Oct
13

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Hardboiled Monday: Howard Browne

ashesAs with preceding Hardboiled Mondays, Chris Hocking and I are working our way down the master list in alphabetical order. Details here. And earlier discussions are here.

Chris Hocking recommended all of Browne’s mystery novels: the four Paul Pine books and a standalone, Thin Air. I couldn’t lay hands on the first three Paul Pine books, and Thin Air got lost in the mail, but Hocking had given me The Taste of Ashes. It came wrapped in a deceptively mediocre cover that provided little clue as to how outstanding the prose within would be.

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Oct
10

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The Big Lord Dunsany Re-Read

time and the godsI don’t actually know how big it will be, because so far I have me and anyone else who wants to join in. Which means just me.

While prepping for the lecture I gave at the Big Read I started thinking about all of the great Lord Dunsany short stories I’ve enjoyed over the years and realized that there were a couple of collections I’d still only sampled from. I decided it was time to revisit that lyrical master of the fantastic.

I hope some of you will join in. For the next three or four Fridays I’ll be reading through A Dreamer’s Tales, and for the first week I’ll be reading: Read More

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.

 

Hardboiled Monday