(Tired) Thoughts from the London Book Fair

 Books, Current Affairs, Josh Getzler, Writing  Comments Off on (Tired) Thoughts from the London Book Fair
Apr 142015

Josh Getzler

I got into London at 9:30 this morning and had my first meeting at 12. Yep, it’s London Book Fair time again, when everyone says to me “Oh you lucky man, you get to spend the better part of a week in London.”

I, on the other hand, say “Oh, you mean I get to have 28 meetings in 48 hours in a crowded zoo of a Rights Center, trying to remember if my next meeting is with Spain or Germany, whether I’ve met with this person or not, and am I ever going to eat?

Yes, it’s fun, and I love it. I mean, I’m beat—I have slept two out of the past 36 hours and my first meeting stood me up. But I started my day with a lunch with my wonderful client Elaine Powell, ended my workday at a cocktail party for a publisher, and am writing this at a pub with a pint of Trinity Pale Ale. So, I mean, life doesn’t exactly suck.

And I got to spend my day talking to people who spend their days the way I do—thinking about the best books they’ve read recently and how they can convince the most people to buy those books. They just do it in Portugal or the Netherlands or Israel, which is the point of the London Book Fair—it’s a gathering of book folks from around the world who want to figure out what’s Out There.

Publishers advertise their lists in Trade Show booths, sure. But everywhere you look people are sitting across from each other with notebooks or tablets, talking about their books—how certain markets can’t sell paranormal romance while others are dying for dark domestic dramas; which countries need a hardcover publication to show you are serious, while other countries have basically frozen their market until their fiscal situation improves.

There is an abundance of air-kissing and cardboard espresso cups, of eye-rolling and shrugging and tweeting. When I worked in baseball, my wife always said that I enjoyed the Winter Meetings trade show more than I had any right to; I believe the same is true of the London Book Fair. It’s part class reunion and part convention, with elements of speed dating and fraternity rush. But with books. In London. Where you can end your day with a pint of Trinity.  


Je Suis Cartoonist–Guest Post

 Books, Current Affairs, guest blogger, Josh Getzler, Writing  Comments Off on Je Suis Cartoonist–Guest Post
Mar 242015

Joe Newman-Getzler


(Note: A rational, thoughtful take on the Charlie Hebdo shootings, from the perspective of a 15 year old artist who sometimes likes to be a bit edgy. It brings you up short, doesn't it…? JG)

On January 7, 2015, two masked men attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine famous for its cartoons, killing 11 people and injuring 11 more.  This news shocked the world, as many were surprised that a magazine intended to make people laugh could lead to so much bloodshed. Certainly, the news surprised me. Seeing as I am a cartoonist myself, it definitely made me both worried and fascinated by how simple drawings on paper could lead to something like this.

For those who don’t know, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons are generally designed to provoke. Many of their cartoons depict taboo subjects, such as the sex slaves taken by Boco Haram militants; a threeway between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and several covers depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad (“100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter!” he says on one of them).

Of course, there have been many cartoonists in the past whose cartoons have been designed to provoke strong emotions. As far back as 1831, Honore Daumier drew a portrait of the French King Louis-Philippe entitled “Gargantua,” which showed the king as a Goliath-like beast swallowing sacks of money fed to him by his subjects. The cartoon was prevented from being printed, and both Daumier and his editor Charles Philipon were sentenced to jail time and had to pay a fine. But by then, word had already gotten around about the drawing, and its notoriety led to Daumier and Philipon finding work again[1]

Another notable cartoonist to rebel against the system was Ralph Bakshi. Bakshi was an animator for the animation studio Terrytoons in the 1960s before moving on to make independent feature films. His first, Fritz the Cat, based on the underground comic by R. Crumb, became the first animated feature to earn an X rating. Bakshi’s films tended to be about New York City and the goings-on of its seedier denizens. One of his most notable films was Coonskin, a modern-day take on Song of the South that depicted three black main characters leaving the South and coming to Harlem, only to be confronted by oppression and discrimination. The film was wildly controversial upon its release, with the Congress of Racial Equality protesting its release and the film’s original distributor pulling out, despite the fact that the film was meant to satirize ethnic stereotypes, not reinforce them.

So, why do I bring up Daumier and Bakshi? Because their cartoons may have provoked many people, but they still had an overall point. Daumier was making a point about how the king was getting wealthy off of his citizens’ hard-earned money, and Bakshi was showing the life of the lower-class and the injustice of racism. The Charlie Hebdo cartoons to the untrained eye, seem to do little but provoke for the sake of provoking, and maybe a laugh now and then. Is there any underlying message in this cartoons? Or are they just there to provoke?

Luz, a cartoonist who survived the attacks, stated that “Since the ‘60s, [it] has always sought to break taboos and shatter symbols and every possible type of fanaticism.”[i] In that sense, there’s nothing wrong with what the Hebdo cartoonists do. Certainly, fanaticism of any type could be taken down a peg, and cartoons have forever been a way to take the high and mighty and bring them down to the level of the common man (although it is ironic that a magazine intended to attack fanatics was then attacked by fanatics). It puts a face behind the cartoons, and, to some, it stops the cartoons from being completely mean-spirited attacks on religious and social beliefs.

Frankly, I think everyone has a right to speak their mind about certain subjects. That’s what freedom of speech is all about, right? So, in that sense, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists have every right to continue making their cartoons. But the question is, should they? You see, a cartoon depicting Mohammed isn’t just offensive to the Islamic radicals who burst into the offices. They’re offensive to anyone in the Muslim faith, as their law strictly dictates that none can create depictions of their prophet (not to mention anyone who has respect for other peoples’ customs). By not just drawing the Prophet, but also drawing him in very degrading positions, they don’t seem to be doing much more than pointing and laughing, like schoolyard bullies. They have a right to do it under free speech, but it still feels pretty insensitive toward an entire religion.

Does this mean that the shooters were justified? Absolutely not. Whether or not the cartoons were offensive, violence is never the answer, and killing people just for their art is an example of stifling freedom of speech. Though the cartoons can be considered offensive, they still had the right to make them. But, like I said before, it does get you to thinking when simple strokes of pencil or pen on paper can lead to reactions like these.

[1] Cartoon Brew

[i] VICE News


The Importance of the Concert T-shirt

 Current Affairs, Josh Getzler, Music  Comments Off on The Importance of the Concert T-shirt
Mar 112015

Josh Getzler

Last night, my wife Amanda and I took our two older kids—almost 16 year old Joe and 12 year old daughter JJ—to see Billy Joel play his monthly club date at Madison Square Garden in an intimate performance for 19,000 of his closest friends. Amanda and I had seen him a few months ago, and these two of our three children went crazy and begged us for tickets as a Chanukah present. (Child #3, 11 year old daughter Ita, declined the ticket because the names of the musicians were not Harry, Liam or Niall, and the only thing that matters is 1D, duh (eye roll).

The night before we went, Amanda and I had a discussion of what kind of concessions crap the kids would be allowed to eat and drink, and whether we’d try to get sandwiches through security. But then we got to the discussion of whether part of the present was a concert t-shirt if they enjoyed the show, Amanda was skeptical. “They’re forty dollars and they’ll grow out of them. They don’t need shirts.” I was appalled, no more so than because she was wearing my tattered tie-dyed Dylan and the Dead t-shirt from 1987, which she co-opted to knock around in because of its worn perfection.

Let me tell you my feelings about concert t-shirts. I fundamentally believe they are ineffable symbols of growing up; they provide memories of happy moments, of watching musicians you have heard playing songs you know, pumping your arms and tilting your head back and singing; or pogoing in a club or holding hands during a date.

In my high school, wearing your t-shirt from the previous night’s big concert—at the time it would have been the Rolling Stones or U2 or Springsteen or the Dead, or for one month in eighth grade The Kinks; and if you were in certain social groups Black Sabbath or Rush or even Dio; or in others the Ramones or in others The Smiths—gave you stature, signified who you wanted to be that day. (It also was a big deal if you wore one of those t-shirts on a Tuesday or Wednesday because that meant your parents gave you a degree of freedom, and also could afford to get you frivolous tickets to a band on a school night.)

Of course, those t-shirts from the early 80s didn’t cost any $40. They were ten dollars in the parking lot of the Brendan Byrne Arena, and they were black and they had the dates and cities of the tour on the back. Often they had three-quarter-length jersey sleeves in different bright colors—I remember a Jethro Tull Broadsword and the Beast jersey with incongruous powder blue sleeves that I wore until I couldn’t see Ian Anderson’s freaky eyes anymore. But I could replay that concert better than if I could see videos on YouTube when I put on that t-shirt, much in the way that I could remember being underwhelmed by the long and not-terribly-exciting show that the Dead put on with Dylan that day at Giants Stadium. I just loved that particular tie-dye shirt.


And the concert t-shirt was also the symbol of a particular time. By the time I was in college I no longer needed a concert shirt—I had limited spending money when I went to see bands, and usually bought beer instead. So these thin, faded shirts got thinner and more ragged (and eventually considerably snugger) as I got older, and became the memories of adolescence with their own kind of nostalgic purity.

So when I looked over during Only the Good Die Young and saw the kids laughing and singing along, I knew that we needed to do it. There were no black market shirts in the lobby of the Garden, or in the corridor leading to the subway; so we went to the stand and got them their shirts. A little better quality, and softer and somewhat more artsy–and neither kid wanted the jersey–but cool. They both wear uniforms stop school so they couldn’t wear the silent brag of the Morning After t-shirt (but they had posted about the show on Facebook and Instagram anyway, so that was taken care of before the second encore). But when I came home and JJ ran out of her room to say hi, she had on her Still Rock n Roll To Me shirt. And I felt unreasonably proud.   

JJ Billy Joel
JJ Billy Joel
JJ Billy Joel

A little Perspective On a(nother) Snowy Morning in Chelsea

 Books, Current Affairs, Josh Getzler, Music  Comments Off on A little Perspective On a(nother) Snowy Morning in Chelsea
Mar 042015

Josh Getzler



On one hand, I’m tired, stressed-out, and am juggling a million important things in work and at home. I want my children to be happy and well-adjusted, the bills to be paid, my clients to be satisfied, and have a chance to talk to my wife over supper before 9:30 on an average weeknight. And it’s snowing. Again. I never want to see my boots and gloves again.

On the other hand, I have boots and gloves and a warm office and a family that loves me (most of the time). I am trying to tweak plot points in novels and arguing over marketing plans, not singing doo-wop in the subway for handouts or dodging rockets in Donetsk or wondering whether my job will still be around in six months.

Plus my son just asked me whether I think 16 is a good age to start listening to Led Zeppelin.

Have a good day, and watch out for those bustles in your hedge rows.

Win a Free Audiobook, and RIP, Mr. Nimoy

 Books, Current Affairs, Film, Jeffrey Cohen, Television, Writing  Comments Off on Win a Free Audiobook, and RIP, Mr. Nimoy
Mar 022015

Jeff Cohen

It was difficult this past week to hear of the death of Leonard Nimoy. Like so many others, I was a pretty serious fan of Star Trek from its first airings (yeah, I'm old), and Spock1Spock always appealed more than the other characters to me. 

He had that conflict between his natural tendency to see everything in terms of cold, objective logic and the need to understand his human side, which would react to things more emotionally than the character might want to admit. He was a beautifully conceived character, but he wouldn't have worked half as well if he'd been played by another actor (as we've seen in recent years).

The need to keep raging emotions in check while understanding their importance was what kept the character interesting. And Nimoy, who must have understood him on a basic level, once told director Nicholas Meyer (Wrath of Khan and Undiscovered Country, among others) that he never played Spock as a character with no emotions.

Instead, he played the alien as a man trying to keep his emotions in check. That makes all the difference.

Yes, some of the plots were downright silly and the special effects on a TV budget and schedule in the 1960s could be laughable. But Spock was never anything but dignified and in the parlance of the time, cool. He could outperform humans on almost every level, but was content to live among them and observe. 

Leonard Nimoy brought that to the role. Did he bristle at being thought of as Spock and nothing else? On occasion, he did; it's true. But he did not disparage the role or the people who had embraced it, sometimes to the point of embarrassment. 

Hey. I was nine years old and it was Star Trek. Cut me some slack.

Many years later when I was going through my unsuccessful screenwriter phase, I wrote a screenplay that had some connections to Star Trek, although it took place in contemporary America and didn't use any of the original characters because I wasn't stupid. I'd probably shudder to look at that piece of work today, but at the time I thought it was pretty good and I was hoping to get it noticed somewhere in Hollywood.

So I sent a letter to Leonard Nimoy asking if he'd like to consider directing the script.

To my astonishment, I received a letter (this was back when there were letters) from Leonard-nimoy-to-palestinians-and-israelis-live-long-and-prosper-in-two-states-2Mr. Nimoy's company saying he'd very much like to read the script. And you can believe that a copy was in the mail that very day.

I don't remember how long it took to receive a response, but I'm sure at the time I thought it was an eternity and I did my best not to pester anyone at Nimoy's company about it (I'm sure Josh can picture me waiting by the phone, only younger). But eventually another letter did arrive.

It's probably not a huge surprise that Nimoy passed on the script, since when you scan my IMDb page, you'll see I don't have one. But he did send a personal note.

He wrote, "I read your script with great interest, and your fondness for the material is evident. Although I am not going to proceed with it, I'd advise you to keep writing." I quoted that from memory.

It was a time when I needed any little bit of encouragement, and getting Mr. Spock to tell me I should keep writing did the trick. It was something he didn't have to do–most other Hollywood types would have sent a form letter or gotten an assistant to write the note–but he clearly saw that the script meant a lot to me, and wanted to connect personally. 

I never forgot that, obviously. 

Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy. You were a good actor who had one iconic role, which is more than most get. You were a talented director, a good writer and I don't know much about photography, but I'm willing to bet you had some talent there too. You were kind to me at a time I needed it, and even though I tried to explain that the one time we met for about a half a minute, I don't think I sufficiently communicated that thought. Thank you. You will be missed.


P.S. There's a new contest going on! Win a free download of the audio version of  HeadThe Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman/Jeff Cohen! See details here or here.

Big Pride

 Books, Current Affairs, Josh Getzler, Writing  Comments Off on Big Pride
Feb 182015


Josh Getzler


OK, most of the time I don’t talk about any specific sales I make. I like to get into more general discussions of publishing, trying to give whatever insider impressions of the industry I can from my experiences without talking overmuch about any of my clients individually. It’s kind of like when my middle daughter tries to trick me into saying that I love her better than my other kids. I roll my eyes and say “Yes honey, you are the best middle child I have.”

So, 51 clients of mine, there are no favorites (except YOU…right. You.) Now I’m going to talk about two deals I was able to announce the past week. It’s remarkable that they appeared on the same weekly Deal Report from Publishers Marketplace, since I’ve been working with them, combined, for longer than I’ve been in Publishing! So congratulations Tania Roxborogh and Paul Goldberg—I’m incredibly proud to have sold your books.

I met both of these talented writers when I was still at Writers House, learning to be an agent. Paul Goldberg, a muckraking journalist in the world of oncology, had written…a novel about four Soviet intellectuals trying to kill Stalin. Tania Roxborogh, a teacher and accomplished author in her native New Zealand, had written a sequel of sorts to Macbeth, which was about to be published by Penguin New Zealand. She wanted to cross over to the United States, and approached me to represent her.   Her book, Banquo’s Son, was a top-five best seller in New Zealand and won several end-of-year awards, and the sequels also were best sellers Down Under.

Goldberg, in the meantime, co-wrote a nonfiction book about the over- and under-treatment of cancer victims with American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Dr. Otis Brawley, which was published successfully by St. Martin's Press. And we periodically showed editors Levinson’s Sword, as the novel was called, but while everyone recognized Paul’s writing skill, which is prodigious, it was such an odd, unconventional book that we knew it would take a particular kind of editor to take it on.

The issue with Banquo’s Son was a bit different; it had to do less with whether it would be read than where it would be placed on the shelves. That’s because it’s a coming of age story, but where the protagonist starts book 1 as a 21 year-old, he ends book 3 as a twice-married father. The series is, as we say, a Razzle: It’s not a candy, not a gum. Too old to be YA…but it feels like YA. We needed a publisher where shelf space was less important.

And in the end, right before we left for Christmas, we found our homes. For Goldberg’s cross of Lear and Pushkin, now called The Yid, we found James Meador, who’s the head of publicity for Picador and Henry Holt. James wanted an unusual, but brilliant novel to take on and edit as a special project. And getting to know James, I understand precisely why he loved and appreciated The Yid.

We ended up with Emilie Marneur at Thomas & Mercer with Banquo’s Son because of Emilie’s marvelous handling of another book I represent, Elaine Powell’s novel about a knight and a nun during the reign of Henry II. One day Tania asked me whether it would make sense to try Emilie for Banquo. I’d gone to Amazon’s children’s division when we submitted the book as YA. But it’s not a traditional thriller. But Emilie understood that Tania’s novel of politics, love and adventure could potentially find the kind of audience that Elaine’s The Fifth Knight and its sequel has.

I can’t wait to find out. Watch out in a year for The Yid and Banquo’s Son. And if you’ve been out with a book, either looking for an editor or an agent, discouraged at the wait, think of Banquo’s Son and The Yid.

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

 Current Affairs, Film, Jeffrey Cohen, Television, Writing  Comments Off on Oscar, Oscar, Oscar
Feb 162015

Jeff Cohen

WINTER GARDEN, FL–I'm taking a few days to enjoy not being in New Jersey in February with my family, so this dispatch is being typed a while early. If somehow it has become irrelevant in the interim (like if the film business suddenly vanished this week), my apologies.

So the world is going to Hell in a Buick Regal, Jon Stewart has left us bereft, Brian Williams… I don't really care… the presidential election (U.S.) is a mere 21 months away, you should just get your kids inoculated for goodness sake, and the publishing business is no doubt preparing to lose its collective mind over some new tome that is, invariably, not mine. Okay. Let's discuss what's really on our minds.

OscarsjpgThe Academy Awards.

Six nights from tonight, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences will hand out some trophies and there will be the inevitable overuses of words like "courage," "amazing," and "best crew in the business" in acceptance speeches.

I have no desire nor ability to accurately predict the winners of said statuettes, but I will be riveted to my couch, loving every minute of the interminable ceremony. I love the spectacle and the sheer goofiness of it all, so don't call my house during the Oscars. We're occupied. Or pre-occupied. Or something.

While I still object to the idea of more than five films nominated for the best picture category (that's just pandering and it's silly), I did make more of an effort to see those movies than I normally do. Eight films, and I saw seven, since I have no interest in the sniper thing, mostly because I've never seen a Clint Eastwood movie that didn't need a half-hour cut out of it simply for pacing.

So here are my impressions, for the remarkably little they're worth. Your opinions may certainly vary:

Birdman_trailerBirdman: I'm told that one either loves or hates this film, and I firmly fall into the latter category. What others saw as bold and inventive I saw as pretentious and showy. I didn't care about any of the characters, thought the shot-in-in-one-take gimmick was distracting, and had to take painkillers to undo the damage of the almost-all-percussion soundtrack. I have no problem with Michael Keaton winning for his performance, because I really like Michael Keaton and think he should have won for something else.

Boyhood: A snorefest of the highest order. Again, a gimmick that's impressive, but does not necessarily translate into the great film others believe they've seen. Instead, we get people just sort of hanging around for no particular reason and they get older as it goes on. Okay. The 7-Up documentaries are considerably more compelling, and those people are real.

Grand_budapest_hotel_c371The Grand Budapest Hotel: I am actually not a fan of Wes Anderson because there's only so much arch I can take before I go into painful withdrawal symptoms. But I liked this one better than most, the cast is came and it's nice the Academy is recognizing something that at least tries to be a comedy once in a while. Like most films, this one suffers from not having enough Bill Murray.

The Imitation Game: Biopics are a rough genre. If it's not a documentary–and by definition it isn't–the filmmakers will be criticized for inaccuracies that are inevitable when trying to make a piece of popular entrainment (in other words, a good movie). So this one is better than most, and suffers from the same problems as others: It's reverent without being absolutely accurate, is really made to show off a performance rather than a story, does so well, and ends up being fairly forgettable when all is said and done.

Selma: Another biopic. Sort of. The first movie to portray an actual human Martin Luther King Jr. and that is admirable. It tells a specific story without trying to be a one-stop-shop for the Civil Rights movement. It has a distracting cameo by Oprah Winfrey (probably to help it get made) and only pays a certain amount of lip service to Dr. King's flaws, which isn't a huge problem. It's compelling and watchable, if a bit slow in spots.

The Theory of Everything: Biopic. The last one on this list (again, no sniper here), and very much of a type. See everything I said about The Imitation Game above, and it'll pretty much be true. Eddie Redmayne gives a remarkable performance, as did Benedict Cumberbatch. He probably deserves to win an award. But Michael Keaton. And in this case, the odd thing: Not enough science. We're not really clear on what makes Stephen Hawking the phenomenon he became.

Whiplash-ScreamWhiplash: In my mind, the best of the bunch. I'm no fan of modern jazz (particularly when they try to play it too darn fast), and would rather face a firing squad than a prolonged drum solo (See: Birdman), but this film made me care and put me on edge. It's really a monster movie, with J.K. Simmons as the monster, and doing a remarkable job. Miles Teller as his terrified and singleminded protege is equally good in a less flashy role. I'll be rooting for this one knowing it has zero chance of winning the prize. 

My family also, as has become our custom the past few years, saw the animated and live-action short films (but not the documentaries) nominated in those categories. (They're probably playing somewhere near you, and you should go.) It's not as interesting a bunch as last year's, but the consensus around the homestead here is that the Disney animated short Feast will win, which is okay but not as good as if  MV5BMTQ1OTY3NjAwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDQ5ODMwNDE@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_A Single Life would. In live-action, we're rooting for  Fa65177db7c31c8cb0096e419633efa4Boogaloo and Graham, knowing that something more depressing like The Phone Call has a better shot.

Either way, after this all-too-brief sojourn into warm weather and theme parks is over, we'll be back at home, wearing lots of clothing and watching the far-too-long awards ceremony. 

It's one of the best nights of the year.


P.S. If Jon Stewart's Rosewater had been nominated, it would have come in second after Whiplash. I certainly liked it better than whatever's going to win. You should find it on Netflix or elsewhere.

P.P.S. Pitchers and catchers report in four days. Spring is almost here.

Not Really!

 Current Affairs, Film, Jeffrey Cohen, Television  Comments Off on Not Really!
Feb 112015

Jeff Cohen

And then there's the news you only wish was fake.

It was announced and confirmed today that Jon Stewart will be leaving The Daily Show sometime this year. And while I see the logic and good sense that goes into that decision, my initial reaction was the same as most others I've seen.


For the better part of two decades, Stewart has been the safety valve holding the sanity of thinking America from blowing off and putting someone's eye out. And as he's grown into the job, he's become simply the best at something others have tried to do and never come close to equaling.

Plus, there goes the tiniest hope I had of ever being interviewed on The Daily Show.

It seems somehow unfair that Stewart will leave but Fox News gets to stay on the air. One can only hope that there will be a replacement host for The Daily Show, and my vote is in for Jessica Williams. Be bold, Comedy Central.

But whoever comes next should be very different. There's no point in trying to duplicate what Stewart has accomplished. It's as if Derek Jeter isn't going to be the shortstop of the Yankees anymore and someone else would have to step in to… what?

Crap. I forgot.

The world is going to be a less funny place soon. While one wishes Mr. Stewart well in whatever it is he decides to do next, it's hard to believe he'll be the best in the world at it. To watch that man build up a head of steam on an issue and then let loose with some of the smartest comedy on the planet was (and still is, for a while at least) a thing of beauty.

If you're incredibly lucky, you get to do that once.

So here's the thing: Thank you, Jon Stewart. You did something important and you did it amazingly well. You kept it going for a long time and it never wavered in quality. You were fair (yes he was, right wingers–there were Obama and Clinton jokes), you were honest and you were hilarious. That ain't easy.

And replacing you? Not possible. 

Email Revenge

 Current Affairs, Jeffrey Cohen  Comments Off on Email Revenge
Feb 092015

Jeff Cohen

Dear Email Scammers:

I've been receiving your product, unwillingly, for some time now, and I feel you could be doing better. Quite frankly, one would have to be a baby giraffe of below-average intelligence (for baby giraffes) to fall for the nonsense you have been sending me (mostly through gmail, which tells me something, although I don't know what).

So I'd like to point out a few of your marketing errors, if that's okay with you. If not, you may unsubscribe to my criticism by clicking here.

* I speak English. You clearly don't. Why do you think I would click through to a site when I have no idea what you're pretending to offer? About seventy percent of it is in a language I don't speak.

* As an atheist, the subject line "Yours in Christ, Dear" doesn't really hold a lot of appeal for me.

* It just isn't possible for me to win the British Lottery four times a week. (Is there a British Lottery?)

* I don't know anyone named "Mrs. Reverent Simon."

* I really don't need to know "How to drive him wild."

* Thanks, but I don't need the enhancement "medications," either.

* I'm glad you seem to have abandoned the Nigerian prince thing (Nigeria is a federal constitutional republic and does not have princes), but I really don't buy the whole "obscure-relative-leaving-me-a-fortune-in-deepest-Africa" scenario, either. My ancestors came from various shtetls in Eastern Europe. If you think they had anything to pass down to me, you're even more gullible than you think I am.

* No, I'm not going to click through in a panic because you say there's a problem with my PNC Bank account. I don't have a PNC bank account.

* Don't try it with the bank I do have an account with, either. I'll go straight to their web site without touching your link, thanks. Then I'll report you.

* "This message comes to you from (E-MAIL PROVIDER)"? Seriously? "E-MAIL PROVIDER"? In parentheses? You're not even trying anymore.

* No, I don't actually need a loan from someone I've never heard of. But thanks for asking.

* I don't want to see your "pictures," and I don't really believe you're a lonely but beautiful woman just hear (sic) from Bulgaria looking for true love. I'm married, anyway. But you're really a guy in an undershirt in Missouri hoping you can phish my credit card numbers. You can't.

* The messages in all Hebrew? I appreciate your taking note of my last name, but I don't read Hebrew. Not since 1970. And then only because we'd already booked the catering hall.

* "Hello, Dearest" isn't going to make it as a subject line for me. Even the people I hold dearest don't address me like that.

* No, I don't need a job, thanks, and I don't want to be a mystery shopper, anyway. Nice try, though.

* There is a 0% chance I–or anyone else–will believe there is such a thing as the "Coca-Cola Lottery."

* Not interested in your "business proposal."

* If I were indeed your "dearest friend," odds are I'd recognize your name.

* I'm a writer, so words and such mean quite a bit to me. Misspellings, bad punctuation and simply ridiculous syntax just alert me to the fact that you're lying. Don't insult my intelligence. Lie to me with a little dignity next time.


P.S. Pitchers and catchers report in 11 days.

Feb 062015

Word today from the British Crime Writers’ Association (via Janet Rudolph and Mystery Fanfare) that the Crime Writers’ Association will present this year’s prestigious Diamond Dagger Award to Catherine Aird. The award honors her long – and, happily, continuing – career as a writer of traditional mysteries, including the long-running series called “The Calleshire Chronicles” featuring Inspector C. D. Sloan of the Calleshire police.

I have had the pleasure of writing about several of Aird’s earlier novels – you can find my podcast reviews on this blog’s backlist page – several of which have been republished by the Rue Morgue Press. Her books can be fairly hard to find in the US, which I think is almost criminal negligence. Her mysteries are stylish, with some police procedural elements, some very interesting plots, delightful characters, and witty and often quite deliberately funny writing (Sloan, for instance, usually finds himself stuck working with Detective Constable Crosby, who is known behind his back among his colleagues as “the Defective Constable).

The CWA explains its Diamond Dagger this way: “Nominees have to meet two essential criteria: first, their careers must be marked by sustained excellence, and second, they must have made a significant contribution to crime writing published in the English language, whether originally or in translation.” Congratulations to Catherine Aird for a well-deserved honor. The award will be presented in London in June.