Flagging down the Weekend Update

So first, I jump on the growing bandwagon of reviewing Scott Turow’s new novel, ORDINARY HEROES. I daresay my reaction was a little different than everyone else’s, but then, I’m probably a little different than everyone else too, aren’t I….

Speaking of being a little different, I didn’t know what to expect when I saw KISS KISS BANG BANG last night, but it wasn’t a wonderfully demented, blackly comic homage to Raymond Chandler, that’s for sure. Between this and the upcoming movie of THE ICE HARVEST, Christmas will never be a shiny happy holiday again.

And now, onto the show:

NYTBR: Marilyn Stasio seems kind of annoyed that Archer Mayor’s trying to make his regional Vermont mysteries more attractive to a national crowd. She also looks at new books by James Sheehan, Elizabeth Ironside and Jean-Claude Izzo (must I repeat how much I loved this book? OK, I will.)

Otherwise in the TBR, Rachel Donadio looks at all these politicos who insist on writing books and/or novels; Jean-Jacques Rousseau is the subject of a sumptuous new biography that Stacey Schiff is keen on; Sarah Hall’s Booker shortlisted THE ELECTRIC MICHAELANGELO starts getting its due in this country, too; and Joseph Kanon is far more enthusiastic about ORDINARY HEROES and what it means for Turow’s next novel.

WaPo Book World: Michael Dirda calls for people to buy up the collected memoirs of Richard Feynman; Paula Span looks at those popular political books, left and right; and Jonathan Yardley marvels at how Penelope Lively has fashioned her life into fiction.

G&M: I’m not sure why on earth Mo Hayder was assigned to read P.D. James’ THE LIGHTHOUSE, but she makes the best of it and recommends it to the crowd who would enjoy it more than she did; Charles Foran has been reading John Banville’s work for 2 decades and tries to explain why THE SEA won the Booker over all others; Michael Posner sets up the Giller Prize, glitz, bad food and all; and Martin Levin not only goes gaga for Charles Burns’ BLACK HOLE, but tries to put the whole comics thing in perspective (which seems like a good idea to plug one of the comix revolution’s more unsung practictioners, Atlanta-based Skip Williamson.)

Guardian Review: It’s not easy being Michel Houellebecq, but Maya Jaggi does her best to understand the controversial French author; A huge collection of David Leavitt’s stories spurs Edmund White to dub him a “master stylist”; and Julian Barnes is fascinated by a turn-of-last-century attempt to put Rudyard Kipling into a novel as a major character.

Observer: Ten years ago, the Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa was excecuted, and now his son, Ken, has written a memoir celebrating his father’s life and activism; Ranjit Bolt has a total haterade for Mark Haddon’s new volume of poetry (to follow up that bestselling novel, natch); and Robert McCrum wonders about branding, James Patterson-style. 

The Times: Anne Rice talks to Chris Ayres about her conversion to Catholicism and well, that new young Jesus book; Tom Cox investigates what happens when two writing heads work the same way as one; Hilary Spurling reviews the new Wexford by Ruth Rendell, wondering why he’s aging so slowly (or not at all); and Marcel Berlins reviews new crime fiction by Louise Penny, Manuel Vasquez Montalban, and Jo Nesbo (whose Norwegian detective Harry Hole drinks constantly — maybe even more than those other drunk cop protagonists!)

The Scotsman: Joyce Carol Oates is interviewed about her new book, her addiction to writing and of course, that prolific output; Paul Auster explains how his lack of love for Bush spurred him to write his newest book, BROOKLYN FOLLIES; and prolific crime writer Alanna Knight reveals what’s on her bedside table, among other things.

The Rest:

Oline Cogdill splits her weekly mystery column in three, pointing out flaws in James Sheehan’s debut and reviewing new stuff by John Mackie and James Sallis.

When Caleb Carr was young, he swore he wouldn’t be like his father Lucien and his beat writer friends. Of course, he became a bestselling author in the end, but as he tells the Age, it’s worked out very differently for him.

Minette Walters was recently in Toronto for the International Festival of Authors (which I completely punted on mentioning b/c of the whole not living in Toronto anymore) and spoke to the Canadian Press about her new book, THE DEVIL’S FEATHER.

Why has creative nonfiction taken off as a subgenre? The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Regis Behe asks one of its founders, Lee Gutkind, that question, getting back all manners of interesting responses. Behe also interviewed Jeffrey Deaver late last week about his newest Lincoln Rhyme novel, THE TWELFTH CARD.

Can a dictionary be Australian? Peter Temple reviews two of them for the Age and finds that neither really makes the grade.

Newsday’s Aileen Jacobson meets Joan Druett, a Kiwi who once spent 30 months living in Long Island to research her seafaring mysteries starring Wiki Coffin.

The Chicago Sun-Times talks to Tab Hunter, former matinee idol turned autobiographer (with plenty of help from Eddie Muller.)

And finally, this is one of the saddest stories I’ve read in some time. I remember when this case first happened a few years ago and wondered how on earth these kids could have been railroaded into confessing so quickly. I hope that cop who’s still on the force gets tossed out ASAP.