Current Reading May 16 – 22, 2016

bookman's tale

Last week I said the next book I was going to read was Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane. Well, another book came in from the library a day or so later, and I decided to read it instead. The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett is the story of widowed, curious antiquarian bookseller Peter Byerly.  It’s 1995. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books.

In Hay-on-Wye, he discovers a watercolor portrait between the pages of an old book, and the subject of the painting is a woman who bears an uncanny resemblence to his wife, Amanda. Fascinated, then obsessed, Peter goes in search of the story behind the portrait and it’s subject. The Bookman’s Tale takes place in Shakespearian times, Victorian times, the 1980s and the 1990s, skipping from one to the other each chapter. I’m about a third through and enjoying it so far.

 

beijing red

Barbara finished Never Go Back by Lee Child, another in the Jack Reacher series.

She’s just started Beijing Red by Alex Ryan, which she got from the library after reading a review in the latest issue of Mystery Scene. It’s a (political?) thriller.

How about you?

What are you reading?

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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22 Responses to Current Reading May 16 – 22, 2016

  1. Jerry House says:

    I spent a good part of the week reading Stephen King’s LISEY’S STORY, Richard, and came away a bit ambivalent. King’s approach to this one required slow, careful reading and — despite what some say is an overblown style — I don’t think the book could have been cut by a single word. My problem was that there are two books here; the first with the plot (concerning a fan more crazed and dangerous than Annie wilkes); the second with the theme (love, redemption, and the art of creation). And because it’s King, they merge (well into the 500 page book) in a fantasy/horror setting. Stephen King has always been one to try new things and this one is a well-written experiment tht may not be to everyone’s taste.

    Also this week, I finished HALLOWEEN, a large horror anthology edited by Paula Guran — thirty-three stories and novellas about my favorite holiday. Some very good, most unfamiliar, stuff here, mixed in with a few lesser stories.

    Speaking of good stuff with a few lesser stories, my FFB this week was the Ray Bradbury collection MARIONETTES, INC., a slim volume of some of his robotic stories padded with two very short previously unpublished items.

    I also made a brief return to graphic novels with Dennis O’Neil’s BATMAN: THE RING, THE ARROW, AND THE BAT. Despite the title, this one’s about the Green Arrow. He meets the Green Lantern in the first half and Batman in the second. So why is this one published as a Batman GN? Well, you gotta go with a marque name if you want to sell the product, I guess.

    It’s either been too hot or too wet for me to mow the lawn this week — which makes it perfect for a procrasinator ike me. Enjoy the day, Richard.

    • Not a King fan. Maybe I’m missing out on some good stuff, but I’ve got so many other books to read! I’ve read all of Bradbury’s short stories, in a complete SS collection, but couldn’t tell you which came from which book with just a few exceptions. Maybe the GN was so titled because O’Neil was known as a Batman writer/artist. I believe he did a whole series with Lantern and Arrow.

      I just need this daminable cold to let go of me!

  2. Deb says:

    I just started Howard Fast’s SYLVIA, which I bought at a recent Friends of the Library book sale. I thought I might have read it before, but it doesn’t seem familiar at all, so perhaps I’m just remembering the movie adaptation which I think I saw years ago. What I find interesting about this edition of the book, published in 1992, some 32 years after the book’s debut, is that it was the first time the book was published under Fast’s real name. As Fast explains in the introduction, he was blacklisted in the 1950s and still had to publish under a pseudonym (V.E. Cunningham) into the 1960s. That J. Edgar Hoover sure has a lot to answer for.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Deb, it was E. V. Cunningham that was the Howard Fast pseudonym. I read some of his Masao Masuto series under that name in 1981.

    Carroll Baker starred as Sylvia in the 1965 movie of that name.

    I might have to read BOOKMAN’S TALE after all, now that I know the Hay on Wye connection. I’ve been there a dozen or more times, the most memorable possibly being the day of the Royal Wedding in 1981, when the wives were glued to the television set and the husbands went off book hunting.

    This week’s reading: last week (maybe it was on Bill Crider’s blog if not here) Deb mentioned DEVIL SENT THE RAIN: MUSIC AND WRITING IN DESPERATE AMERICA by Tom Piazza. The first section is about music – jazz, blues, Bob Dylan, Jimmie Rodgers – while the second deals mostly with New Orleans post-Katrina. This led me to his earlier WHY NEW ORLEANS MATTERS, which he wrote feverishly in the months after the hurricane made him relocate temporarily to Missouri, as an answer to those who wanted to let the city wither or turn it into “a theme park.” Both were downloaded from the library. I have his short story collection at hand.

    I may have mentioned THE MARTINI TWIST: A Novella and Stories by George Pelecanos last time. I finished (and enjoyed) the collection. The title novella draws on his experience writing and producing THE WIRE and TREME and is a good behind the scenes look at a television crime series, as well as a mystery itself.

    Last was Linda Castillo’s SWORN TO SILENCE, first in her series about {formerly Amish} Police Chief Kate Burkholder, trying to solve a series of vicious murders of young women (who are brutally tortured and butchered) while hiding a secret of her own. I figured out the killer a way before the end, but she does a good job with Kate and her team and the northeast Ohio setting. I’ll probably read the second book fairly soon.

    Current reading: Mike Resnick, ed., RETURN OF THE DINOSAURS, new stories (in 1997) and an OK but not great collection so far. I always like Kristin Kathryn Rusch’s “Spade” stories set at SF conventions and there is one here. I’ve read all of Gerry Boyle’s series about Maine reporter Jack McMorrow since 1995, so was happy he brought McMorrow (and his tough as nails neighbor Clair) back after five years with ONCE BURNED, which I got on the Kindle. I see he has an 11th McMorrow book out this month. BLOODLINE was the first in the series. You should check it out.

    • Jeff, I have a short story collection coming from the library any day now, Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories, that should be interesting. Have you read it? I’ve only read two of the books in the series, but spotted this in listings.

      Hay-On-Wye only appears twice, briefly, in BOOKMAN’S TALE. It’s where he buys the book in which he finds the small watercolor. The rest of the book takes place in the U.S. and various other parts of England.

      I can’t work up much interest in New Orleans, unless it happens to be the setting for a good mystery book. There was a good Mike Shayne novel set there, as I recall.

      I read, and reviewed in The Perp, that Resnick anthology.

  4. macavityabc says:

    Just finished Ron Faust’s JACKSTRAW. I hope you enjoy THE BOOKMAN’S TALE. I did.

  5. I so often have the same thing happen. I’ll get a book I’m eager to read, but before I can get to it I’ll get another one that pushes it down the line, This is the way for me that books get pushed back years.

  6. tracybham says:

    I finished Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming a few days ago, and now I am reading The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett. My first Terry Pratchett book.

    • Tracy, was that your first time reading the Fleming book? What did you think?

      • tracybham says:

        Richard, I read a few James Bond books (by Fleming) long long ago and not sure which ones. I have forgotten all about them. I have been surprised by the ones I have read recently. They are more like an adventure story than espionage fiction but very fast paced and entertaining. Outrageous stories, sometimes not very realistic. They do have some old attitudes that take getting used to. I did enjoy them.

  7. I’m about to start reading a Big Fat Book now that I’m on Summer vacation. I just finished reading GRIFT SENSE by James Swain. Many of the TV programs I watch are coming to an end this week so I’ll more reading time!

  8. Redhead says:

    THE BOOKMAN’S TALE sounds beautiful!

    I recently finished MY WISH LIST by Gregoire Delacourt which is about a woman who wins the lottery but she doesn’t want to upset everything that is good in her life. She loves what she has, and doesn’t want anything in her life to change now that she’s won a lot of money. It’s a lovely book. A gentle and soothing writing style.The end of the book is not gentle.

    Just started one of Teresa Frohock’s Los Nephilim novellas, I had to find, charge, and remember how to use my kindle, since it was only available on e-book. Worth it though, 1920s Barcelona is a lot of fun!

    • Red, I think you would like The Bookman’s Tale. It is a mystery, but it’s also a story of a relationship stronger than the people who share it. Your library is likely to have it. A full review coming in a week or so.

  9. Richard, both the books look interesting though I might be more inclined to read “Beijing Red” because of my curiosity of China.

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