BOOK & BLOG
May 19, 2008
(A note: this Book & Blog was to have run a couple of weeks ago, but somehow it didn’t make it to Dawn. I’ll have a fresh one next week. Thanks for a successful tour._
Books of the Week: THE BONE KEY by Sarah Monette and SMALL FAVOR by Jim Butcher
I finished SMALL FAVOR on my way to Washington, and I was so engrossed I almost missed a gate change. Jim Butcher is at the top of his game with the latest Harry Dresden, and if you liked the other books in the series, SMALL FAVOR will delight you. Some day I’m going to have a Dresden Files festival and read all the books back-to-back to get the big picture. The charm of this series lies in the character of Harry, I think; he’s honorable but human, prey to temptation and misapprehension, but strong and persistent, too.
Michael (who is a defender of the faith) and his family play a large role in SMALL FAVOR. Michael’s daughter Molly is beginning to grow into her powers nicely. Being her mentor has helped Harry, too. He’s stronger, more cautious, more mature.
I won’t give away any of the plot for those who haven’t had the chance to read Butcher’s latest, but as almost always in a Harry Dresden book, the ultimate showdown between good and evil appears to be getting closer and closer. Harry and Michael come very close to death in SMALL FAVOR, and terrible events occur.
It’s no secret that I’ve enjoyed Sarah Monette’s books since she began writing, but her latest book, THE BONE KEY, is quite different in tone from her Felix and Mildmay books. THE BONE KEY is a collection of short stories about Kyle Murchison Booth, a museum employee and a strange duck altogether. Booth, who had a pretty awful childhood and has no close attachments even in his adult years, comes into contact with the eerie and occult intermittently, and most of these contacts do not end happily.
I confess it took a story or two for me to get into the character of Booth. He seemed too pitiful, too isolated, for me to warm to him and follow him through the whole book. But by the third story, I was involved in his life and beginning to appreciate him. Monette is a fine writer, and even a quirky loner like Booth has his charms when she writes him.
What a hugely eventful week I had, from feeling celebrated all weekend at Malice Domestic, to staying at the home of one of my icons, to visiting the set of “True Blood.” It would be hard to top the air of excitement that’s carried me along.
I am stepping very cautiously this week, since “pride goeth before a fall.” I am overwhelmed by my good fortune in having the friendship of so many outstanding people. From the Charlatans who showed up for Malice (having never been to a mystery convention), to my friends Toni and Dana who hatched the passing-out-buttons scheme, to the group of talented writers who also stayed with Barbara Mertz, to the wonderful cast and crew of “True Blood,” I felt surrounded by affection and excellence the whole week.
Now I’m facing the road, and I’m actually looking forward to it. Though the travel is grueling (and here let me say that my publicist does everything she can to make it easier on me), meeting readers is always fun, and I love being in book stores. Being surrounded by books is my favorite milieu, whether it be in a library or in a store. Being surrounded by folks who read books just makes the setting complete.
I’ll be working while I’m travelling. There’s a lot of downtime while I’m touring, and I don’t want to read all the time. Working makes me feel like I’m moving forward, and that’s always a good feeling. My next Sookie book is still untitled, but by a stroke of good fortune I accidentally wrote the ending. (I wrote a great passage that contained a lot of action and violence. Suddenly I realized I couldn’t top that; it had to be the conclusion of the book.) Now I know what to work toward! That’s a great feeling. Maybe I’ll try to do that again.
Tomorrow I face the problem of packing. When you’re crossing all the time zones and going from climates as diverse as Phoenix and Pittsburgh, choosing clothes can be quite a dilemma. I wish I was one of those people who can go to Europe with one small suitcase and a carry-on, but I’ve never managed to pack that lightly.
When I return from tour, I stay home a week and then head out to Mayhem in the Midlands in Omaha. Yes, I know, Omaha is one of my tour stops, but I haven’t been to Mayhem in years and it’s a convention that supported me when I was not so celebrated. I’d like to visit it again and give a little back. After mayhem, I settle down for (a) work, and (b) softball. Those two things will get me through the summer, with a brief break for NECon in July, a horror writers’ convention held in Rhode Island. Then nothing until October, when the world mystery convention, Bouchercon, will be held in Baltimore.
It makes me tired just thinking about it, but when I pack my bags again, I’ll be excited. Friends to visit with, readers to talk to, places to see . . .
© 2009 Charlaine Harris