Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thomas Perry

Thomas Perry is the author of the Jane Whitefield series as well as the bestselling novels Nightlife, Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for Best Novel. He won an Edgar Award for The Butcher’s Boy, and Metzger’s Dog was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

His latest novel is Silence.

A few days ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I was going to say that this isn't a moment when what I'm reading is typical, but then I realized there is no such moment. So here, without apology, is what I've been reading. I just finished the second of two hard-boiled British novels that Harcourt is publishing in U.S. The first was Allan Guthrie's Hard Man. This one is Ray Banks's Saturday's Child. I found it a special treat. The central characater is an ex-convict working as an unlicensed private detective His current client is a murderous old small-time crime boss. The story is told through the consciousnesses of the "detective" and the boss's psychotic son, both of whom are always more or less drunk, drugged, and groggy from their latest head injuries. I liked it for the same reasons I like foreign and independent films. The people who write them haven't fallen automatically into the assumptions and structural cliches of American popular storytelling (although they may have conventions of their own), and so the vision is fresh and new to us, and makes us think occasionally.

When I finished that I happened to have Nadine Gordimer's The Pick-Up, which I received in the mail a couple of days ago. Cornell, where I went to school, has its freshmen and alumni read one book at the start of each school year, and I picked it up last night. I'm not finished yet, but even without the academic recommendation and the Nobel Prize, she's very good.

As a rule, I read mostly non-fiction. Next on the pile is Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb by Mike Davis, and then Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. I've been traveling much of the summer trying to promote my latest book, Silence. I never write or read while I'm traveling, because trips are my best opportunity to look and listen and start conversations with strangers, but that always puts me behind in both writing and reading, so the unread book pile continues to grow.
The Page 69 Test: Silence.

The Page 99 Test: Nightlife.

--Marshal Zeringue