Sunday’s slush pile

  • “I thought the piles of unsolicited manuscripts it was my job to sift through would contain undiscovered gems. Reader, I was very wrong.” – Jean Hannah Edelstein in “The Shocking Truth about the slush pile.”
  • I enjoyed reading Kathy Reich’s first book in her Temperance Brennan series Déjà Dead. I doubt it ever saw a slush pile because it’s filled with enough chopped-up bones, high-quality forensic anthropologist work, unco-operative policework, and real scares at Brennan’s house to satisfy any reader of crime novels. Readers will learn a lot about saws, cutting bones, Montreal, and possibly a little québécois. I started the series with the last book, then the second-to-last book, and now the first book. I might have gotten hooked. something I never thought would happen (and am a little embarrassed to admit) with a police procedural. Perhaps this is better called an autopsy procedural.
  • I’m now reading Inland by Téa Obreht to atone for flirting with a crime book. So far, Obreht’s book moves at a more-lyrical pace, not counting the exploits of “The Mattie Gang.”
  • Cold weather has come to Georgia prompting us to remember at 1:00 a.m last night that we’d forgotten to move the more delicate potted plants inside. So, we went out and froze our asses off while making sure the plants didn’t.
  • Facebook has been filled lately with photographs of weird stuff in cooking pans that people are looking forward to eating (the stuff, not the pans). I think most of the “food” in the photographs looks trashcan ready even though these posts get lots of likes and recipe requests. I’m tempted to say that these culinary catastrophes look like stuff swept off the kitchen floor and dumped into a Dutch oven with a quart of water. But I don’t: (a) because I’m a polite person, and (b) because I don’t want people to come back and say that my books look like something vacuumed (or Hoovered if you’re English) out of a slush pile.
  • PW graphic

    I was happy to see this November 8th Publishers Weekly story: “In Written Opinion, Judge Florence Pan Delivers Knockout Blow to PRH, S&S Merger.” According to the judge, “The government has presented a compelling case that predicts substantial harm to competition as a result of the proposed merger of PRH and S&S,” Many well-known authors have been saying this ever since the proposed merger was announced. I agree with them–and the judge. There’s already too little competition due to earlier mergers. You can read the order here in PDF format.

  • Based on my glowing recommendation, a close friend of mine just began reading Wolf Hall, the 2009 historical novel by the late Hilary Mantel. I worry a little when I recommend novels and hope the friend is still speaking to me when they finish the book (assuming they finish the book). I have high hopes, especially when I see experts’ reactions like this one in Wikipedia: In The Guardian, Christopher Tayler wrote, “Wolf Hall succeeds on its own terms and then some, both as a non-frothy historical novel and as a display of Mantel’s extraordinary talent. Lyrically yet cleanly and tightly written, solidly imagined yet filled with spooky resonances, and very funny at times, it’s not like much else in contemporary British fiction. A sequel is apparently in the works, and it’s not the least of Mantel’s achievements that the reader finishes this 650-page book wanting more.”



Rest in Peace, Hilary Mantel

“Hilary had a unique outlook on the world – she picked it apart and revealed how it works in both her contemporary and historical novels – every book an unforgettable weave of luminous sentences, unforgettable characters and remarkable insight. She seemed to know everything,” her editor Nicholas Pearson said. “For a long time she was critically admired, but the Wolf Hall trilogy found her the vast readership she long deserved.”The Guardian

Website Photo

I will miss her and her words, but then, I’m an expedient reader and so what I really miss is what her next novel might have been. I read a fair number of news stories about her death but don’t remember seeing whether or not she had a novel in progress.

Personally, I found the Wolf Hall Trilogy the best series of books I ever read. Everything about it was impeccable. And, as often happens with historical fiction, it clarified a lot of events and viewpoints that weren’t covered in our history classes unless we had a strong focus on Henry VIII.

Then, too, it (the universe) gives me a nudge when authors younger than I suddenly die. When I was young, I wasn’t alarmed when old writers died because, well, they were old. But now, I’m less casual about the notion of old authors who are here today and gone tomorrow.

I have a strange feeling that while she was a famous, respected, bestselling author, most readers wouldn’t recognize her name. When I said RIP Hilary Mantel on my Facebook profile, nobody responded. Not that I expect everyone out there to follow the Booker Prize; I do think everyone should recognize her name. Apparently not. Maybe that’s because she was British and outside the realm of the people, American audiences follow–not counting the royal family and rock stars.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Maybe someday a new novel will appear that was in progress when she died. That would be good.