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What is the Paris Bookshop's prescription?

I gave a talk on narrative voice at our writers' group yesterday. We looked at how different voices create different expectations in the reader. First person, present tense, teenage girl feeling isolated in a curiously different world? Must be YA dystopian romance, right? Or hard-bitten male voice with elegant lady in the office and dead body in the conversation--must be noir detective? Third person, past tense, multiple characters but we're not deep in their heads, and there's a dead body; must be cozy mystery? Third person, hero's point of view...?

It got me wondering, is there a "right" point of view for literary fiction?

Here are some books that felt kind of literary (and wonderfully so) when I read them. But I'll leave you to decide. Drink coffee. Always drink coffee!

First is French Letters: Children of a Good War by Jack Woodville London is the third in a trilogy, but the only one I've read of the set. It stands alone perfectly, following the l…

Five times mystery, or a cockroach in a pear tree

Once mystery is odd, twice mystery is odder, three time, four times, five times mystery... Actually I'm sure I read way more than five mysteries over Christmas, but I'm searching my files for notes and turning notes into book reviews while I catch up on catching up, so here are reviews of just five mysteries--like five gold rings perhaps (four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a cockroach in a pear tree?)

The cockroach shares a room with Mr. Smith in J. J. DiBenedetto's Mr Smith and the Roach. It's a delightfully odd mystery, humorous and distinctly thought-provoking, blending Raymond Chandler with Douglas Adams perhaps. Enjoy its elegant complexity with some elegant complex four-star coffee.

The Bluelight Special: A Cyril Landry short story by J. Carson Black is a short story set in the world of horse-racing, but you don't have to love (or know) the sport to be quickly drawn in. Pitch-perfect dialog creates great characters, but the questions …

Reading non-fiction and needing time to write

What's your calling? What's your passion? A friend loaned me her copy of "It's your call," while an e-friend offered to organize my mind, another promising to make me an influential author. Perhaps I should "start writing [my] book today" but I'm busy with book reviews. Or I'll go back to the non-fiction book that has occupied many happy hours over the last months with truly excellent essays, fascinating insights, curious facts, and lots of food for thought.

That last one is called Secular Jewish Culture by Yakov Malkin; it's a huge book, filled with endlessly fascinating, absorbing, informative, thought-provoking essays, and I love it. Enjoy this intense read with some intense five-star coffee.

Perhaps if my mind were more organized I would have read these books faster. Anyway, the next one is Memory 21 an organized mind: 21 days to revitalizing your memory and your life by Alex Brighton. It reads a bit like a cross between self-help and ex…

What happened to December... and January?

My mother is 90. In early December she crossed the Atlantic to visit us, and stayed till last week. December and January were a wonderful time of reconnecting, with Mum and with friends; of hanging out with family who came to see her; of shopping as mothers and daughters do when there aren't thousands of miles between them; of cooking and remembering she doesn't like spices, cooked tomatoes, garlic, fruit... of eating elk burger as a treat with her grandsons because we don't have elk burgers in England...

But now she's gone home. The blue chair is empty. The bedroom carries only a lingering memory of her scent. Only one set of towels in the bathroom. No competition for the shower...

And now I get back to real life, overdue book reviews, editing, maybe even writing if I'm lucky. Mum wants me to be lucky. She wants to see me succeed as an author, so I try to tell myself we still have plenty of time... plenty of time... and I try not to remember that slightly haunted …
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