Friday, February 5, 2016

The Lonely Nightstand

What reading material is currently on your nightstand?

by Paul D. Marks

I have to admit that my nightstand is currently unfulfilled, having no stacks of books on it. But that’s mostly because my wife wants me to keep it clear and neat. So I’ve been trying to do that. Of course that’s about the only part of the house that is clear and neat and uncluttered (well semi-uncluttered). And I have to admit that 99% of the clutter is mine. I’m the packrat.

So what’s cluttering up the house? Well, books of course. Tons of books and no more shelf space.
We even have shelves in the garage and we’re still out of space. I still prefer paper books to e-books, though I read both. But just on the space issue I’m leaning towards buying more e-books. But then how would guests know how erudite I am if they can’t see all those books...even though not all have been read. Though most have.

I also collect toys and Beatles stuff and some other rock ‘n’ roll gear. Then there’s all the old papers and old drafts of stories and all the stuff you have to keep for the IRS. It adds up, let me tell you.

On top of that, we just emptied out our storage facility, so the garage I normally park in is now filled with boxes that we swore we would go through quickly so I could get my car back in there pronto. Well, it’s been a month and we’ve yet to go through those boxes for the most part. Y’know, stuff happens and you just can’t get to it. But we did find a couple cool things: a sign off the MGM backlot that I borrowed from a train station set and a newel post from a house in LA’s Bunker Hill, which was flattened for redevelopment in the late 60s. Bunker Hill was LA’s first wealthy neighborhood but went downhill after World War I. But there were many gorgeous Victorian homes there. Some got moved and some got destroyed. But before it all went to hell a friend and I went through some of the houses and I took the newel post as a souvenir. It’s going to become the logo for what I hope will be a long-running series of short stories and maybe even a novel or two about the characters from the first story, Ghosts of Bunker Hill, which will be published in Ellery Queen, though I’m not sure when it will appear. And I’m lucky to have these things, as in a previous move my mean, cruel, wicked wife (I’m kidding, okay – she puts up with me, she’s a saint) made me get rid of a lot of backlot souvenirs and other things, including my Famous Brick off the Andy Hardy set. Yes. She made me throw my brick away. It looked like any other brick, but it was famous and in many, many movies. And now it’s gone, lost in the dustbin of history, along with a bunch of other things she made me toss.

But I guess I’ve gotten off-topic here. So what’s on my metaphorical nightstand since I can’t put books on my physical one? Well, currently I’m reading The Stranger by Harlan Coben. I’m almost done with that. And I have a yen to re-read some classic mysteries. Maybe some Chandler or Ross MacDonald. Maybe some Jim Thompson or David Goodis. I always like going back to those. And I re-read Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn every few years. They’re the reading equivalent of comfort food for me. Maybe these are on my mind since I mentioned most of them in my last post here. I’ve also been thinking about re-reading Bonfire of the Vanities. I’m not sure why, but it just got stuck in my head. I haven’t read The Girl on the Train yet, so that’s a possibility. So what I might do is read an oldie but a goodie and then move on to newer things because there’s a wealth of riches out there for the taking. And maybe some books from people I know, but since I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings if I don’t have their book on my list, I’m not mentioning who. I’m not that brave.

One more thing, congratulations to Art and Catriona on their Agatha Award nominations!


I’m the guest author on the terrific Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Fan Club Page on Facebook this week – and who blogged here for a long time. Hope you’ll drop by there: 

Also, at Bouchercon a few months ago, I read my Anthony and Macavity-nominated story “Howling at the Moon” for Ellery Queen magazine. And that just went up on the net. So if you’re dying to hear me read, check it out. I don’t think Tom Hanks has to worry about his position as the top actor in Hollywood. 

And if you’re not sick of me already, I was interviewed by Pam Stack at Authors on the Air last Wednesday, Feb 3rd . Hope you might want to listen to that podcast: 

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Art Taylor said...

Nice post! ...though sorry to hear about that mean wife that won't let you use your own nightstand as you see fit.... ;-)

Looking forward to the story in EQMM, and intrigued by your reading choices here. I've never read the Wolfe myself and seem to recall it not being terribly well reviewed--so intrigued that you're considering a second read of it. And, of course, the other rereads I certainly do understand--that line of classic writers that it's hard ever to get enough of.

Thanks for sharing!

Paul D. Marks said...

Hey, if anybody read this blog before about 6:30am Pac Time on Friday 2/5, it may have seemed confusing as some text got moved around in the posting. It's fixed now. Sorry about that. And thanks to Art Taylor for pointing it out to me.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Art, glad you liked it. And my mean wife says she'll allow me one book on the nightstand. Two tops but after that.... ;)

I think the whole Ghosts of Bunker Hill/EQMM thing will make more sense now that's in the right order 'cause the background for that story is where it should be now.

I know the movie of Bonfire of the Vanities got bad reviews and deserved them. I don't remember on the novel. I don't really know why I want to reread it. I must have heard or seen something that triggered that in me. If I do get around to reading it again I'll see what I think.

As for those classic writers, I do like to re-read them sometimes. I think it helps ground me.

Thanks again for your comment.


GBPool said...

I always have a stack of books here and there. I'll read a friend's book first even if I have already started another one. It's what we writers do. As for throwing stuff out... I wonder what that would be like. I consider our house a museum now. Every thing an artifact. And with the dust on half of it, it's like discovering King Tut's tomb. In fact with the junk... er stuff I have collected, it's like going through an archaeological dig most of the time. Amy has the patience of Job. So does Richard. Aren't we lucky?

Paul D. Marks said...

We are lucky, Gayle. And thanks for your comment.

It’s really hard for me to throw stuff out. And though our house isn’t quite of museum caliber, we do have a lot of stuff. And some of it, like you say, is covered with dust. But it’s special dust, magic dust. Right? :)

And yes, always a stack of books everywhere, well everywhere but on the nightstand.