Category Archives: Book blogs

A Short History of Detective Fiction

An interesting site, replete with fascinating tidbits on literary history.

Interesting Literature

An introduction to the history of the detective story

Since this is a short history of the detective story, it will, inevitably, make some pretty glaring omissions. We’d love to hear from detective fiction aficionados in the comments section below, for any other interesting takes on mystery and detective tales.

The first detective story is a hard thing to call. ‘The Three Apples’ in Arabian Nights is sometimes given the honour, but whether this is a detective story even in the loosest sense is questionable, since the protagonist fails to make any effort to solve the crime and find the murderer of the woman. Many say the mantle should go to another tale with a title beginning ‘The Three …’, namely ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’, a medieval Persian fairy tale set on Sri Lanka (Serendip being a Persian name for the island) – the princes are the…

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Round House

I’ve been remiss and not posted in a long time. So here are a few updates.

The reading group

Currently reading –  The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Recent reads

 Book blogs and web sites recently discovered


  • The new Zoe Szabo mystery should be done by summer
  • An e-book of short stories about women artists. I’ll put up a link when it is available.

Richard Price

Lush Life

I just found a new site called bookforum. It has lots of information and links, plus an interesting discussion of one of my favorite novelists, Richard Price. His new book, Lush Life, is on the top of my “to read” list.

There’s also a review of four Iranian women novelists.

War and Peace

A shout-out to Mary Ellen, who’s pushed for reading Tolstoy by our book club.

I’ve discovered a fabulous discussion of Tolstoy’s War and Peace at the New York Times’ Reading Room blog.

Here’s a taste from the introduction by Sam Tanenhaus.

Why “War and Peace”? Well, it’s one of the greatest novels ever written — the very greatest, some would say. It is, moreover, almost eerie in its timeliness, with its sweeping detailed narrative of military invasion and occupation (by France of Russia in 1812) set against political and social intrigue in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as experienced by aristocratic families, some of them in decline.

“War and Peace” is not just massive. It is sturdily and delicately structured. The novel divides into four volumes (there is also an epilogue). We’ll cover one volume each week — though the panelists will be encouraged to range freely over the whole of the book, its opulent mix of incidents and characters (who include Napoleon and Czar Alexander) and also to tackle Tolstoy’s profound meditations on history, philosophy, religion and human nature.

The participants are:

  • Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, reported from the paper’s Moscow Bureau from December, 1986, until October, 1991.
  • Stephen Kotkin teaches history and directs the program in Russian and Eurasian studies at Princeton University.
  • Francine Prose’s most recent book is “Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them.”
  • Liesl Schillinger is a regular reviewer for the Book Review, studied comparative literature and Russian at Yale, and lived in Moscow in 1993, where she was editor of the English supplement of Moscow Magazine and wrote dispatches for The New Republic.
  • Sam Tanenhaus is the editor of the Book Review

Book blogs

Some great resources that I’ve just discovered:

Well, that’s enough to get started. The discussion of Bruno Arpaia’s The Angel of History, J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year, and Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach on today’s Ready Steady will keep me busy for a while. Walter Benjamin, the subject of Angel of History, died attempting to cross from France to Spain to escape the Nazis is someone who I’ve been wanting to read, but haven’t yet had the time or the intellectual energy. Arpaia’s novel–which has a parallel story about the Spanish Civil War–might be the place for me to start.

Ah, maybe the next rainy day.