Lori's Book Nook

Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Where do you pile your books? My hubby and I have piles on our bedside tables mostly, then some in the living room, the kitchen, the dining room…and they all live in the basement library/movie/party room (technically the ‘family room’).

The other day I was tidying the bedroom, and emptied the already-read and not-going-to-get-read-soon books off the two bedside tables:

Putting books away...

Then, I pulled books from the living room and kitchen to complete the tidy:

More books being put away..

This post for your voyeuristic enjoyment.

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I’m in the middle of two books, and suddenly I feel like I’m reading one of those artsy-fartsy double features at your local, non-mainstream movie house. You know the ones, where there is a connection between the films, and it is your job as the audience to find it.

The most obscure one I ever came across was where the only link was an ice cream cone in each film. The most delightful was Robert LePage’s Le Confessional (1995) shown with Hitchcock’s I Confess (1953).

So, back to books.

I’m reading two books right now:

While both books are utterly different in plot, character, setting, and genre they have in common a wonderful bookyness to them…they are both a literary soup of references that verge on the border of being overwhelming, but instead are almost inspiring in their bibliophilia.

Two different books, two utterly different characters, but both texts are littered with pop culture:

Eco, being a semiologist, does not really surprise us in this. His other books have been thick with historical references, illuminating his amazing well-readness. This time however, it is a plot point, as our protagonist is an older man suffering from amnesia who uses the books of his lifetime to rebuild his lifeline. The references this time are both classical and current, albeit the focus of the current is on Italian modern history and corresponding pop culture.

Pessl, a young woman writing her first novel, holds her own in general bookyness in comparison to the towering Eco. The character, Blue van der Meer, is not quite 18 but is an astoundingly well-read genius, being the daughter of a rather eccentric, nomadic, genius professor father. As she navigates the teen hell of a yet another new school, her every thought is a literary or pop culture reference, at times against her will. Despite how ponderous that sounds, it is a delightful read, and un-put-down-able once you really get rolling.

I need more books of this genre (is it a meta- or sub-genre?). Any suggestions?

Can you?

More and more the author is required to pull together much of their own marketing, and the really savvy ones will come up some really imaginative ideas — like a website. But is a really good web-presence enough to inspire you to buy a book?

Check out this one: a novel entitled Specialty Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I had never heard of the book until I stumbled upon this brilliant website. It appears to be a mystery, with a very literary main character…and if you dig a bit, you’ll find some tasty buzz for it.

Has anyone out there read this one? I must admit I’m tempted.

Your comments?

Much has been written about the late, great Douglas Adams. The Hitchhiker series (yes, geeks, I am aware that it’s a trilogy in umpteen parts…) with their rather random sense of humour. The Dirk Gently books which always reminded me a bit of Thorne Smith (1892-1934) books.

But, there will always be a little place in my heart for The Meaning of Liff — here’s one of my favourite entries:

PELUTHO (n.)
A South American ball game. The balls are whacked against a brick wall with a stout wooden bat until the prisoner confesses.

And here it is online, in its entirety. Gotta love the Internet!

Back to Thorne Smith, because he was just a weird and wonderful writer, and yes, Dirk Gently reminded me of him. Here’s an except from the beginning of my favourite of his books, The Nightlife of the Gods (available in its entirety online as well, with others):

CHAPTER 1

CRITICIZING AN EXPLOSION

THE small family group gathered in the library was only conventionally alarmed by the sound of a violent explosion—a singularly self-centred sort of explosion.

‘Well, thank God, that’s over,’ said Mrs Alice Pollard Lambert, swathing her sentence in a sigh intended to convey an impression of hard-pressed fortitude.

With bleak eyes she surveyed the fragments of a shattered vase. Its disastrous dive from the piano as a result of the shock had had in it something of the mad deliberation of a suicide’s plunge. Its hideous days were over now, and Mrs Lambert was dimly aware of another little familiar something having been withdrawn from her life.

‘I hope to high heaven this last one satisfies him for this spring at least,’ was the petulant comment of Alfred, the male annexe of Alice.

‘I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting,’ came a thin disembodied voice from a dark corner. ‘Night and day I’ve been waiting and expecting—’

‘And hoping and praying, no doubt, Grandpa,’ interrupted Daphne, idly considering a run in her stocking and wondering what she was going to do about it, if anything, and when would be the least boring time to do it if she did, which she doubted.

Perfume

Posted on: June 19, 2007

I wonder if it’s significant that two of the more memorable books I’ve read have to do with perfume…

Jitterbug Perfume is my favourite Tom Robbins book [not linking to any TR sites…there just seems to be Wikipedia and fan sites — nothing definitive]. If you’ve never read any Robbins, then you don’t know that he’s got a bit of thang for many a topic, and will take on a major theme or two in each book, going on these wonderful rants that end up being rather heady, like a warm brandy. In Jitterbug Perfume, the main theme is, of course, the power of our sense of smell….and sex, but then it’s always sex….oh, and beets.

Anyway, the sense of smell.

On the same theme is the brilliant novel by German author Patrick Suskind, Perfume.  It’s an adjective-rich descriptive soup of a novel…where you can almost perceive the stench of Paris in the Middle Ages rising up from the pages. Imagine reading it in the original German!!

We watched the movie version of Perfume: The Story of a Murder last night — well done! It was so nicely done that it was almost scratch’n’sniff (a la Odorama of John Waters)! Fetid Paris streets, foul tanneries, odiferous breath…ick. And the most difficult detail of the novel was subtly portrayed: that the main character, John Baptiste Grenouille, with his superhuman nose, had absolutely no aroma of his own. It’s an odd detail, covered in much more detail in the book, but conveyed in some very interesting ways.

I wonder if it would have been harder to discern if I hadn’t been looking for it?

Two very good books. One rather disturbing movie.

Some like their entertainment to stick to the tried and true, while others want something a little more unusual. I must admit, I like both, depending on my mood. I'm not always in the mood for a Charlie Kaufman film, or a Jasper Fforde book.

Today, I was. Got The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde out of the library yesterday, and finished it this morning. It has fewer off-the-wall silly moments than his Thursday Next series, but then Thursday Next was a relatively normal character functioning in a wacky world, while this book was a wacky mystery (Humpty Dumpty's murder) in a relatively normal world.

But his books aside, this wacky Welshman cannot seem to stop writing. Seriously. Take a good long browse through his website — this is a man who is completely off his rocker, OR, utterly marketing-savvy. His books have Special Features, for goodness sake! That you need a code for! Deleted scenes and a 'Making of' Wordamentry. Oh, and special upgrades for your copy of the book:

On this page: The Big Over Easy V2.1 (USA editions)
To upgrade to BOE/V2.1, please follow instructions below:
 

As is customary with early book releases, there are a few bugs that made it through the rigorous testing procedures for which Fforde books have not become legendary. The following instructions allow you to update your edition to an all new BOE/V2.1.

1: Editions covered by this upgrade: All Viking hardback and reader's club softback editions. ON NO ACCOUNT attempt to upgrade any advanced reader's copies or UK editions; a 'deep text crash' may result which will render your book unreadable and may well wipe out all the planet's fiction.

2: Earth the book by touching it lightly against a dictionary.

3: If you are running your library on the outdated SCROLL V7.3 or PAPYRUS 2.8, please upgrade immediately to BOOK 8.3 which is available by downloading HERE .

4: If you are running the Beta Version of BOOK V9 or "UltraWord™" as it is known and have Anti-GrammasitePro™ or ReadZip™ activated, please disable before upgrade. Third party hardware ancillaries such as bookmarks, pressed flowers, old bus tickets, prophylactics, etc, must also be removed.

5: Using a fine black pen make the following corrections:

i/ Turn to page 52 and where it says "tightly curled blond hair" cross out and replace with "tightly curled black hair" We have already met him in Well of Lost Plots and although vain, I didn't think he would be vain enough to have bleached his hair.  

ii/ Turn to page 189 and where it says: "Do you think it will flower?" cross out and replace with "Do you think it's self-pollinating?" The beanstalk has already produced beans in pods, so it has flowered – and they could not have failed to notice.

iii/ Turn to page 249 and where it says "can you also confirm that you have the lowest investigation/conviction ratio of any department in Reading?" change round the investigation/conviction to read conviction/investigation. Trifling, I know.

iv/ Turn to page 334 and where it says "Tell Mrs Singh I'll ring her when I can. Call Baker and inform him we'll be with her -" This last 'her' is confusing; Jack means that Mary should speak to Baker and get a message to Gretal. So replace with: "Call Baker and inform him and Gretal we'll be with them -"  

v/ Turn to page 343, 5th paragraph from the bottom: "Hello, Jack," Spongg said brightly. "Thing's aren't going too well for me, are they?" Delete superflous apostrophe from "Thing's".  

6: Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of The Big Over Easy V1.1. To fully authenticate your copy download the upgrade sticker file by clicking HERE. Print out the download and affix it to the title page of your copy. Thank you for using the jasperfforde.com upgrade service.

Upgrade assistants: Charles Hodgson, Katherine Lee

What fun. Why doesn't every author play around like this?


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!