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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Presque vu VII

We want to have 20,000 books within the next five years, said Army Lt. John Brown, referring to the library facility for prisoners illegally detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Much as I love books, it would be nice to think that the whole complex in Guantanamo Bay will have been dismantled before the projected time-period has elapsed.


Dick Jones’ Patteran Pages take the ‘sixties and love and peace to task in his blog entry on the production and broadcasting of vapid and formulaic poetry:

If, for the sake of some sort of symbolic clarity, one wants to identify a moment in cultural history after which the currency of those words was forever devalued it would be for me the release in 1970 of John Lennon’s second solo album, Imagine.


On No Rules. Just Write, Brenda Coulter draws our attention to Google’s Literacy Project, and warns: Don’t be fooled.

Although the project is a partnership with UNESCO and LitCam (Frankfurt Book Fair Literacy Campaign), and advertised as “a resource for teachers, literacy organisations and anyone interested in reading and education,” it is no more than a promotional site for Google services.

Coulter says: The Literacy Project has a noble-sounding name, but it’s not about promoting literacy, it’s about promoting Google. I wonder how much UNESCO and LitCam were paid for the use of their names.


David Montgomery has posted a list of the ten greatest detective novels on his site. They look like this:

Lawrence Block – When the Sacred Ginmill Closes
Raymond Chandler – The Long Goodbye
Michael Connelly – The Black Echo
Robert Crais – L.A. Requiem
James Crumley – The Last Good Kiss
Dashiell Hammett – The Maltese Falcon
John D. MacDonald — The Dreadful Lemon Sky
Walter Mosley – Devil in a Blue Dress
Robert B. Parker – Looking for Rachel Wallace
Rex Stout – The League of Frightened Men

All men. All Americans. Oh, dear. List culture seems to rule the roost at the moment. One can only hope it will go away soon.

2 Responses to “Presque vu VII”

  1. Robert Bruce says:

    Good point on the detective list John, but I’ve got to put my dukes up for old Hammett.

    I’m still trying to kill the influence there…

    jb says: Hammett was the best, and I’d probably leave Chandler on there as well. But the remaining eight are mostly just OK. Certainly not the best.

  2. Deb says:

    First, JB, I want to thank you for the nice thing you said about my blog.
    On the list above, it is tragic that they are all American men (at least not quite all white) and I’ll bet the listmaker didn’t notice that. I agree with Chandler, Hammett, Crumley, Mosley and Block (but I’m not certain he got the best book of all 5 of them.) To move outside the USA I would add anything by Paco Ignacio Tabo II, one of the most under-recognised writers in all history imho. I would dearly love to add Dorothy L. Sayers to that list but if I am being honest her strength is not really in the genre (neither her plots nor her characters are what I would call believable) but in some other thing she does which does not have a name and is somehow very feminine and also very feminist.

    jb says: Hi Deb, Yes, the Mexican novelist, Paco Ignacio Tabo II is a great writer, almost unheard of in the UK. I don’t know if he’s better known in the Spanish-speaking world, but I suspect so. Dorothy L Sayers is not someone I have read. My partner reads her, though, and my daughter . . . am I missing something?