Thursday, May 28, 2009

The ultimate postmodern novel is a film

Samantha Morton and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Synecdoche, New York

A few days ago I airily declared to a colleague that cinema never really did it for me, not as much as fiction, in any case. I'd always rather read a novel than watch a film. That snooty belief in the superiority of the written word has been as happily shaken up as my boggled brain itself since I emerged from a screening of Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York.

- Hermione Herby, writing for the

Read the rest of the post here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Iran arrests 'Agatha Christie serial killer'

Police in Iran believe they have caught the country's first female serial killer and are claiming she has disclosed a literary inspiration behind her attempts to evade detection: the crime novels of Agatha Christie.

The 32-year-old suspect, named only as Mahin, stands accused of killing at least six people, including five women, according to officials in the city of Qazvin, about 100 miles north-west of Tehran.

"Mahin in her confessions has said that she has been taking patterns from Agatha Christie books and has been trying not to leave any trace of herself," Mohammad Baqer Olfat, the Qazvin prosecutor, told Iranian journalists.

- Robert Tait, writing for

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Top 10 real-life spy gadgets

With the news that MI5 is looking for a Chief Scientific Adviser, spy novelist Jeremy Duns reveals his ten favourite real espionage inventions

1. Poison-tipped umbrella

Probably the most infamous real-life spy gadget is the umbrella used by the Bulgarian secret services – with KGB help – to kill dissident writer and broadcaster Georgi Markov. KGB technicians converted the tip of an ordinary umbrella into a silenced gun that could fire a pellet containing a lethal dose of ricin. On September 7 1978, Markov felt himself being jabbed in the thigh as he walked across Waterloo Bridge. A man behind him apologised and stepped into a taxi. Markov died four days later. No arrests have ever been made.

- Jeremy Duns writing for Times Online

Read the rest of the article here, which includes the merits of the dart gun, microphone in an olive, and exploding rats.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Newly Released Books

The summer reading season kicks off this weekend, and if May’s books are any indication, the beaches of America will be dark and chilly this year. The list is replete with period pieces in which characters survive (or don’t) hard times. A novel of commerce is filled with market-rigging and subterfuge. A murder mystery throws in Satanism for good measure. And did you know that killer gases can lurk below the placid surface of a lake? Yikes! What will June bring?

- Amy Virshup, writing for the

Read the rest here.

Books reviewed are Brooklyn by Colm Toibin; Dark Places by Gillian Flynn; Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre; The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters; Stone's Fall by Iain Pears; The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Imagine it: the green and yellow fields of the countryside, the soothing chug-chug of the train, the Tuscan sunshine warming my cheek.The best part? Knowing that I had hours and hours to read the ton of books I had in my backpack...
It turns out I had some winners.

Runners Up: Tim Winton’s Breath and Bernard Schlink’s The Reader. Then there is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson that is appallingly translated (unless the original Swedish version reads like Kathy & Mark) but has the page-turning power of the Da Vinci Code, and is just as far-fetched. Then, if you still haven’t read William Boyd’s Any Human Heart please get your hands on it.

Then the book of the trip: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It’s funny and tragic and sharp and it is the most original book you will read this year.

Yours in the eternal quest of finding great books