Monthly Archives: March 2015


Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick“The best novel I have read so far this century is The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. It’s his first novel, and while it’s still relatively unknown here,
it is a brilliant and totally charming fable that has sold over 8 million copies in Europe since first appearing in 2009.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

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Robert Sheckley’s Dimenson of Miracles is not only the funniest novel to appear in the science fiction field, but created a form of humor that only worked as science fiction. Can’t be much more creative than that.

The best single novel I’ve ever read? Easy. The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis — and I’m a lifelong atheist.”

 — Mike Resnick, winner of five Hugo awards for his science fiction, has been nominated for the Hugo more than any other writer. For a look at Mike’s bestselling books go to www.mikeresnick.com

Now & Then

Robert Parker Now & Then book cover

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by Robert B. Parker
The Berkley Publishing Group (2007)

Readers who enjoy the detective genre love Robert B. Parker.

A formula writer? You bet, and what a formula.

Called the Dean of American Crime Fiction his Spenser Series, Jesse Stone Series and Sunny Randall Series are a reader’s answer to a foodie’s idea of great appetizers. Parker clearly – plot, character, story and setting – serves us small portions. The dialogue is clipped and clever; chapters are short and so readable it’s rare when we don’t hear our stomach growl for more good writing. “That was really great; I think I’ll have another.”

Bad news, good news. Parker passed away in 2010 but before leaving he wrote some 70 of these gems. So grab a plate and prepare to try a bit of this and a bit of that – they’re all so very tasty.

I chose Now & Then, the Spencer novel here not because it’s my all-time favorite, but because it exemplifies, through story, plot and characters, the way Parker worked his magic. Read More »

Frank Batavick

Batavick“Everybody remembers a super athlete from high school, one who received mass adulation and from whom great things were expected once he made the transition to the big world beyond twelfth grade. There are two books that absolutely hit the nail on the head for this topic, and either might qualify as a candidate for the “Great American Novel” we’ve patiently been waiting for since Huckleberry Finn.

Jon Updike Rabbit, Run book cover

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The first is John Updike’s Rabbit, Run in which we meet a star basketball player whose currency gets devalued after graduation. His name is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, and he left his slice of the American Dream and his fifteen minutes of fame back on the hardwood. Harry gets married, has a kid, and ends up selling MagiPeeler, a kitchen gadget, but can’t get rid of the emptiness inside.  Booze and a fling with a prostitute offer no remedy. It all ends badly, but Updike’s powerful prose and gift for description make the journey memorable. If you like the book, you should continue with the rest of Updike’s pentalogy: Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit at Rest, and Rabbit Remembered. Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Philip Roth American Pastoral book cover

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Updike’s professional rival was Philip Roth and his contribution to this special genre was American Pastoral. The book focuses on the once golden life of Seymour “Swede” Levov who lettered in three sports, fought in World War II, and came home to take over his father’s glove business. But the real action is centered on the sordid escapades of his teenage daughter who is radicalized by the nation’s Vietnam misadventure and gets involved with domestic terrorists. Roth’s attention to detail recreates the discordant atmosphere of 1968 that ripped apart families and country alike. American Pastoral won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and is considered by many, including the New York Times Book Review, as one of the greatest works of American fiction in the last 25 years.”

Frank Batavick is a retired television writer/producer/director who, over his 40-year career, produced a wide range of live and recorded programs, from documentaries to talk shows. His work has garnered more than 60 national and international awards, including a Peabody and a regional Emmy. Living in Maryland, he is a weekly columnist and occasional feature writer for the Carroll County Times.