Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin


Thursdays With Maureen Book Club's July selection was Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter winner of the 2010 LA Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller.  Strangely (to me anyway) some of the group did not know the reference to "crooked letter crooked letter" which is how children are taught to spell the word "Mississippi".  I suppose that if you didn't learn that as a child you wouldn't know from the title that this book is set in Mississippi.

It's classified as a mystery but the murder mystery is secondary to the unlikely friendship between the two main characters, one black, the other white.  Bookreporter says "like all great works, it transcends any particular genre to stand on it's own".

Ron Charles in his Washington Post review said  "Franklin, an Edgar-winning writer of atmospheric tales, deserves an audience to match the praise he's attracted for Poachers, Hell at the Breech and Smonk.  If you're looking for a smart, thoughtful novel that sinks deep into a Southern hamlet of the American psyche Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is your next book".  

Tom Franklin's writing has been compared to that of Harper Lee, William Faulkner and Elmore Leonard.  He is currently Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing at Ole Miss. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Willie Morris Prize for Southern Fiction.

There is something about reading a Southern novel during the hottest days of summer.  This summer in the Midwest offered up many days over 90 degrees with temps as high as 103.  So, the hot steamy days seemed just right for getting to know Larry Ott, the town oddball, who prayed that God would deliver a friend for him.  The town thinks he had something to do with a missing girl back when he was in high school so he remains a permanent outcast.  His childhood friend, Silas "32" Jones, now the town constable, also shuns Larry.  When another girl goes missing it forces the two estranged friends to confront their past.  Take in the rich Southern atmosphere created by one of our best contemporary writers.

 By the way, this Southern state is spelled "m,i,crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, humpback, humpback, i". 

Author Tom Franklin

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wish I'd Thought of That!

In the category of "why didn't I think of that" here are two new books recently released:

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin and My Favorite Fangs, The Story of the von Trapp Family Vampires by Alan Goldsher.

These are real books.  Mmmmmmmmmmm.

My Favorite Fangs even comes with a reader's guide.

And the full title to Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is Fifty Shames of Earl Grey:  A Parody.  Really?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Updates on Authors Wally Lamb and Michael Connelly

Readers will remember Wally Lamb as the author of the 1992 debut novel, She's Come Undone, which was then picked as an Oprah book club selection in 1997.  USA Today has an interesting article in today's paper about Wally Lamb's friendship with a bipolar man named David Fitzpatrick.  It's an inspiring story of a 20 year friendship and how the successful author helped the mentally ill man find his voice. Mr. Fitzpatrick's first novel, Sharp, arrives in book stores today. Pick up today's paper to read the article or go to USA Today's website, click the "life" section and then "books" to find the article.

Also in today's news, Michael Connelly has won the 2012 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction for The Fifth Witness, fourth in his Lincoln Lawyer series featuring maverick attorney Mickey Haller.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Carl Hiassen is a hoot!


Lately, Florida author Carl Hiaasen is noted for his novels, Hoot, Flush, Scat and Chomp.  Even the titles are pretty funny which might make you want to pick up one of these young adult novels.  But don't forget his older mysteries. What a hoot!  Someone at Amazon commented that Skin Tight was one of his best and it really does make for a laugh out loud summer read.  One character, the six foot nine Chemo with the weed whacker arm, is unforgettable.

 His web site says "A graduate of the University of Florida, at age 23 he joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter and went on to work for the paper's weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team. Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column, which at one time or another has ****** off just about everybody in South Florida, including his own bosses. He has outlasted almost all of them, and his column still appears on most Sundays in The Herald's opinion-and-editorial section. It may be viewed online....or in the actual printed edition of the newspaper, which, miraculously, is still being published. "

His sardonic sense of humor may not be for everyone.  But, if you like that kind of wit, he is a master.  He's a staunch environmentalist whose bad guys are always trying to exploit the environment or scam the tourists. "Fabulous sense of chaos and absurdity", delightfully warped mind", wicked imagination" all describe him.

One reviewer mentioned that it seems readers tend to say their favorite Hiaasen book is their first.  Maybe this is because of the reader's surprise.  It may tend to start out as a "normal" whodunit and then his biting wit emerges with laugh out loud consequences.

Why not give it a try - Skin Tight, Double Whammy, Native Tongue, Sick Puppy, Tourist Season are among his more than 30 books that readers mention as their favorites.  What a hoot!