A Healthy Dose of Weekend Update

Although it almost wasn’t, considering the insane amount of time I spent fighting with my spastic internet connection. No doubt there must be some sort of cosmic irony that it crapped out on my first day of unemployment, but I’m pretending it’s all a big coincidence…no really…


NYTBR: Simon Baker is thoroughly impressed with the novella debut by a young African writer; Stephen Dixon returns with another non-linear novel that makes an impression upon Sven Birkerts; and Alexander McCall Smith is delighted to be haunted by THE HOUSE OF PAPER.

WaPo Book World: More “best of here,” as Jonathan Yardley picks his faves for 2005 and others make their critical choices; Sue Monk Kidd argues for the presence of empathy in fiction; and Ron Charles won’t soon forget this new retelling of the life and times of Casanova.

G&M:The Beatles seem to be everywhere, as [the

new biography by Bob Spitz is taken on]9, and [John

Lennon is eulogized by both of his wives]10; Martin Levin wants to [collect

a list of great Canadian children’s books]11; and Brad Smith applauds a new Canadian debut that owes much to Hammett and Hemingway.

Guardian Review: Even though the book’s everywhere, it’s a nice touch to have Jenny Diski review CHRIST THE LORD nonetheless; Alison Lurie goes to see NARNIA the movie and reports back; and Christopher Hitchens explains why a novel called SCOOP contributes much to the canon of journalist heroes in fiction.

Observer: Irvine Welsh stumps for his new collaboration with Ian Rankin & Alexander McCall Smith; Carol Ann Duffy revisits a classic children’s carol, with surprising results; and Peter Guttridge rounds up the latest in crime by Elmore Leonard, Minette Walters, Rafael Reig, Pierre Frei & Mark Burnell.

The Times: Gift books are the prevailing theme this weekend, and on the crime fiction side, Marcel Berlins picks his favorites of the year while Peter Millar picks some choice thrillers (and others to stay away from); Erica Wagner expounds on her love of the short story format; Jeanette Winterson invites all to celebrate their favorite books;

The Scotsman: Irvine Welsh explains his newfound devotion to charity, while keeping his old one to writing; somehow it’s altogether unsurprising that Maxim Jakubowski most wants to meet Casanova; and was Frederick Forsyth involved in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea? The answer might be yes, according to a new book.

The Rest:

Oline Cogdill doesn’t like Patricia Cornwell’s new one. Fine, but why devote so much ink to what ends up as a masochistic exercise? Or maybe it really is just me who has a blanket “no Patsy” rule for reviewing?

Dick Adler picks his best mysteries of the year for the Chicago Tribune, and it’s a pretty strong (and interesting) list.

The SF Chronicle’s David Lazarus devotes his column to praising Greg Rucka’s PRIVATE WARS and having a more mixed take on Jonnie Jacobs’ THE ONLY SUSPECT.

Susanna Yager looks at new books by a veteran (Walter Mosley) and a newbie (Kathryn Fox) in her latest crime fiction column for the Telegraph.

The Oklahoman catches up with Janet Evanovich to find out the secret of her success — a long time coming, but ever-increasing.

Sandra Ruttan of Spinetingler Magazine (a fairly new online zine that I must pay more attention to) has a great interview up with Laura Lippman about her newest book, why certain bloggers are evil and much more.

Eleanor Taylor Bland’s newest Marti McAllister is out, but she tells the Chicago Sun-Times how the first one got published, thanks to an editor’s encouragement.

Abigail Tucker at the Baltimore Sun briefly profiles Clea Simon, whose MEW IS FOR MURDER is not your typical cat mystery.

When Sean Rowe went agent-hunting, he thought his 650-page mystery novel would be the one to get sold. But as he told the Orange County Herald-Sun, that wasn’t quite what happened.

Regis Behe chats with Uzodinma Iweala, the 23-year old African writer whose novella debut has been attracting raves everywhere.