Sunday, April 15, 2018


Ian Rankin. MORTAL CAUSES: An Inspector Rebus Novel. Orion, 1994.

It's at least five years before the Good Friday Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland. Around the fringes of Edinburgh's Fringe Festival, sectarian criminals are stockpiling weapons in Scotland to arm for the anticipated civil war. Big Ger Cafferty has escaped from prison. Rebus is still living with Dr. Patience and still driving his old car. I still love Rebus.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The GUYND: A Scottish Journal

The GUYND: A Scottish Journal. Belinda Rathbone. Norton, 2005.

I chose this memoir at a local library book sale for several reasons:  

  1. I've been reading widely in memoir as background for my current CNF-in-progress; 
  2. I love reading about Scotland (Ian Rankin, Alan Cumming) and this story sounded a bit like Monarch of the Glen; it is about marrying a Scottish laird some fifteen years her senior and moving into his crumbling mansion north of Edinburgh.
  3. I love houses and interior design (decorating); 
  4. I'm curious about why/how couples get together; 
  5. I'm curious about cross-cultural interactions (here, American vs Scots; female vs. male); 
  6. I'm curious about how/why relationships end.
cover The Guynd

I would say that my curiosity was satisfied with 5 of 6 of the above. As for the relationship ending, the reader is left to infer, which is probably sore subtle, more respectful of the other parent of your child, and not really part of the story. Enough said that it seems inevitable, and it involves awakening self-awareness on the part of the narrator. 

I certainly enjoyed the story, partly, no doubt, because it confirms my belief that renovations/restoration projects are always fatal. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018


Lee Child. THE MIDNIGHT LINE. Delacorte, 2017.

Another lost weekend spent with Jack Reacher. This time, we meet in Rapid City, South Dakota and travel to Wyoming looking for a missing veteran. The plot centres around opioid addiction and options available to patients seeking pain medication.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Peter Robinson, No Cure For Love. Viking, 1995.

Set mostly in LA and the victim's home in Santa Monica, with a Christmas holiday to Yorkshire and a police investigation in San Francisco, NO CURE FOR LOVE departs Canadian writer Peter Robinson's Yorkshire crime series featuring Inspector Banks. I'm a great fan, and of the television versions, with the Inspector played by former Ballykissangel priest Stephen Tompkinson. No Cure is a fairly routine stalker story, escalating letters to fragile actor Sarah Broughton (aka Sally Bolton), gifts of bodies, alternating points of view between victim, detective, and suspect, warped and delusional extras. A satisfying twist.


Tim Winton. The Riders. Scribner, 1994.

Fourth book for the Hawthorne Book Club. An Australian writer. Story begins in Co. Offaly, Ireland, and moves around Europe--Greece, Italy, Paris, Amsterdam. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


Jen Sookfong Lee.GENTLEMEN OF THE SHADE. My Own Private Idaho.  ECW, 2017.

I special-ordered this book because I too am writing about movies and their influences upon individual growth. I call mine GOING IN. I also wanted to read Gentlemen Of the Shade because I too was obsessed with this movie, and with River Phoenix, when I first saw it, in the 1990s. And I'm 30 years older than Ms Lee. 

Jen Sookfong Lee's essay about My Own Private Idaho reassures me that what I am doing is different. Mine is Creative Non-Fiction, Hermit Crab. I do not try to place the movie in a cultural context, usually. Rather, I'm interested in the individual watcher, the movie's (the story's) influence upon the individual. I am interested in how movies are one of the few ways we learn about emotional intelligence. 

Ms Lee's interpretation seems to say that watching the lost boys on the street expanded her personal horizons, letting her know there were more options than she had been aware of previously, and that it is cool (all the pretty boys do it) to choose alternatives. I am as I said 30 years older and less interested in permission to rebel. Permission to choose. Yes. Of course. I had a professional curiosity (as a caseworker at the time) in how young people choose prostitution. I was more interested in Gus Van Sant's answer to the more important question: "What happened to you?" What brought you to this place? I think that's the answer to one of her unanswered questions. Why is this not a "gay" movie? Because the boys are not necessarily there because they are gay. They are there because they have been abused. Finally, someone has broken that link in art which implies that abuse causes homosexuality. 

As I was reading about the cultural context, I was also thinking: Where's Midnight Cowboy? That too, a generation earlier, is about prostitution and brotherly love.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Ann Patchett. bel canto. Harper, 2001.

Third selection for the Hawthorne Book Club. A hostage taking in an unnamed South American country. Music is the only common language. Roxane Coss, the opera singer. Gen, the translator. Mr. Hosokawa, the Japanese businessman, whose birthday was being celebrated. Messner, the Red Cross negotiator. And the terrorists--3 generals, Carmen and Beatriz, Ishmael and Cesar. 


Ian Rankin. MORTAL CAUSES : An Inspector Rebus Novel. Orion, 1994. It's at least five years before the Good Friday Peace Agreement...