Garfield, Simon. Just My Type: A Book About Fonts.

NY: Gotham Books, 2011.

Unless you’re a design geek or involved in advertising, or you’re responsible for producing the company brochures, you probably don’t pay much attention to the typefaces used in printed materials, much less in public signage. In one way, this is a good thing: Well-designed and intelligently selected type should recede into the far background of the reader’s awareness, ceding attention to the actual content of the text. (Beatrice Warde called it the “crystal goblet” principle.)


Published in: on 30 October 2014 at 4:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rosenberg, Charles. Long Knives.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2014.

I’ve never heard of this author, which isn’t really surprising since this is only his second novel. He’s a Harvard Law School grad (and editor of the Law Review) with a long career as a litigator and law professor, so I guess we can trust him to get all the nuts and bolts right in a legal novel. His abilities as a fiction author are something else altogether. (more…)

Published in: on 27 October 2014 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tomsky, Jacob. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality.

NY: Doubleday, 2012.

Sometime in the ‘90s, the author found that his recent university degree in philosophy hadn’t really been his best decision when it came to earning a living, and he was parking cars at Copeland’s in downtown New Orleans. Valeting didn’t have much of a future, either, so he managed to get himself hired for the opening of a brand new luxury hotel on Chartres Street.


Published in: on 24 October 2014 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lippman, Laura. In Big Trouble.

NY: HarperCollins, 2006.

Most novelists seem eventually to write a “road trip” book and this is Lippman’s. Tess Monaghan, girl reporter turned PI, knows practically everything there is to know about her native Baltimore, but she doesn’t enjoy travel much nor is she into exploring new places.


Houston, Keith. Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks.

NY: Norton, 2013.

Even most readers and those who make a living at different aspects of writing don’t really pay much attention to punctuation, beyond knowing vaguely where to stick the commas.


Published in: on 19 October 2014 at 6:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Pratchett, Terry & Stephen Baxter. The Long War.

NY: Doubleday, 2013.

The picaresque novel, in which the protagonist (traditionally an underdog, but not always) engages in a series of episodic adventures, has a history that goes back to Don Quixote and Tom Jones and proceeds up to Little Big Man and Quicksilver. The first volume in this trilogy, in which I suspect Pratchett supplied most of the ideas and Baxter did most of the actual writing, focused on the voyage of exploration by an airship through a few hundred thousand parallel Earths, via the newly discovered latent human talent for “stepping.”


Lee, Sharon & Steve Miller. A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 1.

NY: Baen, 2013.

Lee and Miller started writing their highly original brand of space opera two decades ago, now. The first few volumes set in the “Liaden” universe were self-published, then picked up by a small specialty house, but eventually they were discovered and made the Big Time.


Robinson, Peter. Children of the Revolution.

NY: Morrow, 2014.

Yorkshire homicide CDI Alan Banks gets called out early one winter morning to investigate the broken body of Gavin Miller, found below a bridge on a remote and obsolete rail line, and the large quantity of money in his pocket and the various contusions make it clear this was no accident. Miller, who never really outgrew the 1960s, was not an easy person to know.


Published in: on 10 October 2014 at 5:05 am  Comments (1)  
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Leonard, Elmore. Be Cool.

NY: Delacorte, 1999.

Sequels are a well-known potential trap for both novelists and film-makers. “Hey, that one went over really well. I think I’ll do another one just like that, only different.” This romp is, of course, the not-quite-so-successful sequel to one of Leonard’s best books, Get Shorty, in which loan shark Chili Palmer becomes a Hollywood movie producer, making a film based on his actual activities in collecting a debt from a gambler named Leo and getting mixed up with some seriously bad guys.


Published in: on 7 October 2014 at 6:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Murakami, Haruki. Norwegian Wood.

NY: Random House, 2000.

It’s 1989 and thirty-seven-year-old Toru Watanabe has just flown into Hamburg when he hears the Beatles song of the title coming over the 747’s sound system. And he’s instantly back in Tokyo in 1969, a college freshman facing his twentieth birthday. Toru is something of an intellectual — he read Balzac and Mann and Updike in high school, though his favorite author seems to be Scott Fitzgerald — but he thinks of himself as something of a slacker.