The Butler Did It

Circulo-ZodiacalThe Tokyo Zodiac Murders belongs to the popular Japanese honkaku, “orthodox” or “authentic”, subgenre of murder mysteries. Unlike psychological thrillers, honkaku books focus on plotting and clues. The reader is not deceived by the author but actively drawn into the writing and encouraged to participate in the solving of the mystery. These “pure” mysteries also stay away from social criticism, drawing their inspiration from writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe, whose works inspired the Golden Age of Detective Fiction in Britain, and with whom Shimada has been compared for the complexity of his plots and the elegance of their solutions.

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Yet Another List

download-1.jpgEver since I left home and pursued life and literature on my own I have kept lists: lists on paper, lists in notebooks, list on index cards, list in crude computer programs, lists in sophisticated computer programs, lists at various online list sites, lists at my own online sites, lists surrounding a weblog, weblogs surrounding lists, lists in the cloud. lists in my head. Echoing the old unix cliché: YALs.

I am always looking for interesting or intriguing books to read and I of course add them to Yet Another List. Although I may search all over the internet or scan (electronically) the stacks at several libraries, or even poke around in my own bookshelves, nowadays I generally spot new titles from sources such as Amazon. the NYT book pages, NYRB, Atomic Books, or even noticing them in the reading list of anothher online book reader or reviewer.

Believe me, the availability of reading suggestions is overwhelming.

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Do You Have a System?

Paul recently commented after reading my latest Monthly Reading Pool:

I have challenged myself to read a book from each shelf in the fiction section. … My goal is to pick at least one book from each shelf, and to do 2 shelves each trip (that way I can still get books on my regular reading list). … There are some obvious flaws in my plan (the library devotes 6 complete shelves to James Patterson).

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Now I have exposed various systems for selecting my monthly reading list through the years, most recently various schemes to transfer my reading from paper and ink books to digital reading with easier to read font sizes. I have also forced the inclusion of a few “real” books in an effort to reduce the large numbers of books I had to move and find bookshelves for at my new home.

Notice that these systems are mostly concerned with storage space, failing eyesight, and the inevitable onset of death.

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A Month of Reading Dangerously

images-1.jpgI notice that I am almost always automatically drawn to novels from other lands and other cultures .. or at least novels written by authors with foreign sounding names promising me new experiences from unfamiliar people and unfamiliar places. Sometimes this tendency lets me down but more often it helps keep my reading fresh and interesting.

Then there are the novels that re-submerge me into a geographical area or lifestyle that despite a been-there-done-that undertone allows me a very satisfying sub-text  where I might even have been the model for the hero of the book. Some novels are like maps to the stars where you are the star and your early life is the stage. Generally I identify with anything referencing Southern California in the 1960s and all of Philip Roth’s novels.

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