These days, I do nearly all my reading on an e-reader, currently an InkBook Obsidian, but I do on occasion return to the dead tree books of yore. Typically this will be because someone gave or loaned me said dead tree edition. Such was the case with Dune, which, being a door-stopper of a book, I eventually bought in e-form so I wouldn’t have to fight with it when reading at lunch; and such is the case with the Nero Wolfe books, which my father sent to me in a box a while back. I’ve read them all before, but now I’m reading them again, because who doesn’t like to spend some time visiting old friends? The one I’m currently into is Plot it Yourself, in which Wolfe goes up against a con artist with a fondness for pretending that popular novels are plagiarisms of his or her own work, and also for knives.
So here I am still reading The Black Mountain, by Rex Stout, months after starting it — not because it’s a long book or because it’s a slog but because it’s made of paper, and if I attempt to read a paper book anywhere near Saya the Mighty she will try her best to steal it and shred it, and we can’t have that, now can we?
So this week I’m reading — or rather, re-reading — The Golden Spiders, another entry in the Nero Wolfe series, by Rex Stout. The spiders in question are not Spiders from Mars, but rather, an unusual pair of earrings worn by a woman in a car who asks a squeegee urchin to call the police. Hilarity (and, of course, murder) ensues.
So this week I’m reading–or rather, re-reading–a book, Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout, that’s printed on actual paper. Aged, yellowing paper, even! This is the 50th anniversary edition, published in 1984, which means that if it were published now it would be the 80th anniversary edition. Does anybody else feel old?
I stumbled across an Epinions review of Night Watchman today. I was surprised to see this, given that Night Watchman came out over five years ago, but it’s nice to know people are still reading if after all these years. (Yes, it’s a recent review … 1/26/08.) Although the review is not unalloyed praise (3 out of 5 stars), it is positive overall, and raises some valid points that I would probably address if I were rewriting the book now. Still, I think Night Watchman does hold up pretty well for a novel that I wrote when I was about 23 years old. (Never you mind how old I am now.) You can visit the reviewer’s Epinions page here and his home page here.
Long Before Dawn is an even older* book than Night Watchman; I started working on that shortly after getting married, and finished it at the ripe old age of 22. But since Dawn was never published, I’ve had the opportunity to go back and “improve” it a couple of times since completing it. I think that this most recent set of revisions, done to get it ready for Lulu publication, has tightened up the plot and characterizations significantly. We’ll see if the readers (all ten of them) agree!
*In fact, Long Before Dawn is so old**, I originally wrote it using the MS-DOS program PC-Write. PC-Write couldn’t handle a document that long, so I had to split it into three or four files for editing. Ahhh, good times …
**And Long Before Dawn isn’t even my oldest book; there’s one more, older still, called Three Detectives, that I actually had an agent working on for a while. He was never able to sell it, unfortunately. This is a (you guessed it) detective novel, set in Utica, NY, that I wrote after a marathon Nero Wolfe reading session. Perhaps it will see the light of Lulu some day, but I doubt it.