pattinase (abbott)

The Most Consistent Authors

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Mar 052015
I read Henning Mankell a lot while in CA. Somehow his themes, his setting, and his detective rarely let me down. He has just enough personal detail, enough police politics, enough stuff about what has happened in Sweden since 1990 to keep me going. And he's pretty good at plotting too.

What writers have rarely let you down? Who is your go-to writer?
Mar 042015

I am not sure of the psychology behind this, but every month I find myself resisting reading the book chosen by the dozen women in my book club. Even if it's a book I chose myself! This was one I had not heard of until I was told this would be the March choice. 
And it seemed like a book that would not be very discussable. Lots of times, the books I like the most turn out to lead to poor discussions.
I am not sure about the discussability of THE BOYS IN THE BOAT: NINE AMERICANS AND THEIR EPIC QUEST FOR GOLD AT THE 1936 BERLIN OLYMPICS, but I sure enjoyed reading it. A book about rowing? Seems improbable that anyone could make it a page turner but David James Brown succeeded.
The reason he was able to do this was because he was able to pull in so much beside the University of Washington's rowing program in the thirties. The book looks at the problems of poverty in the 1930s, the dust bowl, Nazi German's rise to power, the Olympic movement, the story of rowing itself, the lives of the coach, the boat builder and some of the athletes. Most especially it gave us the life of Joe Rantz, a rower who had an exceptionally hard childhood. His summer job while in college was hanging from cliffs and using a 75 pound drill to build a damn. Most of the boys came from humble means, which means we cheer for them all the more. Brown was especially adept at exploring the psychology of successful rowing. A very particular sort of sport.
I enjoyed this book immensely and am anxious to hear what my book group members think of it.

For more book reviews, go see Barrie Summy.

Forgotten Movies-LIVE-IN MAID

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Mar 032015

This is an Argentinian movie directed by Jorge Daggero made in 2005. It concerns the havoc wreaked on a wealthy woman with the financial crisis of 2001 in Argentina.

Beba and and Dora (wealthy woman and her maid) have been together for thirty years. But gradually, Beba finds herself unable to pay Dora or any of her bills. She is also unable to do any of the chores Dora performs. She is alienated from her daughter and is getting less and less money from her former husband. Apparently they have gone through money left to her from her mother.

This is a character study of the two women, who dance around each other's grievances and issues for ninety minutes. It might be too small of a movie for some but I found the subtlety of their performances a treat.

And the ending is both surprising and inevitable.

Thirty Minutes of Terror at Noicon

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Mar 022015
A bunch of people read scary three minute stories at Noircon back in October. If this appeals to you, here are the links. For the life of me, I can't remember what I read. I think I am on the first day. Hate hearing my voice, so....

Three Minutes of Terror, Part 1, is now live! Feel free to spread any or all of these links around, whatever you think works best:

Feb 272015

From the archives
leopard13 is the internet moniker of a father of two, spouse to one, who blogs out of The City of the Angels. He owns a first edition copy of the book below and one day hopes to have the author autograph for him.

The Ninth Configuration, by William Peter Blatty (Harper & Row 1978)

Just say the name, William Peter Blatty. It does have its own sense of meter as it rolls off the tongue, now doesn't it? You'll most likely recognize it, too. Just the same, saying it three times in front of a mirror won’t cause anything bad to happen, either -- contrary to urban legend. If you love books and reading, whether you are a baby boomer or Generation X, Y, or even Z, odds-on you've heard of him. Such is the legacy of authoring a horror novel as famous as 1971's The Exorcist (which would go on to even greater notoriety when it was adapted to the screen in 1973's film of the novel). However, along with the popularity and fame for a book that became an all-encompassing event, it can be too much of good thing. 'Event' novels can take on a life of their own, and they can build to the point that all other work by the same author lies in its shadow. Obscured because they are not anything like that book. Such was the consequence for the next novel by author Blatty that it seemed to fall by the wayside when it was published in 1978. That forgotten, but wonderful, piece of elegant writing was, The Ninth Configuration.
What was released that year actually germinated from a hasty 1966 novel titled, Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane! From his author's note: "Its basic concept was surely the best I have ever created, but what was published was just as surely no more than the notes for a novel -- some sketches, unformed, unfinished, lacking even a plot." Luckily, for those of us who read the re-envisioned work in the late 70's (and those who would go on to discover and appreciate it decades later), it is an overlooked book worth remembering. Ironically, WPB has said more than once he considers it his unofficial sequel to The Exorcist. Although The Ninth Configuration shares a very loose connection (via an unnamed character) from that novel, the genre and plot line couldn't be more divergent. Plus, it works whether or not you've read the legendary blockbuster that preceded it.
The novel's story centers upon a select small group of military men secluded away with what are believed to be inexplicable mental disorders. Or, being highly intelligent men, they could be faking it--which could be the reason nothing has worked and why they continue their stay at a decaying Gothic mansion. Their treatment, and sanity, ultimately hinges upon one Marine Colonel Kane (a psychiatrist who may have his own issues) brought to the sheltered facility to seek the answers in the most unexpected of ways. Blatty crafts the story as a mystery to be solved, planting its seeds in the unusual interactions that take place. The author’s dialogue between the patients and staff are quite purpose-built, madcap, and unexpected. I cannot describe it any better than what a good friend wrote in a review of his, "Because the story is relatively brief, no words are wasted in an attempt to be lyrical or poetic. Yet somehow there are moments of utter poetry in the exchanges between doctor and patients, and in Kane's own introspective reasonings." While the material covered is meaty, it is one of the few novels that made be laugh out loud, and had my eyes welling by the time I finished it.
One could describe WPB as an author who writes eloquent, thought provoking fiction that draws in his readers with clever, humorous dialogue (keep in mind, he also wrote the screenplay for the comedy, A Shot In The Dark). Or put another way, he’s a humorous, clever writer who puts out eloquent novels that catch the readers off guard by being thought provoking. I'd say both are true. He just happened to author a chart topping novel of horror that eclipsed everything before, or since, in his bibliography. However, The Ninth Configuration remains perhaps a more intriguing read, and worth exploration by those who haven't experienced it. As well, for those of us who are film buffs, sprinkled throughout, the author references classic movie moments and dialogue within this novel. A few years after its publication, William Peter Blatty would pen and direct its film adaptation in 1980. Not surprisingly, it has developed a strong cult following, and many believe the story is more immersive on the screen (consider me in both groups). The 1978 novel is a svelte 135-page work, and next year TNC will be re-released by Centipede Press as a new edition. Purportedly, it will combine both novels and will include a long essay by film scholar Mark Kermode in a 292-page hardcover. So on this Friday, The Ninth Configuration is not forgotten (at least, by me anyways).
"Every kind thought is the hope of the world."

Sergio Angelini, THE QUIET AMERICAN, Graham Greene
Joe Barone, ASSASSINS OF ATHENS, Jeffrey Siger
Les Blatt, THE DOORBELL RANG, Nero Wolfe
Brian Busby, BAROMETER RISING, Hugh Maclennan
David Cranmer, THE LIGHTHOUSE, Edgar Allan Poe
Bill Crider, DREAM LOVERS, Dodd Darin
Martin Edward, DEATH BY REQUEST, Romilly and Katherine John
Curt Evans, A LIFE OF CRIME, Sinclair Gluck
Ed Gorman, CROSS COUNTRY, Herbert Kastle
John Hegenberger, THE BRIGHTEST BUCCANEER, Leslie Charteris
Rick Horton, A DIVERSITY OF CREATURES, Rudyard Kipling
Randy Johnson, DEVILS AND DUST, J.D. Rhoades
George Kelley, SOME CAME RUNNING, James Jones
Margot Kinberg, A NICE QUIET HOLIDAY, Aditya Sudarshan
Rob Kitchin, THE YARD, Alex Grecian
B.V. Lawson, WINDY CITY, Hugh Holton
Steve Lewis, THE INTERLOPERS, Donald Hamilton
J.F. Norris, THE FETISH MURDERS, Avon Curry
Richard Robinson, WATSON'S CHOICE, Gladys Mitchell 
Ron Schee, BLUE PETER, Luke Allan 
R.T. CRIPPEN, John Boyne
Kerrie Smith, ANGLE OF INVESTIGATION, Michael Connelly
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, MASTERS OF NOIR, Vol. 2
TracyK, THE CALLING, Inger Ash Wolfe

ALSO MY REVIEW OF BLACK SEA in Crimespree Magazine.

Agatha Christie

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Feb 262015
Okay, I just mailed the box of books back to Michigan. And then I discovered I didn't like the book I saved. And Phil is reading a really long book on the Kindle.

So I am left with the books left here by
other guests. The only ones I think I might like are the ACs. Now I have read every AC but a long time ago.


Which one would you read?

Things I Look Forward to in Michigan

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Feb 252015
Certainly not the weather. Somehow returning at the beginning of March seemed like we might avoid these frigid temps but it doesn't look like it. But there are some things I look forward to...

Being closer to family and friends. I am pretty gregarious and not having anyone but Phil to talk to most days is not enough after a while. Not that he is not delightful. ..

Being in the same time zone as most of our friends and all of our family. It does get to be a nuisance figuring out the time elsewhere.

Being able to take books out of the library, three blocks away. I am too promiscuous a reader to buy many books. I so often don't finish them. I still buy more than most people but buying every book I think I might read is pricey.

Being able to DVR TV shows. I'd forgotten how horrible watching commercials is. And also getting rid of DISH TV. And also having TV shows on at the correct time.

Being able to go to movies at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Although we have venues showing foreign and indie films here, they are not as adventurous at the DFT at the DIA.

My electric teapot. And my electric stove. I know gas is supposedly better but the burners here don't always light.  Also having my own cooking ware, silverware and dishes.

Enough lamps. I like a bright room at night. And a good reading lamp. 

Not having to ask ourselves will we finish this? Will we get our money out of it.

I will not miss driving here although it is Phil who drives. I hate double turning lanes. You always have to know exactly which lane you need to be in. And as a stranger here, you just don't always know. Don't know how people did it before SIRI.

Not having to figure out how to get everywhere.