Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Catching Up

Hit a bad patch and am slowly gettng out of it...

----------A SHOT RANG OUT

Long before I started writing mysteries (selling to men's magazines mostly) I was reading Jon Breen's criticism. I felt then and I feel now that he's my generation's answer to Anthony Boucher, And in many respects--a finer eye for detail and style for one thing--he's even better.

Now I can prove my point by recommending his collection of author studies, essays, reviews and short takes on 100 writers. The long form author studies include eloquent and insightful takes on writers including Michael Connelly, Nicolas Freeling, Elmore Leonard, Margaret Millar and Ellery Queen.

The short takes are especially welcome because Jon looks not only at prominent writers but a number who don't get the press they deserve. The topical essays touch on everything from American Women Mystery Writers to How To Write Mysteries in Six Difficult Lessons.

He also writes something I would have thought impossible. In less than three thousand words he gives the reader a colorful detailed overview of the first eighteen years of Mystery Scene magazine. Since that involves Bob Randisi, Marty Greenberg and myself I was particularly interested in his conclusions. A lot of it made me laugh out loud. Thank God Kate Stine came long and turned it into a real magazine.

I have to note here that Jon dedicates the book to me, which makes me damnded proud. I'm not exaggerating when I say that if your shelf of mystery criticism and reviews doesn't include A Shot Rang Out it's woefully inadequate.

Order directly from Ramble House or Lulu. This is the perfect holiday gift for a mystery fan. I couldn't stop reading it. And I'll be going back to it again and again.

--------------------TV ROMANCES

Patti Abbott posted some entertaining comments on the running romances on tv series. She wonders if Pam and Jim on The Officee are too sweet for some tastes.

The answer is no, not for me anyway. But I have to say that I think this is a mediocore season for the show. Pam and Jim are at stasis point and so is this whole season. While some of the scenes are masterful the overall half hours seem to be on auto-pilot. I'm not sure why. I used to think 30 Rock was an amusing but not funny show. But this season we've found it to be the other way around. The belly laughs are to be found on 30 Rock. The episode with Jennifer Aniston was far wittier than anything on The Office this season.

Entourage has had a spotty season but when it was good it was very good. It's a romance in that each of the four principals are narcissists and thus having love affairs with themselves. The episodes with the German director were especially good. Maybe it's my age or because I spent so long in advertising but the only two characters I identify with are Ari and Eric. Vince and Johnny Drama and Turtle are stuck forever at nineteen years of age.

The final episode of the season suffered from having two hours worth of plot to cram into twenty-seven minutes. Martin Scorcese showed up in the last few minutes like the cavalry coming over the hill to rescue the settlers in an old B western.


Dave Zeltserman said...

Ed, glad to hear you're feeling better.

I'd have to say the mock sales call Dwight made to Jim on The Office a few weeks back had me laughing harder than anything on TV in a long time. Another sitcom I've gotten hooked on is The Big Bang Theory. Very clever show.


mybillcrider said...

Sorry to hear about that rough patch. I hope you're up at at 'em now and that you and Carol have a great Thanksgiving with the family.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Big Bang and Thirty Rock are great. Also like Worst Week.
Entourage-where does it go from here? I saw the scenes from the Firestorm movie and I wouldn't hire him. Hope you're feeling better. Happy Thanksgiving.

Vince said...

Great to hear you're back in fighting form, Ed. I'm glad you weighed in on Entourage. The show took some genuine risks this season but it was still inconsistent. For all the changes in Vince's life, it was Ari who developed the most. That character is still the reason to watch. And Flight of the Conchords is back in January.

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

Jon L. Breen is, I think, the best mystery critic in the business. He can tell you in 50 words whether a book is worth your time or not, yet never indulges in what the late (and lamented) John Leonard called "the review as performance art." I'm glad to hear about this collection; it sounds like it should be required reading for anyone who aspires to review.

Ben Boulden said...

I look forward to Jon Breen's reviews in EQMM, every issue. Thanks for the heads-up. I hope you're feeling better.

Martin Edwards said...

Ed, I share your admiration for Jon L Breen's writing and I'll be ordering this book as soon as I can.