Monday, June 13, 2011

Barnes & Noble allows me to recommend books

Narrowing the list down to three took only slightly more time than it would take me to write three books. I decided to apply the "multiple-copy" test and ask myself what three books I've purchased often in the past few months to literally put into a reader's hands. I came up with the following three, and assure you they will not disappoint.

Winter's Bone

By Daniel Woodrell

"Yes, the film was excellent, and deserving of every award it won, but Woodrell's prose has a beauty that no camera could ever capture. 'His voice held raised hammers and long shadows,' he writes of one menacing character in this taut, stunning novel, and rest assured: Woodrell's voice will cast long shadows itself, in the way that only great novelists achieve."

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

By David Sedaris

"I don't think there's a more difficult form of writing than humor. There are wipe-the-tears-from-your-eyes laughs in this collection, but there are also complex emotional threads, and when the laughs subside you'll realize the stories linger not just because of the wit, but also because they make you consider how we treat those around us, and why, and at what cost. Many writers addressing such themes in a dramatic narrative fall flat. Now try doing it while making people laugh."

Emily, Alone

By Stewart O'Nan

"Talk about taking on a literary challenge--O'Nan's quiet tale of an elderly widow defies every dramatic expectation readers bring to the page and leaves them better off for it. There are many ways in which O'Nan is flat-out better than most writers working today, but none more impressive or effective than his uniquely genuine empathy."

Friday, June 10, 2011

GQ votes for you to read The Ridge

Your Weekend Beach Read
Set in the foothills of east Kentucky, Michael Koryta’s latest tale begins with a death atop a woodland lighthouse, which sparks a plot that soon unites a scarred detective, newly unemployed reporter, beautiful widow operating a sanctuary for big cats—as in lions and panthers. And from there, things start to get weird. If you know Kortya’s work—he’s the 28-year-old suspense wunderkind whose editor, Michael Pietsch, also edited David Foster Wallace—you know this is SOP. See for instance the bar piano that plays like a violin at the West Baden Springs Hotel, setting for last summer’s So Cold The River. Or the way-too-conveniently located tavern in the Gulf Coast badlands that welcomes two late-night travelers in The Cypress House (now being made into a movie). Will you like the book? Put it this way: Suspense Godhead Dean Koontz says Kortya “is on my must-read list” and the author recently inked a six-book deal with Little, Brown, who is publishing three of his novels within an the unheard time span of one year. So, yes. GQ’s Cole Louison interviewed the private investigator turned novelist last year; click here to read it. Buy The Ridge here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

If you are in a listening mood...

Check out Gena Asher's excellent "profiles" interview at WFIU, Bloomington, Indiana's NPR affiliate. By "excellent" I am referring to Gena, not to her source material. She did the best she could with it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chris Columbus and 1492 Pictures to adapt THE CYPRESS HOUSE

Thrilled to report what has already been widely reported: Chris Columbus, the acclaimed director of the first two Harry Potter films, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone, and countless other fan favorites, has acquired film rights for THE CYPRESS HOUSE. Columbus will write the script himself and produce via his 1492 Pictures company with production partners Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe.

The New York Times reviews THE RIDGE

And we even got a great little sketch of a cat face on the moon! Nice work by Christoph Niemann.

Says Marilyn Stasio of the NYTBR:

It’s almost summer, so let’s get serious about those vacation reading lists. On second thought, let’s save the 600-page historical sagas and thickly plotted espionage thrillers for another day and kick back with something weird and wonderful — like a supernatural mystery.

Michael Koryta, who previously staked out that territory with “So Cold the River” and “The Cypress House,” takes it to loftier elevations with THE RIDGE (Little, Brown, $24.99), a freshly imagined and elegantly constructed variation on the dead-of-night ghost story. Set in an abandoned mining region in the foothills of rural Kentucky and drawing deeply on Koryta’s affinity for spooky places, this eerie tale hinges on a chapter of local history forgotten by all but Wyatt French, an eccentric old coot who lives alone in a lighthouse he built in the woods to keep the dark away. “So if you got a light, hold it high for me / I need it bad tonight, hold it high for me,” goes a sad poem hanging over his bed.

French becomes unhinged and commits suicide when a wildlife sanctuary for lions, tigers and other “massive, uneasy cats” moves into this remote area, intruding on his solitude and awakening nightmarish notions that something wicked is living up on Blade Ridge.

But before he kills himself, the old man passes on his forebodings to two of Sawyer County’s presumably more stable citizens, Chief Deputy Kevin Kimble, who is hopelessly in love with a woman currently doing time for killing her brutal husband (and taking a shot at Kevin), and Roy Darmus, who lost his job as the county’s official storyteller when the regional newspaper shut down. Although their sleuthing efforts establish a realistic baseline for the novel’s supernatural events, readers are swept along by Koryta’s narrative voice, which is surprisingly soft and low and poetically insinuating, considering the horrors he’s relating.

The presence of the great cats threatens the spirits of the woods, which are “heavy with the feel of magic.” And when a preternaturally powerful black cougar named Ira jumps the fence to take up the watch on these haunted hills, the scene is set for a battle that will either restore the balance of nature or plunge the whole region into darkness. Not to tip the ending of this extraordinarily imaginative story, but I’d put my money on Ira.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stephen King recommends The Cypress House

Pick up a copy of Entertainment Weekly tomorrow for some summer reading tips. Stephen King includes THE CYPRESS HOUSE in his suggestions, saying, "Gangsters, a silent but heroic drifter, and one whopper of a hurricane. How can you go wrong?"

In the same issue, Michael Connelly points readers toward THE RIDGE, saying, "Since he's moved from mystery to horror things have gotten spooky -- and better with each book."