Death and Destruction! (Books 7/18/06)

I know I’ve said it before, but here I am saying it again, because it’s true. I love the library. I love that I can take home books purely on impulse and not have to worry that I might not like them, because it doesn’t matter because I didn’t pay for them. This last trip to my book mecca provided me with two amazing books I would never have picked up at the store.

The Secret Society of Demolition Writers edited by Marc Parent. This book is based on the coolest premise ever. Marc Parent, the editor of this collection, was watching a demolition derby, and realized that the guy who won did so because he drove like he had nothing to lose. He started thinking about that in terms of writing, and got to wondering what his favorite writers would write if they had nothing riding on it- no danger to their reputation, no expectation based on previous work. So he got a bunch of awesome writers to write short stories anonymously. Their names are on the front of the book, but there’s no way to link any author to any story within it. They were totally free to write on any subject, in any style, and the results are excellent.

The anonymous authors include Aimee Bender (LOVE HER!), Michael Connelly, Anna Quindlen, Alice Sebold, and a bunch more; and the stories cover everything from reporters in the Congo to ghosts of children not yet born coming out of safes. There wasn’t a single story I didn’t like, and quite a number that I loved.

Deadly Slipper by Michelle Wan. This is a great little mystery with a couple of layers. A woman is searching for information about her sister who went missing nineteen years before. The police gave up the case years before, but the woman comes across what she believes to be her sister’s camera in a pawn shop, and it has film in it. She has the pictures developed, and they’re a series of pictures of orchids. She takes them to a local orchid expert in the hopes that he can recreate her sister’s trail, and he agrees, not because he wants to help, but because the last picture on the roll is of an orchid that shouldn’t exist. So the mystery becomes not only what happened to the sister, how and why and by whom, but also if the camera belonged to the sister at all, and where and what this mysterious orchid might be. In the course of things everything gets quite twisted around, with lots of suspects and lots of flower hunting. The resolution is somewhat forseeable, just because there are so many suspects that when it turns out to actually be one of them you can’t really be surprised. I really enjoyed it, and found myself thinking about it constantly when I wasn’t reading. It made me want to read The Orchid Thief, for more orchid obsessing goodness.

Now I’m rereading Theatre (or maybe Theater , I don’t have the book in front of me, and I’m too lazy to look it up) by W. Somerset Maugham. I love it. Then it’s a double header of Snow Country and Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata.

Current total: 56

Just finished: Deadly Slipper by Michelle Wan

Currently reading: Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham

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