Sara Paretsky’s Blog


Book v Kindle
August 7, 2009, 8:26 pm
Filed under: Books, reading

My cousin Barb, in Ukraine with the Peace Corps, took a Kindle with her, and a mighty fine idea that was, too: remote from any English-language bookstores or libraries, she was able to bring a hundred or so texts overseas with her without needing all those boxes we used to lug to foreign parts.  So I will say I am not adamantly opposed to the e-book.

However, I have tried reading on a Kindle and it doesn’t work for me.  Even though I get how convenient it is, and even though I just my second copy of American Pharaoh because I couldn’t find the first in my thousands of books, I don’t find it easy to use. I’m sure I could get used to searching instead of flipping pages, although I like to see where I am physically in a novel–did this event or character appear early or late in the narrative? But the way the text is framed slows down reading.  When you’re used to scanning a page, getting text one page at a time actually makes it harder to stay in the narrative flow.

I also prefer newspapers in print, especially since I live with someone, and we trade sections back and forth (we actually get 3 daily papers, so we often trade papers back and forth, sharing stories that have caught our eye.)

However, Green Apple Books in San Francisco has brought a whole new dimension to the Book v Kindle debate.  I think these little video clips are highly entertaining, and you may enjoy them, too.

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Urban Life
August 3, 2009, 4:01 pm
Filed under: reading

Strangers to Chicago, and even us hard-bitten natives, are wary of muggers in the parks and after dark.  I recently learned that all last winter, as my dog and I were happily roaring around the Wooded Isle nature preserve near my home,

Wooded Isle: the Japanese Garden in Winter

Wooded Isle: the Japanese Garden in Winter

we were stalked all winter by a coyote that was living in the preserve.  I saw it once from a distance and thought it was a German Shephered.  Little did I know that as we were sliding on the ice, our silent companion was thinking of breakfast.  Now I don’t know if I’ll be brave enough to go back out this coming winter.

Callie, Sara, I see you!

Callie, Sara, I see you!

I’ve seen foxes near my home, pheasant, and beavers, but the coyote is a first.  Given that I live in a dense-packed neighborhood, roughly 50,000 people in a city of 3 million, these sightings always amaze me.

Hyde Park, aerial view. President Obama's home is at 51st & Greenwood

Hyde Park, aerial view. President Obama's home is at 51st & Greenwood



Tour schedule for Hardball
July 30, 2009, 3:38 am
Filed under: reading

When my webmistress, Lisa Hazen, finishes my new site, the blog and the tour info and everything will all be available in one place, and I will be trained in how to update the site, but for another few weeks, I’m in two different places.  Putnam has finalized a tour schedule for Hardball, and you can see it here.  For UK readers, Hodder is publishing in February and I’ll go to the UK for a week then–details will follow.

Meanwhile, great ideas for what V I has been up to!



V I’s Whereabouts–Updated
July 28, 2009, 4:11 pm
Filed under: reading

I didn’t give enough details on how and when to send in your suggestions for where V I spent the years I was writing other stories (see the post below for all the details.)  The cut-off date for entries is August 31, and you can post them here on the blog.  I keep track of all posts, so don’t worry if it ends up under a different header.  Also, you can enter multiple times if you have another idea you like better than the first one you sent in.  And thanks, as always, for your interest.



Where Has V I Warshawski Been?
July 26, 2009, 2:20 pm
Filed under: reading

Hardball will be in stores on September 22, but I have an extra Advance Reader Copy –what some people call bound galleys.  As you may remember, it’s been a few years since V I was last tearing up Chicago, or being torn up by Chicago.  What was the Girl Detective doing while I was writing Bleeding Kansas and Writing in an Age of Silence?  Post your idea here and the one that is the best–funniest, scariest, or most clever–will win its author my last advance reader copy.  Our judges are completely subjective–remember, this is Chicago!



Thank you, New Jersey!
July 24, 2009, 3:41 pm
Filed under: reading

I live in a state that has sent 3 governors to prison since 1960, with a 4th on his way.  And I live in a city and county where public officials who aren’t under indictment can be assumed to be wearing a wire (Todd Stroger, President of the Cook County Board, has quite a few relatives on his staff.  And while, like the rest of the country, we’re frantic for ways to find money for essential services, Todd hired a man whose only job experience was as a busboy  to run part of the county highway system.  Not only that, while waiting trial on a domestic violence charge, the man’s bail was allegedly paid by Todd’s cousin and –now former–county chief financial officer.)

So thank you, New Jersey, for three mayors and a bunch of rabbis operating scams and schemes that would make the Chicago Outfit faint with envy.  Quoting from July 24 New York Times coverage:

Even veteran political observers were nearly breathtaken at the scale of the arrests. “This is so massive,” said Joseph Marbach, a political scientist at Seton Hall, who called it the biggest sting operation he could remember in the state. “It’s going to just reinforce the stereotype of New Jersey politics and corruption. While we thought we were cleaning up New Jersey, it just shows how much more needs to be done.”

You can read the whole story, and see what the rabbis were doing.  Meanwhile, everyone in Illinois is grateful.  Our ex-governor with his mop of hair and promise to sell Barack’s senate seat (this is gold!) is no longer the most corrupt elected official in America!



Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
July 22, 2009, 10:58 pm
Filed under: reading

This book, by Kate Summerscale, is quite a tour de force.  Jonathan Whicher was one of the first detectives in the Metropolitan Police in 19th Century London, and Summerscale tells the story of the murder at Road Hill House, which Whicher was called to investigate.  The murder of a 3-year-old child in a house where all the family and servants had been locked in for the night gripped England for a year.  Whicher solved the case, but couldn’t prove it, and his career was almost destroyed by the calumny he underwent.

More than a true-crime account, though, it’s the story of the intertwining of the detective novel and real-life detectives, and the story of the way in which criminal investigation, Darwinian science, and Freudian analysis all evolved in tandem, with a shared belief in searching the past for clues.

Dickens and Wilkie Collins both interviewed Whicher and his colleagues at length and based their own fictional detectives on the new breed of professionals.  Dickens took a keen interest in the Road Hill murder.  He had his own theory, which he published in letters, but he wasn’t alone: dozens of newspapers covered every aspect of the case, from detailing the secrets of the family, to offering their own theories of the murder.

Summerscale also describes the secrecy of the Victorian middle-class household.  Her book explains why “locked-room” mysteries became popular–early crime writers were obsessed with the Road Hill locked house mystery.  Wilkie Collins based the Moonstone on Whicher and Road Hill.  When Sherlock Holmes arrived, the perfect detective, he was in a way the embodiment of all of Whicher’s craft.

A must-read for anyone who cares about the mystery genre.

Now–I need something new to read–so tell me what has really gripped your imagination lately.