BOOK & BLOG
March 12, 2012
Books of the Week:
Since I’d already read the autobiography of the Duchess of Devonshire, it was only natural that I’d become interested in reading further about her sisters, who created such a furor in their times. I read Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death many years ago, and I thought it was excellent, so I wondered how such a family came to produce so many extraordinary children. Jessica Mitford is probably the best known of the sisters, but Nancy Mitford was famous in her day, and the beautiful Diana was the most notorious. Unity seems simply tragic, while Pam was relatively well-balanced and down to earth like her sister Deborah. Mary S. Lovell has done a ton of research and written a calm, even-handed narrative of what happened to The Sisters in the course of their tumultuous lives.
Of course I was excited when I heard that Anne Rice had written a werewolf novel, and I wasn’t a bit surprised to find it wasn’t like anybody else’s. Rice has always had a clear and very specific vision, and if sometimes the reader finds it almost strangely detailed, that’s simply further evidence of Rice’s penchant for realizing the most minute aspects of her characters. The Wolf Gift deals with an amazing house, a young reporter, and a visit he makes to the woman trying to sell the house . . . a visit made at a fateful time. The house’s owner is attacked by her drug-taking younger brothers, and the werewolf who comes to her defense bites the reporter by accident. It’s not a huge surprise when he turns. What is surprising is what he feels called upon to do – rescue the victimized. I hope there’s going to be another book with further adventures of the werewolves we meet in this book.
I’m in the middle of listening to the anthology Warriors. I was in another Martin/Dozois anthology, and I delighted to be in such good company. Warriors is equally star-studded. I just finished a wonderful story by Joe Lansdale, having previously enjoyed one by Cecilia Holland and another by Lawrence R. Block that just curdled my blood. This is a highly recommended anthology.
While I was in Orlando for Sleuthfest (the well-run weekend convention held under the auspices of Mystery Writers of America) I met several writers I hadn’t met before and got to listen to their ideas about writing. That’s always an interesting and valuable experience, and I was really glad I’d been invited. It’s a low-key and informal small event, and it’s a great chance for less experienced writers to learn some things and mix and mingle with established authors.
I was highly excited about the visit to Harry Potter World several of us had planned after the convention, but that turned out to be less satisfying. I am not a theme-park planner, but I know when I’m crowded beyond comfort and I know it when I see opportunities to entertain that are simply lost. I was over-excited about going, apparently. If my expectations had been lower, I would have had a better day. The frozen butterbeer was great; I can at least say that!
We’ve had an abrupt return to winter, with pounding rain and chilly temperatures. The sun just came out, and I’m going to take that as an omen! Spring is just around the corner. Since my yard needs mowing, maybe it’s already here in disguise. The dogs lie in the long grass when the sun is out, perfectly happy. It’s a pleasure to watch them just being dogs.
It reminded me of Sleuthfest. Though I’m not much of a bar person, it’s fun to gather with other writers and talk about deadlines, new series, contracts, and other aspects of the profession. I don’t get to do this too often, and it’s just as much a treat to me as the sunshine and grass are to the dogs. Maybe, if someone were watching us in the bar, it would be a pleasure to watch writers just being writers.
© 2012 Charlaine Harris