined to include these designations then there more mainstream counterparts.  If so, then why.  Are genre publishers scrambling for acceptance and recognition in an attempt to say "see, see, it was nominated for an award it must be good..."
When reading a book that was nominated for an award does one immediately have the knee-jerk reaction of asking "who won"?  I personally don't. 
Or in the case of some awards that have a lot and I mean A LOT of categories, do the amount of categories devalue the award.  Like the Hugo, there are so many damn categories that it seems like everyone in the field has one.  Does the fact or more importantly the perception that EVERYONE has a Hugo diminish the award.  I think it does to some degree. 
Does a large amount of nominees devalue the award.  If 20 books are nominated and the award has been around for awhile then that's a lot of nominees.  Theoretically then everybody would be a nominee.  If everyone is advertised as a ______ nominee then its a level playing field right. 
If the genre is small in terms of the reading community and sales and there are a large amount of awards isn't that the equivalent of getting a participation trophy in little league. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer review

My review for Kiss Me, Judas is here, over at Fantasy Bookspot. There's tons more to say about this book.

Allusions, references and parallels abound. Keep an eye out for reviews of the other two books in the trilogy and an extended criticism in the near future.

Because enough can't be said about the movie Snakes on a Plane. Here is Swiercznyski's brilliant analysis of the theme song.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Come Closer by Sara Gran - review

My review for Sara Gran's Come Closer over at Fantasy Book Spot is here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Kids talk

We're eating dinner and talking about dinner when my aunt says anything can be good for you in moderation.  My daughter says "except coke and chicken pox"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pistol Poets by Victor Gischler - review

My review for Pistol Poets by Victor Gischler over at Mystery Book Spot is here

Boyos - review

My review for Boyos over at Mystery Book Spot is here

Will Christopher Baer's new book Godspeed

I just finished the first book of the Phineas Poe trilogy, Kiss Me, Judas.  I'll be posting a review of it soon over at Fantasy Book Spot. I went to the authors site and hey he has a new book coming out soon.  Check out this description

--from the publisher
According to Milton, heaven and hell are but a hand's breadth apart. In GODSPEED, there is no heaven or hell. There is only "the presidio," a lawless noir purgatory populated by fugitive souls, fallen angels, demon children, immortals, and the undead. Moving among them is a complicated hero in Ryder Fell.mercenary thief, repentant womanizer, and sometime savior of lost children--afflicted with the "godspeed," a dizzying array of paranormal talents he can neither control or explain. The worst of these are nightmare visions of black doors All hell breaks loose when an exiled undead soul, in the body of a young girl, borrows the godspeed from Ryder and plunges through the wrong door...Milton had one thing right--the next world is a heartbeat away from this one, an easy jump for the lucky few who know how to secure passage. For the rest of us, the real hell is in the journey. 

Sounds original and very interesting.  Cant wait to give it a try!

Setting the bar too low

This is my promised response to an earlier blog post by Sara Gran. I love her books I just don’t always agree with her blog posts is all. I linked to it yesterday so please read it first.

Chick-Lit vs. Romance

I don’t agree with the way that you are using the terms Romance Novel and Chick-Lit interchangeably. They are distinct genres; a quick visit to Wikipedia bears that out.

1) “A romance novel is a novel from the genre currently known as romance. The genre has two strict criteria:

* The story must focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people [1];
* The end of the story must be positive, leaving the reader believing that the protagonists' love and relationship will endure for the rest of their lives.

If a novel does not fulfill those conditions, fans of the genre are likely to claim that it belongs to a related genre, such as women's fiction or chick lit, or that it is just a mainstream fiction novel.

Some romance novel readers would claim that the genre has additional restrictions, from plot considerations such as the hero and heroine meeting early on in the story, to avoiding possible themes, such as neither hero nor heroine committing adultery in the course of their relationship developing. However, these are not hard-and-fast rules, and some writers deliberately write stories that may put off some readers in order to push the genre's boundaries.”

2) "Chick lit" is a term used to denote a genre of popular fiction written for and marketed to young women, especially single, working women in their twenties. The genre's creation was spurred on, if not exactly created, in the mid-1990s with the appearance of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and similar works; it continued to sell well in the 2000s, with chick-lit titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to chick-lit.

Chick-lit features hip, stylish female protagonists, usually in their twenties or thirties, in urban settings (usually Manhattan), and follows their love lives and struggles in business (often in the publishing, advertising, public relations or fashion industry). The books usually feature an irreverent tone and frank sexual themes.

They aren’t the same. Chick-Lit is a bit harder to define because it is newer but some examples are Megan McCafferty’s "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings"; Read Between the Lies; Mrs. Mourning Glo; Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City; The Girls Guide to Fishing and Hunting by Melissa Bank; Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary; Devil Wears Prada and Animal Husbandry. Whereas we all know what a Romance novel is, after all we have all seen the section at the bookstore regardless of the store.

So, with that said I don’t think that Romance novels will ever attain a level of critical acceptance or re-appraisal. I think as a genre it will always remain in the critical basement. I think that one of the biggest reasons for this is the Romance genres inability to produce what others outside of the genre or even those inside the genre would call a classic. All other genre fiction has laid claims on certain titles and authors who are regarded as classics.

Name me one Romance writer. You can’t. In fact the average persons knee jerk reaction to hearing the phrase Romance Novel is probably Fabio. That right there exists as one of the prime indicators of the superficiality of that genre when the most prominent figure is a male model who poses for pictures that are usually drawn, not even a photograph!

Lowest Common Denominator

Good fiction is good fiction regardless of genre. But just because a book is written by a woman isn’t enough of a reason to champion it. If that becomes your sole reason, or your top reason for recommending a book then you considerably lower your baseline for comparison. The bar becomes lowered as you play to the lowest common denominator. If you recommend a book to me simply based on the fact that a woman wrote it then that becomes the blind date equivalent of “Well, she’s nice…”

To hear your argument put another way just change the word woman to brown hair. So now you’re saying that a book should be read because the person who wrote it has brown hair.

In other words, quality needs to come into the discussion at all times. Quality doesn’t mean that the high walls of academia approve of it and let it romp freely inside their high walls. After all there are different types of quality, no one is going to say Ken Bruen writes like Dante but they both are quality writers.

"To suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut -- doesn't the term basically bring down all of us?" -- Curtis Sittenfeld in the New York Times [1]

Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Romance novels are most popular in the United States and Canada, where it is the best-selling genre. In North America in 2002, sales of romance novels generated US$1.63 billion and comprised 34.6% of all popular fiction sold - by comparison, general fiction comprised 24.1% and mystery, detective and suspense fiction comprised 23.1%. Over 2000 romance novels were published, and there were 51.1 million romance novel readers.

Romance novels are doing just fine the way that are and the above stated statistics bear that out. They don’t need our critical approval when they are getting our dollars. In fact given the inherent superficiality of the genre the statistics speak bibles full of truth about readers’ habits.

The 70’s Reappraisal

I’m not too sure even where to start with her contention that of the so called 70’ reappraisal of other genres of fiction. It feels mis-informed at best so it may aggravate me I’m not offended by it. She even admits her own un-interest in other genres. So it may warrant a response but I don’t feel it’s necessary at this time.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sara Gran's recent thoughts on fiction and women

Sara Gran recently had a blog post that aggravated the piss out of me. It seems as her basic premise was to say that gender should play a role as to whether fiction is good or not. I was going to post a comment to it on her site but I never seem to get responses over there. I am going to post a response to it here soon.

By the way if you havent been reading her books you should be.

I'll be posting a review of her Come Closer soon over at Fantasy BookSpot.

A Blonde walks into a blog

Duane Swierczynski posted a link to the review that I wrote for his new book The Blonde over at Mystery Book Spot here

Thoughts on genre fiction experimentation

John Connoly recently posted some interesting thoughts about experimentation in genre fiction here.

Note to Self

Is it possible that St. Christopher was a werewolf?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tapestry Novels

I find myself increasingly interested in the idea of what I call the Tapestry Novel. Over the course of an authors career it will always become obvious that there were certain themes that were visited and revisited. In a select few bodies of work though it becomes apparent that there is something larger going on. You not only have the reappearance of themes, but words, phrases, objects and most importantly characters. A large cast of characters that don't all appear in all of the books but make frequent appearances. This has the effect of creating a real world. Some of the greatest practitioners of this are Edward Whittemore, Robertson Davies, Russell Hoban (in his latter works) and Jonathan Carroll. Its Carroll's works that I'm concerned with now. My hope is to explore this concept in greater.