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Just finished the first Matthew Scudder novel by Lawrence Block and wanted to sing its praises while also offering an excerpt. I was first introduced to Lawrence Block's writing not much more than a year ago, despite the fact that he's one of the main titans of the crime fiction genre and a truly gifted, excellent author. The Scudder character is so immensely real and understandable that he comes right off the page to real life, it seems. I also love reading about Scudder's alcoholism, a trait which I've written about before, wondering aloud if Block has struggled with that problem himself. He certainly writes about it eloquently.

The excerpt I wanted to include today isn't strictly illustrative of the crux of Scudder's character, but it's an interesting look into the character's darker side. In this scene, Scudder has just left the umpteenth bar he's visited that night, and he was letting himself walk "with the special rolling gait that is the special property of drunks and sailors." In a doorway up ahead of him. Scudder became aware of movement, and when a young hood with a knife stepped from the shadows, Scudder "knew [he'd] been looking for him for hours." Circumstances of the case he was working on were getting to him, and he was looking for a fight, I guess.
Read more... )
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Early this year I started keeping a list of the books I've read. Whenever possible, I give my own rating on 5 stars and a short synopsis so that I can remember what the book was about when I look back on it later. I have another pile of books upstairs I've read recently but haven't logged yet, but I will soon. Most of this is light mystery fiction, but the stuff that's really good and stands out for me are books by Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane, old Robert B. Parker, and Donald E. Westlake. All that stuff is top-drawer. Also the book of 9 short stories by J.D. Salinger was really excellent.

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I'm quite enjoying the use of Google's personalized home page to display my most commonly used bookmarks, snippets from the first 6-7 messages in my Inbox, 3-4 of my favourite news and other syndicated feeds, plus the live results from two of my current favourite Google News searches (examples 1 and 2), although I'm brimming over with suggestions for additions and improvements. If I have time, I'll see if I can find a quick yet effective (i.e. impactful) way to send these suggestions to the developers at Google Labs who are the ones responsible for these new add-ons.

(On a related note, Google's blog search engine returns several results from my LJ community [livejournal.com profile] nonduality for its blog search on nonduality. Trippiness abounds. This is a reminder to me that I should be more active in that community, too.)

Anyway, a recent crime fiction news search (see example 1 above) yielded an interesting article and interview about UK poet David Harsent's recent Forward prize win for his collection of war poems called Legion. What I found most interesting was that this poet also writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Stella Mooney. From the interview:
excerpt starts here )

All poets have to have day jobs. I used to be a bookseller and then a publisher, a lot of people teach and we all have to try and make a living as nobody can make a living just from poetry. For example, Robin Robertson is a publisher, the poetry editor of Cape, and Don Patterson is the poetry editor of Picador. I didn't want to teach or go on being a publisher because it was too demanding of my time. So I decided to try to make my living by my pen and I quite like thrillers.

excerpt continues here )
Now, it's fairly common to read about crime fiction writers (and many other kinds of fiction writers, for that matter) who haven't been successful enough to quit their day jobs yet. (And as author James Lincoln Warren points out, practically nobody except Edward D. Hoch actually makes a living at short crime fiction.) But it's another thing entirely to hear about a poet who has a day job as a crime fiction novelist. Lucky bastard.

(In personal writing news, my short murder story is still progressing quite well, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit concerned at its growing length. It's currently sitting at over 10,000 words and the murder itself is probably 1,000 words away. My approach right now is to keep writing until the whole story is down, and then I'll start an aggressive editing process to cut out the dead wood and tighten the language overall. I'm still hoping to have a good working draft completed by the end of November, with crits (from writing friends, from this LJ and from OWW-SFF) plus subsequent revisions completed by year-end. Then I'll start peddling it to prospective publishers, and as yet I have no idea what to expect from that process...)


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Dustin LindenSmith

January 2013

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