Friday, October 19, 2012

Some Are Reading

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Friday in October. A bit rainy here in the east. A little chill rolling in at night. We're going to need something to read over the weekend. Luckily, I made a trip to Otto Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop on Warren Street near City Hall (New York City that is) this week.

1) But first, a tip for mystery buffs or others who simply enjoy well written books: Mystery Scene Magazine.

Before making a pilgrimage to Otto's place (see directions below) , McNally Jackson on Prince , or Crawford Doyle among others, I take a look at Mystery Scene. This gem covers both the newest mystery/suspense writers and the classics, and often includes pieces written by the big names in mystery/suspense.

Some of the classic titles mentioned in MS are usually available only as gadget downloads. BUT, See tip #2 below.

Mystery Scene inevitably reminds me of books and/or authors that I like, but I either have not read in a long time or had meant to read but never gotten around to it. The most recent issue reminded me that it was time to re-read two of the seminal names in the mystery genre: John D. MacDonald and George Simenon. Their respective characters, Travis McGee and Inspector Maigret, couldn't be more different in their styles and more similar in their universal appeal to readers who require their "genre" books to be written in prose equal to the best "literary" books of the day, or better, in the case of these two authors.

2) Tip #2 is that Mysterious Books has an extensive collection of both hardcover and paperback editions of classic titles, many of which are very affordable, some of which are collectible. I was very lucky to have found two paperback Maigrets and one McGee at $5 each. The original price of one Penguin title is marked at 95 pence. The 1965 Fawcett Gold Medal was $4.95.

Bright Orange For The Shroud (1965), Maigret And The Lazy Burglar ( 1966), Maigret And The Saturday Caller ((1968).

The Maigrets were a particularly great find, since they were original Penguin editions, nearly fifty years old and in great condition. Penguin was, in a very real way, the Apple of  its day; and was to books back then what the ipod was/is to music today. Penguin is one of the best ideas any human ever had and a business legend with brand/logo designers.

3) While in Seattle last week, I visited another great independent, arguably the best in the country now, in its new location: Elliot Bay Book Company. The new store is in the Capital Hill area, one of several lively, young and hip Seattle neighborhoods thriving in the local digital economic boom. Whatever sadness there was in leaving the old Pioneer Square neighborhood is more than made up for in this well-lit (sorry) expansive space.

Not to mention that it's next to Oddfellows, one of a jillion hot local restaurants.

Best find at EBBC? Shiro: Wit, Wisdom & Recipes From A Sushi Pioneer by Shiro Kashiba. $20. A signed copy is also available directly from the restaurant. This is a beautiful book, nicely paperbound, and you do not have to like sushi to enjoy looking at and reading this book.

4) Other reads: I am often reading several books at the same time. For some reason I am able to just pick up where I left off. I'm not sure why or how I can do this, nor why I have a photographic memory for where every book is/was on a shelf. Anywhere. Weird, but true.

In addition to the Travis McGee book mentioned above, I am or have been reading the following:
- What Happened To Sophie Wilder, Chris Beha. A strange little book. Normally, I run for the hills when I see a book about young writers, especially if it involves their time in college! But, this is worth hanging on. Present from my editor...Thanks!
- Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel. She just won the Mann Booker for the sequel. Both about Thomas Cromwell, who spent his summer in my beach bag.
- Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell. My 3rd foray into a Mitchell. Not to be confused with Margaret. More like Martha Mitchell on CIA's LSD actually. Movie soon.
- Mani: Travels In The Southern Peloponnese, Patrick Leigh Fermor. Greece before the mortgage, by one of the great travel writers ever. Patience is rewarded.

Ed Notes:
-Mysterious Bookshop: #6 train to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall, walk west. 1,2,3,A,C to Chambers.

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