It's in the story
We'll be chatting about novels so chime in.
Last week I attended two literary events. First, a reading and signing by Lily Burana
She's getting lots of press for her newest book, I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles
. (C-SPAN recorded her appearance.)
Burana is an former punk rocker/stripper who fell in love with an army officer and married him. The book is a witty, incisive look at life as a military wife. You wanted to hate Burana because she was so beautiful, eloquent, and smart but her charm and warmth won us all over. Damn her!
While I was at Burana's signing, fellow mystery writers Wick Downing
(left) and Manuel Ramos
each won a Colorado Authors League Top Hand Award (Downing for his YA novel, The Trials of Katie Hope
. Ramos for his short story, The 405 Is Locked Up
The photo is from the signing Ramos and I hosted for the release of the anthology, Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery.
Now, for the Main Event: Discuss your favorite novels.
I'll list mine in the order of first publication date.The War of the Worlds
, H. G. Wells (1898). Martian war machines! Heat rays! Mass panic! One of the first great science fiction stories and still one of the best.Brave New World
, Aldous Huxley (1932). I had to read this in high school. I couldn't believe the story was written in 1931 as it seemed so far ahead of its time. I'm convinced our government is run by alpha-minuses at best.1984
, George Orwell (1949). Originally a high school reading assignment. The book haunted me for years. "Take Julia! Take Julia!" Doublespeak. If anything, I wish the title would've been Big Brother because now that 1984 has come and gone, people might assume that the messages are no longer relevant. I'd thought about this book so much that when my oldest son asked for help in his homework, I had pages of notes ready.The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
, Carson McCullers (1940). Another mandatory high school read. So different than what I usually read at the time (lots of sci-fi and action thrillers) yet a story that drew me in and didn't let go. The first book to make me appreciate the craft of writing.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
, Bettie Smith (1943). I got interested in this book because of an old Warner Brothers cartoon. A dog saw a sign in a bookstore and ran off to Brooklyn, to pee I guess. I wondered what the fuss was about and checked out the book. No dog peeing as it's a captivating coming of age story of a girl in NY.A Clockwork Orange
, Anthony Burgess (1962). Amazing in-your-face, spare narrative. My best friend in high school and I got so into this book as the story appealed to our adolescent sense of anarchy. We even made costumes from the movie (very pre-fantasy con).Crossing to Safety
, Wallace Stegner (1987). One of my favorite reads of all time. Magical prose. What all writers should aspire to. I've bought many copies of this book only to give them away.Dead Until Dark
, Charliane Harris (2001). I frequently tell people that although I write vampire novels, I didn't like to read the genre until I got this book. Charlaine reinvented urban fantasy. The copies available today echo the True Blood TV show but I prefer the quirky original cover.Altered Carbon
, Richard K Morgan (2002). This book is such an over-the-top high-concept sci-fi winner that there's almost no point in trying to write anything else in the genre. Downright chilling.Gone For Good
, Harlan Coben (2002). A mesmerizing psychological thriller. Another of my all-time favorite reads. The prose is so good that it almost makes me cringe to dare call myself a writer.Riding With The Queen,
Jennie Shortridge (2003). Another book that I've bought many copies to give away. It's a very different story than what I usually read. The family black sheep musician returns to Denver to settle down and life keeps getting in the way. I discovered this novel when my sister sent an ARC. Sadly, I circulated it among my friends and never got it back.The Lincoln Lawyer
, Michael Connelly (2005). I'm not fond of legal thrillers but I got run over by this story. A pedal-to-the-metal masterpiece.Succubus Blues
, Richelle Mead (2007). I got the manuscript for this story in the hope of asking me for a blurb. (A blurb from me? Like that will sell any copies.) Well, this succubus worked her mo-jo on me. Richelle's other books has gone on to it the NYT best seller list but you never forget your first.The Watchman
, Robert Crais (2007). Crais is el numero uno
mystery writer for me. I sink my chops into all of his books. I can't pick a favorite but I have to name one, so here you are.There is life beyond the pages of a book, like Denver Roller Dolls chaos!
One of the lady bruisers from last Saturday's bout.
The cell phone doesn't take great action shots but you get a feel for the mayhem.