Off On a Tangent

Random musings from Sarah Weinman, editor of Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives (Penguin, August 27)

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Davis pointed out that mystery readers divide pretty evenly by sex. Women almost universally prefer the polite society murders they find in hard covers in lending libraries: men favor the hard-boiled paperbacks that they find on the newsstands.

“Men,” she said, “seem to find excitement in a sequence of violent action. Whereas women like the read about gentlemen, which they don’t find in paperback fiction and possibly not in real life either.”

Mrs. Davis pointed out that in the paperback field, except for Agatha Christie, men have it all over women. But women hold their own in the hard cover field, in which three of the major editors are also women. “Most literate mysteries,” said Mrs. Davis, “are written by Englishmen or women.

Dorothy Salisbury Davis discoursing on the state of the mystery-reading world in an interview from 1959. Or, she grokked what domestic suspense was better than I could.

Filed under dorothy salisbury davis lit Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives domestic suspense crime fiction

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Yeah, I think I’ll be tracking this book down. This, Naomi Hintze’s first novel, was nominated for the Best First Novel Edgar in 1970 and was the basis for the 1972 movie of the same name, which sounds astoundingly batshit and stars Patty Duke as the aforementioned pregnant damsel in domestic distress. 

Hintze (1909-1997) wrote five suspense novels in the 1970s; a couple of paranormal novels in the 80s, and this weird 1975 book (collaborating with Joseph Gaither Pratt) that was “a comprehensive introduction to parapsychology.” And that’s about all I know about her, for now.

Yeah, I think I’ll be tracking this book down. This, Naomi Hintze’s first novel, was nominated for the Best First Novel Edgar in 1970 and was the basis for the 1972 movie of the same name, which sounds astoundingly batshit and stars Patty Duke as the aforementioned pregnant damsel in domestic distress.

Hintze (1909-1997) wrote five suspense novels in the 1970s; a couple of paranormal novels in the 80s, and this weird 1975 book (collaborating with Joseph Gaither Pratt) that was “a comprehensive introduction to parapsychology.” And that’s about all I know about her, for now.

Filed under Naomi Hintze domestic suspense You'll Like My Mother lit crime Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives

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Richard Powers’ Next Novel Is Out in January And It Sounds Awesome


From Barbara Hoffert’s prepub alert for LJ last month:

Powers, Richard. Orfeo. Norton. Jan. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780393240825. $26.95. LITERARY FICTION

Once again, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Powers combines an elegant appreciation of music with the examination of crucial social issues. When composer Peter Els’s home microbiology lab sets off alarms at Homeland Security—never mind that he’s using it only to find music in unexpected places, a lifelong interest—Els goes on the run, visiting the people he’s met on his long journey through music. Dubbed the Bach bioterrorist on the Internet, he decides to fight back, plotting to turn his head-on collision with state security into a work of art that will truly make people listen to the sounds around them. Bravura stuff; with a six-city tour to New York, Boston, San Francisco, Portland (OR), Seattle, and Chicago.

Seriously, @wwnorton, send a galley over here ASAP. Or yesterday. Whichever is easier!

Filed under lit forthcoming books Richard Powers I must read this now I mean it right now

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Stuff I’ve Written Lately, August Edition

The anthology publication date is less than a month away! So that’s understandably preoccupying a lot of my time. But I’ve still managed to write about other things for other places as well in the last few weeks:

My latest “Crimewave” column for the National Post features reviews of new and recent books by Simone St. James, Sean Slater, and S. P. Hozy.

For Maclean’s, I reviewed J. Courtney Sullivan’s newest novel THE ENGAGEMENTS.

I wrote an essay for the Forward on my near two-decades of singing in choirs, why I’ve gotten to know a disproportionate number of churches, and Stacy Horn’s marvelous treatise on the joys of the chorus, IMPERFECT HARMONY.

Finally, my review of Boris Kachka’s HOTHOUSE, which was originally behind the paywall at Publishers Marketplace, has been reprinted at VQR Online for all to read, should they choose.

Filed under lit j. courtney sullivan boris kachka stacy horn simone st. james sean slater sp hozy stuff I've written lately blatant self promotion

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Some Additional Context on Emily Witt's Profile of Marisha Pessl in ELLE

A few days ago Emily Witt’s profile for ELLE of Marisha Pessl and her second novel NIGHT FILM, which I liked quite a lot, was posted online. I didn’t see it till earlier today and was amused and perplexed to see that I had apparently “sneered” at Pessl in something I wrote on my now-defunct blog eight years ago.

Emily, whom I knew more when she still worked for the Observer, didn’t contact me for further clarification, but since web writing is supposed to stand alone I can accept that, having also likely characterized other people’s web writing a certain way for my pieces without asking for additional context. Still, the way the blog quote reads, it seems like she grabbed it from Dinitia Smith’s NY Times piece on Pessl in 2006, around the time SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS was published, instead of going back to the source, where the quote reads in full as follows, in a parenthetical that closes a satirical piece I wrote when Pessl’s book deal was announced in February 2005:

(Btw, for the humor-impaired, it’s not that I am mocking Ms. Pessl’s appearance or writing ability, just the publishing world’s almost masochistic desire to let attractive packages, so to speak, dictate their buying guidelines — even if the prospect of earning out is rather limited, to say the least.)
As it turns out, I’m fairly confident SPECIAL TOPICS did end up earning out, but at the the time, it seemed a reasonable prediction since tons of other high-six-figure book deals don’t. The moral of the story: apparently satire now means you’re sneering, instead of trying to lampoon particular human behavior. Who knew?

Filed under lit marisha pessl emily witt context satire being needlessly pedantic

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" Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl." — Gillian Flynn, GONE GIRL

" Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl." — Gillian Flynn, GONE GIRL

Filed under lit quotes Huma Abedin Gone Girl

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By the necromancy of modern journalism, a gracious young woman had been transformed into a dangerous siren who practiced her wiles in that fascinating neighborhood where Park Avenue meets Bohemia. Her generous way of life had become an uninterrupted orgy of drunkenness, lust, and deceit, as titillating to the masses as it was profitable to the publishers. At this very hour, I reflected as I lumbered to the telephone men were bandying her name in pool parlors and women shouting her secrets from tenement windows.
From Vera Caspary’s 1942 novel LAURA, the basis for the famous movie and still utterly, sadly, spot-on about so many things, especially on women’s struggle for acceptance in a man’s world.

Filed under Vera Caspary Laura lit crime fiction media