With a personal viewpoint, writing about the arts stops sounding like Newspeak. Here is the best gift I can give an artist—a flash of my impressions of the work as open as I can divine them, uncluttered by social and historical baggage, and free of plot-spoilers.
Photographs were taken of or from Point Richmond, California and Champaign, Illinois.
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From December through the end of February, readers of DorothyL listserv posted their favourite books read (for the first time) during 2016 to the DorothyL list.
Our volunteer Allocator read all DL posts and forwarded relevant emails to our volunteer processors (fondly known as Indefatigable Sharpies), each of whom copied, cleaned and pasted data from those emails into an Excel spreadsheet which they then forwarded to me. I did some more data cleansing, and then sent out a cry to the list for volunteers to verify submitted data (copyright dates, titles of books and authors). And this year we provided some opportunity for DorothyL "submitters" to verify the data before it was posted online.
I've just finished Larry D. Sweazy's See Also Murder ©2015. The scene is North Dakota, I think in the 1960s. The protagonist, Marjorie Trumaine, is a farm wife, an indexer (to make ends meet), and an amateur detective. Many times throughout the story I thought the plot was moving too slowly, but really, it's just right.
Here is a series of posts related to posting your Best of / Memorable Year Booklists to the DorothyL list.
If you've accessed this page from the front page of the website (so are thus seeing the "summary" view of this page), click on the title of the post which will open up the complete view of the article, with links to related posts below.
Sara Paretsky’s BLACKLIST ©2003 could have been written today; it doesn’t seem like we’ve learned very much in nearly fifteen years. Our Islamophobia today sounds as rabid as shortly after 9/11/2001. Private Detective V.I. Warshawski is shocked by just how many freedoms Americans gave up with the Patriot Act. Several storylines start in the mid-twentieth century, when McCarthyism and segregation were rampant. Activists and writers and dancers pushed xenophobic publishers, patrons and politicians. There is a very clear distinction between the supremely wealthy and the rest of us poor souls, in the past and the present. Seems like we haven’t learned much in the last sixty or seventy years.
The book covers the evolution of forensics as a tool for crime detection in the past 200 years. Not interesting, you say? Ha! There you’d be wrong. It read like a story, with lots of exciting discoveries, complete with satisfying ending.
Brilliant, positively brilliant.
As a lover of crime fiction, it’s perfectly believable that an amateur finds herself knee deep in intrigue. In some mysteries, it’s uncanny (and unrealistic) how suddenly an amateur gets embroiled in yet another murder investigation. But, one argues, some crime must be discovered by amateurs. In real life, how would this work?
TIME’S UP ©2015 by Janey Mack stars a fabulous, feisty heroine. Maisie McGrane and her four brothers are Black Irish, first-generation Chicagoans. Her family are all cops and lawyers (including her parents). Maisie has had a life-long dream of being a cop, which is now thwarted, so, with characteristic deviousness, she becomes a meter maid, prone to mishap and misadventure.
One of the traits I envy fiction writers is their ability to tell the unfettered truth about their characters’ thoughts, the emotional interaction between characters, and their view of life. Me, I’m usually polite. I don’t often write reviews of books I dislike but this one just rang all my bells.
It’s crime fiction about five women who are in their seventies, in lazy pursuit of their individual bucket lists. Doesn’t that sound charming?
C.J. Box’s THE HIGHWAY ©2013 is a thriller about a serial killer on the highways in the mid-west US. At first I feared the story would be fem-jep and torture porn, but it turns out that C.J. Box is a gifted writer and, without travelling that path, he had my imagination anticipating the worst. Obviously a serial killer does appalling things to his victims and we fear for the safety of a couple of young women, but the on-screen violence is a swift blur.
The story is compelling. Several unanticipated events rip holes into one’s expectations for the storyline. The only part that’s serenely lovely is the scenery.
What a ride!