I’ve recently finished reading John Connolly’s The Burning Soul (the 10th Charlie Parker book) which was as good as ever – the cover confused me a little because (spoilers) no one actually gets set on fire in a cornfield, although in previous Parker books people have been set alight in unpleasant ways. This led me to contemplate the interplay between title, cover and actual book content, particularly with regards to Crime fiction; I don’t particularly want to see Charlie Parker on the front of the book because how he looks to me is obviously very specific to my imagination, and I don’t really want that tweaked by an artist’s impression (this is without going into how much of Charlie’s character comes from his voice and actions rather than the sparing bits of physical description in the books themselves – Parker is a shadowy soul in my head, a beloved character whose face isn’t always clear, but with whom I have walked some very dark paths). And, this being crime fiction, I also don’t want spoilerfic images on the cover – mob types wielding guns, hidden crawlspaces, Angel and Louis arguing. So what are you left with? Strange and unsettling imagery, essentially – covers that give you a flavour of the book without telling you exactly what it’s about, which is as it should be, I think, particularly for that genre. Anyway, if for some crazy reason you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend it – crime fiction with supernatural elements and a lovely, mournful atmosphere (and a healthy vein of dry humour).
At the same time as that I’ve been reading Doug Strider’s SF pulp novella Space Danger!, recently made available in all good ebook places. As most of you will know, Doug (or Marty) is my partner, and he is very fucking funny; his surreal sense of humour is all over this – someone described it as the Navy Lark meets Douglas Adams via the way of Dan Dare comics, and I giggled mightily through it.
Before that slightly odd pairing I read Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World, a crazy jambalaya of a book about the end of the world and what comes after. It’s fabulous, meandering and yet not meandering – the story kicks off in rousing style, and we’re all set for an adventure into unknown territory… and then we leap backwards for an extended flashback. Except of course, that the flashback is the story, and all the meandering and, quite frankly, joyous footnotery are secretly immensely important. It’s impossible to talk about it much without giving too much away, but this is a vivid, bursting-with-ideas book, full of genuine humour and emotion (I’m beginning to think that a sense of humour is my one deal-breaking prerequisite for a book. If a book is utterly po-faced I just can’t get through it).
And now I’m on to Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks, which is one of those books where if you mention you haven’t read it, people will hiss at you and throw things. I went through a big Iain Banks phase in my early twenties, but somehow managed to miss this one, so I’ve some catching up to do.
What are you reading at the moment? Anything good? Tell me, I’m horribly nosey.