As each year winds to a close I like to look back on what I’ve read in the previous year…and share it with you.
This year was a “down year” by my standards- 14 books, though I’m fairly certain that I’ve forgotten a few. Normally I can just look at my order history at Amazon, but this year I finally resolved to make use of two of the exceptional used book stores in my area and each time left with an armful and I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten to add a few of those to the list and “regifted” a few that just didn’t do it for me. My guess is that the actual number is closer to 20 than to the 14 below. In that light, it was an “okay” year. Anyway…
Here’s what I read with a few comments where I deemed them appropriate:
Recoil by Jim Thompson
Sleep with the Devil: A Biography of Jim Thompson by Michael McCauley
This was kind of cool- and not just because it was about one of my favorite authors. The copy I found was a proof copy complete with typos, empty pages where the photos would eventually go, etc.. While there is a lot of new information on Thompson’s life and work, the writing is terrible. It’s basically biographical information followed by repetitious excerpts from his fiction works. About half of this book would evaporate if the quotations from Thompson’s novels were removed.
A Kingdom Far and Clear: The Complete Swan Lake Trilogy by Mark Helprin
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Roosevelt was clearly a compelling figure and Taft was not (though he may have been the “nicest” man to ever become president), but the real interest in this book is the examination of the “muckraking” journalists who worked at McClure’s Magazine from the 1890s through about 1905: Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, William Allen White, etc.. Riveting stuff.
Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell
The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins
The Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction ed. David Gorman
The Nonexistent Knight/The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino
Just an amazingly talented and creative writer, I have two more of his books “on deck” and can’t wait to get to them.
Cain: The Biography of James M. Cain by Roy Hoopes (in progress)
Unlike the Jim Thompson biography, here is one about a slight less interesting novelist (in terms of his life, not his works) which is absolutely carried by the author’s talent. Hoopes wrote almost 700 pages on Cain’s life and some how it is a “page turner.”
Bullitt by Robert L. Fish
A case where the book is not as good as the movie, in fact, I’m at a loss as to how this book- originally titled Mute Witness became the movie starring the Mustang- and Steve McQueen. I may have to watch Bullitt again to see if I missed some connection to this book.
The Far Cry by Frederic Brown
Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis
A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler (in progress)
Looking forward to reading new books by Will Thomas and David Morrell in the near future and, of course, looking forward to reading The Count of Monte Cristo again when I am in Scotland this March/April.