Wednesday, January 23, 2008

King's Kindle Adventure

I was amused to discover that bibliophile and Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Stephen King’s first try at using Amazon’s new Kindle reading device involved the enthusiastic digestion of a mystery novel by Robert Goddard. In his latest regular Entertainment Weekly column, King writes:
What did I do during the holidays? Read a good book, of course. It was called In Pale Battalions, by Robert Goddard. Goddard’s British, and his tales of suspense and mystery have recently been reissued in America. I’d never read him. Now I’m glad I did. Set mostly during World War I (but with a leisurely framework that allows the story to stretch comfortably all the way to 1968), In Pale Battalions is a story of sex, secrets, and murder--all the good stuff, in other words. What makes it especially riveting is the malevolent demon-woman at the novel’s center: Olivia Powerstock’s greatest talent is making those around her suffer. And Goddard is clever, giving the reader not just one solution to what happened at drafty ole Meongate Manor, but three--each fuller and more satisfying than the last.

A book to remember, in other words, but one I’ll remember another way: as the first book I read on my new Kindle.

Most of you will already know what that is, but for those of you who have been living in a barn, your Uncle Stevie will now elucidate. It’s a gadget available from The advance publicity says it looks like a paperback book, but it really doesn’t. It’s a panel of white plastic with a screen in the middle and one of those annoying teeny-tiny keyboards most suited to the fingers of Keebler elves. Full disclosure: I have not yet used the teeny-tiny keyboard, and really see no need for it. Keyboards are for writing. The Kindle is for reading.
A mention by King in the press can transform a writer’s career, so perhaps Goddard will now become as well recognized in the United States as he already is in the UK. If so, he’d be following in the path of Californian Meg Gardiner. In November 2006, when King came to the UK to promote Lisey’s Story, he picked up a book by Gardiner and read it on his journey home, as he later recounted on the Web. That mention had a huge effect on Gardiner’s sales and even (finally) won her a publishing deal in her native America. As a press release at the time explained:
King praised Gardiner on his website in December and interest in her work, particularly among bloggers, has been growing ever since. He then wrote extensively about Gardiner again in his Entertainment Weekly column published on February 9 where he said he was “staggered” that she was not published in the U.S. “I mean, this woman is as good as Michael Connelly and far better than Janet Evanovich,” wrote King, who advises readers to start with China Lake [2002]--Gardiner’s first book in her Evan Delaney series.
Speaking of King, he returns to form this month with the novel Duma Key, which I reviewed in January Magazine earlier this week.

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