Monday, November 08, 2010

Good Reading

Just finished two books by members of Sisters in Crime. The first was Kaye George's collection of short stories, A Patchwork of Stories, which she self-published on Kindle and Smashwords. Cheers to Kaye for stepping up to the newest trend in publishing that is changing everything about the business. These aren't stories no one would publish--they've all been previously published in various magazines and some have won awards or come close. But as I know too well, it's hard to interest publishers in short stories, especially of the mystery or western variety.
As for Kaye's stories themselves, all I can say is she has a wickedly ironic sense of humor and a vivid imagination. The conclusion of a couple of stories of vengeful wives will leave your head spinning with surprise--and maybe just a bit of a laugh. And who expects to meet werewolves in a collection like this, but they're there. There's a burnt-out cop story, but even he has his unexpected moment of revenge, and there's a dramatic story about a P.I. and a floozy lady at a fancy dance. Order this collection in any of its available forms--Kindle, online, PDF, Nook, Sony Reader, whatever--and you'll be reading all night.
Kathleen Ernst's Old World Murder (Midnight Ink) makes wonderful use of her own background as an interpreter and Curator of Interpretations and Collections at the actual Old World Wisconsin site, so readers learn a lot about historical preservation and Norwegian culture of the 19th century. This is a true cozy, with the central figure the new Curator of Collections, a woman wounded in love. Coming to her rescue, even though she fights his efforts, is a small-town taciturn cop, a drop-out from the Milwaukee police force. Ernst is adept at red herrings, so just when you think you have sorted the good guys (and gals) from the bad ones, you find out you were so terribly wrong. And the killer? You'll never guess. This is the first venture into adult mysteries by Ernst, an established writer for children. Let's hope they'll be more.
Have you noticed that's a real pattern in cozies? The heroine distancing herself from the guy who's trying to help her, determined to do things on her own. I realize the need for conflict to keep the story going, but sometimes I want to reach in the book and shake both of them. I think it's a theme worth exploring sometime.
Two thoughts from today's memoir class: "You never know a subject until you write about it." So true, particularly of getting to know yourself through memoir writing. And a suggestion for grandmothers (and others): Google a Web site called Savvy Grandmothers. Marty Norman's newsletter today was about passing your heritage down to your grandchildren. That, too, is particularly appropriate for memoir writers.

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