Reading Recommendation (Not Political)

Because there are a number of Terry Pratchett fans here, and some suspense /mystery readers as well, I would like to recommend Castle Freeman Jr.’s novel ALL THAT I HAVE.  It’s a little book, only 165 pages, because that’s exactly enough pages to tell the story (stories) it wants to tell.  Imagine Sam Vimes as a Vermont sheriff, responsible for 17 towns in a mostly-depopulated corner of a thinly-settled state — or maybe the son of Captain Vimes and Esme Weatherwax, serving and protecting Lancre and a double-handful of similar hamlets in his own remote corner of the Ramtops.

Sheriff Lucian Wing (as he’s known in this corner of the metaverse) has to deal with a bunch of very dangerous people From Away, who are looking for something the local bad boy may have taken from them, while dealing with various domestic complications caused by the fact that very few people can be content with exactly what they’ve got.   This doesn’t sound humorous, but (as told in Sheriff Wing’s dry voice) it’s very funny.  And it doesn’t sound tragic, although many of Wing’s anecdotes concern all the sorrows of the human condition.  It’s one of those rare books you read quickly, because you can’t wait to see how it comes out, and then go back and start re-reading immediately, because you’re afraid you might have missed something the first time through.

I think I picked it up on a recommendation from a Boston Globe review, comparing ALL THAT I HAVE to one of Donald Westlake’s novels.  Which is a pretty good comparison, if you can imagine one of Parker’s plots narrated by Dortmunder.  It’s available through Amazon, as are a couple more novels and some essays by Castle Freeman Jr., which I am already starting to acquire.

(Late-night test post, not related to anything in particular, just to see if I can get this thing off the ground without getting caught in the trees.)






71 replies
  1. 1
    kdaug says:

    Yeah, fancy books and getting caught in trees are all fine and good, but where’s your birth certificate?

  2. 2
    jeffreyw says:

    Welcome, Ma’am.

    I’m up late downloading that damn vista service pack 2 during the window that hughes.net (damned be their name) allows me to move megabytes without coming afoul of their caps, the bastards.

  3. 3
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Ooh. I for one welcome our new front page overlordess especially if you’re going to post in the middle of the night. We who are about to go have morning coffee salute you.

    Have fun.

  4. 4
    Johnny Pez says:

    overlordess

    Overlady?

    Hmmm.

  5. 5
    Ninerdave says:

    WTF is with this post? There’s no snark! I demand snark.

    Oh wait I get it, you’re surreptitiously trying to turn this into the New York Review of Books. Very clever, but I’m on to you….

  6. 6
    freelancer says:

    …caught in the trees.

    Is it embarrassing that this is the first thing to pop into my head?. I really am a child of the 80s.

    PS seriously people, I spent $80 on books on Mother’s Day, and now you’re gonna force me to pick up Pratchett?

  7. 7
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Johnny Pez:

    Overlady?

    No, I don’t think I’ll ever be over Macho Grande.

    I tried that earlier and called it Machu Picchu and was corrected. Thank god for fact checkers, those who publish George Will may have none but here it’s the real world.

  8. 8
    Batocchio says:

    Welcome to posting!

  9. 9
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    Welcome. I’ll add your recco to my giant backlog of books to read.

    In other news, what do you know about the Whitey Tape, kitty prisons, & is the TunchCam as good for you as it is for us? Enthrall us with your acumen.

  10. 10
    Cain says:

    I demand animal pics!

    cain

  11. 11
    Martin says:

    I’ve never read Pratchett, but I see he has some young adult novels. I’m looking for something new for my son to read this summer. He’s 11, but reads at a high-school level. If he got hooked, is the series cool for a kid to read?

  12. 12
    TenguPhule says:

    or maybe the son of Captain Vimes and Esme Weatherwax, serving and protecting Lancre and a double-handful of similar hamlets in his own remote corner of the Ramtops.

    *Spittake*

    WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT!?

  13. 13
    TenguPhule says:

    I’ve never read Pratchett, but I see he has some young adult novels. I’m looking for something new for my son to read this summer. He’s 11, but reads at a high-school level. If he got hooked, is the series cool for a kid to read?

    For the most part.

    Lots of death, sex is alluded to but never described in detail and a lot of humor that only adults would probably get.

    For a more sanitized version of Discworld, you can start your son off on the Tiffany Aching Novels. As long as he doesn’t mind a female protagonist, he should be fine.

    (Though for the best experience, the audio books are king)

  14. 14
    bago says:

    Vista SP2 leak?

  15. 15
    demkat620 says:

    I think I need more coffee before I understand this post.

    Welcome Annie!

  16. 16

    I smell arugula and Dijon mustard in the air.

    P.S. Welcome to posting.

  17. 17
    geg6 says:

    I’m curious. Is this Terry Pratchett person some sort of cult leader like L. Ron Hubbard? ‘Cause I gotta say, his/her devotees have that whole too-enthusiastic-with-that-crazy-look-in-the-eye-and-jumping-on-the-couch thing going. I refuse to even think of reading anything Pratchett at this point for fear of being assimilated. Oh, and congrats, Anne Laurie.

  18. 18
    MikeJ says:

    (Though for the best experience, the audio books are king)

    I d/l’ed the BBC production of Mort when it was on a few months ago and it’s been sitting on my iPod ever since. Never read Pratchett and their productions are generally good, so I thought it would make a good intro. Just need to get my hiking back up over 5 hours a week so I can listen to my standard shows and add some more literary stuff.

  19. 19
    Jim-Bob says:

    Good pick, Anne. Especially since All that I Have is published by an independent press. Not to go all “Attica! Attica!!” here, but I wish people would think twice before buying a book published by Random House, Simon and Schuster, or any of the other oligarchic publishing giants. They’re flat out destroying families, e.g., by opting to eliminate jobs, rather than look at other cost-cutting measures.

    Random House particular is kind of disgusting in the way they do business, but others are little better. But because the book world is kinda clubby, they manage to escape notice. They’re desperately trying to prop up the current, inefficient ways of the book biz because that’s their business model–they need to justify having 25 stories of prime real estate on Broadway, and aprox three VP-level managers for every ten employees. Andrew Sullivan, of all people, had some interesting observations from his experience in dealing with the big houses. He’s a belwether: He has the audience and the platform. It’ll be an interesting fight.

    Alls I’m saying, folks, is give some thought to how publishers treat authors and employees before you buy. Take books out of the library. Buy used. Save your money and stop propping up the middleman.

  20. 20

    Great, another book I have to read. Women are temptresses, temptresses I tell you!

    And this one reads so you know she enjoys Dijon mustard. And turns people into newts.

    @Martin: Yep. You could always start him on one of the Johnny books (Johnny and the Dead, Johnny and the Bomb, Only You Can Save Mankind). It’s written for teens, contains not the least hint of nookie, zero gore and the protagonist is a boy.

  21. 21
    cleek says:

    this sounds like a great book… for John McCain!

    (just testing)

  22. 22
    Hob says:

    @Ninerdave: Have you ever read the letters column of the New York Review? It’s hilarious. Pretty often there’s some pissed-off academic writer or bad journalist saying “Your stupid article completely missed the point of my book, because obviously blah blah blah” – followed by a lengthy reply from the author of the article which starts with something like “I’m certainly sorry if Mr. Friedman failed to understand my argument” and then proceeds to politely demolish the writer’s complaints down to the ground for half a page. They more or less set the standard for ultra-dry snark on this side of the Atlantic.

  23. 23
    WereBear says:

    Hints of Pratchett and Westlake?

    All right, I will have to hunt this fella down.

    I’ve enjoyed every Westlake book I’ve ever read, and adored a lot of them. The best review I ever read was about his suspense/adventure novel (not Dortmunder, not Parker) set in Idi Amin’s Uganda, Kahawa. It read, from the NY Review of Books, no less:

    If you don’t like Kahawa, there’s something wrong with you.

  24. 24
    pixelpusher says:

    I suppose you could say Terry Pratchett is a cult leader of sorts. He used to be the biggest selling author in Britain, until some nobody called Rowling came pottering along. The good news, nearly 40 Discworld novels, and he writes 2 books a year on average. (It’s hard to believe you’re done when you get to the last one.) The bad news: he had a mini-stroke a few years back and is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s. (Pray for the cure!)

  25. 25
    GReynoldsCT00 says:

    Book recommendations are fine! I’m a mystery/thriller junkie personally.

    Welcome Anne Laurie and May the Force be with You sparring with this crowd!

    ;)

  26. 26
    Fulcanelli says:

    I assume your counter tops have undergone a thorough and rigorous inspection by our feline overlord and his assistant, er’, ah, what’s his name… John! Yeah, now I remember, it’s John. Quirky guy, and pretty smart, but harmless. Runs the best political blog around. Welcome to the asylum, we’ll try not to treat you like Frances Farmer.

  27. 27
    Guster says:

    I’m still mourning Westlake’s death. My favorite writer. No more new Parkers …

  28. 28
    aimai says:

    Anne Laurie,
    You’ve long been one of my absolutely favorite commenters, here and at Sadly, No! I’m so happy to see you frontpaged. I really look forward to your posts. Now–knock off the literary stuff and get with the politics.

    aimai

  29. 29
    kid bitzer says:

    congrats on moving up to the show, anne laurie!

    when the rabble gets all fractious and ill-mannered down here, just ignore us.

  30. 30
    Elroy's Lunch says:

    I came here this morning to see if there were any pictures of Tunchus Maximus to brighten my work day and instead find Anne Laurie (whom I think I mistakenly ref’d once as Mary the Horse Minion Person or vice versa).

    All hail John’s new blogger!

    /drinks more coffee, shuffles papers/

  31. 31
    Ash Can says:

    ::salutes new flag on flagpole::

    Nope, not a tree in sight. Looking good.

    Now I’ll go and mess up your inaugural post by going completely OT, not to mention political, by posting a link to a GOS piece from yesterday that’s just brimming with chewy wingnutty goodness: Tom Price (R-Deep South of 1952) laments the fact that, by not “standing with” Wall Street mafiosi, Obama is picking and choosing which Americans he stands with, and is therefore a divider, not a uniter (no, really).

    AND this is one time I’ll recommend looking at the comment section of a GOS post, because it includes a video clip of some horse’s ass asking Robert Gibbs about Obama’s birth certificate at a recent press briefing (yes, really).

  32. 32
    flukebucket says:

    I love a good book recommendation post. I had never heard of Pratchett until I read about him on this blog and now I have finished 3 of his books. They are as good as advertised.

    Somebody recommended the latest one by Bacevich yesterday so I downloaded it on the Kindle.

    I love the Kindle. But the son of a bitch is breaking me.

  33. 33
    Rick Taylor says:

    I’ll throw in a recommendation forThe Prisoners of Quai Dong by Kolpacoff Victor. It’s no longer in print but available used. It takes place in Vietnam during the war; Americans are torturing a prisoner for information. What’s interesting is that everyone has a narrative for why what they’re doing is right or the only thing they can do.

  34. 34
    JL says:

    @Ash Can: That’s my rep. I’m so proud!

  35. 35
    Trinity says:

    Welcome Anne! Get your post on. :)

  36. 36
    passerby says:

    Yay!

    A little gender balance never hurts anything. Not the SCOTUS nor Balloon Juice.

    Congrats Anne Laurie, and may I call you AL?

    (Nice call Cole.)

  37. 37
    Original Lee says:

    @Martin: Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad series is pretty cool, but better for your son might be the Johnny Maxwell triology. It’s a little dated (especially the video game references), but your son might not notice too much, because it’s set in England.

  38. 38
    Andrew says:

    I wonder if you’d like Jasper Fforde. He’s got an interesting outlook, in the style of Pratchett, and his meta-novel Thursday Next series is superlative.

  39. 39
    zzyzx says:

    @Jim-Bob:

    Alls I’m saying, folks, is give some thought to how publishers treat authors and employees before you buy. Take books out of the library. Buy used. Save your money and stop propping up the middleman.

    So the problem is that book companies are laying off employees and your solution is to stop buying books? That will sure cause people to be rehired.

  40. 40
    Steeplejack says:

    @geg6:

    Is this Terry Pratchett person some sort of cult leader like L. Ron Hubbard?

    You can just read the books; you don’t have to drink the Kool-Aid. I have gone through the first three of the “Night Watch” series–Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms and Feet of Clay–in the last few weeks and have the next one, Jingo, queued up. I like them a lot (obviously–enough to keep reading), although I will say that Guards! Guards! got off to a bit of a slow start for me. Pratchett’s Monty Python-esque shtick was dialed up pretty high, and it wasn’t until the plot got going that things seemed to balance out. But I ended up liking it, and I think it’s a fair introduction to Discworld. Just get through the first 30-50 pages as Pratchett is cracking his knuckles and getting warmed up. And each succeeding book seems to get a little more nuanced, which is good. I am looking forward to the awesome payoff that I have heard awaits in Night Watch (after Jingo and The Fifth Elephant).

  41. 41
    Michael D. says:

    This post sucks, even though I didn’t read it. All your posts will probably suck, too – and I probably won’t read them thoroughly enough to tell you why. You suck as a human, moran!! Why not Brick Oven Bill or someone else who sucks!?

    Though, seriously, welcome, Anne! Just wanted to welcome you with the same respect everyone is eventually welcomed with here! :-)

  42. 42
    Persia says:

    I’m always skeptical about books set in Vermont, but with a description like that I suppose I have to give it a try!

    Oh, and welcome!

  43. 43
    Karen S. says:

    Congrats, Anne Laurie, on your new gig! I’m only sporadic poster here, but have read and enjoyed many of your posts. Have fun here and don’t let it break your heart.

  44. 44
    Karen S. says:

    Congrats, Anne Laurie, on your new gig! I’m only a sporadic poster here, but have read and enjoyed many of your posts. Have fun here and don’t let it break your heart.

  45. 45
    ET says:

    Andrew – I love Jasper Fforde. Have you ready the Nursery Crime spin off (I can’t remember which of the Thursday Next books it happens in)? What a hoot. Seriously – solving the mystery of the death of Humpty Dumpty in “The Big Overeasy” and the next book with the slightly ominous title “The Fourth Bear” where the lead detective is Jack Sprat who as a reputation of being a giant killer.

  46. 46
    angulimala says:

    Kdaug –

    I think she’s really Canadian.

  47. 47
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Congratulations. It doesn’t bother me a bit that you’re not actually a woman and that the book you recommended is just a recapitulation of some obscure novel that few ever read.

  48. 48
    David Hunt says:

    Congratulations on the invite.

    Welcome to the Monkey-house.

  49. 49
    kay says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    This was really funny, so thank you. I’m all pissed off because no one will recognize that Judge Sotamayor is being treated shabbily, NOT by GOP elected leaders, but, incredibly and disgustingly, by conservative interest groups and the so-called liberal media.
    Can someone explain to me why Roberts and Alito were treated respectfully and decently by the media, while Sotomayor is being treated like a joke? Give me a damn break.
    If she were a man with a resume like that they would never, ever question her intellect or experience. For God’s sake. They’re not even bringing on lawyers to do analysis. She authored 150 opinions. Can we get a little legal analysis?
    We’re going backwards. Ginsburg was taken seriously, at least.
    I hate our media.

  50. 50
    gbear says:

    (Inserts rogue book preview)

    A group of artists have collaborated to create a comic book featuring the career of Rep. Michele Bachmann — using actual quotes from her media appearances.

  51. 51

    Welcome to BJ.

    Since I am a curmudgeon, I will leave the pleasantries at that. I don’t come to blogs for reading advice, or to find out what peoples’ favorite music or tv shows or movies are, or what wine they drink. I hang around for the politics, because I am a political junkie, which is sort of a curse, and a context in which I am pissed off in some fashion or another just about all the time. I don’t see how anybody could pay attention to the subject and not be pissed off most of the time. Just thinking about being pissed off most of the time just royally pisses me off. Most of the time.

  52. 52
    AhabTRuler says:

    @InflatableCommenter:

    Since I am a curmudgeon

    Hah, every curmudgeon has a heart of gold! Softy!

  53. 53

    @AhabTRuler:

    I’ll thank you not to blow my cover, goddammit.

  54. 54
    Martin says:

    Thanks for the input. Sounds like a winner for my son then. Because he reads well past his age range, he’s already tackled topics that usually don’t show up in 5th grade books. Hints of sex is fine (I don’t get the hangup we have in this country, to be honest) and death is part of the drill in good kids books.

    I was going to start him on the 4 young adult books and take it from there.

  55. 55
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Martin: At his age, I was deep into Douglas Adams, among others.

  56. 56
    jibeaux says:

    I love Pratchett novels, although my husband doesn’t because he keeps trying to really follow them and put the science into the science fiction. I tell him, just read, it’s closer to Douglas Adams than to Asimov, Discworld doesn’t really need to make sense, but it remains a sticking point. I expect very few other people have it, though.

  57. 57
    DougJ says:

    Welcome aboard!

  58. 58
    HRA says:

    As I sit here at my desk at the U. Cataloging Dept. for the libraries, I am not sure if Pratchett is a mystery writer or a sci-fi writer. We don’t have any of his books in the catalog. The Library of Congress has over 2,000. Unless I make a deeper search, I won’t be able to see his works. Bummer!
    Also, I love reading mystery books and historical novels.
    Welcome Annie.

  59. 59
    BARRASSO says:

    That is so much up my alley, I can feel a pressure at the back of my neck. Terry Pratchett and Parker my two favorite things in the literary world!! Thanks for the recommend!

  60. 60
    Hob says:

    In case no one else said welcome: welcome. Even though I’m pretty sure you’ve been here longer than me.

    Also, non-political stuff about books is just fine with me, as long as it either (a) is thoughtfully written like the above, or (b) contains some totally indefensible opinion so we can all argue till we realize we’ve been trolled.

  61. 61
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Found two new authors who might fill the need for a Pratchett fix — Tom Holt and Christopher Moore. Great titles — “You don’t have to be evil to work here, but it helps” and “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”.

  62. 62
    TenguPhule says:

    I am not sure if Pratchett is a mystery writer or a sci-fi writer.

    All of the above, but mostly fantasy.

  63. 63
    Andrew J. Lazarus says:

    Not Anne Laurie the preschool teacher by chance?

  64. 64
    Josh says:

    #23: “If you don’t like it, there’s something wrong with you” was from the NYT, not the NYRB. Can’t imagine the snobs at the NYRB reviewing Westlake (RIP), not even his biggest novel (and I gotta say, of the fifty-five Westlake books I’ve read, there were four that I did not enjoy at all).

    What strikes me about the outpouring of love for Westlake is the praise from his right-wing fans: NRO had one or two articles on him, and Bill Kristol thought he deserved a Nobel prize. Seems to me that his liberal values (he declined a White House invite from Laura Bush) show up now and then in his fiction. Maybe the rightists don’t realize that Parker’s not meant to be a role model?

  65. 65
    Carol says:

    All That I Have is probably available at your library, too.

  66. 66

    Martin, look into Neil Gaiman’s children’s books such as “Coraline”, “Stardust”, or “the Graveyard Book”.

    I wonder if you’d like Jasper Fforde. He’s got an interesting outlook, in the style of Pratchett, and his meta-novel Thursday Next series is superlative.

    I would recommend The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. It has many laugh out loud funny bits, such as the military uses of sheep, and will explain why ninjas are afraid of tupperware…

  67. 67

    Martin, look into Neil Gaiman’s children’s books such as Coraline, Stardust, or the Graveyard Book.

    I wonder if you’d like Jasper Fforde. He’s got an interesting outlook, in the style of Pratchett, and his meta-novel Thursday Next series is superlative.

    I would recommend The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. It has many laugh out loud funny bits, such as the military uses of sheep, and will explain why ninjas are afraid of tupperware…

  68. 68
    Richard says:

    I’m late to the parade, but welcome. I’m very, very glad to have you here. And thanks to all the commentators. I now have a long list of new books for the Kindle. This is one of the many reasons I love this site.

  69. 69
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    narrated by Dortmunder

    If this means “It wasn’t me saying that, it was the large amount of German lager I had earlier consumed”, then I am familiar with the experience.

  70. 70
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    Cl*de, it’s when the beer starts using your cellphone to call your ex-girlfriends at 3 in the morning that you really need to worry. Damn you, Steinlager!

  71. 71

    […] reform – Kevin Drum, Mother Jones Climate accord excludes big polluters – W. Teach, Right Wing News Recommended reading – Anne Laurie, Balloon Juice Will this man save the Ohio GOP? – Joel Mowbray, […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] reform – Kevin Drum, Mother Jones Climate accord excludes big polluters – W. Teach, Right Wing News Recommended reading – Anne Laurie, Balloon Juice Will this man save the Ohio GOP? – Joel Mowbray, […]

Comments are closed.