All tagged George Pelecanos
I'm kind of a doofus when it comes to music: I play the ukulele poorly and was a flutist in marching band in high school until I quit band to protest the ill-fitting polyester pants. (That was super-effective.) Because of my musical doofusness, I really admire people for whom music is so ingrained in their lives. I realized that as a result of that, I tend to gravitate to novels featuring music or musical people. Sometimes, much like books featuring sports, the music is just window dressing, but when it's feels real, it's so very good.
Here are a twelve (!!!) of my recommendations for musically-infused novels you'll want to check out.
Caridad Ferrer is one of my favorite authors you're probably not reading. Both Adios to My Old Life and When the Stars Go Blue are infused with passion for music and the arts in general. (Interestingly, both of these could easily be considered thematically as "new adult.") Adios to My Old Life is focuses on an American Idol-style singing competition, while Stars follows the structure of the opera Carmen and features an incredible touring marching band.
I read two great blog posts this week about the idea of setting.
The first was from the ladies at The Readventurer who put together a fantastic post about settings from books they’d most like to visit. There are some awesome ideas—though most of them terrify me because I am not adept at hand-to-hand combat (or any other combat, if I’m going to keep it real). The second great post about setting was from Molly Backes who wrote a guest post on Stacked about the importance of setting in contemporary young adult fiction.
Both posts got me thinking about setting in books and what works for me and what doesn’t—and why some books have such memorable settings, sometimes even overshadowing the characters and plot. And my conclusion is that when setting is strong and memorable, the place almost serves as a character itself. Think about Dillon, Texas in the Greatest Television Show Ever aka Friday Night Lights. The characters would not be who they are if they didn’t live in Dillon—and when they leave Dillon, they’re transformed too (i.e., Tyra and Jason).
Earlier this year, I went up to Seattle for an event featuring Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman and Nina LaCour. Stephanie said something that’s stuck with me, that (I’m paraphrasing) she thinks about character first, setting second and plot last. As a reader, that’s the order I think about books too. I can’t buy into a plot if the first two don’t work.
I love the world Patricia Briggs created over seven Mercy Thompson books, numerous graphic novels and three books in the spinoff Alpha & Omega series. What strikes me most is that Briggs has taken a very ordinary place and made it quite extraordinary with an eery underworld. When the books shift to Montana for the Alpha & Omega series, the deep cold woods of the region looms large.
Okay, okay… so that headline is a tad inflammatory, but since I’ve known our latest Book Matchmaker victim volunteer since we were freshmen at good ol’ Canby High School, I’m going to take the opportunity to embarrass Matt, a fan of urban fantasy, adventure and Star Wars, just a bit.
Side note: when we were in high school I knew that Matt was nerdy, but I had no idea how incredibly nerdy he was until he filled out our Extremely Scientific Questionnaire. I mean, we were both in the Advanced Nerding Classes, but still… ;-)
YA or Adult: Surprise Me
Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller, Magical Realism
Narrator/Style: First Person, Third Person, Multiple POV, Graphic Novel or Graphic Elements, Present Tense, Past Tense, Male POV, Main Character or Narrator, Female POV, Main Character or Narrator
Swoon Factor: 2
Gross Out Factor: 4
Smut Factor: 4
Fluff Factor: 4
Fave Authors: Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffrey, Vicki Pettersson: Sign of the Zodiac, Hunger Games, The Call of the Wild, Harry Potter, the Star Wars novels. I am a guy: I like action, sex and some violence in my stories. I am also a tad whimsical, and like to believe there is more out there than what we see in our everyday life.
Dislikes: Victorian, Elizabethan, anything that doesn’t use common language; I don’t care much about nonfiction; I read to be entertained and “turn my brain off.” Twilight makes me want to throw up because it’s too teenage-girl-angsty. No horror, please.
Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts Series (Adult Urban Fantasy)
Dude. This series. It’s completely effed up and awesome, as it follows drug-addicted witch and ghost hunter Chess during the Ghost Apocalypse. This is a rough series, with Serious Consequences™ around every corner.
I’ve read all of Pelecanos’ (who’s known by lots of folks for his work writing some of the best episodes of The Wire) novels and my husband wrote his MA thesis on Pelecanos’ early series, the DC Quartet (back when Pelecanos was only known by crime fiction nerds), so it’s hard for me to look at his books in isolation—I always find myself thinking about them in comparison to his other works.
In particular, I have a nostalgic affection for The Sweet Forever (Goodreads, Amazon) and The Big Blowdown (Goodreads, Amazon), which are raw and somewhat less self-conscious than his later, longer novels. Lit-fic fans tend to prefer Pelecanos’ Derek Strange novels because the social commentary is more overt, but I love the strong sense of time and place in the earlier ones.