My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Saturday, May 4

Kate Atkinson

I’ve recently discovered the joy of reading Kate Atkinson. I don’t quite know what to say about her, but here goes. I’ve never read anyone who could so capture a reader. No one. Not Fitzgerald, not Hemingway, not any of my favorite mystery writers, not Ed McBain or Lawrence Block. Nearly everything she writes is quotable. And any writer who reads her would probably like to smack her in the chops because they’re so jealous of her ability with words. I know I would. Like to smack her, that is. I just finished Case Histories, the first in a series of mysteries set in the English countryside, and am now in the middle of the second, One Good Turn. Her style is agonizingly difficult, but well worth the effort. She includes so many characters, each of which gets her full attention both past and present, with lots of tiny flashbacks in the middle of a character’s ruminations, with little parenthetical thoughts sprinkled in, and events seen from multiple viewpoints. Somehow, she manages to bring these countless threads together by novel’s end, and we breathe a sigh of relief that we can now see the entire fabric.

Jackson Brodie, a private investigator, is the main character in this series of mysteries—mid-forties, a bit glum, but very likeable The following quotation is typical Jackson Brodie, this from Case Histories:

Jackson started to worry about being late. On the way back to the car park he had to fight his way against a herd of foreign-language students, all entirely oblivious to the existence of anyone else on the planet except other adolescents. Cambridge in summer, invaded by a combination of tourists and foreign teenagers, all of whom were put on earth to loiter, was Jackson’s idea of hell. The language students all seemed to be dressed in combats, in khaki and camouflage, as if there were a war going on and they were the troops (God help us if that were the case). And the bikes, why did people think bikes were a good thing? Why were cyclists so smug? Why did cyclists ride on pavements when there were perfectly good cycle lanes? And who thought it was a good idea to rent bicycles to Italian adolescent language students? If hell did exist, which Jackson was sure it did, it would be governed by a committee of fifteen-year-old Italian boys on bikes.

Another, from One Good Turn. Gloria’s husband Graham has had a massive stroke during a bit of S-M with a hooker and is now lying comatose in a hospital bed. Gloria is there, not so much to comfort him as to hurry him on his way.

Gloria didn’t believe in heaven, although she did occasionally worry that it was a place that existed only if you did believe in it. She wondered if people would be so keen on the idea of the next life if it was, say, underground. Or full of people like Pam. And relentlessly, tediously boring, like an everlasting Baptist service but without the occasional excitement of a full immersion. . . . He thought he was invincible, but he’d been tagged by death. Graham thought he could buy his way out of anything, but the grim reaper wasn’t going to be paid off with Graham’s baksheesh. The Grim Reaper, Gloria corrected herself. If anyone deserved capital letters it was surely Death. Gloria would rather like to be the Grim Reaper. She wouldn’t necessarily be grim, she suspected she would be quite cheerful (“Come along now, don’t make such a fuss”).

Gloria remembers a time when Graham had been stopped for speeding, drunk, speaking on his cell phone while eating a double cheeseburger.

Gloria could imagine him only too well, one hand on the wheel, his phone tucked into the crook of his neck, the grease from the meat dripping down his chin, his breath rank with whiskey. At the time, Gloria had thought that the only thing lacking in this sordid scenario was a woman in the passenger seat fellating him. Now she thought that that was probably going on as well. Gloria hated the term “blow job” but she rather liked the word “fellatio,” it sounded like an Italian musical term—contralto, alto, fellatio—although she found the act itself to be distasteful, in all senses of the word.

Is she good or what? I can’t wait to immerse myself in the rest of her novels.
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