Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Blue-sky reading

We all have favorite sub-genres in crime fiction, but do you venture beyond them in your personal (ie. not research) reading? If so, what do you read that’s not necessarily your usual cup of tea, and why?

by Dietrich

I read anything that lights me up. The genre doesn’t matter much. When I find an author who’s new to me, I go for the backlist, and I keep an eye on what they’ve got coming next.

Outside of the crime genre, I enjoy reading the beats, the stories of William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. I like disappearing into the dystopian worlds that Margaret Atwood creates. I love the writing styles of Patti Smith, Charles Bukowski and J.K. Rowling. And now and then I like to get scared shitless by Stephen King. At other times I prefer something lighter, maybe with an attitude, along with a sense of humor, something by Frankie Boyle, or maybe rereading some Hunter S. Thompson, one of my favorite voices. 

And I love when I discover somebody new – like when I finally got around to reading Nick Hornby, one of those authors I had been meaning to read, and finally ended up kicking myself for not doing it sooner. After finishing Juliet, Naked, I wanted more, so I picked up State of the Union, and I was equally impressed. So now I’m looking forward to his latest, Just Like You. The same thing happened after reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I got a copy of The Nickel Boys which is presently at the top of my reading stack, and from early reviews I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.

When I read crime fiction I like it gritty, so I lean toward writers like Don Winslow, James Lee Burke and George Pelecanos. And I love reading and rereading crime classics by Charles Willeford, James Crumley, Richard Stark, and Elmore Leonard.

And lately I’ve been fortunate to get my hands on some ARCs by some talented authors who I know. The first is by our very own Paul D. Marks. The Blues Don’t Care is a well-told tale with lots of surprises, and Paul does a very convincing job showing us L.A. in the forties. Michael Pool has the start of a great PI series in Throwing Off Sparks. Amazing characters and a great voice. And Tom Pitts’ Coldwater is riveting, hard to put down, and packed with all kinds of surprises and twists. And speaking of twists, Nick Kolakowski’s Maxine Unleashes Doomsday is a kind of Mad Max meets The Handmaid’s Tale, only with more drugs, violence and dark humor. Very imaginative and very well done. And I just finished Pushing Water by Dana King. It’s masterful writing and a well-researched cop story set in Dana’s imaginary town of Penns River. This is the fifth book in a truly wonderful series.

So, there you have it, a cross-section of what I’ve been reading, everything from poetry to memoirs to thrillers. Whatever the genre, I’m always on the hunt for the kind of book that will keep me reading long into the night.


Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for the shout out, Dietrich. And for the list of great ideas of things to read or what's coming up.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

And thanks for that ARC, Paul. Well done.

Susan C Shea said...

Dietrich, Have you read anything by Joe Clifford? you might like his gritty tales. The latest just got nominated for a Thriller award.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Yes, thanks, Susan. I do know Joe and I like his work very much.