Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Da Vinci Code, Part II

I'm 311 pages in, so I'm reading quite quickly according to my normal speed. This book isn't bad. I'm thinking there are about 30 pages too many so far, that is, about 10% flab. That ten percent might have been used to more carefully draw the main character, I think. A lot of things happen to him, but I have to rely on my own imagination to create a persona I care about. For instance, early on there was the hint of a girlfriend who may or may not have ripped his heart out before stepping on it, but that was 200 pages ago and she hasn't been back. Also, as I pointed out earlier, it's a bit over the top -- an albino assassin? -- and as I've not mentioned, takes itself a bit more seriously than I'd like. But again, so far, not bad.

As a religious person I'd have to burn the book after I finish, so that's a drawback, but otherwise, I'm enjoying it. I'd give it a B+. (That could drop a bit if it has anymore classroom digressions. Really, I've learned about as much as my brain can hold, and I don't intend to check any of the details before passing them on as facts.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Da Vinci Code

Was asked by a publisher recently if I could write somtething like The Da Vinci Code. I said yes. (What was I supposed to say?) Of course, I hadn't read the DVC just then. I've heard many bad things about the book, mostly vague rumors and put downs by people who proudly claimed never to have read the book (actually, I'm making that up. I couldn't name a single person who has knocked the book if you paid me to. Still, the overall impression has been such.) In any event, I'm now more than twenty five pages in (only 400+ to go) and so I can speak.

It's not bad. Not yet. A bit over the top. Bad guys speak in stilted language (stilted, not Stilton which is a cheese) and the plot seems to center on secret societies and, therefore, must work itself out as the unraveling of a conspiracy theory unless I miss my mark. I'm kind of hoping that Satan himself makes an appearance in the flesh as it were.

Now this is all vastly different from A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes. Probably the same difference between Rosemary's Baby and Harry Potter. It's not the difference between good and bad. Just different.

Anyway, I'll report on DVC whenI'm done. Perhaps I shall like it less.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Chester Himes

What happens if you're reading Chester Himes for the first time and you swear you know the people he's writing about though you grew up in a different part of NYC some years after the setting of the novel?

I've just started "A Rage in Harlem." I got the book from Joe over at Black Orchid . (A very cool store.) As i'm reading the book, I'm thinking, "I know these people." I grew up with some of these people. There was the craps game on a chalked out sidewalk every Friday. There was the cozy bar complete with ambulance and occassional squad car. Hookers, users, gamblers, winos. Businesses fronting for other businesses and, as in the novel, the confidence men. The random collisions of desperate people and Saturday morning cartoons. Thanks Joe for bringing back the memories.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

MWA Dinner Last Night

Went to the MWA dinner last night in NYC. It was one of those things where every table of eight had a real live author to whom one could put questions and expect answers. The questions were about the process of writing as well as the business of same. I was the live author for the table. We ate salmon.

I tried to give complete answers but that did turn into a bit of talking with ones mouth full. Unseemly but informative. Among the questions asked me were why I write (to get out the stories of the victims was the answer) and what do you do when marketing clashes with what you've written (find a way to accomodate if possible).

Great conversations with Sarah Weinman , Reed Farrel Coleman, Michele Martinez , and Jason Starr . Also spoke with Jane Cleland whose book Consigned to Death comes out next year and Grace Edwards whose books on Harlem have been out and about for a while. G. Miki Hayden shared the table with me as did my editor at St. Martin's, Marcia Markland.

I wish i could have stayed for the entire after-dinner party because I had the feeling Jason and Reed were just getting started. Oh my God, Bambi! Anyway, you had to be there.

A great time was had by me, at least. I can't speak for others.