April 2010 Recommended Reading List
I spent most of April writing what I call a jealous novel. When I write some novels, they don’t want me to imagine much of anything else—particularly in the novel form. So I can’t read incredibly good books, those books that make you disappear into the world. I was left with mediocre to bad books or excellent short stories. For some reason, short story quality can be excellent without getting in the way of the novel.
Finished the book a little after the middle of the month, so I could finally get to reading novels again. I also had a bunch of research I have to do, so the novel-reading started up slowly.
So…all I have for recommendations this month are a few short stories, a few articles, and one novel. Here’s hoping May will be better.
Costa, Shelley, “As The Screw Turns,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2010. Wonderful ghost story. Had I read the title before the story (did I tell you I got tired in April?), I would have realized that she was playing off Henry James, but I figured it out anyway. A lovely mystery chock-full of ghosts, all of whom must solve murders. This one pulls the heartstrings, and introduces an afterlife that I hope Costa explores again.
Estleman, Loren D., “Get Sinatra,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2010. Nice period piece featuring the young, and mostly unknown, Frank Sinatra. So well written, in fact, that it made me break out the early Sinatra CDs. If I say any more, I shall reveal too much.
Jones, Chris, “The Essential Man,” Esquire, March, 2010. Fascinating article on the film critic Roger Ebert. His cancer surgery took his speaking voice away four years ago, but he still communicates. Good stuff in here on writing, movies, and enjoying life. Highly recommended.
Kamp, David, “Sweet Bard of Youth,” Vanity Fair, March, 2010. I love Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue, which comes out in time for the Oscars, but which I always manage to read in April. I’m chronically behind on my reading. Ah, well.
Kamp’s article is about John Hughes, whose films I’ve always enjoyed. I never knew much about Hughes himself, and this article remedies that. It also provides a portrait of an artist who remained true to himself. If you want to work in the arts or if you already do, check this one out.
Mockenhaupt, Brian, “Hood,” Esquire, March, 2010. An article on Fort Hood, describing the community, the culture, and the aftershocks of last fall’s shootings. Sad, interesting, well done.
Robb, J.D., Born in Death, Berkley, 2007. Nora Roberts (whose sf pen name is J.D. Robb) writes faster than I can read. She’s the only author I know I can say that about.
It’s not entirely true. If I read only Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb, then I’d keep up easily. But I do get tired of reading the same author over and over, no matter how good the writer is—and Roberts is damn good.
I usually read the Robb books when I travel. That way, if I lose it en route, I can always pick up another copy. I decided to try this one while writing the jealous novel. It didn’t work; but I managed to get far enough to want to finish when I was done with my own novel.
Babies, childbirth, mystery, and murder are the themes of this Eve/Roarke adventure. And it would’ve been an uncomfortable read if it weren’t for Eve’s shock and dismay over the way that human reproduction works. I have (and still do) feel the same way at times, so reading her dialogue often made me laugh aloud in recognition. One of the better J.D. Robb installments.
Weller, Sheila, “Once In Love With Ali,” Vanity Fair, March, 2010. I didn’t expect to enjoy an article on Ali McGraw. I was never incredibly impressed with her as an actress, possibly because I loathed Love Story. The article, though, shows what a fascinating woman she is, and what an interesting life she’s led. Made me want to see some McGraw films, which is danged unusual—and shows the power of print.