Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Taking It All In

Slate’s Jonathan Rosenbaum is disappointed with Thomas Pynchon’s brand-new crime novel, Inherent Vice. (“It’s a kind of southerly remake of Vineland [which was set mainly in Northern California] featuring similar showdowns between freaks and cops and further evidence of defections and betrayals but played, this time, more for cheap thrills than for any fresh historical insights.”) No, let me rephrase that: he’s really disappointed. (“It’s impossible not to be disappointed that the Renaissance intellectual, who blended populist aspirations with the wildest of fancies and cast unnervingly instructive light on our times, has settled for such a modest diversion.”) You can read his whole critique here.

• It’s been 21 years since the last new episode of Cagney & Lacey was broadcast in the United States, but Chris Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey are going to team up once more. Well, the actress who played them are, anyway. As TV Squad reports, Tyne Daly--who of course played Lacey--will guest star on the 2010 season premiere of Burn Notice, which already features Sharon Gless in the role of spy Michael Westen’s chain-smoking mother.

• Every six months or so, some blogger (and I’m guilty of this myself) will lament the fact that a number of the most interesting crime and detective TV series from times past aren’t yet available in DVD format. Kevin Burton Smith is just the latest to complain. The creator of that invaluable resource, The Thrilling Detective Web Site, Smith offers a “top 10 [list of] P.I. shows (subject to update) that people want to see.” Included on his rundown: Harry O, Spenser: For Hire, Longstreet, and City of Angels. Beyond those 10, he brings up The Outsider and Archer, both of which I’d also pay to see again. One show that I’m surprised isn’t mentioned, however, is Banyon, the 1972-1973 period gumshoe drama starring Robert Forster. When, oh when, can we see that again?

Stupid quote of the week.

• Whoops. I missed the actual anniversary, but this still deserves a mention. It was on August 2, 1909--100 years ago this last Sunday--that the first U.S. pennies bearing Abraham Lincoln’s likeness were issued. In commemoration, Time magazine offers a list of “the top 10 things you didn’t know about the penny.” (No. 3: “The 1943 copper-alloy cent is one of the most enigmatic coins in American numismatics--and reportedly the most valuable Lincoln penny of all. Just 40 of the coins--probably created by accident on copper-alloy one-cent blanks left in the presses in the wartime years when pennies were converted to steel--are known to exist.”)

• Patti Abbott’s “Esther Meaney is the newest short story presented in Beat to a Pulp.

• Speaking of Abbotts, daughter Megan’s new novel, Bury Me Deep, wins applause in The Detroit News. Critic Susan Whitall (or maybe it was just the headline writer) labels her “the duchess of dark novels.” That’s a title worth spreading around.

Newsweek’s Malcolm Jones picksthe best detective fiction for your summer reading list.” Sarah Weinman suggests that Jones really ought to try reading more women authors. He might also think about picking up some books published since 1978.

• Good news from BSC Review: “2009 is the year of Gary Phillips. A spate of releases confirms what some already know, that its Gary’s world and the rest of us just live in it. The different releases offer a range of voices in a range of styles in a range of mediums.” Get the full story here. And read much more about Freedom’s Fight here.

• As blogger-author Julia Buckely reminds me, “On this day in 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their own home--apparently hacked to death by an axe. After a couple of days of investigation, police came to suspect one of the Bordens’ two daughters, Lizzie, of committing the act.”

Talk about fascinating historical facts ...

• Rick Klaw of the Dark Forces Book Group interviews Joe R. Lansdale on the subject of his new Hap Collins and Leonard Pine novel, Vanilla Ride. Part I of their conversation has already been posted, with Part II to follow shortly. By the way, I can’t decide whether I prefer the pre-publication version of Vanilla Ride’s cover (shown at Dark Forces) or the finished version, both designed by Chip Kidd. Does anyone else have a preference? (Hat tip to Bill Crider.)

• Tony Black (Gutted) is grilled by his readers.

• Vote now for your favorite mystery among those nominated as part of the 2009 African-American Literary Awards Show. Walter Mosley and Blair Underwood are among the contenders this year. Click here for more information.

• Marty McKee has been rounding up some fairly obscure TV opening title sequences over at his blog, Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot. His latest two crime series specimens: Hardcastle & McCormick and Tenspeed and Brown Shoe.

• And finally, let me say happy birthday, Mr. President.

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