Monday, 13 December 2010

Knobs, Coffins and Ranting

Do you have "a knob-sized coffin?" If so, Helen Fitzgerald needs your help. Funny, last time I saw her, she was looking for a, Donna, remember that your father reads this blog. And that Helen will probably kill you.

The lovely people over at Crimesquad review Aline Templeton's CRADLE TO GRAVE. Caro Ramsay's DARK WATER and Karen Campbell's SHADOW PLAY this month.

Would you let Stuart MacBride direct a kidnapping scene? HarperCollins will. Good stuff.

A brilliant piece on Denise Mina in the Glasgow Herald. And, as a double bonus for my dear friend, Bobbie, who is a big fan of Denise Mina, here's a review of A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY.

Irvine Welsh picks his five favourite crime novels - including Louise Welsh and Tony Black - nice one.

The lovely Declan Burke with his top 10 thrillers for 2010. And the equally lovely Nigel Bird picks his top 10, which includes a fair smattering of Scottish authors, for Crimefactory Magazine. I probably owe him some money now. Cheers, Nigel!

A few reviews for Philip Kerr. One for THE GRID, one for the Berlin Noir trilogy, and The Independent reviews FIELD GREY.

Dorte discovers one of my favourite authors - Karen Campbell.

The Leslie Flint Educational Trust on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Edmonton Journal reviews Kate Atkinson's STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG.

And, finally, I really, really should stop reading articles like this one by Edward Docx in The Guardian. I didn't care much for the one and a half Stieg Larsson books I read, but I care even less for Mr Docx saying that crime fiction is constrained and limited. I agree with Mr Docx that it bothers me when I see articles by people sneering at literary fiction. However, then Mr Docx boiled my pish by doing exactly the same thing - sneering at crime fiction and writing the whole genre off with a sweep of his pen and a witty bon mot. Why why WHY can people who take such stances not see that there is good and bad in every genre? I'm not the best read person in the whole world but I've read some wonderful literary fiction. I've also read some absolute twaddle (you don't want to get me started on Alain Robbe-Grillet's LA JALOUSIE. No, really you don't). I've read LOTS of superb crime fiction. Crime fiction that is most definitely not constrained or limited. In many cases it bloody well soars. I've also read some utter shite crime fiction. I just prefer not to talk about it here. I prefer to reserve my energies and my blog posts to revel in the books that I have read and loved.

So, rant over. I am going to unboil my pish and, instead, perhaps send Mr Docx something to broaden his knowledge of crime fiction. Something really bloody brilliant that will make him sit back and say "Hey, maybe this genre stuff is pretty good after all." Some Daniel Woodrell, for example. Or Megan Abbott's BURY ME DEEP, Eddie Muller's THE DISTANCE, David Corbett's THE DEVIL'S REDHEAD, or Joe Lansdale. I'm not even going to start listing Scottish writers or I would be here all day. What it comes down to is that there are good books and bad books - that's all. In fact, who am I to say what's a good book, or a bad book? There are books I like and books I don't. There are books Mr Docx likes and books he doesn't. And that's it.


  1. It's often an argument you can't win. Send folks like that some Ellory or Jahn and they'll say, "Well, that's not really crime fiction. Those are literary thrillers."

    Bite my shiny metal keyboard.

    Books are books, and they're good or bed, limited or limiting, deep or shallow, on their own terms, regardless of classification.

  2. Donna - Rant away! I feel exactly the same way, and I know exactly what you mean about sneering about crime fiction. Grrrrrr

  3. No, I don´t think I have any coffins stored away. But one of my buddies in the church choir is the undertaker´s wife so perhaps if I ask around...?

    And I really want to read some more great Scottish crime, but perhaps I should try some of the 80 books in my TBR first.

  4. Excellent rant, Donna and spot on.

  5. Excellent Donna. There are good books and bad books.

  6. It's the old Kingsley Amis situation re: science Fiction:

    "SF's no good" -
    they cry till we're deaf!
    But this story's good...
    Well then it's not SF!"

  7. Great response. I think sending him a book or two is a very positive way to handle the situation. The ball will then be in his court, since it is clear that currently he is very poorly read in the crime field.

  8. C.N. - Absolutely!

    Margot - don't you just hate it?!

    Dorte - there's plenty for you to try :o)

    Michael and Jose Ignacio - thank you, dear chaps.

    Jim - ha! Excellent.

    Olman - he is indeed. I would love him to take me up on my offer. However, I am certain he doesn't read crime fiction blogs :o)

  9. No, don't bother with Mr Docx. The light's on, but no one's at home. You know. This explains his stupid rant, as well. I just wish they hadn't flattered him by letting him write that piece, and presumably even paid him for it.

  10. Bookwitch - nice work if you can get it, eh? :o)