Mrs. M and I agree that the Sunday of the autumnal time change may be the most pleasant day of the year, the day when even after sleeping in, there’s plenty of day ahead. So why not put that bonus hour to work here at the blog, eh?
Another pleasant sensation the week brought my way came on Tuesday evening, when I finished grading papers on Paradise Lost from my Theodicy class. At that point, I was caught up on my grading, a rare event during the semester. Of course, I knew I’d only feel this way for a few hours, as by ten a.m. Wednesday, forty new papers from my freshpeeps would be waiting in my inbox. But for a few hours, I was at par. One takes one’s victories when they come.
I also spent some of the week making my way through books I picked up at Boucheron a couple of weeks prior. One of the perks of the convention is that attendees receive free books, and invariably I find others that I want to check out, so I bought a few while I was at it.
At the week’s beginning, I read an advance copy of Sirens, by Joseph Knox. It’s an undercover/rogue cop thriller, set in Manchester, England. Aidan Watts is the cop in question, on a mission to keep an eye on a politician’s daughter who has taken up with the local drug kingpin. The book is an example, I think, of the strain of hard-boiled called “Brit Grit,” and it’s definitely a page-turner. The book is identified as part of a series, so I’ll be looking forward to DC Watts’s future adventures.
I also enjoyed Ian Truman’s Grand Trunk and Shearer, a revenge noir set in the working-class sections of Truman’s Montreal home town. I’ve not yet been to Montreal, but Truman excels at depicting the underbelly of a big city, one where ethnic pride exists in an odd balance with multiculturalism.
An interesting facet of the book is Truman’s facility with code switching, where characters will switch from English to Quebecois French and back within the course of three sentences. Truman doesn’t translate the French — nor does he need to, really — but the reader gets the hang of things pretty quickly. (I’m a fairly competent French reader, and was already aware of Quebecois profanity, so it just added to the verisimilitude for me.) Again, the book is hard-boiled — a twenty-minute egg — but it has an odd habit of inserting humor into some of the most vicious episodes. While there are some copy editing issues (the occasional missing word and a couple of homophonic misspellings) here and there, it’s still a very good read. Check it out.
As for my own writing, I’d like to remind everyone that Dale Phillips’s interview with me can be found over at his place, and that I’ll be taking part in a Noir at the Bar reading on 7 December at 106 Main. I should have some books to sell and sign, and I’d love to see you!
And since I was speaking of Canadiana earlier…
For my money, one of the coolest songs of my adolescence was “This Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide” by Toronto-based bar band The Kings. Part of this may be my memory of hearing it on Friday afternoons in Cincinnati, and part of it may just be the sheer truth of the lines, “Nothing matters but the weekend/ From a Tuesday point of view” — the rock and roll equivalent of Hemingway’s One True Sentence. I covered the song in a band with the Mad Dog before the Spawn was born, and perhaps I’ll cover it again one day; I wouldn’t mind that at all.
While I’ve posted the official video for the song in the past, I ran across something this afternoon that I figured I should share. The Kings (who are still around and still gigging) put together a documentary about “the hit”, which they regard with great good nature. For years, the doc was only available on a DVD, but the band has posted The Kings: Anatomy of a One-Hit Wonder on YouTube, so I thought I’d share it with you.
See you soon!