So I've been working on some detective writing this past year or so, more along the lines of hard-boiled, noir, like I've been binge reading. Hope to wow you with the first installment in a couple months, probably, maybe, who knows. Until then, here's some detecting to kick off the link-oh-rama:
*** Book review: Investigating literature’s most epic detective (for now).
*** Basically, this tells me, if you want to be like President Trump, Kanye West or Tomi Lahren (how the heck does she get thrown in with those names?) then don't read books.
Several “successful people” eschew books, including President Trump ( “I read passages, I read areas, chapters”), Kanye West ( “I am a proud non-reader of books”) and The Blaze personality Tomi Lahren (“I don’t like to read long books. I like to read news”).
Even if that list isn’t very convincing, people whom I personally am assured are much smarter than myself, such as my husband (who reads case law for a living and in-depth statistical analysis for fun) probably would answer “No” if the Pew Foundation came around asking if he had read a book in the past year.
So sure, I’m not going to be wringing my hands over Americans’ lack of reading anytime soon, aside from general lament toward the cult of anti-intellectualism currently present in some circles. But as an avid reader myself—a proud purveyor of biographies, classic literature, and utter trash alike (I really, really, love “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and mass-market Star Trek books) — I am an advocate of cracking open a book, firing up your e-reader, or investing in an Audible.com account. Here’s why.*** Pretty tempted to get this one: Huck Out West. An excerpt in Huck-speak:
But no, just when I’m fixing to set back and catch up on my fishing on the Mississippi, here comes Huck Out West by Mr. Robert Coover. He’s writ novels that was interesting but tough, like The Origin of the Brunists, about how religion gets mangled by the folks who believe in it. And The Public Burning, about a real couple called Ethel and Julius Rosenberg that got convicted as spies. Railroaded is the way he seed it. They wound up in the electric chair. This Mr. Coover is one angry man.
Well, here, he’s the ventriloquist and I’m the innocent wanderer again, heading for the mountains like Mr. Twain once did, stumbling into the dark side of the Western Expansion. Some of the old Missouri gang are with me. Trouble is, Mr. Coover, he makes them into folks I don’t hardly recognize. For instance, Jim could break your heart when he talked about how much he loved his wife and children that was sold into slavery.*** Prison made him believe in literature. I feel ya dude.
Naji is best known internationally for being imprisoned for the sexual content and drug references in his novel The Use of Life, in a society where these subjects remain largely taboo.
However, sitting in his apartment close to the Nile in central Cairo, Naji plays down the image he has acquired as a result of his plight, and the themes that got him into trouble.
A blend of existentialist literature, fantasy and social criticism, The Use of Life follows Bassam, a young man who lives in an alternate Cairo, which Naji imagines as a grubby metropolis that has risen from a series of natural disasters that levelled the city. Filled with irreverent references to masturbation, fetishes and pornography, the book is consistently transgressive. Bassam’s opinions and ideas are also knowingly progressive – having sex with an older woman, keeping transgender friends, indulging in drugs and drink.
“Sex and drugs play a very important part in Cairo,” says Naji – while stressing that they are not the main themes of his novel. As he sees it, The Use of Life is about “the history of the city and how it has been designed … and how people in this Kafkaesque maze are trying to find a small piece of joy”.