By August 20, 2007 4 Comments Read More →

Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan

Well, I’m back. I never thought I’d find myself desperate to get back to the clean air of Chicago, but it’s a fact: much of Western Montana is on fire. The air was so smoky that, half the time, we couldn’t see the mountains. Sometimes we couldn’t even see the sun. I stood on my grandparents’ back porch and watched ash — identifiable as pieces of leaves and moss — fall from the sky. I thought maybe I had been rereading The Road and fallen asleep.

After weeding my inbox (I really have no interest whatsoever in stock picks, C1@li$, or “pics”) and the much more enjoyable job of reading two weeks’ worth of Likely Stories (“Wow,” I thought, “my blog is good!”), I’m surprised to find the day already drawing to a close.

(I was relieved to learn that the stacks of books on my desk were not, in fact, for me to review. Apparently a certain editor was using my office as overflow storage space while I was gone.)

My grateful thanks to (in alphabetical order) Frank, Kaite, and Neal for keeping this space not just warm but piping hot. I was informed, entertained, and inspired by your posts. You made my fears of being upstaged come true, but fortunately, I retain Admin rights. (We’ll see how long I hold out when your new fans storm the cyber-gate.)

I managed to read two books on vacation, both of them terrific: Olen Steinhauer’s Bridge of Sighs and Kyril Bonfiglioli’s Don’t Point That Thing at Me. I already knew Steinhauer’s Eastern European series was great (I’m just reading it out of order, that’s all), but the Bonfiglioli was a rarity for me, a random pick off a bookstore shelf. Now I can’t believe I’d never heard of it. I read the first page and laughed out loud, then kept laughing all the way home — I read the last page as the plane touched down at O’Hare. I’ll try to write more about it when I have time, but, if it helps, Don’t Point made me think of P. G. Wodehouse, Hunter S. Thompson, Kingsley Amis, and Vladimir Nabokov. And once or twice of Pablo Tusset (and, for some reason, John Kennedy Toole).

I brought a few other books home, too. I don’t really need any books, but I couldn’t help myself:

  • A River Runs Through It (a cool old paperback edition — yes, I am a native Montanan, and no, I’ve never read this; time to break the senseless embargo)
  • Deadman, by Jon A. Jackson
  • Winter Range, by Claire Davis
  • The Right Madness, by James Crumley
  • The Last Good Kiss, by James Crumley (a, ahem, first edition — although I’m not quite sure if it’s a first printing; I just had never even seen a hardcover before)

Spot a theme?

Comments

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Posted in: Likely Stories

About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

4 Comments on "Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan"

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  1. jody@steelwhitetable.org' jody says:

    > don’t really need any books

    What?! Blasphemy! Scandalous! One can never have too many books.

    A River Run Through It is a superb novel, which was adapted into a good movie, too; that doesn’t happen too often.

  2. Bill says:

    Well, I suppose the theme is modern classics of Montana literature, but permit me the idle fantasy that it was your fascination with a certain reviewer who happened to review for Booklist all of the titles on your list (even the ones, River Runs through It and Last Good Kiss) that predate the Booklist Online archive (but will soon be added).

    I, too, have a first edition of Last Good Kiss, a birthday present from former Booklist staffer and current YA fiction superstar John Green.

  3. Keir says:

    What can I say? You know how to pick ‘em. And great minds think alike.

    (On another note: I’d just like to say thanks, John Green, for upping the birthday-present ante something fierce.)

  4. Keir says:

    Jody, you clearly haven’t seen my office. Or my home library. Or my nightstand. But I sense that we suffer the same disease. I haven’t really sought a cure, either.

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