Matt Rees's Blog – September 2010 Archive (7)

Blissfully blogless

Last weekend, my computer played up. Suddenly I couldn’t post the fascinating blog item I had written. I couldn’t update my Facebook page.

The computer gave me some kind of message about a “Flash” that had “crashed.” I’m old enough to remember the sputtering rockets of Flash Gordon in the 1950s series that was rebroadcast on the BBC in the early 1970s when I was a kid. That image held off my sense of powerlessness and frustration for about a half…

Added by Matt Rees on September 30, 2010 at 5:00pm — 2 Comments

New arms race--on author websites

I have a new book coming out in the UK next spring. So it’s time to start looking around to see what new web gadgets and gismos authors are expected to shell out for from their meager advances to keep their “web profile” current.

It’s a new arms race. Just as the Soviets bankrupted their (morally bankrupt) regime trying to keep up with US developments in mass destruction, writers have to divert their attention from the writing of books and trawl the…

Added by Matt Rees on September 26, 2010 at 10:23pm — 2 Comments

Writers, no email until lunch

Raymond Chandler wrote that a writer shouldn’t read letters until lunchtime. The energy that ought to go into his novel would be diverted to correspondence.

If email had been invented 50 years earlier, we might never have had “The Big Sleep.”

Email has an itching urgency that letters don’t have. And a letter leads only to the end of the page – the internet clicks you on into endless pages and seemingly into other worlds. So…

Added by Matt Rees on September 16, 2010 at 7:58pm — No Comments

Overturning detective fiction: everyone's guilty in my novels

The “Golden Age” of the detective story was the 1920s and 1930s. It was a turbulent period. In Britain, the General Strike. In the U.S., the Depression. Civil war in Spain, and in Germany the rise of the Nazis. Red scares everywhere, fascists too.

But the detective story provided solace to those who lived in such ugly times. In the model utilized by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, the story ended with one criminal fingered by the detective.…

Added by Matt Rees on September 9, 2010 at 8:17pm — 2 Comments

The Inquisition, the Jews of Andalus, and Columbus: 'By Fire By Water' review

Historical novels vie with crime and romance novels for the titles of most derided and most widely read literature. They've had a bad rap ever since the 19th century, when the swashbucklers of Alexandre Dumas looked pretty wooden next to Dickens, and cartoonish in comparison to the depth of Victor Hugo or George Eliot. There have always been marvelous exceptions, such as Mary Renault's amazing novels of ancient Greece, but for much of the last century, historical fiction was…

Added by Matt Rees on September 3, 2010 at 10:47pm — No Comments

Bielefeld does exist!

On my book tours I often venture to places few others visit. There are book festivals in tiny provincial towns. Readings at bookshops in small rural villages. This week I spoke in a German town that many Germans are convinced doesn’t even exist.

Bielefeld (population 330,000) is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia. Or is it?

Since the 1990s, there has been a widespread internet campaign to convince Germans that this town…

Added by Matt Rees on September 2, 2010 at 7:25pm — 5 Comments

Going historical

Writing of the disdain expressed for genre novels by critics, Raymond Chandler said that there were just as many bad “literary novels” of the type favored by critics as there were bad genre stories – except that the bad literary novels didn’t get published. In other words, there’s nothing inherent in so-called genre fiction that makes it lesser than “literary” fiction.

Chandler knew what he was talking about. His great noir novels, such as “The Big Sleep”…

Added by Matt Rees on September 1, 2010 at 6:06pm — 1 Comment

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