I have to apologize for the lapse yesterday. I ended up being gone later than expected on Wednesday night and wasn't able to finish a post. But never fear, I'm back today with a new recommendation!
As the fates would have it, I'm presently reading Steve Hockensmith's collection of short stories called NAUGHTY:NINE TALES OF CHRISTMAS CRIME. So, I think it's befitting that he should be making our recommendation today. I'll talk more about NAUGHTY later because Steve's going to talk about THE PALE BLUE EYE today.
"How's this for stupid? My favorite book of 2010 has been sitting in my To Be Read pile since 2007. Why was I so reluctant to crack it open? I think it was the reviews. They were so damned good. And then there were all the award nominations. I'll admit it: I was intimidated. I started thinking of The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard not as a mystery with an intriguing premise -- a young Edgar Allan Poe gets mixed up in a murder investigation while a cadet at West Point -- but as a work of High Art with which I would have to grapple one day. In other words, I stopped thinking of it as something that would be fun. But fun it is, with one of the most engaging, endearing and amusing first-person narrators I've come across in a long time. Oh, and he's tricky, too, that one. I like to think it's pretty hard to get a twist past me, but he did it -- to devastating effect. Is The Pale Blue Eye art? You bet. Is it entertainment? And how. Should you buy it for a bibliophile on your Christmas list? Absolutely -- and don't wait three years to do it!"
And I should add that Steve told me he's reading to the stuffed cat because he'll tell absolutely anyone about this book, it's that good. Well then, I guess I have to add this one to my list.
Since Steve reached back a few years for his recommendation, I decided to do the same for mine today. I'm going back a little further than three years, but my recommendation is from the man I consider one of, if not THE, greatest living American writer - James Lee Burke. I will heartily recommend all his works, but my favorite is still LAST CAR TO ELYSIAN FIELDS. It is part of the Dave Robicheaux series and exhibits all of the finest characteristics of Burke's writing...on steroids! The beauty of nature contrasted starkly by the ugliness of man. A world of both incredible love and devastating hate. Powerful, beautiful, haunting, poetic. It simply doesn't get any better.
What are we down to? 21 more shopping days? What are you waiting for? Oh, and don't forget! Tomorrow is "Take Your Child to the Bookstore" day. If you actually need a formal day, then get out there tomorrow. Otherwise, take Junior EVERY day! Happy Reading!