See the Conquering Weekend Update

Vacations are the best inventions ever. Especially vacations where I can walk into my old local bookstore haunt, go directly to the mystery section and find at least 10 books not available in New York that I want to buy. So I do. Sadly, one of them turned out to be a lemon (as I quit after 70 pages when I realized the lovely writing couldn’t mask the fact that I didn’t care about proceeding further), but at least Alex Barclay’s debut DARKHOUSE lived up to expectations and then some by kicking serious ass (and will no doubt get further attention when it’s out in the US in summer ’06…) and I have high hopes for the rest…


NYTBR: And first, the return of Marilyn Stasio, who I think has taken the longest hiatus from the Book Review since…well, ever? Granted, she has been awfully busy with other things — like furiously panning CORONADO — but now she gets the chance to review crime books by Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell (dear god, why??) Seymour Shubin and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.

Otherwise in the Book Review, Sean Wilentz ponders the complete dissociation of literature and government, Caroline Alexander gets Myth-ical with the inaugural titles in Canongate’s new venture; and Barry Gewen’s mammoth essay on current trends in the art world is, well, long…

WaPo Book World: Ron Charles thrills to David Maisel’s newest novel set on a sinking tanker; Michael Dirda looks at classics that have aged awfully well in the intervening 100 years or so; and if you’re looking for a Christmas-themed book (I won’t, but that shouldn’t stop you) then Jabari Asim offers some suggestions.

G&M: Margaret Cannon’s latest crime column covers new releases by Karin Altvegen, Dean Koontz, Mary Jane Maffini, Terence Heath, Jeffrey Miller,and more; Bill Richardson doesn’t quite fall into the hype about Jeremy Mercer’s tour of Shakespeare & Co. in Paris; and Martin Levin goes apeshit for all things Kong.

Guardian Review: A newly discovered cache of letters shines light on the wife of George Orwell, a previously enigmatic figure; Diana Althill reflects on what reading has taught her throughout life; and intrigue and mayhem ruled the day that the Russian Booker Prize was awarded, according to George Walden.
Observer**:Jay Rayner tries hard to understand why Sudoku has gripped the world in its clutches; Sean O’Hagan can’t stop reading Nick Cohn’s account of the rise and fall of New Orleans rap; and Sophie Ratcliffe wishes some folks would start writing and stop preaching.
The Times**: John Mortimer provides an original holiday-themed story; John Dugdale rounds up thrillers by Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke, Chris Ryan, Gerald Seymour, Henning Mankell, Joseph Kanon and Robert Littell, while Joan Smith looks at new mysteries by Andrea Camilleri, Michael Dibdin, Steve Saylor, Karin Fossum, Boris Akunin, Janet Evanovich and Caleb Carr; Francis Gilbert wonders who picks the assigned texts for the GCSEs and why they are often so damn dull; James Naughton beats the “Internet revolutionizing publishing” drum because he can; and from a few days ago, this interview of Patricia Cornwell is…well…strange as hell.
The Scotsman**: More of the “best of the year” lists from Scottish-type authors as well as the paper’s literary editor, Alan Massie; Clare Morrall follows up her surprise Booker-shortlisted debut with a novel that Nicola Barr admires for not taking sugar-coated shortcuts; and Ian Campbell is impressed with the state of Scottish fiction.

The Rest:

Oline Cogdill reviews recent releases by Nancy Cohen and Mark Giminez, as well as a compendium of Raymond Chandler quotes.

Dick Adler manages to squeeze in one last column before the holidays by reviewing new books by Michael Allen Dymmoch, Henry Kisor, Eleanor Taylor Bland, Pip Granger, Jean-Claude Izzo, Gianrico Carofiglio and Christopher Fowler.

How have Jewish writers influenced modern literature? The Baltimore Sun’s Victoria Brownworth takes a look at several notable authors.

James Sallis rereads TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at his students’ behest and finds that it’s a very different book this time around — but still excellent.

The Sydney Morning Herald meets Adam Jacot de Boinod, whose little tome of looking for curious words around the world is proving to be a big hit Down Under.

And the Age reports on the Short Story Prize, won by a 44-year old woman who set her tale in a steamy massage parlor.

Regis Behe talks to John Banville about his newest novel THE SEA and how a specific painting has particular significance in the book.

And finally, this is just so damn cool.