Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, February 27, 2015


From the archives
leopard13 is the internet moniker of a father of two, spouse to one, who blogs out of The City of the Angels. He owns a first edition copy of the book below and one day hopes to have the author autograph for him.

The Ninth Configuration, by William Peter Blatty (Harper & Row 1978)


Just say the name, William Peter Blatty. It does have its own sense of meter as it rolls off the tongue, now doesn't it? You'll most likely recognize it, too. Just the same, saying it three times in front of a mirror won’t cause anything bad to happen, either -- contrary to urban legend. If you love books and reading, whether you are a baby boomer or Generation X, Y, or even Z, odds-on you've heard of him. Such is the legacy of authoring a horror novel as famous as 1971's The Exorcist (which would go on to even greater notoriety when it was adapted to the screen in 1973's film of the novel). However, along with the popularity and fame for a book that became an all-encompassing event, it can be too much of good thing. 'Event' novels can take on a life of their own, and they can build to the point that all other work by the same author lies in its shadow. Obscured because they are not anything like that book. Such was the consequence for the next novel by author Blatty that it seemed to fall by the wayside when it was published in 1978. That forgotten, but wonderful, piece of elegant writing was, The Ninth Configuration.
What was released that year actually germinated from a hasty 1966 novel titled, Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane! From his author's note: "Its basic concept was surely the best I have ever created, but what was published was just as surely no more than the notes for a novel -- some sketches, unformed, unfinished, lacking even a plot." Luckily, for those of us who read the re-envisioned work in the late 70's (and those who would go on to discover and appreciate it decades later), it is an overlooked book worth remembering. Ironically, WPB has said more than once he considers it his unofficial sequel to The Exorcist. Although The Ninth Configuration shares a very loose connection (via an unnamed character) from that novel, the genre and plot line couldn't be more divergent. Plus, it works whether or not you've read the legendary blockbuster that preceded it.
The novel's story centers upon a select small group of military men secluded away with what are believed to be inexplicable mental disorders. Or, being highly intelligent men, they could be faking it--which could be the reason nothing has worked and why they continue their stay at a decaying Gothic mansion. Their treatment, and sanity, ultimately hinges upon one Marine Colonel Kane (a psychiatrist who may have his own issues) brought to the sheltered facility to seek the answers in the most unexpected of ways. Blatty crafts the story as a mystery to be solved, planting its seeds in the unusual interactions that take place. The author’s dialogue between the patients and staff are quite purpose-built, madcap, and unexpected. I cannot describe it any better than what a good friend wrote in a review of his, "Because the story is relatively brief, no words are wasted in an attempt to be lyrical or poetic. Yet somehow there are moments of utter poetry in the exchanges between doctor and patients, and in Kane's own introspective reasonings." While the material covered is meaty, it is one of the few novels that made be laugh out loud, and had my eyes welling by the time I finished it.
One could describe WPB as an author who writes eloquent, thought provoking fiction that draws in his readers with clever, humorous dialogue (keep in mind, he also wrote the screenplay for the comedy, A Shot In The Dark). Or put another way, he’s a humorous, clever writer who puts out eloquent novels that catch the readers off guard by being thought provoking. I'd say both are true. He just happened to author a chart topping novel of horror that eclipsed everything before, or since, in his bibliography. However, The Ninth Configuration remains perhaps a more intriguing read, and worth exploration by those who haven't experienced it. As well, for those of us who are film buffs, sprinkled throughout, the author references classic movie moments and dialogue within this novel. A few years after its publication, William Peter Blatty would pen and direct its film adaptation in 1980. Not surprisingly, it has developed a strong cult following, and many believe the story is more immersive on the screen (consider me in both groups). The 1978 novel is a svelte 135-page work, and next year TNC will be re-released by Centipede Press as a new edition. Purportedly, it will combine both novels and will include a long essay by film scholar Mark Kermode in a 292-page hardcover. So on this Friday, The Ninth Configuration is not forgotten (at least, by me anyways).
"Every kind thought is the hope of the world."

Sergio Angelini, THE QUIET AMERICAN, Graham Greene
Joe Barone, ASSASSINS OF ATHENS, Jeffrey Siger
Les Blatt, THE DOORBELL RANG, Nero Wolfe
Brian Busby, BAROMETER RISING, Hugh Maclennan
David Cranmer, THE LIGHTHOUSE, Edgar Allan Poe
Bill Crider, DREAM LOVERS, Dodd Darin
Martin Edward, DEATH BY REQUEST, Romilly and Katherine John
Curt Evans, A LIFE OF CRIME, Sinclair Gluck
Ed Gorman, CROSS COUNTRY, Herbert Kastle
John Hegenberger, THE BRIGHTEST BUCCANEER, Leslie Charteris
Rick Horton, A DIVERSITY OF CREATURES, Rudyard Kipling
Randy Johnson, DEVILS AND DUST, J.D. Rhoades
George Kelley, SOME CAME RUNNING, James Jones
Margot Kinberg, A NICE QUIET HOLIDAY, Aditya Sudarshan
Rob Kitchin, THE YARD, Alex Grecian
B.V. Lawson, WINDY CITY, Hugh Holton
Evan Lewis, THE TRAILSMAN: TEXAS UPRISING, Stephen Mertz
Steve Lewis, THE INTERLOPERS, Donald Hamilton
Neer, THE MORTAL RALLY MYSTERY, John Rhode
J.F. Norris, THE FETISH MURDERS, Avon Curry
James Reasoner, ROCKET ROBINSON AND THE PHAROAH'S FORTUNE, Sean O'Neill
Richard Robinson, WATSON'S CHOICE, Gladys Mitchell 
Ron Schee, BLUE PETER, Luke Allan 
R.T. CRIPPEN, John Boyne
Kerrie Smith, ANGLE OF INVESTIGATION, Michael Connelly
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, MASTERS OF NOIR, Vol. 2
TracyK, THE CALLING, Inger Ash Wolfe


ALSO MY REVIEW OF BLACK SEA in Crimespree Magazine.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Agatha Christie

Okay, I just mailed the box of books back to Michigan. And then I discovered I didn't like the book I saved. And Phil is reading a really long book on the Kindle.

So I am left with the books left here by
other guests. The only ones I think I might like are the ACs. Now I have read every AC but a long time ago.

These are my choices: THE PALE HORSE, MRS. MCGINTY'S DEAD, SLEEPING MURDER, AN OVERDOSE OF DEATH, THE UNDERDOG, THE BURDEN, A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED, CROOKED HOUSE, DEAD MAN"S FOLLY, NEMESIS and THE CLOCKS.

Which one would you read?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Things I Look Forward to in Michigan

Certainly not the weather. Somehow returning at the beginning of March seemed like we might avoid these frigid temps but it doesn't look like it. But there are some things I look forward to...

Being closer to family and friends. I am pretty gregarious and not having anyone but Phil to talk to most days is not enough after a while. Not that he is not delightful. ..

Being in the same time zone as most of our friends and all of our family. It does get to be a nuisance figuring out the time elsewhere.

Being able to take books out of the library, three blocks away. I am too promiscuous a reader to buy many books. I so often don't finish them. I still buy more than most people but buying every book I think I might read is pricey.

Being able to DVR TV shows. I'd forgotten how horrible watching commercials is. And also getting rid of DISH TV. And also having TV shows on at the correct time.

Being able to go to movies at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Although we have venues showing foreign and indie films here, they are not as adventurous at the DFT at the DIA.

My electric teapot. And my electric stove. I know gas is supposedly better but the burners here don't always light.  Also having my own cooking ware, silverware and dishes.

Enough lamps. I like a bright room at night. And a good reading lamp. 

Not having to ask ourselves will we finish this? Will we get our money out of it.

I will not miss driving here although it is Phil who drives. I hate double turning lanes. You always have to know exactly which lane you need to be in. And as a stranger here, you just don't always know. Don't know how people did it before SIRI.

Not having to figure out how to get everywhere.



Monday, February 23, 2015

The Galleys Are In.







I guess this is going to happen. I will probably ask all of you who read this blog to help me get the word out via a blog tour. I do not need any ego boosting and have no dreams of grandeur, but I want to make Jason Pinter proud (or at least not regretful) he decided to take a chance on an old lady writing a novel.

The book comes out in June. Any advice is welcomed. I would categorize this as domestic suspense. Sort of like MILDRED PIERCE reversed (and written by someone with a lot less talent than James Cain). Phil says I am incapable of saying anything good about myself and I see that is true as I struggle here. Anyway, you get the drift. 

How About Some Bluegrass


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Uh, oh.

In attempting to change Rick's blog URL, I removed all of them. It may take me a few days or more to reconstruct that. Hopefully, by Friday.