Oct
8

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Big Read List

gilgamesh bookI’ve returned from DeKalb Illinois, where I was treated royally by Big Read organizers Steve Roman and Edith Craig. Steve and his wife Karen showed me around the downtown and took me out for dinner, then drove me to the Ellwood House, where I addressed the audience about the importance of fantasy fiction and delved into its history.

I promised attendees that I would provide a list of highlights from among the books I mentioned over the course of the talk, and here they are. Read More

Oct
6

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Hardboiled Monday: Such Men are Dangerous

blockFollowing up on the hardboiled master list, I thought I’d talk about the book by Lawrence Block that holds the number two slot (because we’re going in alphabetical order until we we get to the anthologies). Chris Hocking was kind enough to drop by and offer a few additional thoughts. Every Monday until we reach the end of the list we’ll discuss another book from the list, working our way down in alphabetical order.

Any questions about the contents of the list can probably be answered on the preamble on the post about the list itself, which was created by Hocking to lure me into reading hardboiled and noir, based on his reading in both genres for more than three decades. It worked. Being good doesn’t get you on the list; a work has to be great, keeping in mind certain idiosyncrasies that I discussed in the original post.

You know how Sturgeon famously said that “Ninety percent of everything is crud?” These books are drawn from the ten percent of hardboiled and noir that isn’t.

Just a brief aside before we get to the discussion — this evening I’ll be at the DeKalb Illionois Public Library addressing the importance of fantasy fiction as part of this year’s Big Read. Details are here.

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Oct
3

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Return to Form

star-trek-inspirational-posterAfter more than a half dozen years away, I’ve finally returned to East-West Karate, where I earned my Black Belt. I didn’t start from zero, though. I began regular calisthenics in June and noticed how good that made me feel each morning. It increased my energy levels overall. After a few months I decided to re-up my membership and start work towards my second degree black belt. (Both of my children have now earned their first degrees, which pleases me mightily.)

Now I’ve been working out at the karate dojo for a month and I’m starting to re-learn the mid-level katas, or forms. I look pretty sloppy still, but it’s nice to be moving through a kata and suddenly have some of the old knowledge snap into place. I’m looking forward to getting crisp with them, relearning the higher level forms, and eventually getting to the final ones required for the second degree black belt test. It’s a year or two off, assuming I can get up to speed fairly quickly, but I don’t care. Just the thought of having the chance to try for a second degree is pretty swell. I thought, after my knee issues, that I’d never be able to do this stuff again.

 

Oct
1

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Reflections on the 7th Novel

howard in chair

Me with just a little less gray than I have these days.

I turned over my fourth Pathfinder novel this week. It’s a little strange thinking that it won’t see the light of day until two years from now. By then my daughter will be a junior in high school and my son will be a sophomore in college. Sometimes I think time would feel less like it proceeds at such a breakneck pace if I didn’t constantly have my children changing to show me. My wife and I don’t feel particularly different than we felt two years ago (although I do have more gray) and with luck we won’t feel too different in two more years.

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Sep
29

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Hardboiled Monday: Queenpin

queenpinFollowing up on last week’s hardboiled master list, I thought I’d talk about the first writer whose work appears on it, Megan Abbott. Chris Hocking was kind enough to drop by and offer a few additional thoughts.

Every Monday until we reach the end of the list we’ll discuss another book from the list, working our way down in alphabetical order. Any questions about the contents of the list can probably be answered on the preamble on the post about the list itself. The list was created by Hocking to lure me into reading hardboiled and noir, based on his reading in both genres for more than three decades. It worked. Being good doesn’t get you on the list; a work has to be great, keeping in mind certain idiosyncrasies that I discussed in the original post.

You know how Sturgeon famously said that “Ninety percent of everything is crud?” These books are drawn from the ten percent of hardboiled and noir that isn’t.

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Hardboiled Monday