J.K. Rowling Wants No Part of E-Books (At Least for Now)

Have you wondered why certain books, many of them classics and huge bestsellers, are not available in e-book format? There are lots of reasons, actually, and not all of them have something to do with the bottom lines of the authors and publishers. The same thing happens in the music business, as Beatles fans who have searched for Beatles music online know well, but I was a bit surprised that so many writers are resistant to the idea of their work being published electronically.

Yahoo News discusses the situation in this article by Hillel Italie.

Many authors complain that the common 25% of net receipts royalty rate is simply too little for a product whose production cost is so minimal (the rate varies slightly from publisher to publisher). They would like to see that rate changed to 50% of net proceeds, doubling the royalty rate that was set eight years ago.

Big holdouts include J.K. Rowling who does not believe in e-books and prefers to see her work remain in paper format only. Other, now classic works, are also missing from the various electronic bookstores: Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch-22 and even Atlas Shrugged, among them.

The folks in charge of Ayn Rand’s publishing rights might want to rethink that limitation considering the renewed interest in her work that the Great Recession of 2009 has created.

Read the article – it’s interesting.

Vern Gosdin Dead at 74

I heard very early this morning that the great voice of Vern Gosdin was silenced last night and I’ve had Vern on my mind ever since. Vern Gosdin was one of the best stylists in the history of country music and, for the most part, he stayed true to the genre by refusing to slide into the watered-down claptrap that passes for country music today. Of course, that meant Vern had to kiss country radio goodbye a long time ago – but he knew that was coming anyway because country radio, with rare exception, refuses to play anyone over 40 years old (much preferring the music of 17-year-old girls who cannot sing without an autotuner in their hip pockets).

I know that I’m ranting – but when I think of all the great talent that gets pushed aside for the likes of those who become “stars,” my blood pressure tends to rise dramatically.

This, though, is about Vern Gosdin, the man called “The Voice” by those who love real country music and know its colorful history. Enjoy.

“Chiseled in Stone” was the 1989 country music song of the year and no one can possibly ever match Vern’s version. The emotion he displays, in combination with how he uses his voice to sell this song, is simply superb. Vern was under-appreciated by the general country music audience but those who know country music best (singers, musicians, critics and astute fans) always place him among the very best singers in country music history. And, without a doubt, they are correct.

Rest in peace, Mr. Gosdin. Your fans thank you and hope to catch you on the other side.

Books Can Get You in Big Trouble

We’ve all seen those hollowed-out books that some people supposedly use to hide valuables among the books on their shelves. Those probably work pretty well because the vast majority of burglars are too stupid to read and a bookshelf is like a burglar scarecrow. The problem comes when someone tries to make an international shipment of “valuables” using the same technique.

The Dayton Daily News has the story in brief:

Federal authorities say they have found 7.75 kilograms of heroin hidden inside hollowed-out books shipped to southwestern Ohio from Iran.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers said more than 17 pounds of heroin, with an estimated value of $1 million, was in four shipments of two books, each bound for Toronto.

I’m not sure why the enriched-books were shipped via Ohio, but there are some guys in Toronto and Iran wearing big frowns today. You have to love it.

Rooftops of Tehran

Rooftops of Tehran is a coming-of-age novel that begins as the story of four young people caught up in the excitement of first love. In their exhilaration, the four of them see the adult world through youth’s fresh eyes and they can hardly wait to carve out places for themselves in that world. However, Rooftops of Tehran, set in the Shah’s Iran of 1973-1974, is much more than a love story; it is also a tragic tale of defiance and courage in a society in which the price of defiance is often imprisonment and execution.

Best friends Pasha and Ahmed have fallen in love with Zari and Faheemeh, two young women already engaged to be married to others. Faheemeh’s engagement is a recent one but Zari was betrothed to Doctor at birth, the result of an arrangement between two families wishing to ensure closeness for generations to come. Ahmed, bold and brash as always, refuses to be bound by tradition and challenges his rival for Faheemeh’s affections, willing to suffer a beating at the hands of Faheemeh’s brothers in the process. Pasha, on the other hand, has come to love and admire Doctor and he feels great guilt over his love for Doctor’s fiancé. Try as he might, however, Pasha finds it impossible to stop thinking about Zari.

Pasha, Ahmed, Zari and Faheemeh become inseparable friends during one gloriously innocent summer during which they spend long days at Zari’s home talking about life, books, and the future. It is a time during which Ahmed wins Faheema’s hand and Zari begins to question her feelings about Doctor and Pasha. Everything, though, comes crashing down around their heads one night when the Shah’s not-so-secret police pay a visit to the neighborhood. Pasha, alone in his rooftop hideaway, inadvertently exposes the person the police are seeking – a mistake that will have grave consequences for those closest to him.

Mahbod Seraji tells his tragic love story in a way that emphasizes the universal truths shared by people everywhere. All of us possess the same basic hopes, experiences and dreams for ourselves and our families, and we have more in common than not. This is so true that, while reading Rooftops of Tehran, it is sometimes easy to forget that the story takes place in Iran rather than in a location more familiar to the reader. When things begin to go bad, however, the reader is jolted back to a keen awareness of the dangers of everyday life under the Shah of Iran’s brutal dictatorship.

Seraji, who arrived in the U.S. when he was 19, has vividly recreated a world that no longer exists, an Iranian culture that, frankly, was probably no less tolerant than the one of today, considering the regime that replaced the Shah. It was a world in which family, morality, education, and tradition were keys to happiness – much as they are today in Iran and everywhere else in the world. Mr. Seraji tells a good story, one that will gratify fans of several different genres.

Rated at: 4.0


Short Story Sunday: "The Hartleys"

I am steadily making my way through the Library of America’s Cheever: Collected Stories & Other Writings and I remain impressed by how much detail John Cheever could pack into a ten-or-twelve-page short story. Many of his short story characters are as fleshed out and memorable as those from his five novels.

One of the first stories in the collection is “The Hartleys,” the story of a young couple who, along with their little girl, have decided to revisit the places that once made them happy. One of those places is the Pemaquoddy Inn at a little upstate New York ski resort they had last visited some eight years earlier.

Other guests of the inn note how attached the little girl is to her father, even to the point of preferring his company to that of her mother, and how when her parents are on the ski slope she never takes her eyes off them as they work their way back down to where she waits.

As the story progresses, the reader begins to get a growing sense that all is not well with this little family despite their best efforts to blend into the community they have temporarily joined. Cheever turns that sense of unease into one of true dread as the story approaches its unforgettable ending.

“The Hartleys” may only be nine pages long but no one reading the story will soon forget it.

An Eight-Book Week (Yikes!)

For the last few weeks, I’ve been reading books one-at-a-time instead of dipping in and out of 6-8 books at once as I’ve come to see as the more normal way for me to read. I made the change figuring that it would be easier to write reviews of the books if I concentrated on just a single book rather than reading a group of them at the same time. The ease with which I can prepare a decent book review increased so slightly, however, that I am easing back into my old pattern again. I just cannot resist the call of that stack of books over in the corner waiting for my attention.

My willpower to resist opening a new book diminishes in direct proportion to the number of books by which my reading stack increases and, just this week, I added 8 books to the pile.

Three of them are library books:

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster – a novel about a retired book critic who imagines, while in bed trying to recover from a car accident, an alternative U.S.A. in which 9-11 never happened and the 2000 election led to the breaking up of the Union.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris – a novel about what it’s like in the office world of cubicle dwellers who find themselves in the midst of a business downturn serious enough to threaten their jobs.

Passing Strange by Martha A. Sandweiss – I read a Houston Chronicle review of this one last week and managed to snag it from the library yesterday. It is the true story of a well-known 19th century scientist and western USA explorer who lived two very separate lives, one in which everyone believed him to be single, and another in which he passed himself off as a black man from the West Indies and raised a black family in New York City. I’ve only read a few pages of the book but I continue to be fascinated by the man’s story. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction this time.

Two new ARCs arrived this week (and I think there are at least six more due in the next few days):

The Chameleon Conspiracy by Haggai Carmon – This is an international thriller involving a master criminal, the Mossad, the CIA and sleeper agents.

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo – This one is to be published in June and involves a serial killer who has returned to haunt the same Amish community that he struck years earlier. The case is placed in the hands of a female Police Chief, Kate Burkholder, and it appears that this may be first book of a series. I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish lifestyle and could not resist this one when it was offered to me.

The last three of this weeks new adds come from my trip to Barnes & Noble this morning. It has been almost a month since I’ve seen the inside of a bookstore (can’t remember the last time that happened), so I consider myself lucky to have only purchased three books today:

Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin -This one has been the number one bestseller on the NYT list almost from the moment it hit the shelves and it takes a long, hard look at where this country is headed based on our history, our constitution, and our dreams.

Restless by William Boyd – Boyd is one of my favorite writers and it’s been way too long since I’ve last read him. This is a spy thriller with a nice twist: the spy is an old lady who has been a sleeper since the end of World War II and she needs the help of her daughter to carry out her last mission.

The Mickey Mantle Novel by Peter Golenbock – Golenbock is one of my favorite sportswriters and he knew Mantle, Martin, Pepitone, Bouton and the rest of that bunch when they were on top of the world. I am going to have to keep reminding myself that this one is fiction as I read it. It promises to be quite frank about the sexual escapades of those days and the like. The 1960 Yankees were the first team I ever closely followed as a kid and players from that era are still special to me.

And that’s it for just this week. I don’t add 8 books every week, but this is not all that unusual, really. I only read 2-3 books a week, so you can see the problem – but what a great problem to have. Life is sweet!

Alabama Library Suffers New Low in Vandalism

The Bay Minette, Alabama, public library has suffered one of the most despicable acts of vandalism imaginable. It is not only that $650 worth of books was destroyed – it is the type of books that were chosen for destruction and how they were destroyed that makes this crime particularly difficult to stomach.

From the website of WKRG News 5 (CBS):

The Bay Minette Police Department is investigating what they’re calling one of most sickening cases they’ve ever been involved with. Somebody urinated on more than 40 books inside the public library. The books were worth 650 bucks…all of them were in the religious section. Books about Jesus Christ, Christmas and faith are covered in urine and are now worthless. Bay Minette’s mayor says the act of vandalism was vile, sickening and unbelievable.

“It was disgusting,” says Mayor Jamie Tillery. “It was an act of vandalism against the entire city. We will not tolerate vandalism of any sort.”

Librarians filed a police report and put the damaged books inside plastic trash bags. The books will eventually be thrown out.

I suspect that this was done by a young person and not an adult. Either way, though, someone needs to pay the price here, including a good dose of public humiliation to make sure this kind of thing does not happen again.

Brothers from Different Mothers

2008’s hottest new bluegrass act continues to shine in 2009 with the release of its second album, Brothers from Different Mothers. How hot were these guys last year? Just look at the list of IBMA trophies they took home:

Entertainer of the Year
Vocal Group of the Year
Male Vocalist of the Year (Jamie Dailey)
Album of the Year (“Dailey & Vincent”)
Gospel Performance of the Year (“By the Mark”)
Emerging Artist of the Year
Recorded Event of the Year (Everett Lilly project)

That is an armful of awards for a group of guys who have been performing together for only about eighteen months. Now, with the release of their second album, Dailey & Vincent prove that their 2008 success was no fluke.

Brothers from Different Mothers is all about traditional bluegrass music, a style lovingly embraced by Dailey & Vincent, and one at which they excel. The harmony on this album is simply spot on, whether it be in the form of duet, trio, or quartet, and there is not really a weak song in the twelve album cuts.

The guys cover all the bases.

There are Southern gospel songs, including one written by Jamie Dailey called “When I Reach That Home up There,” perhaps one of the best bluegrass gospel songs I have ever heard – and a very special one, “On the Other Side,” written by former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune. Background strings were added to this one at Darrin Vincent’s suggestion and the strings set the perfect tone for this tearjerker of a feel good song (yes, there is such a thing).

The strength of Dailey & Vincent, of course, is their traditional sound and they prove here that they can sound as authentic and traditional on new material as they do on bluegrass classics. First-time listeners to “Winter’s Come and Gone,” the new song written by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will find it hard to believe that the song is not decades old. “Girl in the Valley,” a Jamie Dailey song that Jamie also sings on Doyle Lawson’s “You Gotta Dig a Little Deeper” album, further proves that bluegrass tradition is far from dead.

Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent are real fans of the Statler Brothers and two Statler songs, “There Is You” and “Years Ago” are included here. “Years Ago,” in particular, reminded me how great the Statlers were and Dailey & Vincent have inspired me to go back into my LP collection to recapture some of that great music. I was also pleased by the appearance of Statler Brother Harold Reed in his Lester “Road Hog” Moran persona, the first time that Reed has ever recorded with anyone other than the Statler Brothers or Johnny Cash.

Dailey and Vincent used their road band on the album (something that is not always done in country music): Jeff Parker on Mandolin, Adam Haynes on fiddle, and young Joe Dean on banjo. In addition they received contributions from an all-star band of musicians: Ron Block on banjo, Bryan Sutton on guitar, Tim Crouch and Stuart Duncan on fiddle, and Andy Leftwich on mandolin.

Yes, I’m enthusiastic about this album, but more important to me is the way that Dailey & Vincent are keeping tradition alive in a world in which tradition seems to be less and less important to people. There is still hope in this world gone mad.


Saints in Limbo

In every sense of the word, Velma True’s lifestyle on the outskirts of Echo, Florida, is an isolated one. The elderly woman has lost her husband, and her only child, Rudy, is a womanizer just barely aware of the day-to-day needs of his mother. Making things even harder, Velma suffers agoraphobia to such a degree that she can force herself out of her house only when her food supply runs dangerously low.

To Velma’s great surprise, a stranger approaches her on her birthday and leaves her with an astounding gift, something that can transport her so deeply inside her memories that she is able to relive them exactly as they happened to her the first time. She finds somewhat to her dismay, however, that not all of her visited memories are good ones and that she is unable to choose the portion of her past into which she will be immersed. Most disturbing of all, Velma learns that something very evil is out there – and that it is willing to do whatever it takes to gain possession of her gift.

Velma is not at all happy with what she sees as the pointlessness of her life. She worries about her son’s lack of ambition and his willingness to drift from one meaningless relationship to another. She knows that her oldest, and best, friend is growing impatient with her inability to go much more than a few feet from her front porch. Revisiting her past has filled her with regrets about what could have been and she has come to feel trapped “between what was and what is.”

As Velma becomes more comfortable with what is happening to her, she is surprised to find herself filled with hope that she can release the past and change the “what is” part of her life. Things rush to a rousing climax as a young stranger makes her way to Echo on a surprising pilgrimage of her own, the forces of evil gather for a final showdown with Velma, and her son shows her that meaningful change is still possible for a man like him.

Saints in Limbo
, in an uncommon fusion of styles, is part traditional Southern novel, part Christian fiction, part romance novel, and part gothic horror novel. Surprisingly, the combination works well, and readers will find it to be a thrilling story with a touching message. It will particularly appeal, I think, to those who enjoy the Christian fiction genre.

Rated at: 3.5


Random House Introduces Enhanced eBooks

Canada’s National Post has word of a new development in eBooks that I find very interesting. Random House is releasing ten ebooks that have special features similar to those found on enhanced music CDs and DVDs. The catch is that the features do not work on any of today’s eBook readers and no company seems ready to admit that they are developing an eReader that will be able to take advantage of the new-style eBooks. So, for now, these particular eBook volumes will have to be read from a desk computer or laptop, something I’m not sure that I would do unless the enhancements are very, very special.

From National Post:

The initiative, called Book and Beyond, launched yesterday. The ten titles in the series so far includes Lee Child’s Nothing to Lose, which is packaged with an animated graphic novel and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, which gives the reader the option to listen or read the book as each chapter begins. The memoir of the Canadian metal band Anvil is also available, complete with a video interview with the band, and an enhanced version of an currently un-named Irving Welsh book is in the planning. What they do with that one could be interesting.

This could really be fun. Imagine, for instance, reading Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity in an enhanced eBook version that includes music from the record shop or debut novels that include interviews to introduce readers to new authors. Historical novels could be packaged with photographs, audio clips, and newspaper clippings from the time. The ideas are limitless.

Interestingly enough, a quick check of the internet indicates that the ten enhanced titles are now available in the U.K. but I have not found the same type link for purchase in the U.S. Perhaps the company is testing the market in the U.K. before making similar titles available in this country – or, just as likely, I overlooked a link.

Case Histories

Frankly, Case Histories is my kind of detective fiction. Over the last few years, I find more and more that I am bored with the traditional whodunit that asks the reader to identify the real murderer from the multiple suspects, clues and red herrings sprinkled throughout the novel. These days I much prefer novels that delve deeply into the character of the murderer, the victim, and the detectives alike. I am no longer satisfied with “who did it.” I absolutely need to know the “why” of things and what makes all the main characters tick – or stop ticking. Kate Atkinson has written a literary detective novel that takes exactly that approach.

Case Histories features Jackson Brodie, a former Cambridge police officer now making his living as a private detective who is growing very weary of following wives at the request of husbands who suspect them of infidelity. His own wife has taken their little girl and moved in with another man, and Jackson cannot shake the feeling that his work and his personal life have become uncomfortably similar. There is just no escape for him.

Jackson is near his breaking point when asked to look into three old murder and missing person cases by relatives of the victims, and he gratefully welcomes the change-of-pace offered by the new work. In short order, he is asked to look into the 1970 overnight disappearance of a three-year-old girl from the backyard tent she shared with an older sister, the 1994 seemingly random murder of an eighteen-year-old clerk in her father’s law office, and the 1979 ax-murder of a man in front of his toddler daughter who has now herself gone missing.

Jackson Brodie works the three cases simultaneously, following each thread wherever it leads him while becoming more and more personally involved in the lives of those who have hired him. In the process, Jackson even manages to find time for an elderly long-term client whose cats seem to be disappearing one-by-one, and to survive the efforts of someone who seems determined to kill him.

The beauty of Case Histories is how Atkinson tells her story. There is nothing straight-forward about her approach; she uses a combination of flashback and differing points-of-view to allow the reader to see events more than once, each time adding a little more detail or shading that will meaningfully change what has come before. Layer-by-layer, she builds humanly flawed characters and adds them to the mix in a way that they all come together at the end in a satisfying finale that ties all the loose ends together.

Kate Atkinson is a talented juggler of multiple plot lines and numerous characters and, with Case Histories, she has produced a very fine mystery/character study without losing control of any of them. This one demands a little patience but, in the end, is great fun.

Rated at: 4.0


JG Ballard Dead at 78

Another literary giant, one who has been ill for a number of years, is gone. JG Ballard, who is probably best known for Empire of the Sun and the more recent Crash, died this morning in the U.K. of prostate cancer according to Sky News.

Ballard was a controversial writer and many readers found his work, especially books like Crash, to be shocking, even disgusting. I don’t consider myself to be a fan of his work but I will always remember the experience of reading Empire of the Sun, his personal story about a little boy captured in Shanghai by the Japanese during World War II. Ballard was 12 years old when captured and placed in the camp where he would be held for the next three years.

JG Ballard will be long remembered.

Obama’s Free Book

Book bloggers aren’t the only ones who pick up “review copies” now and then. Even President Obama snagged one this weekend. Unfortunately for Obama, though, his freebie came directly from the hands of that Venezuelan Bozo, Hugo Chavez – and it’s in Spanish.

AZCentral.com has the details:

President Barack Obama’s advisers cited a long reading list and the fact he doesn’t read Spanish as reasons he might not read the book Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave him Saturday: “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent,” by Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs wouldn’t say whether Obama planned to read the book, which argues that Latin America “continues to work as a servant.”

Can’t wait to read the presidential review…yeah, right.

Michigan Library Will No Longer Lend Books

The state of Michigan, particularly hard hit by our current Great Recession, is being forced to consider cost-cutting ideas that would have been laughed off the table just a year or so ago. There is definitely room for cost-cutting at all levels of government, despite the fact that politicians always choose to raise taxes rather than to cut wasteful spending, but what one Michigan county has resorted to strikes me as very, very sad.

From the Chicago Tribune comes this story:

Macomb County’s library, which is formally known as the Macomb County Reference and Research Center, will close May 1 to be renovated as classroom space for Wayne State University, The Detroit News reported Saturday.

The last day for people to check out materials was April 4, according to the library’s Web site.

When it reopens, no materials will be lent. A portion of the building located about 17 miles northeast of Detroit in Clinton Township will be open to the public to use computers and reference materials.

The library’s collection will be divided among Harrison Township and Mount Clemens. Harrison Township is getting 130,000 books, CDs and DVDs to start a volunteer-run library at the township hall.

I wholeheartedly applaud the idea of a volunteer-run library system in place of the county library but I have to doubt how long it will last and where the new books will come from when the old ones are worn out, lost, or simply out-of-date. We all know that there is enough waste, even at the county level, that can be cut so that something like this really does not need to happen.

Hang in there, Michigan. Take advantage of the 2010 local and national elections to vote out of office every single career politician you can because that’s the only message these weasels understand.

Read-a-Thon – Finish

Just after Hour 18, about 1:15 a.m. Houston time, I came to the realization that it was going to be impossible for me to stay awake for the whole 24-hour read-a-thon and still be able to do any good for my father come Sunday morning when he was ready to start the day. So, I decided to cash in my chips and get some sleep (about five hours worth, and I’m good to go again).

My final page count came to 401, and although I did not finish either of the books I spent the day reading, I will definitely be finishing both of them in the next couple of days. I also discovered how great John Cheever’s short stories are, and how different they are from his novels. Short stories, I think, were his true gifts to the world of literature.

This was great fun and I am thoroughly impressed with how well it was all organized and how much time and effort so many people put into making it work. You guys are all great and Dewey would be proud of each and every one of you. She was a very special woman in the world of book blogging, and you all are doing a wonderful thing by keeping her memory and her traditions alive.

Thank you all very much.


Read-a-Thon – Fifteen-Hour Update

Things have quieted down a lot and I had a pretty good last three hours, having gotten about 60% of the way through the two novels I’ve been reading. Both stories have become much more interesting and the reading, as a result, is going a lot quicker and requiring a lot less of a conscious effort. Some books never reach that stage for me, so I feel lucky that both of these have now gotten there.

I have reached 370 total pages read, but I’m really getting sleepy now that my father has gone to bed for the night and he’s turned off the Astros-Reds game (Astros – 7, Reds – 0). The next few hours will be a real willpower test.

Read-a-Thon – Twelve-Hour Update

Well, we’ve made it to half-time – 12 down and 12 to go.

The weather here has taken a dramatic change for the better although I see on the local news that there are real flooding problems just south of Houston. Up here, on the north side of the county, it is brighter outside at 7:00 p.m. than it’s been all day.

During the last three hours, I split my reading between the two novels I’ve been reading all day and I think I’m finally getting into the reading rhythms of both authors.

Although I’ve completed neither book, and probably won’t do so during this marathon reading session, my total page count has reached 287 (and that’s already, by far, the most pages I’ve ever read in a single day).

I’m feeling pretty fresh at the moment but it will be interesting to see what happens when my normal bed time approaches in about three hours.

Read-a-Thon – Nine-Hour Update

This was an interesting three hours. The weather here is so bad that, at times, it is almost as dark outside as night time and that, plus the sound of raindrops hitting the roof, has made it extremely difficult to keep my eyes open,

Then I decided to go back to Case Histories for another chapter or two – and that made me even sleepier until I found the most uncomfortable chair in my father’s house and sat up in that to read for the last hour. Now I’m not sleepy but my back hurts.

Oh well, maybe the pain will keep me awake long enough to add more pages to my total. It’s hard to believe there are still 15 hours to go…what is going to happen to me when it really does get dark outside?

I read two more Cheever stories (I’m really enjoying those more than anything I’ve read today), another chapter from Saints in Limbo and a long chapter from Case Histories (which started to catch my interest again toward the end of the chapter).

But all of that effort, surrounded by a half-dozen very short catnaps, resulted in only 62 pages read in three hours, bringing my total for the day to 203 pages. Very obviously, my goal of 720 pages is rapidly slipping out of reach.

Read-a-Thon – Six-Hour Update

Six hours into the Read-a-Thon now, and I’m still using the “slow and steady approach” to pile up a few more pages. I reached the point where I needed a change of reading material in order to give myself a little boost – the Atkinson novel was starting to drag and I found myself actively disliking two of the book’s main characters (not something to make me want to keep turning pages).

I went back to the Cheever collection and luckily chose a really good thirteen-page short story of his called “The Sutton Place Story” in which a little rich girl wanders away from her babysitter and gets lost in NYC. I tell you what – Cheever packed more emotion and great characters into those thirteen pages than I found in over 90 pages of Case History. The man was definitely a master of the short story form and I think many of them are better than any of his novels.

I’ve also dipped into Saints in Limbo and find its style to be an easily read one but, after 2o pages, I’m still not hooked by the plot.

Anyway, after six hours (and eighteen to go!) I have read a total of 141 pages that includes segments of two novels and two John Cheever short stories.

Here comes hour 7…

Read-a-Thon – Three-Hour Update

We’re three hours into the 2009 Read-a-Thon and I’m off to a pretty slow start so far. I suppose I’m not doing too badly considering that I’ve fixed breakfast for two, cleaned up the mess, and worked in a trip to the barber during these three hours.

This is what I’ve actually accomplished on the reading end:

58 total pages that include one Cheever short story (The Chaste Clarissa) and a good start in Atkinson’s Case Histories (I’ve read the three cases now and am starting the fourth chapter).

I’m hoping to pick up the pace a bit during the next hour – the Atkinson book is slowly drawing me in and now I can’t wait to see how the three cases are tied together the rest of the way through. I’ve heard pretty good things about the book and it’s not disappointing me at all to this point.

Onward to hour 4.