Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Standouts Of The Year: 2006

Much like the effect of a good thick ale on the brain cells, the holiday season is winding down my writing. The novel is moving along at the rate of paragraphs a day and I haven't posted in a whole week.

My writing may have slowed down but my reading has picked up. Something I started doing early last year is keeping track of every book I read. Seeing all the titles in a list helps me to pick what type of book I feel like reading next.

Last year I read a total of 22 books, but this year I made a more concerted effort to raise that figure. Regular reading has probably improved my reading speed as well and the total of 38 books this year attests to that.

Plenty of those books were well written and worthy of praise, but some gelled with me more than the others. I can put myself back into their worlds with the simple reminder of a character's name or a scene or title.

And here they are.

Peter Temple: THE BROKEN SHORE

Although I prefer Temple's Jack Irish novels, there's something about this one that resonates. I can picture myself in Port Munro as Detective Senior Sergeant Joe Cashin, living with two dogs and working on my property, trying to resurrect one of its buildings. Temple's spare prose perfectly captures the laconic rhythm of speech and mood from the smaller parts of Australia.

Ken Bruen: THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS

As an aspiring crime writer, it's dangerous for me to read Bruen's work, but I make sure to savour it at regular intervals. This Jack Taylor novel had a better mix of humour and hardness than THE GUARDS. The ending absolutely blew me away. Luckily I have quite a few Bruen novels to catch up with before I get to the stage where I have to wait to read more. I want to be Bruen when I grow up.

Charles Willeford: THE SHARK-INFESTED CUSTARD

Willeford's writing style is something I haven't seen anywhere else. He gets into my head, feeding off my thoughts, presenting the story of four Miami boys getting into serious trouble in a way that makes me feel part of the action. And that title. Just try to tell me you've heard one better.

Jim Thompson: THE KILLER INSIDE ME

Tribe slapped me upside the head to make sure I got off my arse and rescued this from a teetering pile of books-in-waiting. Tribe was right, Kubrick was right ("Probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered."), and Thompson was right on the money with this cold piece of work.

Richard Aleas: LITTLE GIRL LOST

Hard Case Crime's cunningly disguised Charles Ardai wrote this spot-on example of how a PI novel can still work in our day and age. Holding the little paperback and smelling its pages while reading was a modern retro joy. And the story was so good I wrote a one sentence summary of each scene so I could see how the whole thing flowed.

Malcolm Gladwell: THE TIPPING POINT


Some great ideas in this, although I'd come across many of them in James Gleick's CHAOS. Here they're transplanted onto people and marketing in clear prose in a small book. Since I've read it, I can't help classifying people as Mavens or Collectors ... read the book and you'll understand.

Jeff Lindsay: DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER

While some of the internal monologue is repetitive, the whole idea and execution of Dexter, the good-guy serial killer is just plain fun. And now there's a TV series of the show that's even better.

Sara Gran: COME CLOSER

This is the book that inspired me to include the supernatural in my next novel. As the story progresses it becomes more and more uncomfortable and eerie, with a noir sensibility throughout. With one book I've become a Sara Gran fan for life. I'll get crucified for this, but I think it's even better than her following novel, DOPE.

Steven Torres: THE CONCRETE MAZE

I've written my own review of this already, so I won't repeat any of that here. But I will say that it's the very real emotional impact of this book that has made it stick with me.

Charlie Huston: ALREADY DEAD

Finished this one only last week and it's one of the few books that had me moving through at least fifty pages without being aware of time or hunger. The combination of vampire and PI novel is something that completely tickles my fancy. But then, I am half Romanian. The sequel for this one is out very soon so my credit card is ramped up and ready to go.

7 comments:

Steven said...

Flattered to be on this list. Why would it be bad to read Bruen at this point in your wriiting career? I'll need to pick up Gran's book. Loved Dope but I've heard Come Closer was better in a couple of places (unless that's you posting the message at different sites....)

Also greatly admired Aleas' book. Met him at the Black Orchid in NYC this past summer. Nice guy AND a great writer.

Good list. Even that Torres guy.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Every time I read a Bruen novel it changes my writing voice into his for at least a week. His style is so distinctive and addictive, it's hard to escape the influence.

Glad you enjoyed the list. Now go get COME CLOSER.

Hard Man said...

COME CLOSER is one of the most perfect books I've ever read. Enjoyed DOPE immenseley but it's hard to top perfection.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Thanks for dropping by, Mr. Man. Looking forward to reading your Two Way Split, which is waiting for me in the pile.

angie said...

Hey, ya gotta take the time to feed your head or the writing suffers. And you've got some kick-ass books to munch on during the holidays! I'm getting Bruen's American Skin for Christmas (on my get-it-or-die list for the hubster) and I'm seriously stoked. Can't help it. Huge Bruen fangirl

Daniel Hatadi said...

No, wait. That list is for books I've already read. But, yes, I do have some kick arse books waiting, by fine and funky authors like MacBride, Terrenoire, Guthrie, Bruen, Crais, Coben. Sheesh, I'll never finish them!

Anonymous said...

Thirty eight is great and a good bunch they are. For a seriously high count, see Jenny Davidson's list. She must read better than a book a day and the variety is astounding. I'm lucky to do two to three a month and often don't. Maybe because I'm here though she blogs more than anyone too. She must never sleep.