Sunday, March 28, 2010


It has been quiet round here this week, I know, mostly because I am in a productive spell of writing and triathlon training and light reading...

I have just finished writing what I commonly think of as quota for the day; quota is measured differently for different projects (if I'm drafting fiction, it's usually 1500 words, and if I'm writing academic stuff or non-fiction it's more conceived of as something like 5-6 coherent consecutive paragraphs in fully realized prose), but it can usually be produced in 2-3 hours, sometimes less if I'm on a roll, and is deliberately set below the maximum that could be written in a day: this so that it remains easy to write the next day as well.

(I have reached the final essay in the little book on style; it should be that I have a rough draft - the introduction is still patchy and needs some more reading and thinking before I can properly finish it - in three or four days, and I'm sort of shooting to send the entire book to my agent at the end of the first week of April.)

Light reading: Jacqueline Carey's first Kushiel trilogy, which I really loved (less complex than Dunnett, and a first-person voice that owes more to Renault than to Walter Scott, but in certain respects surprisingly similar in its themes and geographies - and check out the seriousness of the books' fans!) - thanks to Charlie Jane for the recommendation; David Levien, Where the Dead Lay (excellent); M. R. Hall, The Coroner (not bad, but hewing to a well-worn set of conventions); Martin Edwards, Take My Breath Away (interesting, wholly implausible but well-written); Liz Rigbey, Summertime (very good, but not quite as good as her first, and with a clumsy couple of pages in the middle that ridiculously transparently give away the plot twist - it does not spoil the book for me, I like knowing the ending in advance, but I am not a guesser-of-endings and it was nonetheless crystal clear from this point what was going to happen - a couple of details too pseudo-carelessly noted); Deon Meyer, Dead Before Dying (also quite farfetched in its plotting but very appealingly rendered - I'll look forward to reading the rest of the series).

The major cloud on the horizon: my beloved cat Blackie is suffering a recurrence of the fibrosarcoma that was surgically removed in December. The fact that it's come back so quickly tells me something that I hate to hear. He's spending this sabbatical year at my mother's house (it is cat heaven there!), but I'm going to bring him back here for the next month or two while I'm still in New York so that I can get some time with him while he's still in pretty good fettle. I'd already decided in December that I wouldn't have another round of surgery for him; it took him weeks to get over the anesthesia and surgery the first time, and he is almost seventeen years old, a good honorable old age for a cat. This is hard, though: he has been my constant companion since 1993...


  1. Jenny:

    Regarding "quota": The bad news is when some idea keeps eating at me until I just have to set aside some time and blog it.

    My only hope is that blogging will eventually seem like enough of an obligation that I'll start writing books as a break from blogging!

  2. Jenny -- so sorry to hear about Blackie. That's so rough. Hope you two will be able to spend some good companionable time together.

  3. Sorry , too, about the cat.

    I am glad you liked the "light" reading crime fiction - I find that the endings are the worst things about crime fiction. Harlan Coben for example writes great posers, but then the end.....hmmm. Sophie Hannah seems to be doing something similar (just read her most recent, A Room Swept White).

    That Dead before Dying had a silly ending in terms of the crime plot (and had already been ruled out, and why it was ruled in was never explained) - but I liked the character bits, and ending of that side of it.

    Agreed on Summertime, it was obvious and just did not match up to Total Eclipse, though pleasurable enough I suppose. I have the third now but it is a bit long (therefore to your taste?) and owing to excessive reviewing committments have not started it yet...

    One quite frustrating thing about reviewing crime fiction is that one cannot criticise these silly endings as you would then give away the whole point.

  4. I am *very* sorry to hear about Blackie. I will be thinking of him hoping that he holds up well. And I will be thinking of you as well. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you to see him in not-so-great shape!